Four Best Travel & Adventure Documentaries on Netflix

Sneak in some travel on the couch or at your desk by reading these travel guides: State College, Bangkok, & Haystock Rock, Oregon.

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Happy Monday chickadees! Are the birds chirping outside of your windows like they are mine? I truly hope so I had a relaxing weekend full of hikes, coffee, photos and putzin’ around the yard. I also lounged around and watched some Netflix. Sometimes I’m at a total loss as to what to watch, but this weekend I cozied right in with some adventure documentaries. In this post about saving money for a trip, I mentioned staying motivated by thinking of your future travels. I try to do this constantly by reading travel magazines, books (< freebies)  and guides. I also love looking at maps and globes (right now I have three globes, two big maps and a world map shower curtain) and watching adventure documentaries for inspiration motivation.

I have a few favorite travel and adventure documentaries that are streaming now on Netflix and I wanted to share them with you. I’ve watched a bunch of documentaries and movies, high and low budget, and these are my four favorites. I won’t give you any spoilers, but I’ll let you know why I enjoyed each film.  Also, I tend to always be doing something, even while watching TV. These films are listed in order from most to least multitaskability (Yes, I made that up. I think?) meaning you can probably multitask a little with the first and second suggestions, but watching every second is imperative as you move down the list.

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180° SOUTH –  watch the trailer

180° South follows Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. Do the companies Patagonia and The North Face ring a bell? Yep. Chouinard and Tompkins are the founders and owners and are totally badass rock climbers and environmentalists (you’ll see how amazing they are in the film). Back in ’68 the pair drove a van down to Patagonia, but Jeff decides to travel by sea from Mexico and south along the west coast of Chile.

The film opens with Chouinard and Tompkins’ original home video footage and continues with Johnson’s. Johnson’s adventure south includes surfing, sailing and climbing and an extended stay on Easter Island. I won’t tell you much more, but you’ll never guess who Johnson meets up with in Patagonia…

Watch 180 south if you want to be uber inspired to save up for epic travels. If you’re an ultra planner take some tips from this documentary; you’ll see everything doesn’t always have to go as planned.


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Mile… Mile & A Half – watch the trailer

Mile… Mile & A Half is the story of five friends and their hike on the John Muir Trail, a 211-mile stretch from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney (the highest peak in the contiguous U.S.). The documentary is shot by the group over the course of 25 days. The trail scenes are breathtaking.  Mile… Mile & A Half was created during a high snow year, which means the rivers were raging and the peaks completely covered with snow.

Mile… Mile & A Half immediately had my attention. I started backpacking around age eleven. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “about a mile… mile and a half.” It is the answer to every question. How far until lunch? How far to the vista? When do we get to the summit? Where is the swimming hole? Are we almost at the campsite? I loved living vicariously through the group. Mile… Mile and a Half actually got me on a John Muir reading kick. Speaking of kick – this project was partially funded by kickstarter.

Watch this movie when you’d rather be outside, but for some reason or another you’re stuck on the couch. I promise it will have you planning adventures ASAP.


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Happy People: A Year in the Taiga – watch the trailer

Happy People is a documentary depicting the life and work of animal trappers in Bakhtia, Russia. Bakhtia is a village in the heart of the Siberian Taiga, where daily life has changed little in over a century. This film is an amazing look at the ‘simple life’ which is complex in its own right. The documentary follows the trappers for over a year.

Happy People has subtitles so you’ll have to pay attention. As you should. Happy People gave me warm fuzzies even though it looked damn cold there. You’ll get to watch the trappers interact with their dogs and repair their tiny huts in the wilderness. We also get a glimpse of cultural traditions in the Taiga.

Watch this film when you really need to unwind. Watch it when life is a little too much or your routine is upsetting you a bit. Happy People helped me focus on simplifying


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SAMSARA – watch the trailer

I have to admit it took me a good half hour to get into Samsara. I didn’t know anything about the movie before I pressed play and I was kind of dumb founded for at least twenty minutes. Samsara is a non-verbal documentary. Yep, there is NO dialogue. It’s not all scenic, areal shots though, there are people, just no dialogue.

Samsara was filmed over a five-year period in twenty-five countries. According to the website, Samsara is one of only a handful of films shot on 70mm film in the past forty years. The filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, had previously created BARAKA another film, which they describe as a guided meditation on humanity. That phrase actually perfectly describes Samsara too. I’m excited to get my hands on a copy of Baraka.

Watch this film when you’re really in the mood to cozy up on the couch and enjoy an amazing sensory experience. Turn on, tune in, drop out friends.


*All photos taken from the movie trailers linked above.
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