TV review: Expedition Africa

History Channel
Sundays at 10 p.m.
Begins May 31

Facing unforgiving terrain, unexplored areas, dangerous wildlife, and a limited supply of water, four explorers, armed with basic maps and simple compasses, follow the famous 19th century 900+ mile journey of Dr. David Livingstone and reporter Morton Stanley through Tanzania. The foursome face crocodiles, potential water shortages, dangerous mountain terrain, swamps, deserts, fierce weather, 29 types of poisonous snakes and most of all strong egos.

The Expedition: Africa team consists of:

The Navigator: Pasquale Scaturro. He’s an older man who has led three expeditions to Everest, including The National Federation of the Blind 2001 where blind climber Erik Weihenmayer reached the summit. He also organized and led the Nile descent, a 114 day descent of the Nile River from Ethiopia to the Mediterranean Sea, a distance of 3260 miles.

He immediately lets everyone know of his accomplishments and experience right from the start which sets him apart as the defacto leader. He sees himself as the leader and thinks that everything should be done his way. So far, it’s his way or his own way. When others are taking time to looks at the stunning scenery around them, he makes it known that they are wasting valuable time getting to their final destination. For him, it is about the end.

The Wildlife Expert: Mireya Mayor, PhD. A Fulbright Scholar, National Science Foundation Fellow, she became the first female correspondent for Ultimate Explorer on National Geographic television. Besides working on the show for National Geographic, she teaches and studies in the rain forests of Madagascar. In 2000, Mayor discovered a new species of mouse lemur.

She is tougher than she appears. She gets pretty up close and personal with a spitting Cobra because it is “beautiful” to her. She also takes offense when Pasquale dismisses her right off for pacing out a mile when he says: “I know how many paces and she doesn’t so I’ll do it.” He didn’t ever ask her, which really insults her though she takes it in stride. It does live a bitter taste in her mouth for the way he sees her as a girl among the boys out there instead of one of the group of explorers and that does not sit well with someone of her background.

The Survivalist: Benedict Allen. He has written 10 books based on his adventures and six have been turned into BBC series.

An easy going and likeable guy. He analyzes situations and is very at ease in his surroundings. He’s a problem solver and is not quick to judge like Pasquale. Right off, you can tell that the two of them are going to butt heads about a lot of issues. For Benedict it is all about the journey. He wants to see Africa as he travels through not just get to the end point.

The Journalist: Kevin Sites. Sites has worked for CNN covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds a masters in journalism from Northwestern University.

He may be the weak link. He’s scared and not as prepared for outdoor adventure as the others, although he’s trained as an EMT which is quite handy. He has few survival skills. But his drive to experience this as a journalist may see him through to the end.

The first two episodes of Expedition: Africa leave you wondering what will happen next. We learn a bit about the personalities of the four explorers but want to know much more about them. Some clashes have already occurred and they have only traveled nine miles. There have been challenges with water shortages, a guide collapsing, a grueling climb over a mountain range, and some tough weather while at camp. There have also been some wonderful moments with amazing mountain scenery and the rare, natural one-of-a-kind beauty of Africa that not many people will ever get to travel through. This show allows a glimpse into it.

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