Tip: Travel Series 'Departures'

Travel documentaries: I have a love–hate relationship with them. There are plenty of reasons to dislike travel shows: they never mirror what you yourself experienced or will ever experience, they often perpetuate stereotypes ("look at these exotic people and their habits!") and they can be a bit stiff and fabricated.

But, naturally, there are exceptions to the rule. Some documentaries are built around stories instead of being tied together by facts, giving them somewhat of a poetic value. Some capture the reality and thus the essence and beauty of travelling very well. Some tell the journey of a person, rather than simply show you a cut-and-paste version of a destination. These things, in my opinion, make a good travel documentary.

One of the documentaries that falls into the 'this is really good' category is Departures. Departures tells the story of two Canadian travellers, Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, and their cameraman Andre Dupuis as they decide to quit their jobs and leave behind the comfort and familiarity of home to travel full-time.

What started out as a simple, one-season journey—with the prospect of return always present in the boys' minds—turned into a full-fledged, epic adventure. In the course of three seasons, the guys visit countries as remote as North Korea, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea, but also go to more obvious tourist places such as India and Thailand. Apart from a visit to the Great Wall, the show never borders on the obvious: the boys embark on a three-day trek to an abandoned ghost town in Greenland, they visit an amusement park in North Korea and they make soup out of piranhas they catch in Brazil.

Departures is a very real series. Lukach and Wilson have a very natural and non-staged reaction to the things they experience: they get homesick, sad, silly, pissed-off, inspired and awe-struck... Just like any other traveller. The goofiness of Lukach and Wilson's philosophical outbursts, combined with breath-taking cinematography by Dupuis make Departures unique: it is just as much about the destination as it is about the journey and the friendships that evolve. The guys never fail to push each other to the limit, which makes very exciting—and sometimes emotional—TV. Departures is a heartwarming exploration of the world that will make the travel bug itch.

For more information, visit the website: www.departuresentertainment.com.

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