TROPIC OF CANCER PROGRAMME 2 - WESTERN SAHARA TO LIBYA
The 22,835 mile long Tropic of Cancer marks the northern border of the Tropics, the region of the planet with both the richest natural biodiversity, and the greatest concentration of human suffering.
Tropic of Cancer marks the culmination of Simon Reeve's TV journeys around the Tropics, together comprising more than five years of research and filming.
The new series investigates poverty, the drugs trade, climate change, industrial pollution, and a forgotten war - but it is also a spectacular travelogue.
Simon circles the planet, crossing the Sahara, the deserts of Arabia, the jungles of Asia, and borders of North Africa that have been closed to foreigners for decades.
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Programme 2: WESTERN SAHARA, MAURITANIA, ALGERIA, LIBYA
This second leg of the journey is a daunting and extreme adventure, as Simon follows the Tropic of Cancer from the windswept Atlantic coast of North Africa across the Sahara, through southern Algeria and Libya, and across borders that have been closed to foreigners for decades. The journey starts on the coast of Western Sahara, where Simon joins rugged travellers attempting the extreme and exhilarating sport of kite surfing. But Western Sahara is a country still locked in conflict, occupied by Morocco but claimed by an independence movement that represents many of the indigenous Saharawi people. Evading Moroccan secret police Simon meets dissidents who claim to have been beaten and harassed for campaigning for Saharawi rights. Simon then travels through the largest minefield in the world, takes a gruelling train ride through Mauritania, and then drives for days across the Sahara to huge refugee camps in the Algerian desert, where more than 100,000 Saharawis still live – victims of a largely forgotten conflict that still lingers just off Europe’s southern border. On the way Simon camps in the desert, bakes bread in the sand with a Tuareg Nomad and travels with the desert army engaged in a tense stand off with Moroccan forces. Travelling on through Algeria, Simon haggles with a camel trader in Tamanrasset, then enters Libya overland through a crossing closed to Europeans for more than thirty years. Next stop are the spectacular Ubari desert lakes, where Simon takes a swim with a Libyan Government minder who bears an uncanny resemblance to the country's supreme ruler, Colonel Gaddafi. After floating in the waters of lake Al Gabroun, an exotic oasis set amid a sea of sand, Simon moves on to the former oasis of Mandara Lake, which has completely dried up. Some scientists blame climate change, others blame over-farming in the region depleting the underground water table; either way, it is a disaster for the local environment, and a reminder of the vital importance of water to this corner of the Tropics. Simon’s last stop, deep in the Sahara near the Egyptian border, is the site of one of the most astonishing engineering projects in the world: Gaddafi is using his oil-wealth to build The Great Manmade River Project, piping water from a vast aquifer under the sand 250 miles north to Libya's coastal cities. This leg of Simon’s journey ends in a spectacular setting in the far south-east of Libya close to the Egyptian border.


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