Adventurer Simon Reeve travels the length of South America as he completes the second part of his epic two-series journey down through the entire Americas. Filmed over five episodes, this is an astonishing adventure through some of the most beautiful, fascinating and remote places on earth.
Simon travels from the top to the toe of the continent. Beginning in Venezuela in the north, he journeys right down to the icy channels of Tierra Del Fuego and ends his adventure in the frozen wilderness of Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego, where Simon reflects on the greatest journey of his life.
Along the way, he encounters an incredible range of characters and environments and investigates some of the great challenges facing the people of South America. He visits great cities like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, as well as remote communities from Peru to Paraguay.
Simon visits an island in the clouds, travels by canoe into a lawless gold mining region, helps a sloth, meets a warlord football club owner and a former intern in charge of air conditioning who now controls launches at a jungle space port.
Simon raids an illegal goldmine with the French Foreign Legion and a cocaine production lab with Peruvian Special Forces. He stays with a remote Amazonian tribe who protect the planet’s forest pharmacy, and helps a virus hunter catch bats. High in the Andes Simon visits the fabled site of Machu Picchu, then stays overnight in a small metal tube tethered to a mountain. He encounters forgotten tribes and isolated religious communities.
Simon’s journey began in 2020 but was interrupted by the pandemic, and returning to Brazil after a gap of almost two years he examines the impact of the virus even in the heart of the Amazon. Simon also had his own battle with a mysterious illness he contracted in the Peruvian jungle while raiding a drug lab. During a break in filming he was laid up in an isolation hospital ward in the UK, fighting a raging temperature and narrowly avoiding potentially fatal sepsis.
Simon says: “It’ll be hard to top this adventure. South and North America together are almost a quarter of the world’s land surface and contain every landscape imaginable, from the highest ice-capped mountains and the driest deserts to the greatest tropical rainforests on the planet.
“Travelling through South America was an incredible privilege, and each day was stuffed with memories and experiences. Each part of the journey was completely stunning. I met people I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Yes, I was pretty ill at one point, but that’s an occupational hazard. It was all, quite frankly, bloody brilliant.”
Joanna Carr, Head of BBC Current Affairs, says: “Simon Reeve’s adventures have been hugely popular with BBC Two audiences, so we’re thrilled we’re able to share his epic journey across the Americas where he’s explored such spectacular locations.”
Everywhere Simon travels he discovers a changing continent. Across South America indigenous people are struggling to achieve equality – from the isolated tribes of the Amazon resisting loggers and mining companies, to the people of the dry Chaco, whose land is taken for cattle ranching.
The environment too is under threat, and Simon meets the bold conservationists battling to preserve iconic creatures, including jaguars, sea lions and the beautiful but diminutive golden lion tamarin. While some South American countries have achieved impressive economic growth, inequality and poverty are still widespread; in the high Andes mountains of Peru, Simon encounters the women forced to mine gold in freezing conditions, and in a Rio favela a community leader who has planted her own urban forest to counter the baking heat.
Sam Bagnall, Executive Producer for the Garden Productions which produced the series, says: “Simon has now visited more than 120 countries in his journeys for the BBC, and it’s incredible how he manages to tease out surprising and unexpected stories from the amazing characters he meets. This is South America as you have never seen it before.”
Simon Reeve’s South America is produced by The Garden Productions for BBC Two. It is written and presented by Simon Reeve, executive produced by Sam Bagnall and series produced and directed by Chris Mitchell. The Commissioning Editor for BBC Current Affairs is Gian Quaglieni.