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Best Travel Documentaries on Netflix to Stream

by Kevin Simpson 4 years ago in movie review

These travel documentaries on Netflix will have that travel bug astir and will get you off the couch and into the car or plane.

The travel bug might be the most contagious bug out there and once you get a taste, you're always going to want more. There's nothing like getting outside your comfort zone and experiencing new things in a new land. When you finally return from your travels but can't shake that travel bug and don't have the time to travel again just yet, there are other ways to fuel your appetite for adventure. One of these ways is to watch travel documentaries on Netflix. There are plenty of documentaries streaming on Netflix and some of the best are about people traveling. If you're trying to quench your thirst for travel, or looking for the place to go next, watch these travel documentaries on Netflix.

Unbranded tells the story of four young Texas cowboys and their travels riding wild mustangs 3,000 miles from the Mexican to the Canadian border. While the film focuses on the real-life cowboys, the real star of this documentary is the beauty of the American West. The gorgeous scenery is visible in every shot as the group rides through some of the craziest places in the West like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. While the story of the travelers isn't the most exciting, the beautiful scenery throughout the film will encourage anyone to go to the American West and see what they have been missing.

Another travel documentary on Netflix that focuses on a younger group of people, Isolated follows a crew of surfers scouring the globe for unexplored surfing areas. Their travels take them to the West Papua region of Indonesia. Here the travelers learn of human atrocities and a declining native culture in the region. These tough-to-watch moments are intertwined with lighter moments of beautiful beaches and incredible surfing. The surfers teach the natives how to surf while also spreading the stories of the rough lives they live. After returning home to the states, subject Travis Potter goes on a media tour to further the work that was started in West Papua.

If you're the type of traveler that goes abroad to learn something new and potentially become a better person, then 180 Degrees South is the travel documentary for you. This film tells the story of Doug Tompkins, who co-founded North Face, and his wife who purchased 2 million acres of wilderness for conservation in the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina. The story is told by retracing the 1968 journey that inspired Tompkins to preserve the land. Being "tired of making crap people didn't need" and "pushing consumerism," caused Tompkins to do something more with his life. The documentary about conservation contains beautiful mountain vistas and great shots of kayaking among seals.

The documentary for the national park lover, Valley Uprising follows a group of hippie rock climbers searching for bragging rights for climbing Yosemite National Park's highest peaks. More so, this documentary follows the birth of the American rock climbing counterculture from the 60s through the present. Drugs, sex, and rock and roll were present, as were protests and arrests as the viewer follows three generations of rock climbers.

"Five old Volkswagen vans, four bands, three thousand miles, two weeks, and one backward tour." The tagline says it all about this travel documentary on Netflix. Austin to Boston follows the road trip from Texas to Massachusetts and everything the band's experience, as well as showing concert footage. This documentary from 2014 chronicles a music tour in modern times with the taste of the classic music documentaries from the 60s. The cross-country scenery, let alone the great music and stories, is enough to watch one of the best travel documentaries on Netflix.

This docu-series is made by Ricky Gervais, for Ricky Gervais. An Idiot Abroadtells the stories of the international travels of a British man who has no interest whatsoever in the world outside of England. Gervais, who co-produced the show with his good friend Stephen Merchant, send a largely unwilling Karl Pilkington on international adventures to the Seven Wonders of the World. Pilkington spends his time complaining about how unimpressive the wonders are and bitching about the minute details of his trips. In the show's third and final season, Pilkington is teamed up with Star Wars and Harry Potter actor Warwick Davis, in the most odd-couple pairing imaginable for some of the most entertaining television you'll see, making this one of the best travel documentaries on Netflix.

A more traditional travel documentary, Foodies follows five food critics around the world to exotic locations to try the world's best food. One of the most entertaining and salivating travel documentaries on Netflix, this film will certainly give you an appetite. The food these critics eat alone will get you to want to travel, but if the food isn't enough, the sites they stop at and explore certainly will.

Of all the travel documentaries on Netflix, Planet Earth II is the most beautiful. This was the first natural history documentary to be filmed in high definition, so every single moment is captured to perfection and is downright breathtaking. This film takes viewers to places they usually wouldn't be able to see, from extreme deserts to the Himalayas and Mount Everest. The main focus of this documentary to learn how the animals native to these lands live and it seems impossible to get a true understanding of these creatures without watching this film.

This may be cheating a little bit since it's a cable television show but the award-winning Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is one of the best travel documentaries on Netflix. Follow the world's most famous traveler as he goes throughout the world to places like Iran, Beirut, and Cuba. Along with his international travels, Bourdain also travels to American locations like Detroit, New Jersey, the Mississippi Delta, and Massachusetts. The cinematography of the show is beautiful and Bourdain is always entertaining. If you're unsure of where you want to go next, check out Parts Unknown and have Bourdain tell you.

Lastly among the best travel documentaries on Netflix is Encounters at the End of the World. This beautiful documentary takes viewers into the deep, and colder side of the world—Antarctica. Follow award-winning, iconoclastic filmmaker Werner Herzog and his extraordinary journey through the core of the South Pole. He comes across amazing marine life, being face to face with giant glaciers, and… the adorable penguins.

This one of a kind documentary shows the struggles that Herzog has during his chilly and adventurous journey. Experiencing the hardships within a landscape so mesmerizing as well as dangerous in many ways, he also uncovers many secrets within the freezing state.

movie review

Kevin Simpson

I think I’m a Pulitzer Prize contender every year but I’m yet to capture that allusive award, haven't even been named a finalist.

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Kevin Simpson
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