After last week’s compelling premiere, I was left wondering whether Expedition Africa could maintain its frenetic pace, energy, and sense of wonder throughout multiple episodes. What I didn’t expect was for the show to get even better.
After crossing through the grueling swamps outside Bagamoyo last week, the expedition team faces a daunting 3,000-foot climb through the Uluguru Mountains, where head navigator Pasquale’s unrelenting upward pace turns dangerous, as one porter succumbs to heat exhaustion and collapses.
The interpersonal tension continues this week, though at a more subtle, strategic timbre than in the premiere. Pasquale (navigator) and Benedict (survivalist), both equally knowledgeable and equally stubborn, approach their differences with more tact, and Mireya (wildlife expert) continues in her role as a restrained voice of reason.
This episode is filled with priceless moments. Benedict starts a fire with a tampon. The lead porter takes a wonderful crack at Pasquale’s pace. Mireya eats a goat kidney, as her Maasai admirer looks on. And the entire team dances with giant pythons. I’m not making any of that up. That’s just the kind of show this is, and I love it! I was also thrilled to recognize some of my own backpacking gear in this ep. Pasquale uses my therma-rest, and Benedict has my pack!
Best of all, the explorers’ personalities are being well-developed by the editing team, who refreshingly avoid melodramatic manipulation. Pasquale (navigator) is determined, but not unwilling to listen or compromise. Benedict (survivalist) is fiercely observant and sympathetic, both in regards to nature and the people around him, and he’s a brilliant oral storyteller. Mireya (wildlife) isn’t just tough as nails, she’s kindhearted and maternal. And while Kevin’s relative inexperience in the bush is often highlighted, his resolve in an unfamiliar environment is admirable. Most people would be crying and screaming were they in his shoes!
Also notable is the series’ excellent cinematography, which will have you aching for an African expedition of your own. The music, too, is perfect.
Next week, the team heads downhill into the savanna, a.k.a. Lion Country. I can’t wait. And let’s hope for more interviews with the Maasai and head-porter Julius!
Head over here to watch full episodes online, or tune in to the History Channel Sunday nights at 10/9c.