October 12, 2009
Life, the latest nature show from the BBC and Sir David Attenborough, begins tonight in the UK, Monday 12 October at 9pm on BBC1. The 10-part show focuses on the extreme survival methods employed by Earth’s 30 million or so animals and plants, capturing mind-blowing behaviour, strange creatures and epic spectacles in TV firsts. All of which makes domestic life seem a little, well, plain. To help, Travel PR has compiled holidays to see a major feature of each episode:
Episode 1 – Challenges of Life – Capuchin monkeys in Brazil
Capuchins are considered to be the world’s most intelligent monkeys. As Life displays, they are excellent problem solvers: watch them use rocks as tools with which they crack open nuts against nominated stone anvils. Their brain accounts for about 1.9% of their total weight – human brains equal about 2% and chimpanzee brains about 0.9%. Spend three nights seeing these complex primates in their natural Amazonian habitat on a tailor-made itinerary with Sunvil Traveller* (020 8758 4774, www.sunvil.co.uk).
Episode 2 – Reptiles & Amphibians – Komodo Dragons in Indonesia
Life’s second episode contains amazing footage of a Komodo Dragon hunting down a water buffalo, pursuing it relentlessly for two weeks after one poisonous bite. Adventure specialist Explore* (0844 499 0901, www.explore.co.uk) has a 16-day Indonesian family adventure – riding a traditional two-masted schooner through the tropical islands – which includes a search for the dragons on Komodo Island. You’ll also seek out flying foxes on Lombok, enjoy beach barbecues and do no end of swimming and snorkelling.
Episode 3 – Mammals – Fruit Bats in Zambia
A highlight of Episode 3 is footage of Zambia’s fruit bat convention. Throughout November, the skies above the Kasanka National Park fill at dusk as ten million giant bats leave their mega roost. They’ve migrated from the Congo to feed on a billion pieces of forest fruit, and break a tree branch every three seconds with their colossal weight. To watch the convention, take a 12-day ‘Black Lechwe Safari’ with Expert Africa* (020 8232 9777, www.expertafrica.com).
Episode 4 – Fish – Gobies in Hawaii
To escape predators, the tiny goby fish of Hawaii climb up 400m waterfalls, using specialised discs that allow them to stick to vertical rocks. See Hawaii’s famous cascades on a boat trip along Wailua River during a 19-day ‘Very Best of Hawaii’ group tour with Journeys of Distinction (01704 883 000, www.jod.uk.com). The trip also includes the beaches of Oahu, Kauai and Maui, visits to Pearl Harbour and Haleakala Crater – the largest dormant volcano on earth – and a whale-watching cruise.
Episode 5 – Birds – Lesser flamingoes in Kenya
While standing in a soup of caustic soda might not be the environment of choice for most bird or animal life, to the long-legged lesser flamingo it’s sublime. Surrounded by geysers and hot springs, the spectacular setting of Kenya’s soda lakes plays host to as many as a million of these coral-coloured visitors each year – providing a must-see experience on visits to this enigmatic country. Tailor-make your own Kenyan adventure with Africa experts Baobab Expeditions (020 8951 2854, www.baobabexpeditions.com).
Episode 6 – Insects – Monarch butterfly migration in Mexico
Orange-winged Monarch butterflies navigate around 3,000 miles from Canada to central Mexico’s fir tree forests, although quite how they find such a specific location remains a mystery. As their mass arrival in November coincides with the ‘Day of the Dead’ festival, indigenous communities believe the Monarchs represent returning dead souls. They’re certainly powerful: while most adult Monarchs live only four or five weeks, the migratory generation survive for seven or eight months. For those wanting to see the mass migration arrive – a phenomenal spectacle – Sunvil Traveller* (020 8758 4774, www.sunvil.co.uk) has tailor-made 16-night itineraries.
Here’s an interesting way to experience the migration…
Episode 7 – Hunters and hunted – Chital deer in Bandhavgarh NP, India
The chital deer in India’s Bandhavgarh National Park have a unique way of combating the threat of hungry tigers: they listen out for alarm calls from the langur monkeys, who see the hunting cats from their lookout high in the trees (or watchtowers) above. See all three protagonists of this rare ritual, plus take elephant-back safaris, on a ten-day safari to Bandhavgarh with India specialists Real Holidays (020 7359 3938, www.indiaportfolio.co.uk).
A brilliant photo by Matthew Burrard Lucas…
Episode 8 – Creatures of the deep – Coral polyps off the coast of Cuba
In the tropics, coral polyps multiply and grow, creating the largest living structures in the world that, staggeringly, harbour a quarter of all marine life. And yet the reefs are built by minute creatures, and occupy less than one per cent of the oceanic floor. Keen to investigate these incredibly colourful and beautiful structures at first-hand? Cuba’s marine area of Maria La Gorda has crystal-clear, warm waters and 39 diving spots with a vast range of corals. Go with Captivating Cuba (08444 129916, www.captivatingcuba.com).
Episode 9 – Plants – Dartmoor woodland in the UK
Part of this episode involves footage of a Dartmoor woodland: an entire growing season filmed in one continuous shot. The location of this remarkable shoot isn’t known – other than that it’s 1.5 miles from the nearest road – but why not watch the show to see if you can track down the chosen copse? Even if you can’t find the site, there’s plenty of wondrous woodland all around. Stay on Dartmoor at Seashores, a spacious apartment within a wing of elegant Didworthy House. You’ll be given a cream tea on arrival and the owners will happily arrange delivery of fresh organic vegetable boxes at cost. Classic Cottages (01326 555 555, www.classic.co.uk) offers three-night stays.
Episode 10 – Primates – Ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar
Madagascar might be the movie setting for cartoon characters Marty the Zebra and Melman the Giraffe but, in real life, it’s home to the ring-tailed lemur. These perfumed primates hang out amid the island’s spectacular Isalo National Park, using their scented tails to attract a mate. Discover them and the rest of ‘Untamed Madagascar’ on a 13-night escorted itinerary with Voyages Jules Verne (0845 166 7035, www.vjv.com) – as well as Isalo, it also includes a city tour of Antananarivo and time in Ranomafana National Park.
Two ring-tailed lemurs being very nice to each other…
*This company is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO): 140 independent and specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO are assured of 100% financial security, high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.co.uk for more information.