Seven young explorers relive the legend of Sir Walter Raleigh. The expedition builds to an astonishing climax, as the Serious Explorers reach the spectacular Kaieteur Falls.
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Seven young explorers are taking on the toughest challenge of their lives...
..an extreme expedition
in South America.
That is mad.
They're attempting a series of astonishing world firsts.
-Oh my God!
-..going where no children have been before...
-..to get to some of the most awesome places on Earth.
-We've reached the top.
-Land to starboard!
The team are following in the footsteps of the great Elizabethan,
Sir Walter Raleigh, the first Englishman to explore Guyana
as he searched for El Dorado, the lost city of gold.
Led by survival expert Ben Major
and record-breaking adventurer, Polly Murray,
the epic journey will push the seven explorers to the limit
-It's all bad.
I hate you so much!
-Get them off!
It's just too scary.
-Careful, careful, careful.
..the expedition reaches an awe-inspiring climax,
trekking to the bottom of an immense waterfall.
-You can't get much better than this, really.
And abseiling off the top.
That is the best view in the whole world!
Over the last four weeks, the young explorers, all aged
just 12 to 14, have clocked up an impressive list of achievements.
They've become the youngest team on record to climb
nearly 10,000 feet up Mount Maringma.
We're at the top.
And the first children to stand on the furthest point, known as The Prowl.
They've herded 100 head of cattle...
SHOUTING AND CHEERING
..endured a night surviving completely on their own in the rainforest...
I'm still alive.
..and paddled a record-breaking 75 miles down a remote jungle river.
Oh, it's static at the minute, just so glad that we've done it.
Now after a month of amazing adventures,
the explorers are entering the last week of the expedition.
Though as yet, they have no idea what it holds.
Obviously we're going to leave the biggest...
And you are going to be the youngest people ever
to trek to the bottom of Kaieteur Falls.
-Oh my God!
Cascading 741 feet,
Kaieteur Falls is one of the most powerful single drop waterfalls in the world.
Over the next three days, the team will attempt a groundbreaking trek
up the gorge, to get as close to the bottom as possible.
It's so treacherous,
they'll be the only children on record ever to attempt it.
I like all the parts of the rainforest no-one's been to before
and you can't get better than Kaieteur.
I think it's pretty amazing, I can't wait to get to the bottom.
What they don't know is that they'll also be the first children
to try and abseil from the top of the falls.
Kaieteur Falls sits in the heart of Guyana's unspoiled rainforest,
so the only way to get close is by light aircraft.
They head to a landing strip overlooking the gorge.
All right, gang. Last phase.
But the terrain today is very, very steep.
You've really got to watch your footing
and make sure that we work together, OK?
And let's go and have the most amazing experience, all right? OK?
It will take the explorers three days
to trek a total of less than three miles to the falls.
Today, they've a two mile steep descent to their first camp
at the bottom of the gorge.
Careful, careful, yes?
A big step down.
It's extremely slippery and Sammie is soon struggling.
Sammie is ever so cautious about where her feet are going, she's frightened of falling.
We've got to try and get her out of that
because it gets a lot worse, the further we go down.
Along the route, they encounter all sorts of wildlife.
I found it on the floor.
My baby stick insect.
-Is that a kangaroo?
It's a capybara and it's the world's biggest rodent.
I was going to say what is a kangaroo doing in the middle of the rainforest?
Guys, go, where Sammie's going there, go left.
Some of the boys are finding the slow pace frustrating.
We're walking so slow, we can't get anywhere.
It's like stop, start, stop, start.
It's going to take forever if we keep going like this
and we'll end up getting in to camp in darkness, which nobody really wants.
What these guys don't appreciate is that if one was to take a slip,
then the consequences of a slip are massive.
I feel kind of bad because I'm slowing everyone else down,
so I'm going to try and hurry up but I find it kind of scary.
Hold on to the roots of the trees. They'll help you down.
With the constant hold-ups, Michael and Jake start to mess about.
They should build a massive great slide in the park.
Yes, and you just slide down it. Woo!
On no! Look, I did it again!
Guys, if someone breaks their leg here, we're absolutely scuppered.
Concentrate on what you're doing. Just... Sssh. Yes?
After five hours of trekking,
the explorers finally make it safely to their campsite.
I think we might have arrived.
Good effort, guys.
Shall we call this Old Man's Beard Camp, yes?
Because of the waterfall opposite, which looks like an old man's beard?
-Long and wispy?
In Elizabethan times,
Sir Walter Raleigh was also awestruck by the scenery
he came across as he explored Guyana, especially the waterfalls.
He wrote of one...
"I think there is not in the world so strange an over fall,
"nor so wonderful to behold."
You know when you see on the TV when it all looks fake?
This looks fake because it's that beautiful.
That's literally 10 times smaller than Kaieteur Falls.
Once we get there, that is going to be absolutely mind-blowing.
WHISTLING It's time to do some work.
We're going to lose the light a lot quicker because we're right in a big gorge here.
After weeks away,
the team are getting pretty good at setting up camp.
But there are still the usual jungle hazards to content with.
A cockroach crawled in my sleeve,
I just had the biggest ant on my leg bit me,
big, red ant bit me on the leg, that killed.
Just get it light, get it started.
As team leader for the day,
Michael has come up with a special plan for the camp fire.
We're going to try and get a massive fire going tonight
so in the morning we don't have to start again, it will burn through the night.
Regan's not feeling well so has gone off to his hammock.
I need the toilet and I'm feeling a bit dizzy.
I think I need to lie down for a minute, that's all.
He needs to recover fast,
as the route to the falls is set to get even tougher tomorrow.
In the morning, Michael's chuffed to find his fire still smoking.
I cannot believe that our fire has lasted the whole night.
It was glowing red, so I blew on it a few times and put some sticks on it.
-Is everyone up?
Unfortunately, Regan's condition hasn't improved,
raising a question over whether he can continue.
I feel more or less the same.
I really want to do this, I've wanted to do this for a long time.
So I'm not going to stop now.
It's a concern to Dr Henry.
Regan's got a bit of diarrhoea and is a bit dehydrated.
As a result, he doesn't have much energy at the moment.
Give it a boost, you need the energy, all the energy you can get.
-Try and force it down.
-I don't really want to eat any of it, though.
Today's goal is to forge a route for half a mile
alongside the river to Sandy Camp.
If they make it, it will be a first chance to see Kaieteur Falls.
But unusually heavy rain over the last week
has given them a serious problem.
The water levels are probably two, three metres higher than normal at this time of year.
At the moment there's no river bed,
so we're having to cut our route through the jungle.
We really are genuinely exploring.
If you reckon last night was the most amazing place,
I'm hoping tonight will beat that by a long, long way, OK?
-Let's do it.
They set off into virgin jungle
and the terrain is incredibly tricky.
You can just about kill yourself on anything.
That's why you've got to be on the ball the whole time.
There's holes, there's massive rocks,
there's boulders, there's trees...
There's really slippy rock, just up here.
You do find... Keep going, yes? Big leap.
-Good girl, brilliant.
-Despite the difficulty,
Regan is determined to keep going.
Still feeling a bit tired,
but pushing on and on, feeling better as the day continues.
He's been doing good so far. I wouldn't fancy doing all this if I was sick.
Fast-flowing rapids are now right alongside their route.
Come up here, you get a much better view.
-Whoa. Look at that.
-Quite scary, isn't it?
-Just a bit!
You wouldn't want to fall in, to be honest.
You would not stand a chance.
Just pass back. There's a rope that you can hold onto.
Stop a minute!
-Suddenly, there's a problem.
-What have you done? Hold on.
Jake has fallen badly.
Push on, guys, and just sit down round the corner.
He's hurt his wrist and Dr Henry assesses the damage.
-Keep going, Nikita.
-Can you just tell me what happened?
My foot got caught in a vine and I tried to lift it up
and it got caught and I just went forward.
I landed on my wrist on there.
And you took the fall...
-You took the full weight of the fall on your wrist and it bent back?
He's got a bit of a nasty sprain, but fortunately hasn't hurt himself in any other way
and we've given him some painkillers, bandaged his wrist
and he should be fine, we'll just keep an eye on him.
That's an indication of what the ground's like at the moment.
It's very difficult to see where you're putting your feet and actually having good handles
and you've just got to take your time.
Jake bravely presses on through the pain...
even managing to pull himself up on ropes rigged for the most dangerous sections.
Pretty difficult when you've only got one hand.
Just use your knees, Jake, if it's a problem. That's it.
It takes the team six hours to trek a total of just half a mile.
But at last, they reach camp.
That is relief, to actually be able to walk a couple of metres without tripping over.
We have arrived. I didn't actually think we'd make it.
Nice one, folks.
-Well done, Joshy, well done, Jake.
That was proper pioneering.
Today hasn't been easy at all. It's been, I mean,
we've done a route that probably nobody's ever been down before.
It puts the name "serious explorers" into reality, doesn't it?
They've more than earned their first glimpse of Kaieteur Falls.
-Don't look, don't look, don't look.
-Yes, look up, guys.
Oh, my God!
THEY TALK OVER EACH OTHER
-How beautiful is that?
Can we get right down on the boulders, yes?
Kaieteur Falls is as high as a 75-storey skyscraper
and it's the only place in the world where such a huge
volume of water falls over such a vast distance.
It is just beautiful and it's absolutely huge.
I'd say that's definitely one of the best,
if not the best thing I've ever seen, it's just mind-blowing.
So worth going two days hot and sweaty to be rewarded with that view?
-But we're not there yet.
They've already come where no group of children have been before
but the aim tomorrow is to get as close as possible to the falls
and the only route is at the other side of the river.
We're going to do a river crossing, so we want to be able to swim across the far side.
From there, we're going to pick a route up and over, underneath,
whatever we can do, to forge a route all the way up, that is our plan.
-Is that sounding good?
With no way forward up the right-hand bank,
they'll have to cross a fast-flowing river
and then clamber along treacherous boulders as far as they can.
But as the day draws to an end, there are ominous signs
of yet more bad weather.
You might be able to hear it absolutely chucking it down.
Fingers crossed all goes to plan.
I just hope this doesn't bring the water levels so high
that we actually physically cannot cross the river.
It rains on through the night, and in the morning,
the river levels have risen, but the leaders decide
the crossing can go ahead. Just.
It's genuine exploration. We should be able to cross the river.
That might be the end of it.
But every single little bit closer, it's just the views,
and the feeling of accomplishment is going to be even stronger.
It'll just be the most amazing feeling, to have done all this
and been through everything, from arriving to paddling
and then to finally go out on a bang, basically, just complete the journey.
The river is now flowing seriously fast.
Once we start breaking out to the left,
we'll enter the current.
That's when we ask you to swim strongly. Fast as you can,
and you'll go across but the current will sweep you down.
Michael, if you go first. Nikita, you go second.
-I don't want to do it at all.
-You don't want to do it at all?
Although Sammie can swim, she has a fear of all but the calmest water.
If we had the dinghy here and you in the water
-and you held on to the dinghy...
-OK, I'll do that
but I don't want to go it alone.
The strongest swimmer, Michael, goes first.
With the safety boat on hand and Dr Henry also in the water,
he strikes out into the strongest part of the current.
Swimming hard, all the way, fantastic job. You've got to
keep working. You get the burn in your arms and legs.
You've got to keep driving all the way to the end.
Polly's waiting a little downstream, where he should end up
in the powerful current.
Well done, Michael.
When your head comes out, you can feel the current hit you
and it's sort of a bit of a shock, how strong it is.
They have to allow themselves to be taken downstream,
and not waste energy fighting the flow.
You've got to commit. It is like a 50m sprint, maximum effort.
-Just power through the water.
-Good girl! Keep coming!
It doesn't matter if you float down!
Just keep going like that and you'll be fine!
I had a good look at Kaieteur Falls. It's pretty cool.
You can see all the mist bouncing off the bottom.
Just let the current take you! Good effort.
You make that look so easy!
But Josh isn't such a strong swimmer,
and he makes little headway in the current.
Come on, Josh!
You'll soon be out of the flow.
By the middle he's struggling, and the leaders are getting concerned.
Josh, don't go upstream. Just relax, yeah?
Doesn't matter if you end up down there.
But he digs deep to make it all the way across.
It was pretty nerve-wracking in the middle.
You're just dragged out of direction.
But I did it and it wasn't actually too bad.
That's it. Now hang on. Both hands on that line. Well done.
Sammie takes a ride most of the way.
But after getting through the worst of the current,
she tries to swim the last few metres.
That way. Just come up on the ramp.
-Suddenly, she has a panic attack.
It's all right. You're doing fine.
-And Polly has to step in to help.
-Give me your hand.
Sammie. Sammie. Give me your hand, darling.
Oh, I spoilt it!
Hey, look at me!
-Only a tiny little bit and I couldn't even do it!
Don't worry. You're here.
I'm annoyed at myself because I couldn't even
do the tiniest little bit and that's stupid.
I should have been able to do that.
I'm really annoyed at myself for freaking out.
From now on, every record-breaking step is treacherous.
The rocks are really slippy and just like a sheet of ice.
If you fall off, you'll go down a hole, go in the water
or knock yourself out on one of these rocks,
so it's pretty scary.
It's amazing, getting this close to the waterfall. It's just there.
Every single step that we take from now on
has got danger written all over it.
And I'm not hamming that up.
So please take your time, use your hands, stay low,
centre of gravity low.
No leaping, no jumping.
They inch ever closer to their goal.
Careful, careful, careful!
Nikita! Never again, all right?
You're too cocky, by half.
Don't get swept under there.
Concentrate on what you're doing and then head up onto there, OK?
It'll be really cool when get a lot closer
and see a clear view of it. We can only see a bit at the minute.
But to get still closer
to the falls, they have to try to forge a route
round and under giant boulders.
It's pretty nerve-wracking, the stretch from one rock to another.
You have to hold two hands on the rope and never let go.
It's amazing to see it, but it's really, really, really scary.
Eventually, they emerge from beneath the rocks...
..and find they've reached the end of their journey.
Come on, gang. Look at this!
They're the youngest group ever to reach the bottom of Kaieteur Falls.
Not bad, eh?
That is pretty much a lifetime mission. To come to Kaieteur Falls,
you can't get better than that, can you?
I never thought I'd say that about a waterfall,
but it is actually beautiful.
To come all this way and have that as your view,
it feels absolutely amazing.
What you guys have achieved to get here is absolutely phenomenal.
-Amazing job. Well done.
Woo-hoo! Because, we are now Serious Explorers.
What the explorers don't know
is that it isn't quite the end of the expedition.
As they go back out of the gorge to see the falls from the top,
the leaders break the news of a final, remarkable challenge.
We've got an opportunity to...
abseil, from the point you can see where the ropes are coming down,
and get a really good look at the waterfall.
If you want. It's quite a brave thing to do.
We were down there and now we'll go down the falls. It'll be great.
You won't get to do anything like this again,
so it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I cannot wait to do it!
I'd never, ever pass up anything like that.
Nikita volunteers to go first.
Polly will be down there and she'll give you a seat
to make you more comfortable.
Throughout the whole trip, she's shown nerves of steel.
Just work your feet down. Get the feel of it. Feet a little bit lower.
You'll feel awkward. You've done the hardest move.
Oh, that is immense!
That is the best view in the whole world!
Oh, my gosh!
Oh, my goodness! I cannot believe I'm doing this!
Oh, my gosh! The waterfall's just there!
There's a massive rainbow.
You can see all the valleys, and I'm literally, right,
next to the waterfall. This is amazing!
Keep walking up. Good stuff.
That was actually the best thing I've done on this whole trip
and the fact that it was me controlling myself, it was amazing.
For some, taking their first steps over the edge is very nerve-wracking.
-I'm right here, Jake.
-This is the worst bit.
-All right, buddy? Cool.
Whoa, that is cool.
-Those waves are immense.
Regan has never been happy with heights.
Straight down the cliff. Absolutely perfect.
But he's never let his fear get the better of him.
Oh, my God!
It's just incredible. Everything's just perfect.
-Well, it would be if my feet were on solid ground, anyway.
That is just...
Wow. I feel like I'm in heaven, to be floating.
It don't get much better than that. It was just so spectacular.
Out of 100, that is 110, definitely.
I will always remember this. I'm never, ever going to forget it.
It's six down, one to go, but once again,
Sammie's getting herself into a state.
I'm really nervous. Since I saw Megan come up, I got butterflies.
Oh... Oh... Why am I doing this?
OK, I can do it.
-No, I can't, I can't, I can't.
It's Sammie's final chance to prove herself.
-Keep your legs straight.
-Now we're abseiling.
Look at that! Check it out.
After you get off the edge, oh, my God.
Can't even explain it.
This is surreal. This is like... not even real.
Oh, my God. It looks absolutely amazing.
I was thinking I want to end this trip on a high.
It's once in a lifetime, so I might as well take it.
Well done, guys. Excellent.
It's been a fitting climax to an extraordinary expedition,
full of world firsts and unique experiences.
It has definitely been the most amazing, brilliant, outstanding
five weeks of my life.
There's been tough times - it hasn't always been easy,
but I've just loved every minute.
This experience is the best thing I've ever done in my whole life.
Seriously, I've never done anything so extreme or challenging.
It's taught me that when I put my mind to something, I can do it.
You learn so much, you see the environments,
and just realise how special this planet is.
It's just been mind-blowing.
So many dreams have come true.
If I hadn't found it so hard, it would have been so rewarding.
I have become a stronger person, I think,
and it's something I really want to do again.
It's been amazing, seeing the views and the environment around you.
And I've learned about how to make friends and not argue,
and matured a lot since the start of the expedition.
It's just immense.
You can't put a price on this. It's one of those things, it's priceless.
You'll never, ever do this again. I loved it.
Words can't describe how amazing it was,
to be setting world records
and being the youngest group to get places.
I've learned so much about myself, so much about nature.
It was by far the best thing I've done in my life.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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The record-breaking expedition builds to an astonishing climax, as the Serious Explorers attempt to become the first team to trek up a treacherous gorge to reach the bottom of the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, the world's most powerful single-drop waterfall. They also get a unique - but terrifying - opportunity to abseil off the top of the falls.