“72 HOURS” HOST BRANDON JOHNSON RECAPS EPISODE 7 “Fijian Jungle”
After a 6-hour layover in LA our International departure to Fiji was about to begin. We had just wrapped 3 weeks in the American Southwest and our next “tropical” destination was a welcomed change. I’d never been to Fiji before. Visions of clear blue water, coconuts and vast beaches danced in my mind. However once we hit the tarmac those images were wiped away. We landed in Nadi, Fiji and from there were transported out to the middle of rice field. Luckily our living arrangements weren’t as bad as the metal huts that surrounded us. It was so bizarre. The first few days it rained and rained and rained. The humidity was at times unbearable and nothing ever dried. We still hadn’t entered the Jungle yet. “We are gonna earn this one-all of us.”
Eventually the clouds parted briefly and it was time to shoot the open of the show. A twenty-minute helicopter ride got us to the interior. The Jungle below looked like big bunches of broccoli. They dropped me off next to a river and we scouted the area. After an hour had passed we were finally ready to shoot. I was dripping with sweat. The production helicopter flew away and I got on my mark. Just then I felt a drop on my head. Then another. Then another. Within seconds a full on rainstorm erupted. I sought shelter under some reeds near the riverbank, but it didn’t really help. For a while I thought they wouldn’t return because it was raining so hard; also I had no walkie with me to communicate. 90 minutes passed and I emerged soaked to the gills. My introduction to the Fijian jungle was a litmus test for what was to come.
The bugs and insects in the Jungle were on a whole other level too. I recall seeing Shelby’s legs (Blue Team) after a night in the wild with nothing, but a pair of shorts on. I swear she must’ve had over 500 mosquito bites-it was extreme. Sleeping outside in a jungle with no shelter or proper clothes must’ve been terrifying. Those surroundings come alive at night and you can’t see a thing. I was also amazed how teams could navigate through the labyrinth of trees, plants and dense bush. Once one is under the canopy of the jungle it’s next to impossible to gain a proper sense of direction. The teams had to trust the GPS and each other. Making a poor directional choice in that environment could implode a team in seconds. In the end, the “Fiji Jungle” episode was the hardest of all eight we shot. The multitude of unknown factors, dealing with a climate that was always changing, insufferable heat and humidity and God only knows what was in those rivers.
Though Flinders Island almost shut us down, this particular shoot was a marathon. As always, I tip my hat to the crew who captured all the incredible footage and walked every step next to the competitors. Not sure if I’d ever want to return, but it would be nice to see all the lovely people we met along the way. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “LET’S GET TROPICAL!”
Base camp departure
Heli detour due to morning fog
Stuck in the rain forest
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