3 Must-Watch Outdoor Documentaries to Enjoy This Fall

I hate the cold. I’m South African; those low temps just doesn’t sit well with us. If you’re of a similar opinion (and are currently living in the northern hemisphere) I have the perfect fall activity for you.

Hint: it involves your couch, a cozy blanket, freshly popped popcorn and these three must-watch outdoor documentaries. Additional humans are optional. However, if you have a furry best friend in your house, they absolutely have to join you.

What’s so Great About Documentaries?

Truth is way more interesting (and entertaining) than fiction and besides—not to out myself as a nerd, or anything—but what’s the point of zoning out on some Netflix series when you could be feeding your mind and inspiring your soul?

Okay fine, I am a nerd. But seriously, why squander your precious minutes on what is essentially junk food for the brain? A good documentary, on the other hand, is like tucking into a meal that’s tasty and nutritious.

Also, if you hate the cold or prefer to enjoy your adventures vicariously, documentaries allow you to enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your living room. Depending on what you watch, they could even serve as motivation to stay fit, get healthy or just live more.

1. Free Solo

National Geographic’s “Free Solo” is by far my favorite documentary of the year (ever?). Brought to you by the legendary filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the movie features free soloist climber Alex Honnold attempt to summit El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without a rope.

Given the countless interviews and articles about his incredible feat, it’s no spoiler alert that Alex was successful in his death-defying mission. However, knowing that doesn’t make watching the documentary any less of an edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting event.

My advice? Make popcorn, so you don’t gnaw your fingernails ragged.

2a. Tracks

Technically a biopic, “Tracks” recounts Robyn Davidson‘s epic walk across Australia. Beginning in Alice Springs, Robyn set out with her dog and four camels and didn’t stop until she reached the Indian Ocean.

Two things make this adventure truly remarkable in my mind. First, she achieved this feat in 1975, long before cell phones, GPS navigation and all the other 21st century paraphernalia that modern day adventurers routinely rely on.

Second, Australia is a land of deadly creatures. I can barely get my head around holidaying Down Under in 2018 (thanks to Bill Bryson’s missive). Walking alone across the Outback fifty years ago? Fugetaboutit.

My advice? Make more popcorn, ‘cos snakes and stuff.

2b. Alone Across the Outback

When you’re done watching Tracks, be sure to check out Rick Smola’s Nat Geo Live presentation: “Alone Across the Outback“, in which he recounts what it was like to photograph Robyn’s journey. It’s super fascinating.

My advice? What the heck, make some more popcorn.

3. Running the Sahara

No list of outdoor documentaries would be complete without at least one about running. I’m less of an armchair adventurer when it comes to this sport, though I do draw the line at running in the desert.

Narrated by Matt Damon, “Running the Sahara” follows three friends—Charlie, Ray and Kevin—as they attempt to achieve the impossible: run across the Sahara Desert. If the distance didn’t get the better of them, the notoriously extreme environment surely would.

These guys experienced physical and emotional hardships, the likes of which us mere mortals cannot begin to comprehend. More than just a story about endurance or determination, the documentary also serves to shine a spotlight on the world’s water crisis.

My advice? Check out Water.org‘s efforts to provide access to safe water and sanitation to those who need it. Then go make some more popcorn.

What to Watch Next

outdoor documentaries

These titles will last you the weekend, if you’re lucky. What about the rest of fall (and winter)? Thanks to a combination of Google and the interweb curation elves, there are reams of ‘Best [whatever] documentaries’ to work your way through.

No matter what topic you’re interested in, you’re bound to find something. To prove my point, best knitting documentaries yielded more than 6000 results. Knit one, purl one? Don’t mind if I do.

Related at Care2

Photo Credit: Getty Images

65 comments

Leo C
Leo C17 hours ago

Thank you for sharing!

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danii p
danii pyesterday

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii pyesterday

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii pyesterday

thanks for sharing

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Janis K
Janis K2 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Leo C
Leo C2 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Martin H
Martin H3 days ago

I like nature documentaries I just wish they'd spice them up with hot rods and pretty girls!

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Richard B
Richard B4 days ago

Thanks

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson4 days ago

Thank you.

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Leo C
Leo C4 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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