In the 1800s, explorers were the celebrities of their day. Dr. David Livingstone was one of those celebrities, exploring the interior of Africa in search of the headwaters of the Nile River. Along the way, he was the first European to see the splendors of Victoria Falls, he lost an arm during a lion attack, and disappeared during the Nile expedition around 1870.
Enter Henry Stanley of the New York Herald who was sent to find him and eventually succeeded, greeting the Dr. with the immortal line “Dr. Livingstone I presume” on November 10, 1871. Unfortunately, Livingstone died two years later.
Now in 2009, a group of adventurous souls will brave the African wilderness to retrace Stanley’s footsteps from Zanzibar to the village of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania with a compass, basic maps, skills, and the will to succeed. Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone documents the trials of their 970 mile journey across swamps, mountains, salt flats, and a whole lot more.
At the core of the expedition is Pasquale Scaturro, Mireya Mayor, Benedict Allen, and Kevin Sites. Together they have an amazing array of skills from leading expeditions up Mt. Everest to reporting on the disappearing species of Madagascar, from surviving 1000-mile treks across deserts to reporting from the front lines. Each has a unique perspective on what it means to be part of this historic expedition, but their personalities may pull them apart far too quickly to succeed.
Scaturro has been exploring the planet for more than 25 years. In 2001, he led blind climber Erik Weihenmayer to the summit of Mt. Everest as he led the National Federation of the Blind 2001 Everest Expedition. Time magazine called it one of the most successful Mt. Everest expeditions in history. He’s also an experienced river guide, having led multiple trips on world-class rivers in South America and Africa.
For the last 10 years, Mayor, a Ph.D. in anthropology, has been reporting on wildlife and habitat issues for National Geographic Television and exploring the world. She has dealt with remote jungles with poisonous snakes, gone diving with great white sharks, been charged by gorillas and chased by elephants.
Allen has been touring some of the world’s most inhospitable places, writing about it, and been depicted in no less than 6 major BBC TV series. Where Scaturro has been leading expeditions, Allen has been immersing himself in locations around the world and surviving 1,000-mile walks, alone except for his camels, across the Gobi Desert.
And finally, Sites is no stranger to danger either. He’s spent the last 7 years covering global war and disaster as a multimedia journalist for several national networks. As a solo journalist (or “SoJo”), he brings his tools with him to record, write, edit, and transmit his reports from wherever he is. He’s also a certified EMT.
So to say this team has “mad skills” would be an understatement. Each of them possesses amazing knowledge and experience in a number of fronts. And it will be very interesting to see who survives the journey when the series ends.
Produced by Mark Burnett, who has created hits like Survivor (CBS), The Apprentice (NBC), Rock Star (CBS) and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader (FOX), Burnett knows how to make successful television. And for me, this series plays a bit like Survivor on steroids, played by professionals.
From the very first episode, the team is challenged not only by the elements and the sheer scope of the journey, but by personality conflicts within the team. And from that first meeting, you can see that Pasquale and Benedict will be butting heads with very different styles of expeditions under their belt. What’s amazing is that each member has something to contribute – but it becomes a question of who’s willing to listen before something bad happens.
The goal is to move 970 miles in 30 days. Will they make it? Who will survive the journey? Tune in to find out.
Expedition Africa begins on May 31, 2009 at 10pm EST on the HISTORY channel. If you’re a fan of Survivor, this is one amazing trip to follow. Be sure to check it out.
p.s. Also check out the Expedition Pack contest!!
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