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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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