Dynasties: where to see the stars of the show


Our Sunday evenings simply won’t be the same now Dynasties is over. From the political struggles of an alpha chimp to the harsh winter conditions faced by emperor penguins, the last five weeks have been an emotional roller coaster that has had us glued to our screens. We’ve laughed, cried, cooed and enjoyed the ultimate sense of calm that only Attenborough’s dulcet tones can create. So now, as we come to terms with the end of the series, we thought we would help you go in search of the stars of the show…

1. Chimpanzees


Man’s closest living relative, the chimpanzee is an incredibly active species and arguably one of the most interesting primates to observe in the wild. They live in complex groups with their own culture, language and even politics, which sees alpha males having to fervently defend their leadership in order to avoid being overthrown by a rival.

Where to spot them?

Tucked away in the remote western part of Tanzania, the beautiful forest-clad peaks of the Mahale Mountains are home to the largest population of chimpanzees anywhere in Africa. Tracking down the chimps along the leafy mountain trails can take anything from 20 minutes to a few hours, and once you find them you can watch them going about their daily lives.

2. Emperor penguins

Emperor penguins

Emperor penguins breed during Antarctica’s long, harsh winter and rely on one another immensely. As soon as the female lays the egg, she leaves it in the care of her loyal mate, while she embarks on a two-month journey in search of food for the family. The male keeps the egg warm, balancing it on his feet under a feathery layer of skin, until it is ready to hatch.

Where to spot them?

For a chance to see emperor penguins in the wild, you’ll need to head to the hauntingly beautiful Antarctica on board an expedition ship at the start of the cruising season. It is somewhat miraculous that animals manage to survive in these harsh conditions, but they do, and visitors can hope to see penguins, whales, seals and numerous bird species all battling the cold.

3. Lions


Lions are the African savannah’s top predator. They live in prides and fiercely defend their territory. Their remarkable manes, earth-trembling roars and expert hunting techniques firmly cement them as one of the world’s most iconic big cats. Despite their ferocious character, they are also the laziest of all the big cats and spend an average of 18 hours per day sleeping.

Where to spot them?

While lions can be seen in parks and reserves all over Africa, Dynasties focussed on the Marsh Pride of Kenya’s Masai Mara. In the area surrounding the Mara there are nine privately managed conservancies set aside for wildlife conservation, which together are almost equal in size to the Mara Reserve itself. These conservancies offer excellent wildlife sightings and fewer crowds.

4. Painted wolves

Painted wolves

The painted wolves that featured in episode four of Dynasties are more commonly referred to as African wild dogs. They are one of the smaller inhabitants of the African bush, but are among the most triumphant hunters, with an astonishing 80% success rate. They use their speed, stamina and pack mentality to bring down animals ten times their own size.

Where to spot them?

Attenborough chose Mana Pools in Zimbabwe as the filming location for the episode on wild dogs, and indeed this is one of the places we have been most successful with sightings of this rare endangered species. On a recent trip to Mana Pools, our Africa specialist Matt was lucky enough to spend two magical hours in their presence.

5. Tigers


Tigers are the largest of the big cats and are especially powerful hunters. They creep up on their prey with great stealth, often waiting and allowing the unwitting animal to move closer of its own accord. Once in striking distance, the tiger pounces on its victim with one fatal manoeuvre, leaving its prey no chance of escape.

Where to spot them?

Central India is tiger country, and Bandhavgarh National Park which featured in last night’s Dynasties is one of the prime locations to go in search of these majestic big cats. The park is home to the highest density of tigers of any of India’s reserves, and with its dense jungle, spring-fed ponds and rich grasslands, it is perfect tiger territory.

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