About the show

Go with the flow

Rivers are an important part of our economy, culture and psyche.

History, adventure and travelogue combine as Simon Reeve journeys down three of the world’s major rivers: the Nile, Yangtze and Ganges.

Through the stories of the people who live alongside these great waterways, he uncovers their vast influence, and reveals how they unite, and divide, some of the most extraordinary parts of the world.

Tracing the course of each river from source to mouth, this series delves deep into the beliefs and practices that underpin the lives of those living along its banks.

Travel from the twin temples of Abu Simbel to the Nile delta; down the Yangtze from the giant Buddha of Leshen to the Three Gorges Dam and on to Shanghai; and along the great mother Ganges in a world caught between ancient traditions and astonishing modernity.

Along the way, experience a riot of colour, extraordinary spectacle and unexpected encounters.

Full of wonder and breathtaking, magisterial landscapes, Simon Reeve’s Sacred Rivers is a potent mix of revelation and hands-on adventure.


The Nile is generally regarded as the world’s longest river, flowing at a length of 6,853km (4,258 miles).

The Ganges is sacred to Hindus, who worship the river as the goddess Ganga.

The amount of grain produced on the Yangtze river basin would cover half of the whole nation. Rice accounts for 70% of the total, but other crops such as cotton, barley, wheat, maize and bean are also produced in the area.

The Nile is an international river that shares its water resources between 11 countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.

The Ganges river basin covers nearly a third of India and has the highest population of any river basin in the world, containing over 400 million people.

There are more than 50 bridges spanning the Yangtze river, but none of these were built until after 1955. Before then, people crossed the river by ferry.

The Nile is not one long single river. Instead, it has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile. The two rivers meet near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

In 2007, the Ganges was ranked as the fifth most polluted river of the world. Today, it is ranked number six.

The Yangtze is Asia’s longest river and the third longest in the world.


Simon Reeve

Simon Reeve

Simon Reeve was born in 1972 and is the older brother of award-winning photographer James Reeve.

He was brought up in West London and took up a series of jobs after leaving school that saw him working in a supermarket, a jewellery shop and a charity shop. He then found employment as a postboy at a British newspaper and began to research and write in his spare time, eventually becoming one of the newspaper's youngest ever staff writers at the age of 19.

Simon began making travel documentaries for the BBC after the attacks of 11 September 2001. His first foray in front of the camera was for Meet the Stans – a four-part BBC series on Central Asia that took him from Kazakhstan, through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Since then Simon has filmed a number of successful travel series including Equator (2006), Tropic of Capricorn (2008), Tropic of Cancer (2010), Indian Ocean (2012) and Sacred Rivers with Simon Reeve (2014).

His extensive travels have seen him survive malaria, play polo with the corpse of a headless goat, blackmailed and abandoned by drivers in an Ebola zone and arrested for spying by the KGB.

Simon is a New York Times bestselling author. His first book was The New Jackals, published in the 1990s, and it is the first book in the world on Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. This was followed in 2000 by One Day in September, which deals with the 1972 Munich massacre. His books have been translated into over 20 languages.

Next on...

Episode 1, Series 1

Thursday October 24 at 3:10am

The Nile

Simon Reeve travels along the Nile; from the holy source of the Blue Nile in the Ethiopian highlands through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. 1/3

Episode 2, Series 1

Thursday October 24 at 4:05am

The Ganges

Simon explores the Ganges and, along the way, meets westerners seeking spiritual enlightenment and discovers how the river is being severely polluted. 2/3

Episode 3, Series 1

Thursday October 24 at 5:00am

The Yangtze

Simon follows the Yangtze to Dazu where he sees ancient rock carvings before arriving at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's biggest power station. 3/3

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