Twenty miles off the coast of eastern Africa, four modern-day explorers are sailing towards the unknown, the deep interior of Tanzania. They’ll travel 970 miles through the most stunning, epic and unforgiving African terrain fraught with danger. Using only a compass and basic maps, they will attempt to experience the spirit of a remarkable adventure in world history. Their historic exploration has been captured by one of the premiere storytellers of our time, Mark Burnett, for the eight-part television event, EXPEDITION AFRICA: STANLEY & LIVINGSTONE, premiering on HISTORY on Sunday, May 31, 2009.
Explorers in the 19th century were the rock stars of their day and Dr. David Livingstone was the biggest of them all. A true hero of his time and perhaps the greatest explorer ever, he dedicated his life to stamping out slavery. Then, he disappeared. After several years, the public’s fascination with his whereabouts reached a fever pitch. Enter American journalist Henry Morton Stanley. Stanley had never been to Africa but he wanted the scoop, to find out and write about what happened to Dr. Livingstone. He set off to find Livingstone.
The four elite modern-day explorers in EXPEDITION relive Stanley’s perilous journey to find Dr. Stanley Livingstone. They are: navigator Pasquale Scaturro, wildlife expert Mireya Mayor, survivalist Benedict Allen, and journalist Kevin Sites. Together, they will confront obstacles and dangers similar to those encountered by the great explorers before them.
Dr. David Livingstone’s journeys, his subsequent writings and lectures on the mysterious African continent, are legendary. When in 1865 he set out on an expedition in the central part of the “Dark Continent” to locate the source of the Nile River, no one imagined it would be his last great voyage. In 1871, with rumors swirling that he was held captive or even dead, the publisher of the American newspaper the New York Herald, sent their reporter Henry Stanley off to find him. After almost nine months he found Livingstone in Ujiji, a small village on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania on November 10, 1871.
EXPEDITION starts off as Stanley did, on the island of Zanzibar, where the explorers set sail for the Tanzanian coastal town of Bagamoyo. Before heading into the jungle, they must hire local porters to accompany them, and two Masai warriors as insurance against attacks from the dangers that lie ahead. Together, the expedition embarks on their 30-day, nearly 1,000-mile journey into the heart of Africa along the route that Stanley took in the 19th century. They travel through the varied terrains of Africa including dense swamps, rugged mountains and barren deserts, where they face danger from severe dehydration, deadly diseases and wild animals.
“Mark Burnett is a master storyteller who is bringing history to life on a scale never before attempted,” said Nancy Dubuc, Executive Vice President and General Manager of History. “History is committed to making history relevant and immersive, and EXPEDITION AFRICA: STANLEY & LIVINGSTONE is that authentic, visceral journey of survival direct from the annals of history. Simply put, it is history in the making. As these elite explorers are thrust into the treacherous unknown they will take viewers on an unforgettable journey into a world few have explored and fewer have survived. This is non-fiction television at its finest.”
“This is not only the story of four explorers attempting to relive one of history’s most amazing adventures,” said Mark Burnett. “EXPEDITION AFRICA: STANLEY & LIVINGSTONE is an opportunity for all of us to take a look back in time so that we get a real sense of the dangers and obstacles that these bold explorers encountered. It has been an exciting return to my roots in adventure-driven television.”
EXPEDITION AFRICA: STANLEY & LIVINGSTONE is produced for History by Mark Burnett Productions. Executive producers for MBP are Mark Burnett and Maria Baltazzi. Executive producers for History are David McKillop and Charles Nordlander.