Four months into his journey, explorer Levison Wood arrives in the capital of the world's newest nation, South Sudan, only to be arrested by secret police. After several days' delay he and his guide Boston are allowed to continue onwards and soon enjoy a highlight of the trek - an encounter with members of the Mundari tribe. This community has set up a cattle camp on an island in the middle of the River Nile, where its members lead a very simple and sustainable existence of only drinking milk, burning cow dung, washing in cow urine and covering themselves in ash to ward off flies and mosquitos. After bidding them farewell, Lev finds himself caught up in the worsening civil war as his path winds through minefields and he witnesses increasing numbers of refugees fleeing in the opposite direction.
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.
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.
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