Most of us, if not all, have the urge to head out into the unknown and discover new parts of the world. To travel and wonder is something that is inherently human. However, for the majority of us, it simply isn’t possible to spend our entire week researching new destinations and plotting expedition routes. Sometimes all you need to fuel that fire is to plop on the sofa, curl up with your other half, and pop on the television. If you’re going to zone out in the glow of the tube, you should catch one (if not all) of these great – and unexpected – shows to help you find your next adventure.
Original Top Gear / The Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond
The original fast-paced motoring show that tests whether cars, both boring and extraordinary, live up to their manufacturers’ claims, is an unexpected yet ground breaking source or travel inspiration. The popular long-running show journeys to varied and exotic locations around the world, where the lads take part in challenges to see what their chosen vehicles are capable of doing.
Here at Everwrist, we are huge fans of the expedition episodes known as specials, which often feature arduous road trips in old cars set against magnificent backdrops, the plains of Africa, the mountains of Bolivia or the dust filled landscape of Afghanistan.
Our favourite episodes: The Africa or Bolivia Special
What we love: The laddish humour, the old cars, the destinations as well as the journey and the fact you could do this yourself for not very much money.
Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
On a lark, mates Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman decide to ride their motorbikes from London eastward all the way through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, Canada and finally the USA. They hire a production crew and a camera man to follow them, resulting in one of the most engrossing and inspiring travelogues put on film.
The pair end up in some funny, dangerous and peculiar situations, including being hosted by a mafia boss in Eastern Europe, sleeping in dangerous truck stops at the side of busy roads, staying in deserted, rather strange hotels, and having to eating goat testicles whilst living with nomad families in Mongolia.
Our favourite episodes: Mongolia, Russia & Eastern Europe
What we love: The friendship between Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor, the freedom offered by a two wheeled vehicle, the journey, the music choice and the remoteness of the locations.
Again this is something you can do yourself, and doesn’t require too much money.
By Any Means with Charley Boorman
By Any Means, also known as Ireland to Sydney by Any Means, is a series following Long Way Round and Long Way Down co-presenter Charley Boorman.
The documentary follows Charley as he travels using varied methods of transportation most often native to his location at the time. Charley’s enthusiasm for adventure and culture make this programme a joy to watch and allows you to immerse yourself in each destination he visits.
Our favourite episodes: The Whole Series
What we love: The friendship between Charley and his team mates, the journey, the title music, the remoteness of the locations and the nature in which Charley travels.
Lost Land of the Tiger, Lost Land of the Volcano and Lost Land of the Jaguar with Steve Backshall, Gordon Buchanan and George McGavin
This documentary series follows a team of wildlife filmmakers and Zoologists as they travel to far reaches of the globe in search of rare and exotic creatures, often barely seen or captured on film.
The team of scientists, conservationists and film-makers search through vast uncharted regions of wilderness in order to survey its flora and fauna, using their findings to persuade the international community of its importance.
Not so much a nature documentary but a documentary about a nature documentary. The programme clearly demonstrates the reality and dangers of such expeditions and is a source of great inspiration for those who are keen to follow the academic, field research based career path.
Our favourite episodes: Lost Land of the Tiger/Jaguar, complete series
What we love: The behind the scenes footage of the crew, the adventure, the amazing arial videography and the remote, untouched locations.
Planet Earth with David Attenborough
David Attenborough has proven himself time and time again to be a master natural history documentarian. His style and reassuring voice can make the most mundane of subjects sound extraordinary. For most of us he has been a consistent feature in BBC wildlife documentaries through out our entire lives, not only inspiring us to embrace and learn about our natural world but to live full meaningful lives too, at 90 odd Attenborough shows no signs of slowing down and remains as humble as ever.
The dazzling, state-of-the-art high-definition imagery are the highlights of the breathtaking Planet Earth documentary series, its footage features some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders — from the Jungles to the deserts to the polar ice caps.
Our favourite episodes: The complete series
What we love: The stunning scenery, the behind the scenes footage of the crew, the filming techniques, the subject matter and Sir David Attenborough himself.
Ray Mears’ Bushcraft with Ray Mears
Survival expert, documentarian and author Ray Mears explores the world of bushcraft and learns techniques from some of the world’s last remaining hunter gatherers. Ray explores life through the eyes of the native inhabitants of each location, including Africa, South America and North America. The series goes on to explore how globalisation and the modern world is impacting the lives of nomadic peoples and hunter gatherers alike in some of the most rugged locations.
Episode one is shot in the UK, highlighting some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes found here at home. Ray shows how hunter-gatherers used the resources around them to feed and clothe themselves, celebrating the rich and diverse culture of Stone Age Britain.
Our favourite episode: Aboriginal Britain
What we love: The stunning location, the footage of his expedition preparation and crew, the subject matter, Rays wealth of knowledge and the moment Ray teaches the Yekuana people how to make fire by friction.
Walking the Nile and Walking the Himalayas with Levison Wood
Following in the footsteps of victorian explorers, former Paratrooper, author and photographer Levison Wood recounts the beauty and danger he found walking the Silk Road route of Afghanistan, the Line of Control between Pakistan and India, the disputed territories of Kashmir and the earth-quake ravaged lands of Nepal. Over the course of six months, Levison and his guides trek 1,700 gruelling miles across the roof of the world.
Packed with action and emotion, both series tell the story of the intrepid explorer’s trip through some of the world’s most remote locations.
Our favourite episodes: Complete Series
What we love: The personal hand held camera approach to creating the documentary, the immersive landscapes and the distinct cultures. The reality of such a trip.
The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia with Rory Stewart
Political figure, author and adventurer Rory Stewart examines the writings of Lawrence of Arabia, and learns that the warrior hero himself later questioned the very nature of his intervention in the Middle East. This documentary not only follows the story of T.E Lawrence but the people of what is now modern day Afghanistan and in part the life of Rory Stewart himself.
In this documentary Rory not only delves into history but the complex and almost elusive yet fascinating culture of Afghanistan and the people of the Middle East.
We might as well come clean: we have something bordering on an obsession with Rory Stewart. He comes from Crieff, in Perthshire, and he went to Eton followed by Oxford, undertook officers training with the Black Watch after which he joined the Foreign Office, helped establish The Turquoise Mountain Foundation and eventually wound up as deputy governor of an Iraqi province during the Second Gulf War. He is known for having walked across Afghanistan – and also writing a book about his journey called The Places in Between – and for having been tutor to Prince William and Harry. He is currently the Conservative MP for Penrith.
Our favourite episodes: The complete series
What we love: The footage of Afghanistan, the culture and the geopolitical narrative.