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Simon Reeve's Wilderness review takes viewers on a magnificent expedition through a breathtaking natural landscape.
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Simon Reeve’s Wilderness review takes viewers on a magnificent expedition through a breathtaking natural landscape.


“Goodness gracious,” exclaims Simon Reeve while trudging through waist-deep mud in the Congo Basin. Reeve and his team are three days away from the closest lodging or medical facility and moving at a speed of about 1 mile per hour, due to the constant need for scrambling, chopping, and ducking, and currently, pulling themselves through a swamp that is sucking at their ankles.

Simon Reeve’s latest series, “Wilderness With Simon Reeve,” offers a thrilling journey filled with daunting obstacles. His trek through the unforgiving rainforest meets the challenge head on, with the promise of worthwhile sights and preservation efforts as a result.

He and his guide, ranger/conservationist Adams Cassinga, start their journey in a canoe on the Motaba River. They then make their way through dense vegetation to meet the Baka, an Indigenous people who have limited contact with Western culture and mostly acquire goods through trading with passing river traders. Despite their troubled history with white visitors, the Baka are not wary or isolated and are excited to greet Reeve and Cassinga with singing and dancing. The villagers eagerly line up to greet Reeve and each one becomes less suspicious as they shake his hand.

In the morning, after Reeve emerges from the hut that the women of the village built for him using branches and leaves – which is perfectly round and resembles a verdant igloo, strong enough to withstand a bowling ball – the men of the village take him to collect honey. A body camera attached to one of the tree climbers captures the method: smoke the bees with smouldering leaves, then reach into the hive and remove chunks of honeycomb that are chewy, flexible, and dark yellow, containing nature’s most beneficial medicines. As with all Baka hunting expeditions, the bounty is evenly distributed among everyone.

Reeve, feeling invigorated and satisfied, departs from the village and shifts his focus to the task at hand. In his previous endeavors, he has traveled extensively and often presented a similar narrative: showcasing remarkable locations, followed by the challenges faced by the local inhabitants as they try to thrive amidst the arrival of opportunistic individuals seeking to exploit their resources and territory.

Simon Reeve and Adams Cassinga

Besides the Baka tribe expressing their grievances about being physically harmed by other tribes, there is not much mention of any particular group being excluded from society. Rather, the focus is on the importance of appreciating the grandeur of the Congo Basin, a vast region spanning the size of western Europe and filled with an abundance of magnificent trees that seem to stretch endlessly. As the Amazon continues to suffer from deforestation and fires, the Congo remains the only remaining fully functioning source of oxygen for the world.

The current situation is at risk. Reeve and Cassinga switch from a boat to a 4×4 and see logging trucks transporting large tree trunks that have been standing for centuries. These trees will soon be used as luxurious flooring in loft apartments. The newly built roads by logging companies will draw in more loggers, both legal and illegal, as well as poachers.

Reeve continues on his journey through the jungle, keeping an eye out for the best primates in the region while Cassinga works diligently to record the timber lorries and trees. Eventually, Reeve spots a playful black crested mangabey in the treetops, enjoying a snack of nuts. This species is exclusive to the area and truly remarkable. Further along, there is a village where a young person is selling various meats, including antelope, porcupine, and even black crested mangabeys. Unfortunately, this is the only way the teenager can afford to attend school.

Following the story about animals and human desires, the hunt begins for the elusive bonobo in a protected forest area. To conclude, Reeve adds some cliché drama to his nature film: the exact number and location of these primates is unknown, so it is unlikely that he will find them… but wait, there they are! Reeve watches in excitement as an adult bonobo basks in the sun just a few yards away.

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Reeve brushes away insects from his eyes, appearing to wipe away mud but possibly also a tear. He then turns to the camera and expresses, “There is still beauty and wonder in this world. I am amazed by the wilderness and the life that still thrives within it. It is one of the few remaining sanctuaries for nature on our planet.” While his latest work may seem more conventional in terms of conservation films, it still conveys a crucial message not to lose hope in protecting the remaining wonders of our world.

Source: theguardian.com