This special episode sees Michael revisit his fifth travel series – Himalaya. For Michael, this epic journey across the world’s highest mountain range is the fulfilment of boyhood dreams inspired by the 1953 ascent of Everest by Hillary and Tensing. Beginning in the famous Khyber Pass, he travels through Pakistan and India and ascends into Nepal and Tibet to reach Everest base camp itself, before venturing into the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. But Michael’s journey isn’t all about scaling peaks – it’s also about finding out what life is like for the people who live in some of the harshest environments on Earth. He is curious to see countries that were cut off by the mountains for centuries and that have developed their own distinct cultures and ways of survival, to discover the different ways that religion influences society here, and to meet the hardy inhabitants of the mountains.
2020 • Travel
This week we are exploring Romania's largest and most iconic region,mistaken by many Americans and others as a country in its own right. In fact Transylvania is a name that most of the western world still associates with Dracula, werewolves and folk legend. But this land beyond the forest defies all preconceptions and remains one of the most culturally important and beautiful parts of Eastern Europe.
The next leg of my journey takes us north to Moldova, an ancient region covering the Easternmost part of the country. Originally twice its current size, it included northern Bucovina and Basarabia, now the separate and not to confused with the Republic of Moldova.
Joanna travels the length of India, including footage of her encounters with the flower-sellers of Madurai, before taking?us back to Uzbekistan, where she reveals some gory tales of the country's history and discovers the secrets of gem-making.
To really understand Rome, you must understand its people - or the mob, as they were known in ancient times. As Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon explore Italy's iconic capital, they are in search of the generations of ordinary Romans who have left their mark on the city's culture and gastronomy.
2018 • Travel
An Austrian documentary where rock climbers Kurt Albert, Holger Heuber, and Stefan Glowacz climb to the top of Mount Roraima from the Guyana side. Chapter 1: The Climb of a Lifetime (98min) Climbing partners Kurt Albert and Holger Heuber don't know what they're in for when they join competitive climbing superstar Stefan Glowacz for an expedition to Mount Roraima, a steep-walled South American peak shrouded in both rainforest and legend. Chapter 2: Behind the Scenes (29min) They may have set out to climb a mountain, but what awaited them was nothing short of an odyssey. This behind-the-scenes look at the journey to make the film shows how the filmmakers' experience bonded the team together as a family. Chapter 3: Remembering Kurt Albert (6min) Though he tragically died before the expedition was completed, Kurt Albert was a thinker and adventurer and one of the trio of climbers who saw the potential in the journey to Mt Roraima. His passing gave new meaning to the completion of the film. AKA Climbers of the Lost World
2013 • Travel
This aerial journey directs its focus on the role the natural world plays in this paradise for curious explorers. The Mediterranean is home to mountain ranges that tower over plains and estuaries, as well as deserts and the sea. Warning: you may want to book your next holiday after viewing this two-part series.
In the final episode of her Greek odyssey Julia reaches her ultimate destination - the island of Chios - where her family’s story began. This week she’s joined by her mother Chrissi and together they explore the home of their ancestors. In search of the fascinating history of mastica, a natural resin only found on Chios,
This week, Julia arrives in the Dodecanese, a far-flung group of islands at the gateway between Europe and the East. In the medieval capital of Rhodes she uncovers a treasure of trove of Byzantine Art Travelling inland to the mountain village of Apollona; Her trip ends with a visit to the neighbouring island of Symi, an architectural wonder like nowhere else in Greece.
This week, Julia’s journey reaches the Sporades. Known as the ‘Paradise Islands’, their lush pine forests and breathtaking coastlines are recognisable to millions as the backdrop of the movie Mamma Mia. On Skiathos, Julia boards a fishing boat in search of a secret world of hidden coves and deserted beaches,
In this episode, Julia’s journey brings her to the impossibly glamorous island of Santorini in search of the perfect sunset. Her trip begins in one of Santorini's most exclusive hotels where she discovers how one of the Aegean’s poorest islands became a playground for the rich and famous. In search of the secret Santorini away from the bustling crowds, she heads inland for a walk on the wild side, hiking through a forager’s paradise to the hilltop village of Pyrgos
This week, Julia visits the lush Ionian island of Corfu, often called the least Greek of all the Greek islands. Her trip begins in the capital Corfu Town where she discovers a surprising, cosmopolitan city more like a little slice of Italy than Greece.
In the first episode, Julia visits the picturesque, rustic and rugged island of Crete, a favourite island with British holiday-goers, but Julia steps away from tourist trail and heads deep into the heart of the island to explore the Dikti Mountains and its striking plateau of windmills.
The final leg of James’s journey from north to south finds him in Shikoku and Kyushu - the largest of Japan’s Southern Islands and a stunning paradise of blue water and semi-tropical sandy beaches. Cycling, archery, noodle making, and motorbike manufacturing are all in store, plus James is preserved for eternity in a creepy scarecrow village.
James arrives in Osaka, Japan’s vibrant good-time city, where Pachinko gambling halls, incredible street food, and stand-up comedy are all on the menu. Yujiro, his trusty guide, returns to introduce James to Sumo wrestling, after which James escapes on a bullet train to explore the mysteries of local hero Peach Boy. Then it’s on to Hiroshima and the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine.
In his epic journey across Japan from north to south, James leaves bustling Tokyo to travel to the ancient capital of Kyoto. Along the way he indulges his passions for motorbikes, Japanese cars and culture by painting Mount Fuji, tackling the Suzuka F1 circuit and taking a music lesson from a Geisha. It’s then time for a taste of the future as a confused robot shows James around Kyoto.
The cherry blossoms are out, and James hits the streets of Tokyo with his new guide Yujiro. As James discovers, this unique city is home to some of Japan’s greatest eccentrics and ideas. From obsessive trainspotters, musicians and baffling hi-tech gadgetry to cat superfans, penis festivals and mind-blowing computerised art shows, James tries to understand what makes Japan tick.
James arrives on the main island of Honshu, and the beautiful region of Tohoku. He seeks inspiration with a mountain expedition and naked plunge with a friendly wandering monk, battles giant robots, becomes a samurai, gets adopted by some local J-Pop sensations, before embarrassing himself and his hosts on the world’s most luxurious train
James begins his epic journey across Japan on the icy northern island of Hokkaido, throwing himself head first into the physical demands of dog sledding, snowball fighting and the baffling struggle of ordering noodles from a Japanese vending machine. Despite all that, there’s still time for octopus fishing and learning the art of samurai sword making.
Simon travels across Central America, from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Along the way, he goes diving on a coral reef on the coast of Belize, and witnesses a gun battle between park rangers and intruders in Chiquibul National Park. He also discovers how climate change has left Guatemala devastated by famine and drought, reports on measures to curb gang violence in El Salvador, and learns how Costa Rica aims to become the world's first carbon neutral country by 2021.
Simon travels from Texas to southern Mexico, meeting a woman who risks her life to take supplies to migrants stranded on the Mexican side of the border in Reynosa, one of the country's most violent cities, which is dominated by a powerful criminal organisation. He also ventures into the rainforest to explore the Maya city of Yaxchilan, and meets the modern-day descendants of this civilisation, who are increasingly marginalised and treated as second-class citizens.
Simon travels the length of California. He climbs to the top of one of the world's tallest trees, and meets the fire crews tasked with tackling the ever-present danger of wildfires, a growing threat given the state's changing climate and chronic shortage of water. He also meets street doctors providing much-needed medical support to people living in extreme poverty and visits a city on the desert for Americans who have dropped out of the rat race entirely.
The historian reaches the southernmost stretches of the Egyptian Nile, though her 900-mile journey is not quite over as she joins archaeologists as they extract a giant stone message board from the foundations of the temple of the crocodile god Sobek. Bettany also visits a hotel once frequented by Churchill and says farewell to her boat crew. After reaching Egypt's border with Sudan where Rameses the Great built an outrageous temple to himself, the presenter joins the crowds to witness the power of the rising sun.
Bettany visits the west bank of the Nile opposite Luxor where, for 500 years, the Ancient Egyptians buried their pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, among them the boy-king Tutankhamun. However, the historian crosses the local hills to the Workers' Village, where generations of skilled royal tomb-builders lived. As it turns out, they also dumped masses of domestic rubbish, which is now giving some insight into the highs, lows and preoccupations of ancient Egyptians. Bettany then heads south on the Nile's oldest steam ship SS Sudan, which inspired Agatha Christie to write Death on the Nile.
A hundred miles south of Cairo a stretch of the Nile was once considered Egypt's main highway, used by Cleopatra to travel the country. More than 2,000 years after her, Bettany visits a vast desert catacomb where tens of thousands of mummified animals were once left as an offering. Further upstream, there is a chance to swim in the Nile, and look inside the tombs where Tutankhamen's discoverer, Howard Carter, first got hooked on Egypt. Bettany explores the longest tomb yet found, before heading to the Dendera temple, where Cleopatra herself may have once wowed her lover Julius Caesar.
On board a timeless dahabiya cruise boat, the historian sets off on a 900-mile adventure up the Nile to Egypt's southern border, seeing the country as the ancient Egyptians once did. She arrives at Egypt's gateway to the world - the Nile's mouth - then meets the crew that will guide her upstream. A visit to the Cairo Museum and its collection of Egyptian mummies follows, before Bettany braves the underground tunnels of a collapsed pyramid.
From stunning heights, witness the mountains, rivers, and people that make up China's great interior. Visit celebrations at the center of the Buddhist world and on the edges of river cities, soar over the world's most famous peak 29,000 feet in the air, and dive into an ancient city submerged under a lake. China's heartland is a place where urban and rural communities embrace the challenges of a changing 21st century world.
China is a nation of contrasts, and nowhere is it more evident than along its dynamic coastline. This aerial journey takes us from the north's icy Chagan Lake to the tropical Hainan province's southern volcanoes, and from the nation's most populated cities in the east to an abandoned fishermen's village off Shanghai's coast. It's a spectacular voyage highlighting the country's diverse environments, evolving cultures, and growing prosperity.
China is growing at a breakneck pace and racing to keep up with demand. As new cities are built and current ones expand, the country is pushing the limits of technology and innovation. On an aerial tour over megacities like Shanghai and Beijing, discover how the population works, travels, plays, and adapts to China's exploding economy and massive urban transformation.
Modern-day China has been built on the traditions and innovations of the past. In this aerial journey, explore the sprawling nation from a whole new perspective. See how nature has served as both an enemy and an ally, and meet people who have built lives in the unlikeliest of places, from steep river valleys to harsh desert landscapes. It's a coast-to-coast tour of a vast and varied nation, where ancient customs continue to shape the landscape and the people.
Explore Scotland, a land of soaring peaks, rugged glens, fantastic creatures, and fierce passions. Here, the mysteries of the ancient past exist alongside modern-day wonders of innovation, invention, and creativity. From the home of the boy who never grew up to the land where William Wallace battled a powerful enemy to the lake that may hide a monster, enjoy this one-of-a-kind journey over northern Britain's highlands
Wales: a region of dramatic coasts, enchanting parks, and more fortresses per square mile than anywhere else on the planet. Visit Offa's Dyke on the border of England, fly over the coastal island of Anglesey, and descend Mount Snowdon aboard one of the world's most remarkable steam locomotives. Celebrate the country's history, legends, and people, from the birth of Lawrence of Arabia to the magical stories of Roald Dahl.
Northern England: birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the Beatles, and a long list of mythical, historical, and literary legends. From Hadrian's Wall, the ancient stone boundary that stretches across the country, to the brooding Yorkshire Moors, the setting for Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, this aerial tour explores the region's most dramatic natural and manmade landmarks.
Southern England is the heartland of an empire forged from empires. It's home to the Royal Family, an enigmatic street artist, a master playwright, and one of the world's wealthiest and most culturally diverse cities. From Buckingham Palace to King Arthur's castle and from Dover's cliffs to London's skyscrapers
Until David Thompson found a route through the Rockies, the west coast was effectively cut off from the rest of Canada. Combined with the unique terrain of the Pacific coast, the result was a different land. The unique cultures, skills and landscape of Canada's far west make it a rich and diverse place - a land of cedar boxes, steam-bent fish hooks and dugout canoes, and a place where totem poles once dominated the landscape and people relied on the sea. Ray Mears explores the area's bushcraft, nature and traditions as he completes his journey across Canada.
David Thompson was a Briton who helped change the face of Canada. He mapped nearly four million square miles of North America. This would be an impressive feat today - in the 1800s it was, quite simply, staggering. Thompson effectively paved the way for trade from coast to coast in Canada, strengthening the status of the country and defining the borders that kept Canada independent from the US. Ray explores Thompson's footsteps across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast. He draws on a new set of bushcraft skills and local knowledge, and explores the mapping techniques used by Thompson.
Ray follows in the footsteps of an unsung British hero who helped put modern Canada on the map. John Rae from Scotland was the first great Arctic explorer and came to be regarded as the foremost authority on First Nation methods of Arctic survival and travel. Ray Mears follows the story of how John Rae found the Northwest Passage - the Holy Grail of 19th-century exploration. Yet this man, who should have been a hero of his day, was vilified by the British establishment. Ray believes it's time to put the record straight.
For Ray Mears there is one British pioneer who stands above all others in the exploration of Canada. That man is Samuel Hearne. In learning to travel using First Nations skills, he set the template for successful travel into Canada's wilderness. Hearne's story is defined by hardship and adventure, an inspiring tale made more powerful by the journal he left as a legacy. In a celebration of one of Earth's last great wilderness
As Ray travels across land and by canoe, he tells the story of one of the greatest companies the world has ever known - the Hudson's Bay Company that opened up Canada. Ray discovers how those early traders were pioneers who laid the foundations of the modern Canadian state. He also demonstrates local crafts and bushcraft skills that bring the landscape to life.
His journey begins in the vast Boreal Forest at the heart of Canada. This is a place where knowledge and experience are still far more important than the equipment you carry, a place left alone for centuries before Europeans arrived. Ray explores the wonder of this special forest, learns about the people who called it home and unlocks the secrets of this forgotten world. This is a land where knowledge of bushcraft is not just desirable, it is essential.
Carriers of myths and legends, castles strongly mark our imaginations, appearing most often as the pivot of a dark and barbaric period. Reality is different. They are full of mystery and grandeur, emblematic abstractions of the Middle Ages, they testify to medieval civilization.
2018 • Travel
World traveler and Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan invites you on a one-of-a-kind tour of his homeland, New Zealand. On this cross-country tour at the edge of the world, Keoghan visits eccentric and fascinating places and people who epitomize the spirit of Kiwi innovation. From "The Lord of the Rings" film director Peter Jackson to a revolutionary farmer who uses drones to herd sheep, Keoghan brings you captivating and humorous stories you just won't find in a travel guide.
2017 • Travel
The final leg of Ade's tour of Africa sees him travelling from the beaches of Mozambique, through South Africa, before ending his entire trip in Zimbabwe. He begins on the golden sand beaches of Mozambique's Bazaruto Archipelago, one of Africa's highlights. At Paradise Island, he finds an abandoned hotel, a visual reminder of Mozambique's recent history - this place was once a high-end tourist destination, but 25 years of colonial and then civil war put a stop to development. But the local wildlife has benefited from the fact that so few tourists now come here, and Ade is able to snorkel with one of the world's most elusive sea creatures - a dugong. Since the wars, Mozambique has struggled to develop, and Ade meets someone for whom life is especially hard – a wheelchair user like himself. In a country where disability is viewed with fear and superstition – and believed by many to be contagious – even catching a bus proves impossible for Castigo. The best thing in his life is exactly the same thing that turned Ade's life around - wheelchair basketball - and Ade can't help getting carried away in a game. Along the coast, at one of Mozambique's largest ports, Ade finds out that China is investing a huge amount in Mozambique – and elsewhere across Africa. The money often comes with strings attached, but a poor country like Mozambique needs financial help, which has to come from somewhere. Ade's next stop is South Africa. The country is famous for its wildlife but Ade hears how Chinese influence is having a dramatic impact here – the country's rhino population has been decimated by poachers, driven by a demand for rhino horn in Chinese medicine. Ade follows rangers with a surprising way of tackling the problem - by cutting off the rhino horn themselves, they hope to deter poachers. Ade travels to Johannesburg to see how the country is faring 25 years after apartheid ended. On a tour of the city, he is upset to discover that although the black population now have voting rights, they are living in an economic form of apartheid, with 25% unemployed and many squatting on whatever land they can find. In an emotional scene, Ade visits a squatted piece of land, moments after the police have destroyed people's houses, to hear claims that Mandela's legacy has been forgotten. Land reform is the big political issue here today, with many calling for a redistribution of land from rich white farmers to the black population. The final stop on Ade's African adventure is Zimbabwe – where land reform has already happened, with disastrous results. Ade finds a country still struggling economically. His first stop is the Kariba dam, and a hair-raising boat ride on the vast and stunning Lake Kariba. Ade finds that locals are worried about the stability of the Kariba dam and work has begun to stabilize undermined foundations. The worrying decay of this crucial dam is a sign of how much this country suffered under the rule of Robert Mugabe. As Ade has seen so often on his trip around Africa, Zimbabwe is a country that should be rich. It has huge quantities of gold – enough, in theory, for the entire population to be a millionaire. But there isn't the infrastructure of investment to get at it - in a country dogged by poverty and corruption. But the departure of dictator Robert Mugabe brought a new optimism, and Ade meets gold miners who are willing to risk daily exposure to toxic mercury for every scrap of gold they can get and an entrepreneur who believes the industry can be transformed. Despite the return of violence and repression in Zimbabwe, Ade ends his journey on a high, visiting a remote hut that has been turned into the set of a music video. He joins UK indie musician Shingai Shoniwa as she shoots the video for her forthcoming debut single, Coming Home, in a country that she believes is on the up, and deserves a fresh chance.
his leg takes Ade to the east of the continent, from Tanzania, through Ethiopia and on to war-torn Somalia. Ade begins in Tanzania, in Selous Game Reserve – a game park the size of Switzerland. He is on the lookout for elephants. But the numbers in this park have fallen by 90 per cent over the last few decades. As well as poaching, one of the big problems is that elephants trample and eat crops – so the locals don't like them. But a new collaring programme is helping numbers to recover. Ade's next stop is Ethiopia's far north. He travels to the hottest place on the planet where he spends a night with some of the toughest people on earth - the Afar. He joins them doing what their ancestors have done for centuries – hacking blocks of salt from a dried-up salt lake and loading them onto camels. But change is finally coming to this place – thanks to another of its resources, the fertilizer potash. It is a sign of Ethiopia's development, which Ade sees more of in the capital, Addis Ababa. Having grown up with images of starving children in the famine-plagued 80s, Addis is nothing like Ade expected. The city is booming. And it is driving Ethiopia's economy - now one of the fastest-growing in the world. Ade gets a guided tour from perhaps the world's greatest-ever long distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie. Haile is now a businessman, with investments in coffee and construction. The real fuel in Ethiopia's boom is manufacturing. Asia is still the workshop of the world, but with wages there on the rise, Chinese companies are increasingly looking to countries like Ethiopia to set up factories – as Ade discovers on a visit to a shoe factory. Leaving Addis, Ade travels on Ethiopia's new high-speed Chinese built train, which whisks him all the way to neighbouring Djibouti, a vital port for Ethiopia's export-led economy. The final stop on this leg of Ade's trip is war-torn Somalia. He joins the African Union troops on a mission out of Mogadishu and discovers a country in ruins, thanks to decades of conflict with Islamist group al-Shabab. Even in areas ruled by the government conservative Islam dominates and women face restriction on their freedom. Back in Mogadishu, Ade shoots some hoops with a group of women defying the odds by playing basketball. His final encounter is with a female doctor who worked for the NHS for 30 years, and has now returned to Somalia to rebuild her country. She is prepared to give her life, if necessary, in her efforts to provide quality maternity care for new mothers.
This leg takes Ade across central Africa, from the coast of Gabon, through the giant Democratic Republic of Congo, and on to Uganda. He starts off the coast of Gabon looking for humpback whales. It is one of Africa's best spots for seeing them, thanks to Gabon's vast marine sanctuaries. The country is an eco-paradise, not just in the water, but on land as well where 80% of it is forested. But the country has recently introduced one of the most destructive agri-businesses in the tropics - palm oil farming. Ade discovers how Gabon hopes to do it sustainably. The country has impressive environmental credentials, but on a tour of its divided capital Ade hears that some people are skeptical. One critic suggests it is a way for the country's autocratic ruler Ali Bongo Ondimba to curry favour with the international community. Next up is perhaps the most chaotic and corrupt country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ade discovers first-hand how everyone from the traffic police to the country's top politicians are on the take. He also spends time with some of Kinshasa's musicians and ‘sapeurs' – people who get kitted out in the finest haute couture in one of the poorest countries on the planet. In DRC's far east, he finds out what lies at the heart of the country's problems: a never-ending conflict amongst local militia, fuelled by foreign countries who want to get their hands on the DRC's vast resources. After going on a tank patrol with the UN, he meets Kibomango, a champion boxer who is helping to rehabilitate some of the country's 30,000 child soldiers. Travelling into one of the most famous national parks in the world, Virunga, Ade discovers that few areas of the country have been left unscarred by the violence. And the impact on the wildlife has been extreme, as Ade encounters some of the world's few remaining mountain gorillas. His final stop on this trip is Uganda where he meets Bobi Wine, one of Africa's most outspoken political campaigners. Bobi was recently arrested and beaten, and his driver killed, after his protests drew the attention of long-serving autocratic ruler Yoweri Museveni. Ade meets a defiant man who will not give up, no matter what threats are made on his life. He is part of a new generation of Africans who are fighting to take back control from the post-colonial leaders who have done so much to wreck the continent.
Ade Adepitan embarks on the first leg of his epic journey around Africa. Starting in west Africa, this episode sees Ade traveling from Cape Verde to Senegal and the Ivory Coast, before finishing in Nigeria - the country of his birth. In Cape Verde - a group of tiny volcanic islands in the Atlantic - Ade visits a community living in the shadow of an active volcano. He also witnesses how solar power is transforming lives by bringing electricity to isolated communities. Ade's next stop is Senegal. Here he visits Goree Island - a former staging post in the transatlantic slave trade. He then travels down the coast to a fishing village, where he hears that much of Senegal's catch is being taken by foreign companies and turned into fishmeal to feed western livestock. Making a last stop on his journey through Senegal, Ade visits Lake Retba where he joins the workers who wade through the lake gathering salt which they sell for less than half a penny a kilogram. Ade's host has tried to escape poverty by migrating to Europe, but - like so many others - he never got further than the horrors of the camps in Libya. In the Ivory Coast, Ade meets more people who share the dream of getting to Europe. This time, however, they are footballers training to become professionals in Europe's big leagues. But it does not always work out, as many are scammed into giving their cash to dodgy football agents. The final stop is Nigeria, the country Ade was born in. In Lagos he meets some old friends who play para soccer, and he also visits the largest church building on the planet. Traveling out of Lagos, he discovers a country in chaos. Under armed escort, he hears about a conflict that has created hundreds of thousands refugees, but barely been reported on in the west. He finishes his journey at Nigeria's equivalent to Silicon Valley – a company that believes tech can transform the continent.
Following the success of his world exclusive two-part series, this feature-length special edition is a chance to show Michael's extraordinary journey in its entirety, and includes new footage which hasn't been seen before.
Burma and Buddhism are intertwined, thanks to centuries of ancient mythology and thousands of golden monuments of worship. It all began with the Pagan Kingdom about 1,000 years ago, when Anawrahta, a great king, and Shin Arahan, a Buddhist monk, together incited one of the greatest religious reformations in Asian history. Join us as we explore this spiritual revolution and how it triggered a wave of temple-building in honor of the Buddha.
Throughout Burma, temples, stupas, and statues of gold pop out in the lush, green landscape. This golden architecture has become Burma's calling card, but how and why did that become the standard here? Join us as we travel across Myanmar, the jewel of Asia, and reveal the history and myths surrounding these shrines, each one created as an offering to the Buddha. We will visit such treasures as the golden pagoda of Mt. Kyaiktiyo, which rests perilously atop a huge boulder, the 344-foot Shwedagon Pagoda, and the revered Mahamuni Buddha Temple.
Taking a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar, Simon's first stop is Ceuta, a Spanish exclave surrounded by Morocco. This is one of the few land borders between Africa and the European Union. Simon joins the Spanish border police who check engines and even dashboards for stowaways trying to reach Europe. Migrant and refugees attempting to cross Ceuta's fortress border have quadrupled in the last year. Undaunted by Morocco's failure to issue a filming permit, Simon crosses the border as a tourist, tracking down a group of young migrants hiding out in a forest close to Ceuta. They have travelled thousands of miles, crossing the Sahara to get this far, and now they are just a 20-foot, razor wire fence away from their European dream. Crossing the Med to Spain, one the busiest shipping lanes in the world, Simon discovers huge numbers of dolphins and even giant whales surviving by dodging the ferries, container ships and oil tankers. Travelling along the arid southern Spanish coast, Simon takes to air to witness the sea of plastic that form over a hundred square miles of greenhouses. It is where much of our supermarket fruit and veg are grown, but as Simon discovers it is a massive industry built on the back of a low paid, migrant workforce. Following in the footsteps of four million Brits who make the journey every year, Simon travels to the Costa Blanca and its most famous resort, Benidorm. Derided by many, Simon is surprised to learn that high-rise Benidorm is now being hailed by experts as a model of sustainable tourism. The Mediterranean region attracts a third of world tourism and visitor numbers are predicted to rise to half a billion a year by the end of the next decade. Simon travels to a western corner of Corsica, a nature reserve that must be one of the most heavily protected bits of sea on earth, and one of the few places where tourists are actively discouraged from visiting. Lying on the beach, hiking in the mountains and watersport activities are all banned. The park's manager shows Simon the results, taking him for a dive in the fishiest place in the Med. In a sea where over ninety percent of fish stocks are over exploited, it is a beacon of hope in what is otherwise an uncertain future for the Mediterranean.
He begins in Libya - a country well off the tourist trail and torn apart by revolution, insurgents from the so-called Islamic State and western air strikes. Simon visits the Mediterranean city of Sirte, which has been the scene of heavy fighting. Here Simon witnesses some of the worst destruction he has ever seen, with entire neighbourhoods of the city completely flattened. He also visits the remains of Leptis Magna - one of the world's best-preserved Roman cities which many feared could fall into the hands of IS - and meets the young volunteers who risked their lives to protect it. Travelling west along north Africa's Mediterranean coast, Simon arrives in Tunisia, a country that - unlike its neighbour - has long been a tourist destination. He travels to the spectacular fortress village of Chenini, where houses were carved into the mountain by the Amazigh - better known as the Berbers. Today Berbers are a small minority in Tunisia, but Simon finds one man who is keeping the traditions alive by harnessing camel power to make olive oil and excavating rock by hand to build new Berber homes. From Tunisia, Simon boards the overnight ferry to the island famous as home to the mafia, Sicily. In recent years, a government crackdown and public rebellion has substantially weakened the mafia's grip on the island, but in the countryside there are worrying signs of a comeback. The mafia is trying to take advantage of rural Sicily's population decline, but Simon soon discovers that migrants and refugees who have traveled across the Mediterranean to Europe are finding new homes in Italy's emptying villages. Simon meets three inspiring sisters who - despite constant intimidation, including the skinning of their much-loved dog - are making a defiant stand against the mafia.
At the centre of this great sea, and surrounded by crystal clear waters, is Simon's first stop, the beautiful island of Malta. Driven by a surge of tourists, modern-day Malta is booming. But beneath the picture-postcard image lies a country accused of being a haven for money laundering and organised crime, where journalists can be murdered by car bombs. When Simon takes a ferry to his next destination, Calabria in southern Italy, he discovers a region in the grip of Europe's most powerful mafia, the 'Ndrangheta. With rare access to police and customs investigators, Simon follows an armed convoy carrying a ton of seized cocaine, joins a stakeout of a high-level suspect, and crawls through a huge underground warren of tunnels and bunkers built by fugitive mafia bosses. Travelling east along the southern tip of mainland Italy, Simon visits a turtle conservation centre, meeting Raoul, a loggerhead turtle rescued after swallowing huge quantities of plastic, a massive and increasing threat to Mediterranean wildlife. Simon helps release him back into the sea. Taking the overnight ferry from the heel of Italy, Simon arrives in one of the least-known but most beautiful corners of the Mediterranean, Albania. Under communist rule, Albania was isolated and shut off from most of the world. In a country now hoping for EU membership, Simon discovers an ancient culture of vendetta, where if an adult commits a crime, a child can be killed in revenge. Simon ends the first leg of his journey at a spectacular wildlife reserve where bird life is now recovering following the country's groundbreaking ban on hunting.
In part 2 under the protection of armed guards, Michael discusses the country's nuclear weapons programme with an army lieutenant, visits a massive tourist resort being constructed on the beach, and embarks on a hike through the stunning landscape.
Travelogue series into the notably private nation. Michael arrives in the capital Pyongyang, where he meets the guides who will follow his every move, visits the statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, watches propaganda art being created, and asks a local student what they know about the outside world.
Where is the population in the world the smallest? What countries have the least people? It’s not the size that matters, and with countries, that is often the case. Some of the least populated countries in the world are also the wealthiest in terms of personal wealth and gross national product. And some of the larger nations have problems equally as huge to address. Some of these smaller countries are thinly populated because they are super-difficult to get to or sit in some of the world’s harshest regions. Some simply get by on one or two key industries and foreign aid. Some were used as strategic bases during war time. Some are playgrounds for the rich and famous. And one is reserved for holy activities. Today we take a closer look at the smallest of these nations, in this episode of the Infographics Show, The Ten Least Populated Countries in the World.
Norway’s fjords are a little-known wilderness. Billions of herring darken the waters and orcas feast on the banquet. Salmon leap up waterfalls and colourful sea slugs glow in the deep. Diving below the surface, award-winning filmmaker Jan Haft reveals the extraordinary diversity of life hidden within the deep waters. It’s an intimate portrait of a unique landscape - in the dark, icy grip of winter, under the magical glow of the northern lights, and during the long polar nights of the midnight sun.
2018 • Travel
The second of a two-part series, in which adventurer and broadcaster Simon Reeve travels deeper into beautiful and troubled Burma. Simon journeys up the vast Irrawaddy River to the old royal capital of Mandalay, home to an exotic market for precious jade. In Burma's mountainous highlands, he experiences the country's vibrant ethnic heritage at an extraordinary and explosive fire-balloon festival, Burma is a melting pot of different ethnic groups, and having seen first-hand the suffering of the Rohingya people on the first leg of his journey, Simon now travels secretly into one of Burma's many other conflict zones to meet a huge rebel army who have been fighting the Burmese military for decades.
In this first episode, Simon travels to Burma to find out the roots of this crisis - as well as heading to Bangladesh to witness the drama that is still unfolding. He begins his journey in the biggest city in the country, Yangon, and drives north into Burma's Buddhist heartlands and the stunning ancient capital of Bagan - a sight that rivals the great wonders of the world. He meets the monks who supported the people through the darkest days of dictatorship. And he is granted an audience with some of the most contentious figures in the country - ultranationalist monks preaching hate against the country's Muslim Rohingya. Stopped from visiting the scene of the military crackdown against the Rohingya, Simon travels to Bangladesh to meet the refugees traumatised by the violence
Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to Cuba to find a communist country in the middle of a capitalist revolution. Two years ago Cuba announced the most sweeping and radical economic reforms the country has seen in decades. From ending state rationing to cutting one million public-sector jobs, one of the last communist bastions in the world has begun rolling back the state on an unprecedented scale. Simon Reeve meets ordinary Cubans whose lives are being transformed, from the owners of fledgling businesses to the newly rich estate agents selling properties worth up to 750,000. Simon gets under the skin of a colourful and vibrant country famous for its hospitality and humour and asks if this new economic openness could lead to political liberalisation in a totalitarian country with a poor human rights record. Will Cuba be able to maintain the positive aspects of its long isolation under socialism - low crime, top-notch education and one of the best health systems in the world - while embracing what certainly looks like capitalism? Is this the last chance to see Cuba before it becomes just like any other country?
The third leg takes him from the illegally annexed peninsula of Crimea to the historic Baltic city of St Petersburg. Crimea is part of neighbouring Ukraine but was annexed by Russia in 2014. President Putin's government is investing heavily in the illegally occupied territory - building a huge bridge linking Crimea to Russia. Simon meets the eccentric and fearless owner of a safari park who likes to get up close and personal with his pride of lions. The owner is struggling to get water to his park after a canal that supplied much of Crimea's water was shut off by the Ukraine. And it is not just the lions that are affected - the diminishing water supplies are now beginning to threaten a humanitarian crisis.
The second leg begins in Siberia and takes him to Russia's far south west and the majestic Caucasus Mountains. From Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on Earth, Simon takes the Trans-Siberian Railway to the city of Krasnoyarsk, the scene of brutal violence in the 1990s, and now the location of a cafe paying homage to Vladimir Putin. Simon is introduced to a Siberian community that worships a former traffic cop they believe to be the reincarnation of Christ. Along with a rare interview with the messiah himself, Simon meets some of the daughters of his followers being educated to become future brides of worthy men. After encounters with Tuvan throat singers and Cossack street patrols, Simon visits Dagestan, a largely Muslim region that has been scarred by jihadist violence. He meets security forces who use highly trained dogs to tackle the terrorist threat, and villagers attempting to keep their ancient tightrope-walking traditions alive.
Setting out amongst the active, snow-capped volcanoes of Kamchatka, over 4,000 miles from Moscow, Simon explores one of the remotest regions of the country. The population of Russia's far east has fallen dramatically in recent years, but travelling by chopper and skidoo, Simon finds indigenous reindeer herders who are still eking out a fragile existence. In the port city of Vladivostok, Simon visits a newly built mega casino, designed to attract high rollers and tourists from neighbouring China. Deep in the forest, Simon meets the inspirational conservationist who has created a sanctuary for the country's most iconic predator, the giant Amur tiger. Simon ends his journey on the rim of a giant crater that has emerged in the Siberian landscape - chilling evidence of the impact of global climate change.
Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to Vietnam to uncover the stories behind the nation's morning pick-me-up. While we drink millions of cups of the stuff each week, how many of us know where our coffee actually comes from? The surprising answer is that it is not Brazil, Columbia or Jamaica, but Vietnam. Eighty per cent of the coffee we drink in Britain isn't posh cappuccinos or lattes but instant coffee and Vietnam is the biggest supplier. From Hanoi in the north, Simon follows the coffee trail into the remote central highlands where he meets the people who grow, pick and pack our coffee. Millions of small scale famers, each working two or three acres, produce most of the coffee beans that go into well known instant coffee brands. Thirty years ago Vietnam only produced a tiny proportion of the world's coffee, but after the end of the Vietnam war there was a widescale plan to become a coffee growing nation and Vietnam is now the second biggest in the world. It has provided employment for millions, making some very rich indeed, and Simon meets Vietnam's biggest coffee billionaire. But Simon learns that their rapid success has come at a cost to both the local people and the environment.
2014 • Travel
The clean minimalism of the Japanese home has been exported around the world, from modernist architecture to lifestyle stores like Muji. But the origins of this ubiquitous aesthetic evolved from a system of spiritual and philosophical values dating back centuries. James visits one of Japan's last surviving traditional wooden villages, and the 17th-century villa of Rinshunkaku, and reveals how the unique spirit of Japanese craftsmen turned joinery into an artform - creating houses without the need for nails, screws or glue. Exploring some of the traditional arts of the Japanese home, James also investigates attitudes to domestic culture in modern Japan, meeting photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki, chronicler of Japan's crowded cities and tiny apartments. Other highlights include a performance by calligrapher and artist Tomoko Kawao and a visit to the hometown of architect Terunobu Fujimori.
He explores how the artistic life of three Japanese cities shaped the country's attitudes to past and present, east and west, and helped forge the very idea of Japan itself. In Kyoto, James reveals how the flowering of classical culture produced many treasures of Japanese art, including The Tale of Genji, considered to be the first novel ever written. In Edo, where Tokyo now stands, a very different art form emerged, in the wood block prints of artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. James meets the artisans still creating these prints today, and discovers original works by a great master, Utamaro, who documented the so-called 'floating world'. In contemporary Tokyo, James discovers the darker side of Japan's urbanisation through the photographs of Daido Moriyama, and meets a founder of the Studio Ghibli, Isao Takahata, whose film Grave of the Fireflies helped establish anime as a powerful and serious art form.
James journeys through Japan's mountainous forests, marvels at its zen gardens and admires centuries-old bonsai, to explore the connections between Japanese culture and the natural environment. Travelling around Japan's stunning island geography, he examines how the country's two great religions, Shinto and Buddhism, helped shape a creative response to nature often very different to the West. But he also considers modern Japan's changing relationship to the natural world and travels to Naoshima Art Island to see how contemporary artists are finding new ways to engage with nature.
On the last leg of his journey across the South American country, Michael explores the Brazilian south, where he is surprised by the rich diversity of European and Asian influences. Along the way he meets Dom Joao de Orleans e Braganca, second in line of succession to Brazil's defunct throne, goes flying with a man who has made a fortune out of rubbish and meets rap star Criolo, who believes social equality is a distant dream for most of his countrymen. Travelling farther south to Blumenau, the former Python's views on what makes a typical Brazilian are challenged when he finds German speakers and Bavarian dancers, before he catches piranha for sushi and helps cowboys treat a calf attacked by a jaguar
Michael begins the third leg of his journey in the mineral-rich state of Minas Gerais, where he learns about the Brazilian mining industry and meets some of the people dedicated to overturning the environmental damage it causes. He then heads to Rio de Janeiro, focus of the next World Cup and Olympics, where the authorities are ridding the streets of violent drug gangs that have controlled the city's shanty towns. On a lighter note, the globe-trotting broadcaster also learns to celebrate a goal like a well-known radio commentator and visits a `love hotel'.
The Python star continues his first visit to Brazil by travelling by river from the northern border with Venezuela to the capital of Brasilia. Along the way he visits indigenous tribe the Yanomami, learning about the threat to their hunter-gatherer way of life, before watching a rehearsal by the Amazon Philharmonic Orchestra and searching for the remains of Henry Ford's unsuccessful attempt to build a vast rubber plantation in the middle of the rainforest. In Belem, music producer Priscilla explains why Amazonian women are such powerful forces, then he moves southwards, meeting rock star and political activist Dinho Ouro Preto, who believes that despite its social and environmental problems, the country is on the brink of becoming a superpower.
The seasoned traveller explores the South American country, beginning in the north-east - where Europeans first landed and grew rich on the profits from sugar and tobacco plantations run with slave labour. In Sao Luis, Michael finds out about a ceremony based on a 200-year-old tale before heading to the coastal lagoons of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park. Journeying inland, he gets a glimpse of the fast-disappearing world of old-style cowboys known as vaqueiros, has his fortune read by a Candomble priest and learns to drum with the Olodum cultural collective.
Joanna ends her 5,000 mile journey in the place where she was born, Srinagar in Kashmir. She starts off in the Ranthambhore National Park, where she hopes to spot a tiger in the wild. Meeting tiger conservationist Belinda Wright, Joanna witnesses the work of local NGO Tiger Watch, who are attempting to break a cycle of poaching and poverty through education. Home to over 18 million people, Delhi is a city of stark contrasts. The extreme differences are obvious when Joanna visits a homeless community - where 10,000 men live under a flyover - and visits the modern part of the city where she has a go at working in a hi-tech call centre. The final leg of her journey takes her north from Delhi to Dharamsala, where she is granted a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Joanna concludes her trip with a stay on a houseboat in Srinagar, as her parents did on honeymoon in 1941.
Joanna meets the Maharaja of Dungarpur, who shows her around his lakeside palace. In stark contrast, Joanna visits a Dalit community - considered to be India's lowest caste - in Gujarat, and hears of the everyday discrimination these people experience under India's still deeply entrenched 3,000-year-old caste system. She later joins in a Hindu house warming ceremony, where a cow and calf are brought into the new house for luck. Braving the roads of Mumbai, Joanna takes a ride in the city's only all-female taxi company and visits the Times of India, where her uncle was editor of the paper in the 1930s and 40s. She then overcomes her vertigo to explore the World One Tower, soon to be Mumbai's tallest luxury residential building.
Joanna witnesses religious ceremonies in temples, learns how scientists are enabling people in tea plantations to live alongside wild elephants and with the help of computers is turned into a multi-limbed Indian goddess. In Kolkata, Joanna takes to the streets at night with a local guide and meets members of India's transgender community. Finally she journeys high into the Himalayas to visit Gangtok in Sikkim, where her mother lived as a child.
Giles and Monica don their best thermals and extreme weather gear, and travel 200km north of the Arctic Circle to Sweden's Lapland. They enter a magical world of snow, ice, inky blue and pink skies, and ICEHOTEL, a regular feature of bucket lists, now in its 27th year.
Giles Coren and Monica Galetti experience the warm embrace of Fogo Island Inn on a rocky, sea-sprayed outpost of remote Fogo Island in Newfoundland. White, angular and perched atop zig-zagged stilts like the local fishermen's houses.
Giles and Monica arrive at Royal Mansour, one of the world's most discreet hotels, hidden deep in the heart of Marrakech's ancient Medina. In stark contrast to the developing country it inhabits, the 'jewel of the city' was built with a limitless budget by royal decree to showcase the kingdom to world leaders and to billionaire and celebrity guests.
Giles Coren and Monica Galetti head to the Andean Cloud Forest of Ecuador to work at Mashpi Lodge, a $10-million modernist hotel featuring an extraordinary gondola cable car that 'flies' guests one mile through the jungle canopy at a dizzying height.
In the first episode of this eye-opening series, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti join the 9,500-strong workforce in one of the world's biggest hotels - Singapore's Marina Bay Sands. This epic hotel caters for one million guests every year, cost 3.5 billion to build and was created as part of a government plan to triple tourist income to Singapore within ten years.
The first leg of his journey begins in Istanbul, from which he travels along the Aegean coast to the hostile border with Syria. He meets refugees trying to start a new life and a billionaire taking advantage of a property boom. He moves on into the Taurus Mountains and the Black Sea Coast, and visits a community trying to keep an ancient language alive.
The odyssey continues as Colin Stafford-Johnson completes his journey along Ireland's Atlantic rim. Exploring the wildlife and mountains around his home inlet of Clew Bay, Colin then heads north for Donegal - golden eagle country - before reaching the island's northern tip and turning east along the coast of Northern Ireland.
Colin Stafford-Johnson begins his Atlantic journey exploring the ancient ruins and wildlife of the Skellig Rocks - stormbound ocean pinnacles off the south western corner of Ireland, where early Christian monks built a monastery on the summit almost 1,500 years ago. His journey ends in Clew Bay, an iconic inlet halfway up Ireland's west coast and the place Colin chose to make his home.
The actor begins the next part of his journey on Mundoo Island, which has provided shelter and a way of life for five generations of one farming family. Martin Clunes joins Colin and Sally Grundy for a day of cattle mustering. He also explores Phillip Island, one of Australia's favourite playgrounds, then heads south to King Island, in the blustery Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia. Martin completes his odyssey with a visit to see one of the region's most iconic creatures, the Tasmanian Devil
In this episode Martin travels to the Tiwi Islands, swims with a whale shark, and visits the Houtman Abrolhos, a string of over 100 little islands. Martin Clunes also samples life on Rottnest Island, which has long been a playground retreat for mainland visitors.
Northern Thailand is dominated by mountains and cloaked in forest. It hides ancient creatures and surprising partnerships. To survive here, both the wildlife and people rely on maintaining the natural harmony of the mysterious north.
In central Thailand's forests, fertile plains and even city streets, nature finds a way of living alongside people. Spirituality can be found in human and animal relationships, both likely and unlikely. This bustling region is known as the nation's rice bowl - but even here, there are magical places to be found.
Southern Thailand is the Thailand we think we all know. It is a place of both spectacular natural beauty and of wild parties, but behind this well-known image is also a place of unexpected surprise, where spirituality pervades every bit of life. For the animals that live here, this is natural wonderland.
The actress heads to the island of Shikoku hoping to gain a better understanding of Japanese Buddhism. She then takes a bullet train to another island - Kyushu - where she finds the Henn Na Hotel, the world's first robot hotel. At Nagasaki, she visits Shiroyama Elementary school, one of the only buildings to survive the atomic bomb dropped on the city in 1945. Joanna then travels to Sakurajima, one of the country's most active volcanoes, before heading to the islands of Okinawa where one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War was fought.
The actress flies over Tokyo in a helicopter. The city was bombed extensively during the Second World War, so almost all of it is a symbol of the post-war economic boom that saw Japan become the world's second largest economy. While in the capital, Joanna heads out to a nightclub to see a Japanese girl band and witnesses the largely male audience perform almost as much as the artists on stage. Later, Joanna travels to the Kiso Valley to walk the Nakasendo Way, an ancient route that once linked Tokyo to Kyoto, a place best known for that most famous of Japanese traditions, the Geisha.
Joanna begins a 2,000-mile journey across Japan in Hokkaido, where she meets one of the most important animals in Japanese culture, the red-crowned crane. She arrives in Sapporo during the middle of the annual Snow Festival and meets members of the local indigenous community, before travelling into the Fukushima exclusion zone and taking a bullet train from Nagano to Tokyo.
Episode 3 takes us to Northern Romania and the Maramures - one of the most picturesque regions in Romania. Here we experience festivals and weddings and learn about the evolution of traditional folk music with renowned singer Grigore Lese and pop idol Loredana Groza. We visit historic wooden churches and villages, which have been preserved, despite the march to modernise. Charlie Ottley explores the wilderness by steam train and on foot through Caliman National Park and the mysterious Twelve Apostles. Further east we drop in on a scheme to rewild Buffalo and visit the incredible painted monasteries of Bucovina before heading south to see what's being done to protect the ancient forests of Transylvania. En route Charlie meets a number of local and internationally acclaimed characters and looks at ways tourism is helping to preserve natural habitats. Wild Carpathia 3 finishes with some enlightened words from HRH The Prince of Wales who once again describes his passion for Romania and the urgent need to protect its rural heritage.
Join us for a cultural odyssey through little known parts of the southern Carpathians starting at the majestic Iron Gates and the ancient Roman Spa town of Baile Herculane. Charlie Ottley explores the remote Cerna Mountains finding historic working mills, and legendary rock formations. On our journey east we stop at a boutique winery and the stunning Cosia National Park with its grottos and picturesque monasteries. Crossing Saxon Transylvania Charlie visits the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler and meets a Romanian Princess at her ancestral home, majestic Peles Castle. In the second part we leave the mountains behind and meander down to the Danube where it branches to form the largest wetland in Europe. Here Charlie explores tiny fishing communities, fragile forests and labyrinthine waterways teeming with rare birdlife. We also see why this vital ecosystem is under threat and look at what is being done to preserve it.
The original Wild Carpathia gives you a unique insight into the beauty and rich culture of Romania exploring its chequered history from the mystical ruins of the Dacians to its medieval communities, many of which survive intact to this day. Presenter Charlie Ottley goes in search of ancient villages, crossing mountains, forests and alpine meadows in his quest to understand this vital region. Along the way he encounters counts, wild bears, shepherds, artists, environmentalists, craftsmen and even a Prince. Wild Carpathia captures the fragile glory of Europe's last surviving wilderness and shows why it needs to be preserved for the benefit of future generations and the survival of our most endangered carnivores.
Simon Reeve sets out on an epic journey around the island of Ireland - a place steeped in history, culture and belief, but with a complex past. Part 2: North Starting at the spectacular Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, Simon travels down the east coast to the great and rapidly changing cities of Belfast and Dublin. He ends his journey in the stunning Wicklow Mountains.
Simon Reeve sets out on an epic journey around the island of Ireland - a place steeped in history, culture and belief, but with a complex past. Part 1: South Simon begins his journey in the south of Ireland, paramotoring with an Irish explorer. On the west coast, he does spot of surfing before climbing Croagh Patrick in honour of Ireland's patron saint. This leg of his journey ends in Malin Head, Ireland's most northerly point.
Simon travels travels down the east coast to the magnificent cities of Sydney and Melbourne in the final part of his journey. Simon's journey starts in Surfers Paradise near the city of Gold Coast, the Las Vegas of Australia. Behind the sun and surf, this area has become the organised crime capital of Australia. Police are cracking down on outlaw motorcycle clubs, accused of being criminal gangs. Simon meets the most notorious and feared biker group in Australia to hear their side of the story. Arriving in Sydney, Simon discovers a city of huge cultural diversity closely linked to its booming Asian neighbours, India and China. One in ten Aussies are now of Asian origin. Simon gauges Australia's attitude to immigration and meets the country's first Muslim ladies Aussie Rules Football team. On the very last stretch of the journey, Simon takes to the air to witness the devastating and deadly bush fires ripping through the country, before reaching his final destination, Melbourne, just in time to celebrate Australia Day.
Simon travels from Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory or 'Top End', across to the remote Cape York Peninsula, and on to the Great Barrier Reef. Simon sets off from Kakadu, the largest national park in the world, where the wildlife is under threat from the march of millions of poisonous cane toads. He joins a team of toad-busters catching the amphibian invaders - originally introduced to the country to kill pests. In Robertson barracks Simon meets Australia's best - and only - tank regiment. They will soon host 6,000 American Marines - evidence of Australia's strategic importance in the Asia Pacific region. On the Cape York Peninsula Simon joins scientists catching deadly box jellyfish, whose venom could prove to have great medicinal value. And on the Great Barrier Reef he dives in search of the starfish destroying coral, before flying 100 miles out into the ocean to watch as a huge tanker is expertly guided through the fragile reef.
Simon's adventure starts in the magnificent 'red centre' of the continent and onwards through South Australia, via the extraordinary Indian Pacific Railway until he reaches the west coast city of Perth. On the way, he joins an Aussie rancher in the parched outback and takes part in a spectacular camel round-up. This mad adventure, involving specially adapted off-road vehicles and a chopper, is part of an ongoing effort to stop the damaging spread of up to a million feral camels across the country. Finally in Perth, Simon discovers a full scale British invasion. Working in a mine or driving a lorry can bring a salary of a hundred thousand pounds a year, as evidenced when Simon meets a former bin man from hull who is now living the dream, with a beautiful house in the sun, private pool and his very own boat.
Japan's northernmost - and wildest - island, a place totally unlike the rest of the country. Every year it swings from a bitter Siberian winter into the warmth of a Mediterranean-like summer, when the thaw reveals a landscape changed beyond all recognition. It takes tough animals and tough people with real ingenuity to survive, and even thrive, in this ever-changing place.
In the far south west of Japan, there is a chain of islands stretching towards the tropics - a place where all life is influenced by the power of the sea, and where volcanoes and typhoons are forces to be reckoned with. The journey begins at an island at the top of the chain and travels south, revealing unexpected stories of isolation, unique wildlife and unsolved mysteries.
Japan's central island of Honshu is home to over 100 million people, and its biggest city, Tokyo, is one of the largest urban metropolises on earth. But it has a wild heart - most of Honshu is mountainous. This wilderness is home to an astonishing range of wildlife - black bears, monkeys, exquisite fireflies and even cow demons. But all across this island, from the mountains to the edge of the sea, people and nature are drawn together in the most unexpected ways.
The adventurer begins his final leg on the northern tip of Sumatra, near the epicentre of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, finding out how the province of Banda Aceh has undergone many changes since the disaster. He also explores the illegal trade in exotic pets in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, before heading for Australia, the final country on his epic journey. There he visits the unspoilt wilderness of the Kimberley region, meets a real-life crocodile hunter and goes fishing with Aborigines campaigning to stop the construction of a giant gas plant.
The adventurer reaches Sri Lanka, whose strategic location and tropical spices made it a target for invaders and colonisers for centuries. In the north he visits the scenes of vicious battles between the Tamil minority and the Sri Lankan army, traumatic events from which the population is still recovering. On his way to Bangladesh, he hitches a ride on a trawler, highlighting one of the Indian Ocean's fastest-growing industries - providing prawns for the West. But as he reveals, it comes at a price for the environment.
The fourth leg of the broadcaster's journey takes him from Oman to the Maldives. He starts in the Strait of Hormuz, where oil from the Gulf is shipped through the narrow channel, then moves on to Mumbai, the ocean's biggest port. In the Maldives, Simon finds arguably the most beautiful collection of tropical coral islands in the world - but the fragile underwater environment is a barometer for the changing nature of the sea, as he witnesses how bleaching has damaged the coral and one entire island has been manufactured as a landfill dump to deal with the problem of rubbish.
The third leg of the adventurer's journey takes him from the south of Kenya to the Horn of Africa. Along the way he joins a Ugandan peace-keeping force in Mogadishu, the capital of war-torn Somalia, which turns out to be the most dangerous leg of his journey as he ends up under fire on the front line. In contrast, he finds neighbouring Somaliland a stable and democratic home to thousands of Somalis fleeing fighting and famine. In Kenya's Tana Delta, he meets villagers facing eviction from an area that the government is turning over to sugar cane production for bio-fuels.
Simon Reeve visits the tropical Indian Ocean Islands of Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles on the second leg of his journey. Amid the paradise of coral reefs and jungles full of spectacular wildlife, Simon witnesses some of the threats to the Ocean.
This first leg takes him from the rugged coast of South Africa, where he joins the fight against wildlife poachers, through Mozambique, and on to the tropical island of Zanzibar. On the way, he swims with sharks, meets the refugees who have found shelter in a luxury beachfront hotel, and travels on a huge container ship fortified against the constant threat of pirates.