Simon Reeve goes into the wilderness of the Congo

Sunday: Wilderness with Simon Reeve (BBC2, 9pm)
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Adventurer Simon Reeve doesn’t always make a beeline for exotic locations – in recent years, he’s made documentaries about the Lake District and Cornwall (although to be fair, they aired during the pandemic, when even TV’s most intrepid travellers had their wings clipped).

However, for his latest series, he’s visiting some of the most remote places on Earth, as he discovers that even on our overcrowded planet, there are still places where nature has the upper hand.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Simon says: “These have been the most extraordinary journeys and expeditions I’ve ever undertaken. They were knackering, sweaty, draining, emotional, inspiring and occasionally scary. But always brilliant.”

Simon Reeve with a remote Baka community in the CongoSimon Reeve with a remote Baka community in the Congo
Simon Reeve with a remote Baka community in the Congo

He added: “Our planet is sublimely beautiful. What an incredible wild home we still have to look after and celebrate. We travelled and trekked deep into some of our last great wilderness areas, to capture their beauty, meet the people who live there, and find some of the most spectacular wildlife on the planet, including giant whale sharks, pumas, and bonobos, perhaps our closest relatives.”

Over the next four weeks, we’ll see him explore the Pacific Ocean’s spectacular Coral Triangle, the sweeping Kalahari desert and the awe-inspiring landscape of Patagonia.

As well as getting up close and personal with the wildlife, he’ll be finding out what we can do to preserve these areas for future generations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His adventure begins though in the Congo, the second greatest rainforest on Earth. Covering more than a million square miles, it’s home to tens of thousands of plant and animal species, a third of which cannot be found anywhere else.

Simon is making his way across five-hundred miles of the dense jungle, and it’s one of the toughest journeys he’s ever undertaken.

His starting point is the northwest of the Congo basin, where he gets his first insight into the obstacles ahead, which include peat bogs, impenetrable thickets and biting insects.

The presenter makes his way to a village that’s home to the Baka people, who have lived in the Congo for thousands of years. He learns how their unique culture is based on sharing resources and respecting the forest.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Their ancient way of life is now under threat, as loggers and poachers encroach on their home, exposing the Baka to new diseases and decimating the wildlife on which they depend.

From there, Simon heads to a region called Salonga. It’s home to the biggest area of protected forest in Africa, but while the national park may be the size of Belgium, it has no paved roads.

So, the journey is about to get even trickier, but Simon hopes it will be worth it as his aim is to glimpse a bonobo, the great ape which can only be found in the Congo.

As Simon learns though, its habitat is at risk from the expanding human population of the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s poorest nations, where many people survive by clearing the forest for farming and firewood.