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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

Age of Nature

By Jude Limburn - 13th October 2021

A couple of years ago our M.D, Steve Berry, accompanied a small film crew to Bhutan as their 'fixer' and local expert. The crew were filming an episode of a new BBC4 series called the Age of Nature which explores mankind's relationship with nature and wildlife and looks at ways that scientists and conservationists are working to restore the planet.

Previous film experience in Bhutan

The 'Age of Nature' series is the brainchild of Brian Leith Productions based in Bristol, and we were delighted that Mountain Kingdoms was chosen by them to handle all the logistics and the various necessary permits to film in Bhutan. We have previously handled a variety of films in Bhutan including Channel 4's film about the huge Punakha flood in 1994, an episode of the BBC's Last Man Standing series, Icon Films (Bristol) film about Steve's search for the Yeti, the BBC's Holiday programme presented by Angela Rippon, Channel 4's film about Steve's expedition to attempt Mount Gangkar Punsum. We also assisted Michael Palin's Himalaya series when he visited Bhutan in 2004, and helped with Joanna Lumley's film about her visit in 1997.

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Steve and the yeti hunting team in Bhutan

The programme

The purpose of this programme is to highlight the fact that the small kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalaya is the only carbon negative country in the world, and that the stability of its pristine environment is threatened by two countries which are two of the world's greatest polluters - China to the north and India to the south. Their actions are causing the Himalayan snows and glaciers to melt at an alarming rate. This in turn has caused glacial lakes to burst their banks resulting in huge floods down Bhutan's narrow valleys. The film's presenter, and its star, is the retired Prime Minister of Bhutan, Dasho Tshering Tobgay, a well known figure in the fight against climate change. In recent years he has given stirring and eloquent speeches at many Climate Change conferences, and he gave generously of his time to be interviewed 'in the field' for this important programme.

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Filming Dasho Tshering Tobgay on location

The film is due to be shown on BBC 4 on Wednesday 20th October at 10.00pm, as part of the 'Age of Nature' series. It is no accident that it roughly coincides with the big climate change conference (COP26) shortly to be held in Glasgow - 31st October to 12th November.


The two week schedule of filming was a non-stop, dawn to dusk series of meetings and interviews combined with searches for the best scenic shots to illustrate Bhutan's pristine beauty. To maximise the scenic shots two of the crew went by helicopter to film the glacial lakes in the Bhutanese Himalaya. This proved to be a helicopter ride like no other, and they returned dazzled by their rare, privileged experience. As part of showing Bhutan's carbon negative credentials the team were first shown around one of the largest dams supplying hydro power to neighbouring India, and secondly filmed fabulous forest in the Jigme Dorji National Park. The crew were amazed at the sophistication of the early flood warning system now in place in Bhutan. This is designed to alert the people living in the Punakha valley to the bursting of a glacial lake and the resulting major flood it would cause. The crew were invited to see the control centre in Thimphu, and were later shown early warning stations in the valley. The prospect of another major flood is taken so seriously that the live radio controlled system is manned 24/7.

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Preparing the helicopter for the shoot

In the course of thirty five years Steve has travelled some 20 times to Bhutan. As a result he has made friends with people from all walks of life and was able to arrange interviews with many relevant characters. If the crew wanted to shoot farmers crossing a suspension bridge with mountains in the background Steve knew where there was one round the corner. Life on the shoot was a great deal of serious intent mixed in with much fun and laughter, and daily doses of gin and tonic.

Watch the Bhutan Episode 3 on Wednesday 20th October on BBC4.

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