photo: Jimmy Chin/National Geographic

Travel the World with These Adventure Documentaries

By Vawn Himmelsbach

With travel plans temporarily on hold, many of us are itching for a little (or a lot) adventure. But it’s still possible to explore mountains, oceans, deserts and other parts of the world through film. Here are five inspiring documentaries to tide you over until you can explore once more.

“This will probably sound strange coming from a guy who makes his living throwing bombs out of helicopters, but I’ve never really been that comfortable with risk,” Kevin Fogolin says in Snowman. Fogolin is living his dream working in the majestic Coast Mountain Range of B.C. But life in the mountains is always perilous. After a helicopter avalanche bombing mission goes terribly wrong, Fogolin and his childhood friend Mike Douglas—a World Cup mogul competitor known as the Godfather of Freeskiing—confront the risks and rewards of living their dreams. Snowman is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Xbox.

Ski photographer Reuben Krabbe sets out on a once-in-a-lifetime expedition in pursuit of an elusive ski image set against the backdrop of one of the planet’s rarest events: a full solar eclipse that can only be seen in two places on Earth for 2.5 minutes. In this award-winning film captured by Salomon TV, Krabbe heads to the Arctic Circle with a team of skiers, risking frigid temperatures, uncooperative weather and even polar bears to capture his dream shot. See Eclipse on Salomon TV.

Boosting your wellbeing by making travel plans for the future

Alastair Humphreys had long dreamt of following the footsteps of Sir Wilfred Thesiger, author of Arabian Sands and considered considered one of Britain’s greatest explorers. That dream becomes a reality when Humphreys and his travelling companion, Leon McCarron, set out pulling a homemade cart across 1,000 miles of desert from Southern Oman to Dubai. The 45-day trek traces Thesiger’s original route from the 1940s. Filmed soley by Humphreys and McCarron, this documentary captures the vast expanse of the Empty Quarter and the modern reality of life in the desert. Into The Empty Quarter is available as a free download.

This Academy Award–winning documentary chronicles Alex Honnold’s lifelong ambition to climb Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan—without ropes or support. Every move the free soloist climber makes has to be perfect, otherwise Honnold risks certain death. (Even the filmmakers could barely watch parts of the climb, particularly when Honnold faces do-or-die sections like the “boulder problem.”) Beautifully shot and edited, this documentary will have viewers on the edge of their seats. Free Solo, a National Geographic Documentary Film, is streaming on the Disney+ channel and available for download on multiple platforms.

Adventure tourism: insuring yourself against risk

This documentary looks back at the first all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race, a prestigious open-ocean sailboat race dominated by men. Weaving in archival footage from 1989, skipper Tracy Edwards recounts the nine-month, 33,000-mile voyage around the world, facing everything from monstrous ocean waves to backlash and chauvinism. This film is as much about racing as it is about the human spirit—and sailing into the history books. Maiden is streaming on Crave and available for rent on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube and Cineplex.

When you’re ready for your next adventure, contact an AMA travel counsellor to help you plan a future holiday. Visit AMA Travel online or call 1-844-771-1522 to get started.