Steve Backshall's Extreme River Challenge

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Steve Backshall's Extreme River Challenge

Series 1 - Episode 1

Sat 13 Jun 7:10am - 8am Dave


Steve Backshall is the perfect action-man naturalist for this kind of series. He can be kayaking down rapids one minute, spotting a bird of paradise the next, then he’ll bump into remote villagers and converse in the local language.

This time he is in Western New Guinea, hoping to navigate the Baliem river from its source in the island’s central highlands 500km to the sea – but we know from his previous expeditions that when you’re attempting challenges this remote, events can thwart even the best-resourced camera crew.

But who cares about the plan? There’s ample distraction as Backshall and team kayak the un-kayakable and explore underground caverns bigger inside, we’re told, than the Royal Albert Hall.

We also see what must be the best subtitle of the week as one local tells her village elder, “Papa, make sure your penis gourd is tied on properly.”


The naturalist travels down the Baliem River in New Guinea from its source to the sea, hoping to encounter the ancient tribes and dangerous wildlife that live long its banks and in the surrounding jungle. He begins his journey inland at Lake Habbema, and braves some of the world's fiercest white water rapids. Along the way, he stays in a village belonging to the Dani tribe and ventures into some previously unexplored caves.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Steve Backshall
Contributor Aldo Kane
Jordy Searle
Director Alexis Girardet
Executive Producer Jonathan Renouf
Producer Alexis Girardet
Producer Ingrid Kvale
Writer Alexis Girardet
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