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Monday, June 25, 2018

Bear Grylls and Joseph Gordon-Levitt thrive on the wilds of Kenya

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Running Wild returned with its fourth season on May 7th, 2018 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt has been a prolific actor from his youth and claimed fame when he starred in the popular television series 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996-2001).

He has then gone to star in many movies as protagonists in 500 Days of Summer (2009), Inception (2010), Looper (2012), playing Robin in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Don Jon (2013), Snowden (2016) and even a cameo in the final cut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). He is also a writer and director.

This episode Grylls and Levitt travel to the Northern plains of Kenya, Africa. Grylls says that Levitt may have conquered Hollywood but can he survive the wild.

Levitt waits for Grylls on a balcony on what seems to be a residence. He states that he did do camping as a child but nothing as extreme as this and his imagination is running wild. Then he goes "Oh Wait, that's the name of the show, I didn't do that on purpose."  He has been a city boy so to speak.

Grylls is getting board on a helicopter and states that Gordon-Levitt is one of the most talented guys in Hollywood as he can write, sing, act and direct but Africa demands a whole other set of skills. While Levitt waits on the balcony he states that Grylls has given him some binoculars and he is surveying some elephants. He states the whole place is teeming with life and you can hear it just as you step outside.

Grylls comes in the helicopter and Levitt states he knows how to make an entrance. Soon they hug as a welcome and Grylls checks Levitt's harnesses as they go to the helicopter.

They are riding the leg of the helicopter secured by harnesses. Levitt is pumped up and screams in excitement as they ascend to the air.

Grylls explains to Levitt they are going West and looking for a place to land. Levitt is shown Buffalo down below by Grylls and states they are dangerous as they can just charge you.

Grylls wants to land somewhere but it's a no go as it's too dusty and it's a risk getting sand sucked up in the engine. Grylls spots a water source and says that's the best bet of getting down and tells Levitt to take off his backpack.

Grylls asks Levitt if he can swim and Levitt says yes so, they hold on tight and when they are few feet above they just jump in the water. Grylls suggest they get out of the water quickly so not to attract crocodiles.

Grylls says that from here it is 30 miles till the end of their adventure heading East. Grylls says it will be desert and scrub, and hot but they should stay together and stay alert and have fun.

Grylls gives us a breakdown of the journey saying they will traversing 30 miles through rocky terrain and gorges of the African Savannah, foraging for food and appropriate shelter to protect them from animals. The second day they must climb up a massive dome before reaching their extraction point.

Levitts says he grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and that he used to go camping and wanted to travel unmarked trails. Levitt says he wanted an adventure like this and come to Africa and be under the tutelage of Grylls. Soon, they stumble upon some wild camels.


He says they may be owned by Samburu tribe but they are not certain. Also, they are Dromedaries, which are one humped creatures and not two humped like traditional camels. Grylls says they can be bad-tempered, especially if they are feeding, however, they could get close enough to milk them.

Grylls explains further that milk is one of the best survival foods out here. Grylls also mentions to Levitt if the Dromedary looks aggressive at him just to spit sideways. Grylls milks the Dromedary but when Levitt tries the camel almost kicks him hard. Grylls spits at her to decrease her aggression and Levitt says he is just a bit bruised in the shin. They try the milk and Grylls states the adventure has begun with the first scar and he likes it.

  They keep walking and then take a two-minute break where Grylls and Levitt talk a bit and drink some water. They continue on their journey and collect some elephant dung for fire fuel.

Levitt is relieved as he was like hope they were not eating that as he saw the episode he did eat elephant dung. Levitt juggles and kicks the dung for fun.

Soon, they have to repel down somewhere. Grylls says the best way to rope down and use a big sturdy tree as a grapple. Also, they have to go down one by one.

Grylls tells him to keep his arm as a lock and not let go nor else the rope will fall off and he will tumble down. Despite, seeming nervous Levitt does it and Grylls says well done and Joseph is excited and says this must have been his favourite part till now and he wouldn't mind going again.

They find the head of a buffalo carcass but Grylls suspects something. He drops a rock in the water pool and also moves a stick around and a crocodile latches it. Grylls says that despite seeing crocodiles so many times his heart still races as they are powerful creatures.

Grylls states to go around. Levitt is assigned to use a stick to push the crocodile away and Grylls will get the buffalo head out of the water, which the crocodile was eating.

Luckily, the crocodile doesn't make any sudden moves and the head is actually filled with maggots but the tongue is still edible. Levitt laughs as Grylls tells him to cut the tongue and he does.

Grylls rubs sand on the tongue to clean it and says they will eat it later. Levitt did say the carcass had the worse smell he ever registered in his entire life.

Grylls knows they have to build shelter as they are 100% lions and leopards in the area and many predators come out at night. He suggests making a perimeter like fence such as a Samburu called a bomer, which is filled with sharp thorns and branches and keeps predators away.

They collect the materials and then they want to start a fire. They used the lens of the binoculars on the dung and Levitt used to do this with his brother as children with magnifying glasses. The sun goes away and Levitt reveals his older brother has passed away at the same age he is now: 36.



Grylls consoles him and Levitt states his brother would have loved all of this. Soon, they start the fire and high-five each other. Grylls asks about his brother and Levitt explains he usually doesn't talk about this in television but he feels he should a bit now to help anyone with grief.

He eloquently describes grief, its stages, the numbness and how not to stop feeling sad or resist or force anything. At time, he felt nothing and got guilty or laugh and feel guilty. Yet, those are normal parts of grieving too and so he shouldn't feel guilty. Levitt asks Grylls if he lost someone and he confesses he lost his father when he was very young.

They soon cook the tongue and Grylls says they are lucky because there has been no rain. Soon, they start eating it and Levitt is happy it is not as bad as he imagined. In the middle of the night, Grylls and Levitt spot some eyes, wild animals who are observing them.

Levitt, under Grylls' advice, takes a burning log and makes a lot of noise scaring them away. In the morning, they make tea with something called a resurrection bush, which Levitt says smells nice and have that. They put off the fire and start on their journey to their extraction point.

They take a small break for water before doing the final stretch of their journey. Levitt admitted people doubted when he was going to do the show as his friends say he hardly leaves the house but Grylls says he has shown them. Levitt says he loves variety in his life so he is doing this and it is thrilling.

Their extraction point is up a dome formed by volcanic activities millions of years ago. Grylls has placed a hemp ladder to get there and they are sturdy and reliable. Grylls goes first, saying if it can carry his weight it can carries Levitt's. After climbing up, Levitt is harnessed to a rope and he starts the climb.

Levitt is scared of heights so this is also nerve wrecking but Grylls says if he stays focused things will be okay. Grylls advised him to use his leg power more not his arm power and Levitt agrees but says it is unfortunate his legs are not as long as Grylls'. Though Levitt struggles a bit he makes up on top.

Then they walk to the summit and Grylls uses a mirror to flash light to attract the helicopter. Levitt screams in triumph as they aboard the helicopter. Grylls appreciates Joseph is driven, protective of his family and respectful of his surroundings, which is both key to surviving life and the wild.


The writer is a copy editor at
The Asian Age

-----Zarin Rafiuddin

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