After his journeys across Russia and Africa, Jonathan Dimbleby turns his attention to South America. Once notorious for drugs and dictators, the continent still faces daunting challenges but Dimbleby also finds energy and optimism in this 21st century New World.
He travels from south to north through a continent that is a constant source of drama and surprise. In Chile, he discovers a nation transformed since the demise of the dictator General Pinochet, but still working to heal the scars left by his rule. He meets the editors of a satirical magazine called The Clinic in Santiago, before heading out into the heart of 'old' South America to ride with Chile's first female rodeo rider. Further north, he crosses the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world, riding a copper train through the wilderness to the ghost town of Chacabuco. Here he meets Chilean poet Jorge Monteleagre, who tells Dimbleby how under Pinochet the town was turned into a concentration camp where he was detained. Dimbleby goes on to reach the Pacific Ocean where he finds fishermen harvesting seaweed which is exported to China.
From Chile, Dimbleby heads for the capital of Bolivia, La Paz. Here he meets child-labourers who have formed a trade union. Plus two sisters from the once-persecuted Indian community who compete in wrestling matches to assert their national identity teach him in the intricacies of their martial art.
High in the Andes he encounters farmers who cultivate the coca plant from which cocaine is derived but which is also the source of coca tea, Bolivia's national drink. And deep in the Amazon rainforest he finds a remarkable music school where they perform classical works brought to Bolivia three centuries ago by Jesuit priests from Europe.