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.
2018 • Travel
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.
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.
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.
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,