Travel documentaries

All aboard! Join a star-studded cast of travel guides as they take you to some of the most remote and fascinating corners of the globe. BBC Select is the home for travel shows that explore amazing places around the world and introduce you to the people, places, culture and history that makes them so special.

Joanna Lumley in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

Watch Joanna Lumley in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan, the beautiful land-locked nation in the Eastern Himalayas, has always been steeped in mystery.

In this revealing BBC travel documentary, Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley retraces the steps her grandparents took in the country 60 years before. Through her eyes, a world that challenges accepted ideas of wealth and happiness is explored.

But what family secrets will Joanna uncover?

The Silk Road

Stream The Silk Road on BBC Select

Covering 5,000 miles, passing through 13 countries and crossing some of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet, this is the fascinating story of the lucrative trade route which changed the course of civilization forever.

In this extraordinary documentary series, Dr Sam Willis explores how the fortunes, ideas and history of the West were shaped and exchanged by travelers from the East.

Joanna Lumely's Spice Trail Adventure

Joanna Lumely's Spice Trail Adventure

Joanna Lumley sets off on her most epic voyage yet, a journey through the world’s greatest spice continents. Embarking on a 10,000-mile trek through Indonesia, Zanzibar, India and Madagascar, Joanna explores the centuries-old spice trade, discovering the rich tapestry of flavors and cultures which have shaped our world.

Ep 1: Indonesia
Joanna visits the island of Banda, which was once the only place where nutmeg grew.

Joanna Lumley is on an epic quest to explore ancient trade routes, travelling thousands of miles across a variety of countries in search of spice. Her voyage begins on the Banda Islands, a remote destination that was once the only place where nutmeg grew. She discovers the island once attracted A-list celebrities such as Mick Jagger, but also possesses a dark, hidden history.

Ep 2: India
Joanna Lumley travels to India in search of a common spice once known as ‘black gold’.

Joanna returns to her birthplace, India, in search of a kitchen cupboard staple once known as ‘black gold’. She starts this enthralling travel documentary in the ancient city of Hampi, where she’s invited to a dazzling Hindu festival by a local rock climber. Then it’s onwards to the lush backwaters of Kerala, where she meets a great grandmother who teaches the oldest martial art in the world.

Ep 3: Madagascar
Joanna heads to Madagascar to learn the secrets of the world’s second most valuable spice.

Joanna Lumley’s spice journey continues on the African island of Madagascar. In this glorious travel documentary, she discovers the secrets of the world’s second most expensive spice: vanilla. Along the way, s he searches for gold and finds out how cacao is used to make some of the world’s best chocolate. The trip ends on the island of Nosy Be, where a dangerous martial art is practiced.

Ep 4: Zanzibar & Jordan
Joanna concludes her epic adventure on the magnificent spice island of Zanzibar.

The last leg of Joanna’s journey takes her by dhow to Zanzibar, the spice island of Africa. In this engaging travel documentary, she discovers that merchants from around the world have left their mark on the area’s architecture, religion and music. She travels to Jordan to encounter a Bedouin tribe via camel, then her trek ends at one of the great wonders of the world, the ancient city of Petra.

Without Limits: Australia

Without Limits

Those men and women who have faced injuries during military service know that it takes courage and endurance to survive. In this remarkable documentary, all of those qualities will be tested. With the support of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, wounded British and Australian veterans embark on a dramatic 1000-mile journey across Western Australia. Their aim is to reach the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Ep 1: Testing Times
The team of wounded veterans begin their epic trek across the Australian outback. With the support of Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex the wounded British and Australian veterans begin their epic 1000-mile trek across Australia. They set up bush camps in beautiful and remote locations. But even camp life is challenging for some of the group, who possess a number of physical and psychological impairments.

Ep 2: End in Sight
Will the team make it to Sydney where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wait to greet them? It’s been an emotional journey for the team of Australian and British veterans traveling the Kimberley region of northwest Australia. As this inspirational documentary concludes, they share the difficult and intimate stories of struggles they’ve faced recovering from injury. But will they make it all the way to the Invictus Games where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are waiting to welcome them?

Griff's Great Kiwi Road Trip

Griff's Great Kiwi Rail Trip

New Zealand. Is there a more magical place on Earth? Breathtaking scenery, incredible cuisine and enthralling native art and culture. British comedian Griff Rhys Jones is taking an epic journey from the tip to the toe of New Zealand in this enthralling travel documentary. But he has set himself a challenge to avoid all the obvious routes and journey the Kiwi roads less travelled.

Ep 1: Cape Reinga to Auckland
Griff Rhys Jones begins his epic New Zealand adventure in beautiful Cape Reinga. What does it mean to be a Kiwi today? Griff Rhys Jones is determined to find out what makes New Zealand tick as his epic travel documentary commences. He’s traveling north to south taking ‘off-highway’ routes. Starting at Cape Reinga and travelling via Russell and Kaipara Harbor to Auckland, he finds outdoor art, slippery sand dunes and curious renditions of God Save the Queen.

Ep 2: Auckland to Wellington
Can Griff Rhys Jones manage to visit a New Zealand volcano without falling into it? If you’re given the advice ‘don’t fall into a volcano’, you should take it. Comedian Griff Rhys Jones is certainly heeding these words as he takes to the air in  the latest leg of his epic travel documentary. Traveling from Auckland to the Coromandel and finally Wellington, he witnesses many dormant volcanoes, and then a quite lively one. White water rafting fails to soothe Griff’’s nerves.

Ep 3: Wellington to Lake Coleridge
Griff Rhys Jones is hunting for parrots, wire and the Kiwi can-do spirit on South Island. Griff Rhys Jones has been ordered to find some ‘number 8 wire’. What could it mean? As he travels to New Zealand’s South Island in this engrossing travel documentary, he discovers that wire represents the can-do spirit of Kiwis. Heading south, Griff meets a salty sea captain, gets friendly with some dolphins, and then tries to unearth the enigmatic kea parrot.

Ep 4: Lake Coleridge to Bluff
Griff Rhys Jones tries to reach the tip of New Zealand by jet-ski, bungee and camper van. Griff Rhys Jones is determined to reach the southernmost tip of New Zealand’s South Island by any (and many) means necessary. This final leg of his epic travel documentary sees him journeying via camper van, helicopter, glider, powerboat and jet-ski. A bungee jump rattles his nerves, then the country’s incredible star-scape soothes him down, before he finds the very tip of the country: Bluff.