Warning: The following documentaries and movies on travel will make you want to drop whatever you are doing and hit the road for some serious traveling, so do not watch them if you have work tomorrow. You will not enjoy your day very much.
That having been said, I now present the most inspirational travel videos I have ever seen. Know of one that is missing? Then use the comments form below to tell us all about it
Cannibals And Crampons
Screw saving the best for last, this movie deserves to be the first on this list! Cannibals And Crampons documents the 77-day adventure of Bruce Parry and Mark Anstice as they trek through the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia. Some of you may even remember this award-winning movie first airing on BBC1 back in 2002.
After lots of obscure research through old books and maps at the Royal Geographical Society, Bruce and Mark decide their destination for this adventure will be Puncak Mandala, the second-highest mountain in all of Oceania, Australasia, and Indonesia. They discover that apparently Mandala was climbed only once before, during the 1950s, by a Dutch exploration team that reported year-round snow at the summit. It is located in West Papua, New Guinea and the surrounding terrain is literally not even on any map. It is also deep inside cannibal country.
The two of them start the journey by having an authentic dugout canoe made by locals and then begin traveling upriver into some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. As large sections of the deeper Indonesian interior are off limits and require special permits to visit, the duo had to take care to avoid authorities. They also could not ask too many questions about their intended destination, as any interest might tip people off as to their intention. But this also leaves them kind of traveling blind.
After two weeks navigating upstream they have gone as far as they can by canoe and are forced to start trekking it on foot. They hire porters from the local tribe and take off the next morning. From the first minute a machete is mandatory. Crossing raging rivers becomes a frequent burden. Leeches are a daily hassle. Random small rodents become the only meal of the day. Trench foot begins to set in, which is kind of like athlete’s foot on steroids. You know, just your typical vacation.
Throughout the trek the two of them encounter many local tribes, including the only recently discovered Korowai tribe, and with each passing village they learn more about the cannibal clans that supposedly lay further ahead. Before long all of their porters turn back out of fear, all except for one, whom they nicknamed Superman. While he continued to be the duo’s personal guide for another couple weeks, eventually he too would refuse to go any further and they parted ways.
Not all of their encounters with locals go well though. But I don’t want to spoil too much of the movie though. It’s only about an hour long but it will quickly suck you in. Plus there is also thirty minutes of additional footage, which I politely shared with the world on YouTube.
A Map For Saturday
In 2005 Brook Silva-Braga quit his high-paying job as a television producer and left his home in NYC to wander the globe for a full year straight, through over two dozens countries spanning four continents. Throughout his journey he makes friends with many other backpackers and through interviews and stories manages to capture the pure essence of backpacking. If you have never experienced true backpacking or stayed at a hostel, definitely give this a watch.
The movie is an in-depth look at solo-travel and long-term backpacking, which is still a relatively new form of traveling, and it covers really well the many emotions that you feel during the various stages of a long solo journey. Together with the help of his new friends he makes along the way, Brooks and the others really allow you to see things from their eyes.
There also is a bunch of bonus features, including follow-up interview and deleted scenes. I highly recommend watching it.
In this 2011 BBC documentary exploring wanderlust, Richard Grant travels the American southwest meeting drifters, dropouts, hermits, squatters, RVers, snowbirds, and others living the nomadic lifestyle. It explores both how they came to embrace the vagabond lifestyle and what about it makes them tick, and it reveals both the positives and negatives about the the people and the lifestyle.
Richard’s plan is just to travel the road with a cameraman and hope he crosses paths with some of these nomads… and boy, does he ever encounter some characters! Plus the entire hour-and-a-half thing was uploaded to YouTube, so you can always view it there if you cannot find it elsewhere.
I believe the official description sums it up best:
Beneath the America we think we know lies a nation hidden from view – a nomadic nation, living on the roads, the rails and in the wild open spaces. In its deserts, forests, mountain ranges and on the plains, a huge population of modern nomads pursues its version of the American dream – to live free from the world of careers, mortgages and the white picket fence.
When British writer Richard Grant moved to the USA more than 20 years ago it wasn’t just a change of country. He soon found himself in a world of travellers and the culture of roadside America – existing alongside, but separate from, conventional society. In this film he takes to the road again, on a journey without destination.
In a series of encounters and unplanned meetings, Richard is guided by his own instincts and experiences – and the serendipity of the road. Travelling with loners and groups, he encounters the different ‘tribes’ of nomads as he journeys across the deserts of America’s south west.
Into The Wild
This is a mainstream movie and I was a little hesitant to add it to this list, but watching it you cannot help but feel the urge to get out into the wilderness. On the plus side, of all the videos I’ve listed here, this is probably the easiest to track down and watch right away.
Based on a true story. After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters who shape his life.