(Feature image: Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile by César González Palomo)
I’ve been a bit obsessed with Patagonia for a couple of years now. In my head, it exemplifies a land of thrill and adventure. It is a place to experience and overcome a harsh landscape and brutal conditions, and appreciate rugged nature and natural beauty. It all began with an episode of Man vs Wild with Bear Grylls. He battled through thick brush and high-force winds in the wilds of Patagonia. I was intrigued, captivated, and vowed that someday I would be there.
I plan to visit Patagonia during South American travels in 2015. To bide my time until that happens, I’ve been watching a few films that feature the region. These documentaries share a common thread: they all aim to promote conservation and preservation of the region. They highlight the vast, untouched wilderness and beauty of Patagonia.
Keep reading if you have any interest in exploring or learning more about the Southern Hemisphere world of wilderness that is Patagonia:
3. Patagonia Rising (2011)
Documentary, 85 mins. Director: Brian Lilla
This Spanish-language documentary follows the hydro-logic cycle of Baker River, in Chile, from ice to ocean. It looks at the planned hydroelectric dams on two free-flowing rivers in Patagonia and discusses renewable energy considerations. With somewhat mediocre reviews, it’s worth checking out if you’ve got a vested interest in the preservation of the region.
2. 2011 Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race: The Last Wild Race (2011)
Documentary, 44 mins. Directors: Ian Campbell, Brian J. Leitten, José Manuel Chevesich
The Patagonian Expedition Race is an annual 10-day race of endurance. International teams compete in Chilean Patagonia, navigating a different route each year. The teams kayak, orienteer, and mountain bike their way through harsh terrain to raise awareness about protecting the region’s fragile wilderness. The Swiss company Wenger was the first title sponsor for the race, thus the name Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race.
The 2011 race took a route through Torres del Paine National Park. This documentary follows the teams through the landscape. It gives a first-hand look at the endurance, persistence, and determination needed to make it through this starkly beautiful and harsh terrain. One of those movies I’ve watched back-to-back, I’ll admit.
This documentary, along with the 2010 edition, is available on iTunes.
1. 180° South (2010)
Documentary, 85 mins. Director: Chris Malloy. Available on Netflix.
This documentary follows American traveler, surfer, climber, and all-around adventurer Jeff Johnson. He journeys from California south to Torres del Paine. His aim is to retrace the steps of Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia Clothing) and Doug Tompkins (North Face) to Patagonia and up the Corcovado volcano. Along the way, he ends up in Rapa Nui (otherwise known as Easter Island) and discusses various issues facing the island and mainland Chile. The adventure becomes an effort to showcase these issues and promote the work of Conservación Patagónica, fighting to protect this unique world.
I’ve watched this film many times, and find that it serves to deepen my affection for Patagonia and the need to protect it.
Do you have any film suggestions? Let me know!
Thanks for reading!