Michael Palin’s lust for travel is as strong as it was when he went Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole and Full Circle. His newest adventure is one of the great challenges in world travel. Crossing the Sahara from the rock of Gibraltar to Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and beyond, Palin’s route takes him across sand-seas, along rivers, through oases and over mountain ranges. In a place characterized by ceaseless travel, from camel caravans to car rallies, Palin’s love of people sees him chatting with townspeople and villagers from countries many people know little about.
It has the magical appeal of an unknown land, and begins at the shores of the Mediterranean. It also provides enormous potential for entertainment as well as adventure, for a closer look at the Sahara reveals not the emptiness of endless sand dunes, but a huge and diverse range of cultures and landscapes and a long history of civilization, trade, commerce and conquest stretching from the ancient Egyptians to the oil-rich Islamic republics of the present day. Human history has left its own monuments preserved by the hot dry climate like nowhere else on earth. Michael visits the massive creations of the Pharaohs, the castles of the Carthaginians, the amphitheaters of the Romans and the battlegrounds of World War Two. In the southern Sahara, he sees the mosques of Mali – extraordinary cathedrals built with mud. The desert is rarely empty for long.
Camel caravans and car rallies cross it, there are smugglers and refugee camps and secret conflicts and towns and villages alive with the different character of countries we know little about. The series rediscovers the spirit of exploration. Many of the countries Palin visits have hardly been seen on television before. Some, like Mauritania and Chad, are difficult to get to, others like Libya, have only just opened up to the West
There is no easy way to cross the Sahara by land and Palin encounters the same problems and difficulties faced by travellers for centuries.To help him on his way he learns from those who live in this harsh land. As with all Palin’s travel programming, a part of the series’ colour comes from the people he meets, and relationships he develops along the way. This journey stretches Palin and his award- winning team, and presents an exciting challenge for the large and loyal audience which followed his previous exploits