Kane squats on the rain forest floor next to Harnan, his guide. A frame of sticks rests over a fire that Kane has built. On top, piranhas roast in the smoke. These fish are fierce predators. But now, they’re lunch for Kane and his team.

Kane is deep in the Amazon rain forest in the Matsés (MAT-sess) National Reserve in Peru. Miles away from any towns or farms, the Matsés people live off the grid. No electricity. No plumbing. No cell phones. Just miles of waterways and dense jungle.

Kane traveled through the rain forest for two days to reach this remote village. His companions were his father—Paul Hameister—and photographer Dom Farrell. Their local guides were Sergio; Harnan, chief of the Matsés tribe; and Harnan’s father, Armando.

Kane was on a mission to live like the Matsés. What a challenge it would be!

Challenge 1: Jungle DIY

Like the Matsés, Kane had to make many of the things he needed to survive. Nature provided all the basic materials. Kane just had to learn how to use them. His basic tool was a kind of a knife called a machete. He used it to chop down wood and hack into tough rain forest vines. The Matsés use machetes for making everything from firewood to fishing rods.

Next, Kane learned that if he wanted lunch, he was going to have to catch or kill something. His guides taught him how to make a fishing rod. Kane cut a small, thin tree off at its base. He burned it to strengthen it. Then he peeled back the bark. Then he attached some fishing line and a hook. Leftover meat scraps were used as bait. Kane caught piranhas, wolf fish, and peacock bass. Catching the fish wasn’t enough, though. No fire, no dinner. Kane also had to learn to chop up bark for starting a fire.

Kane uses a machete to cut down a thin tree. With it, he can make a fishing rod.

Kane was successful as a fisherman!

Kane learned other lessons too. His guide showed him how to make a bridge from a fallen log to cross a fast-moving creek. Using long branches as poles for balance, Kane slowly made his way across.

They returned to camp at dusk. Kane was tired and wanted to go to bed. But first he had to build a shelter. He cut two big tree branches, each with a Y at the top, and dug them into the ground. A strong branch between the two Y’s made an A-frame for a tarp. He tied down the tarp edges with vines. With palm branches for the floor, he placed his sleep mat under the tarp.

Matsés National Reserve








Atlantic Ocean

Pacific Ocean

Amazon rain forest

Matsés National Reserve