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June 10, 2009 Comments (0) Editorials

Expedition Africa Initial Impressions

In today’s world we seem to have an overabundance of television, and yet very seldom do I find a show that impresses me enough for it to stand out from the pack.  We are inundated with shows about home and garden, travel, cooking, and reality themes, as well as many other genres.  However, a new show was thrown into the fray last weekend.  This show is titled Expedition Africa, and involves following a crew along a historical path into the wilds of Africa.

The basis of the show centers on the famous expedition made by Henry Stanley in 1871.  He was a reporter sent by the New York Herald to find famous explorer Dr. David Livingstone, who had seemingly disappeared into the wilds of central Africa.  The show follows his trek into Africa, starting at the island of Madagascar and ending in Tanzania where Stanley eventually found Livingstone in November of 1871.  While the show may be considered reality television, there is far more to it than simple bickering and drama, which has framed many of the reality shows on TV to date.  The crew faces the same obstacles and hardships that Stanley’s expedition did.  They must navigate using only basic maps and a compass.  They face the brutal heat and dehydration issues that Africa presents.  They face medical emergencies.  Modern gear is used, but the skills that kept Stanley’s crew alive are necessary for the modern crew to succeed as well.  One hundred years of gear development doesn’t change the rugged terrain and harsh conditions.

As one might expect, those of us who are interested in a show like this are looking at the survival aspects and the gear.  The first episode did not disappoint, showing many excellent shots of the gear as well as pounding in the importance of some basic survival skills.  As fellow Woods Monkeys, I would highly recommend you keep a close look at the gear they are using.  Some of it is very recognizable, and may be the very same gear that many of us own!  The survival aspects covered in the first show included the absolute importance of staying hydrated, the importance of not becoming separated from your party in the wild, how shelter can impact your overall comfort, and the importance of knowing how to navigate using only a map and compass.  All the talking points are presented in a non-rushed, very clear manner.  For many of us here these points of interest may seem basic and redundant, but for those that aren’t into wilderness survival the information can be priceless.   I am looking forward to finding out what new aspects of survival the show is going to cover every week.

In the making of any network television show, experts are contacted for input, suggestions, and help.  The good folks at the History Channel are no exception.  They tapped Kevin Estela for some expert survival advice, and he is certainly capable of providing it.  Kevin is one of the survival instructors at the New York based Wilderness Learning Center.  I spoke with him on the phone about the show, and he spoke with great enthusiasm about the people at History Channel, and how they are dedicated to showing the entire adventure retracing Stanley’s trip.  He spoke of a few of the emergencies the crew is going to face in coming episodes, as well as the various aspects of survival in the wilderness that have been, and are going to be covered, in the show.   One of the promotional videos for Expedition Africa that is available shows Kevin providing advice about the importance of shelter and fire.

Kevin also spoke about the gear used in the show.  He, like most outdoor enthusiasts, loves his gear.  He assured me that as the show progresses we will be able to see the crew using their gear quite a bit, which should allow us to identify some of it, as well as see how it performs while they are using it.

I’m quite excited to see a show like Expedition Africa introduced to prime time TV, which right now is ruled by programs that are rather mundane.  Hopefully, as the show progresses, more and more viewers will tune in.  Quality TV programming like Expedition Africa excites me, and I hope that the readers here at Woods Monkey will join me in watching it. 

Expedition Africa airs on Sunday Nights at 10pm EST.

For more information about the show, visit the History Channel website.

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