6 Inspiring Adventure Documentaries to watch

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Last year I had come up with this list of 7 Travel Videos and it was quite well received. Because lists are so much fun and adventure is always awesome, here's a list of 6 documentaries on crazy adventures from around the world.

1. The Trail of Gengis Khan

The moment I started watching the video, the only thing that was going through my mind was from where did he get the courage to do something like that? This is an incredible story of a young adventurer from Australia, Tim Cope, who set out in 2004 to cross 10000 kms from Mongolia to Hungary by horse, alone and unassisted. The catch is he could barely ride a horse. Learning everything he could from the nomads who inhabited these unforgiving desolate lands, he traced the trail of Gengis Khan in three and a half grueling years! From camping with the wolves to dealing with horses that abandoned him, from terrifying lonely days to the incredibly welcoming nomads, this is one adventure that will not let you rest until you have seen all the 6 parts of this mind-blowing documentary! Central Asia has captured my imagination for ages this amazing adventure is the first crossing of the steppes in the modern times. He filmed the entire journey which is now available as a documentary and he is also writing a book on the same.

Watch the entire series on youtube - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

2. Walking the Amazon

This is yet another never-before-done adventure of epic proportions! Ed Stafford walked the entire length of Amazon continuously for over two years to become the first person to do so. From dealing with drug mafia to a botfly living in his head, this journey has all kinds of extreme situations that Ed and his guide deal with. If Tim Cope’s journey had me wondering about courage, this made me wonder about his determination and commitment. It is not easy to get up every morning and walk non-stop in a jungle along 6530 kms of Amazon River for 860 days. Even if the whole world said it isn’t possible, to have the single minded dedication to commit to a goal as challenging as walking the Amazon just goes to show what humans are capable of. While intense cold or heat can kill within a short span, jungles are like slow poison. Of all the adventures I have known of, I’d say this would be one of the toughest ever! Ed Stafford also filmed the entire journey now available as a documentary and there is a book too.

Watch the two part documentary on youtube - Part 1, Part 2

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3. Long Way Round

Ever since I saw Ewan McGregor singing as the adorable Christian in the movie Moulin Rouge, I had fallen in love with him! You can only imagine my surprise when I found out he can rough it out and have an adventure. Actors and friends, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman rode around the world on motorcycles starting from London going towards east through central Asia, reaching Russia after which they flew to Anchorage in Alaska and rode till New York. After you get over the initial pangs of jealousy at all the support they were getting, it is a really well made 7 part documentary because they also had a cameraman riding with them alongside. While the initial parts of riding in Europe is boring, all the fun starts once they enter Kazakhstan and it continues till they reach Russia. Beautiful landscapes, funny situations, good adventures, motorcycle breakdowns aside, what makes this fun to watch is the wonderful camaraderie between the two bikers. They will remind of you of your rides with your friends, of the ups and downs and all the crazy moments in between. 

4. Long Way Down

After the success of their first journey around the world, the same team of Long Way Around gets back together for another entertaining documentary covering Ewan and Charley’s journey from the northernmost tip of Scotland to Cape Town in Africa. With the same production team and cameraman, the quality of the filming is top notch again. If long way around was about crazy places and adventure, Africa was all about people and children and problems. It is very difficult not to be affected by the plight of the war torn continent. Even though it is sad to watch at times, the journey does bring into light a lot of issues about Africa. Meanwhile the crazy adventures continue as Ewan’s wife also rides with them for a while, they drill holes in shoes, have signboards inviting them for coffee. It gets funny when Ewan expected to be mobbed at a stars wars location in Tunisia but nothing happens. This journey also turns out to be as entertaining as the previous one, if not more. 

5. Riding Solo to the top of the world 

While I haven’t seen this yet, I imagine it must be a good watch. About the only Indian adventure documentary I could find, Gaurav Jani films his journey from Mumbai to the remote deserts of Ladakh. Just the fact that this documentary is filmed in Ladakh is enough to convince me watch the movie, which I will be doing very soon. 

6. Running the Sahara

Again another movie that I haven’t watched yet, but the trailer looks promising and the idea, crazy! Three ultra runners, Charlie Engle, Ray Zahab and Kevin Li ran 6920 kms across the Sahara in 111 days covering about 80kms per day.  What I really liked about this adventure was that the team had decided they would abort the expedition if one of the runners went down, which meant they had to support and encourage each other all the while. The desert run is yet another glowing example of what the human body and mind is capable of. I will be placing the order for this movie soon. 

These are my recommendations of films that showed us impossible journeys undertaken by people pushing their mental and physical limits. All these were filmed during the adventure and not later re-enactments. We'll make another list of those kind of movies too. 
So, how many of these have you watched? Any other suggestions to add to this list?

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  1. Hey Neelima... this looks a good reason to not to be mall rat this weekend and watch something interesting...I have always wanted to follow the Silk Route,this could be the begining.. thanks

    1. Yes, definitely. Do let me know how you liked the documentaries after you've seen them. :)

  2. I would like to add 'Seven Years in Tibet' movie to the list.. true story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China's takeover of Tibet. Its beautiful, something you won't forget ever.

    1. Yeah, I remember that movie. Will make a list of movies to watch soon. :)

  3. Added this page in Bookmark.

    I think i will going to have wonderful weekend with such good videos at my disposal.

    Really liked your blog


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