We all need to spend time alone once in a while. But Beatriz Flamini took things to a whole new level. The Madrid, Spain, resident spent 500 days alone in a cave 230 feet (70 meters) underground. Flamini was 48 years old when she went into isolation and 50 when she emerged from the cave on April 14, 2023. The extreme athlete took up the challenge to test her mental strength. She also wanted to help scientists explore the effects of isolation on the human body and mind.
Flamini entered the cave outside Granada, Spain, on November 20, 2021. She carried two Go Pro cameras to document her underground stay, 60 books, and some art and craft supplies. A team of volunteers supported the ambitious expedition by regularly dropping off food, fresh clothes, and water near the cave's entrance. They also used the daily video recordings to monitor Flamini's physical and mental condition.
About 300 days into the challenge, Flamini was forced to leave the cave due to a technical issue. She spent eight days in a tent in complete isolation before returning to resume her quest.
Flamini spent her days exercising, preparing meals, reading, knitting, and drawing. She says she completely lost her sense of time after about two months and was stunned when a support crew member came to retrieve her after 500 days.
"I was sleeping—or at least dozing—when they came down to get me," she told The Guardian. "I thought something had happened. I said: 'Already? No way.' I hadn't finished my book."
Flamini may have set a new world record for the longest time spent in a cave alone. But the feat has not been confirmed by the Guinness World Records. They are still investigating whether voluntarily staying in a cave is a separate record and whether or not Flamini has broken it.
The current record for "longest time survived trapped underground" is held by 33 South American miners. They were forced to spend 69 days in a collapsed mine before being rescued in 2010.
Resources: Smithsonianmagazine.com, BBC.com, NPR.com