By: Ashlee Wilson | Tue 09 Feb 2016, 14:00
Peter from Diamond River Hunters on Discovery.
Have you ever wished for an inside peek at what it takes to find diamonds? Discovery Channel (121) grants us access to one of the most interesting diamond hunts you can imagine with the upcoming series Diamond River Hunters (premiering on Monday 29 February at 21:00).
One of these gutsy hunters, Peter Jago, takes the time to paint a picture of what we, as viewers, can expect.
Born in South Africa and educated in Johannesburg, Peter is an entrepreneur, company director, landlord, and property developer. It’s his entrepreneurial skills that encouraged him to "have a go" at looking for diamonds in the river of Lesotho.
What drives you in your quest to find these diamonds?
I got involved in diamond cutting at a factory in Lesotho in the late 70s. We used to drive into the mountains and buy diamonds from the local diggers. My partner and I would tell each other that we had to go back there and really look because there are lots of big diamonds in the mountains and I think that's what drove us to this. We knew they were there and we just had to go and try to find them.
What can viewers expect from the show?
Everything in the show is 100% natural and real. The idea was to set up and prospect for diamonds and, in talking to the guys who were going to be with us, I questioned how we'd put cameras on the machines to make sure nothing gets stolen, that everything is under control and that nobody gets hurt. The solution was to use a handy camera and let the camera man walk around and just keep recording everything. There’s nothing scripted in this prospecting venture, what you see is what you get.
In this series, what was the most memorable moment for you?
I would say it was probably the Christmas party for the locals and all the orphans. Of course finding diamonds is memorable but I think for me the Christmas party was really outstanding.
What were some of the biggest challenges in your quest?
We went into a part of Africa that was very high - you’re up at 3.6km at the peak and about 2.4km in the valleys - and I think the biggest challenge came when we went in without knowing how any of the machines that we planned to use for the prospecting would perform. We had a huge amount of hassle getting everything to run properly and I think probably the biggest challenge was getting in and out of there. The roads are non-existent and it’s a really high mountainous country. It just makes it more interesting.
If you could go back to the start, what would you do differently if anything?
I think if we went back in the game, which is always a probability, we would go with much bigger machines and we would go in with extra sorting facilities because everything we did was by hand and that was crazy when you need to move tons and tons of ground. A diamond is like a needle in a haystack, you have to move a huge amount of ground before you find anything and I think with the x-ray sorting machine, it would have made things easier. We had to do everything by hand, it was a major, major amount of work.
What did enjoy most about Lesotho?
Lesotho is a small, landlocked state in the centre of South Africa. It’s God’s own country, it’s wild, it’s beautiful, it’s unspoilt - including the people, but it’s also hostile, dangerous, there’s no running water and there’s no electricity. But I think the whole adventure was wild. It’s something that I believe millions of people around the world would love to try and never get the opportunity that we did! We took that bull by the horns, had a go and we really enjoyed it. There would be times when we would moan and groan because there’s no water or electricity, but you get on with it and we really enjoyed it. It was tough but it became a huge amount of fun and like I said, it’s something most people would like to do at least once in their lives and never, ever, ever get the opportunity.
Was it more about exploration as opposed to finding diamonds?
It was more than exploration, it was more about prospecting. It was about going to see if we could find anything and where about we would find it, which was important. You've got a country that’s thousands of square kilometres and you have to base yourself close to a diamond bearing pipe and then try and scratch around and see if you can find anything. It started off exactly like that and then finding something just made it more interesting. I think if you're looking in the right spot, you're going to find it. It’s a matter of finding the right spot!
Make sure you tune in to Diamond River Hunters on Monday 29 February at 21:00 on Discovery Channel (121).