Fulfill Your Wanderlust With These Adventure Films
By Richard Campbell
These documentary films let you adventure vicariously (click for more)
Looking for a little inspiration for your next outing? Want to experience heart racing adventure travel from the comfort of your couch? Or as motivation while working out? Look no further.
From heartwarming tales of kindness on the road, to heart-stopping stories of survival when all hope seems lost, these epic, award-winning travel documentaries combine stunning shots of remarkable landscapes with intimate stories of the people who inhabit and traverse them. What makes these films so compelling is how they also shed light on our relationship with the natural world, our obsession with pushing the boundaries of physical endurance, and our common humanity that transcends language, culture, and geography.
Weit: The Story Of A Journey Around The World (2017)
This remarkable documentary documents the three-year journey of Patrick Allgaier and Gwendolin Weisser as they travelled around the world without boarding a plane. Watch as the pair hitchhike, and take buses, trains, and ships over 100,000 km across Europe, Asia, North America, and Central America. The result is an intimate travel documentary that does an excellent job of highlighting the unique and wonderful people, cultures, and societies that they encounter along the way, and the difficulties that many face in their daily lives. What is most striking is the abundance of acts of kindness that they received from strangers all over the world – this is a movie that will restore your faith in humanity and move you to explore as much of this beautiful world as you possibly can. If you’re thinking of ditching the day job and heading off on an epic backpacking adventure, visit Backpacking Site for advice on how to plan your trip.
Hit The Road: India (2013)
In the summer of 2012, two friends participated in the Rickshaw Challenge, in which intrepid adventurers drive across Southeastern India in an auto-rickshaw. Named as one of the 10 Greatest Adventures by Lonely Planet, this journey is no mean feat, particularly when undertaken in a rickshaw with a top speed of 60 kilometers per hour. Hit The Road: India documents the expedition from start to finish, as the two protagonists constantly run out of gas, battle India’s raging monsoons, lose their way, and even end up being detained by the local police. This charming documentary showcases India’s wonderful landscapes and people, while remaining focused on the trials and tribulations that accompany the pair during their attempt to complete the challenge. It will leave you dreaming of travel across the rich and fascinating country of India (although perhaps not in a rickshaw!) The Rickshaw Challenge now offers multiple routes running 7-14 days.
The infamous Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru in the Indian Himalayas has long exercised a powerful hold over the imagination of many a mountaineer. Meru documents two attempts made on the 4000 foot wall by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk, and explores the obsessions and ambitions that drive elite climbers to attempt such dangerous feats. Both attempts to climb the Shark’s Fin are dogged by disaster – the trio had to contend with losing their food supplies, contracting frostbite, an apparent brain hemorrhage half way up the mountain, and the life-threatening consequences of terrible injuries sustained in other activities between the first and second expeditions. Despite being famous for its vertigo-inducing shots of the epic mountain, Meru is a thoughtful exploration of the obsessive nature of elite climbing and the psychological toll of pursuing such extreme adventures. For more information on hiking in the Garhwal Himalayas and visiting this beautiful region of India, check with the local tourist board.
Free Solo (2018)
This thrilling documentary feature scored the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2019, and it’s a deserving winner. Follow the journey of Alex Honnold, a free soloist climber in pursuit of a lifelong dream – to climb the world’s most famous rock without a rope. Honnold’s target is the 3000 foot face of El Capitan, a formidable challenge even with plenty of gear. Made by an award-winning team, including E. Chai Vasarhelyl and photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin, Free Solo is a must-watch for anyone with an interest in climbing, nature, and the limits of human endurance. The cinematography does justice to the beautiful setting of Yosemite National Park, and this alone is enough to inspire. The storytelling is second-to-none, and you’ll be left on the edge of your seat as you follow Honnold through his training, preparation, and the ultimately heart-stopping ascent of this famous cliffside. While you may not be driven to follow in his footsteps, one thing is certain – it will inspire you to visit Yosemite and explore the rich beauty of this unique national park. (Check for health advisories before you go.)
National Parks Adventure (2016)
The United States is home to some truly epic wilderness, and much of it falls into one of 62 designated national parks. This stunning documentary was made to mark the centenary of the foundation of the National Parks Service in 1916, and follows a group of intrepid adventurers as they explore some of the most dramatic scenery in the country. Conrad Anker, Max Lowe, and Rachel Pohl traverse glowing red rock canyons, scale craggy mountain peaks, and climb precipitous rocks. The documentary is narrated by Robert Redford, but the real star here is the scenery, showed off beautifully using immersive, 3D cinematography. If this doesn’t have you reaching for your hiking boots and planning a trip to one of the United States’ spectacular national parks, nothing will. For more information before you go, don’t forget to check out the NPS website for all the latest health alerts. And get advice or find a guide for many National Parks via 10 Adventures.
Touching The Void (2003)
Touching The Void is a critically acclaimed documentary that tells the heart-stopping story of a mountaineering adventure gone wrong. In 1985, two experienced climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, attempted to scale the previously unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. During an unexpected storm, Simpson broke his leg, and when Yates’ attempt to lower him down the mountain goes wrong, he is left to make an agonizing decision. Made using a combination of re-enactments and interviews with Simpson and Yates, Touching The Void is a thrilling tale of adventure, risk, and human survival against all odds. Made by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, this is a powerful reminder of the majesty of the mountains and their brutal indifference to the humans who attempt to conquer them. To learn more about mountaineering, visit the American Alpine Institute website.