For a river that conjures up images of pyramids and pharaohs, the Nile turns out to be a truly surprising river that changes at every twist and turn of its journey. As its flows into increasingly arid latitudes on its journey north it becomes an evermore vital lifeline for animals and people, but only if they can conquer the challenges that this ever-changing river throws at them.
Across our planet, there are a handful of places that truly astonish, like Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls. These wonders seem to have little in common other than - literally - taking your breath away. But they share one other thing: they pose extraordinary challenges for their inhabitants. The first of two programmes in which cameras explore some of the most inhospitable places on the planet and the people who live there, including a team of Sherpa roping a route on Mount Everest's notorious Khumbu Icefall and, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, farmers fight pitched battles to save their crops from marauding elephants. In the Amazon rainforest, two boys undergo a rite of passage involving hundreds of ants with the most painful stings on Earth, and conservationists in the Grand Canyon try to ensure the survival of one of America's few surviving condor chicks.
Meet the big birds, a feathered family who have never flown a day in their lives! From ostriches to kiwis, these bizarre birds appear to be nature's greatest novelty act. How they came to be and how they continue to survive is a fascinating tale that has long captivated Sir David Attenborough. It is a story of dedicated dads, enormous eggs and a serious need for speed. And far from being the court jesters of the animal world, these flightless curiosities once nearly ruled the land.
A journey to the source of the Ganges in the Himalayas unearths deep gorges, lush forests and flower-filled valleys, and brings encounters with wildlife, elusive snow leopards and black bears, to bone-crunching vultures and the monkeys that may lie behind the legend of the yeti. Plus a look at the journeys made by Hindu pilgrims to worship at the four sacred sources of the river.
Some animals have an extraordinary ability to find their way. The dung beetle, an insect revered by ancient Egyptians, uses the sun, the moon and even the Milky Way to move its prized ball of dung in the right direction. Pigeons are often considered feeble birdbrains, but they have incredible memories that can recall several complex travel routes with amazing accuracy and they even use man-made roads and hedgerows to find the quickest way home.
David Attenborough highlights the curiosities that have led to accusations of forgery, but have ultimately helped assist the rethinking of evolution. When early explorers brought the first specimen of a duck-billed platypus to England in 1799, it was considered so bizarre it was deemed a hoax. Similarly, the midwife toad became the centre of a scientific storm in the 1920s that led to accusations of fakery.