DOCUMENTARIES > TRAVEL > Extreme Encounters in Travel

Australian documentary maker Greg Grainger has had some fascinating encounters in his filming career... face-to-face meetings with cannibals in Irian Jaya, sky burials in Tibet, collapsing glaciers in South America.

This one hour special begins by looking at how ancient cultures and practices are disappearing at such a rapid rate around the world. Grainger's first filming expedition took him by raft through the heart of Tibet where he encountered Tibetans singing in corracles made of animal hide, and burials where the dead are cut up and fed to vultures.

In Irian Jaya, he encountered tribesmen dressed in nothing but penis gourds and tribal elders who described in detail how to butcher and eat a human body. In South America, he met villagers living on islands made of reeds, paddled across the top of the thundering Iguazu Falls, and watched glaciers carving in Patagonia.

Wildlife has also featured strongly in Grainger's expeditions, including a polar bear crashing through ice to catch a seal, the snow monkeys of Nagano Japan bathing in hot springs, and a dance with lemurs in Madagascar.

Characters featured include a meeting with the charming Princess Diana, the Queensland grandmother who’s arm was almost bitten off by a crocodile when she tried to wrestle it off a friend who was being attacked, and Rodney Fox, the spearfishermen almost eaten alive by a giant Great White shark.

Other creatures created heart-warming experiences, such as the dolphin that encouraged a disabled teenager to walk, and the baby orangutan with cerebral palsy nurtured by a loving keeper.

High adventures included a trip around the Antarctic - huge rookeries of King Penguins, close encounters with whales, and summitting mountains - and a ride by motor-bike across the roof of the world in India - riding the world’s highest road to an ancient festival in Little Tibet.

Along the way, Grainger captured many chilling moments - wild bulls throwing spectators high in the air in Andalucia, a snake handler bitten on the nose by a deadly King Brown snake, and a giant saltwater crocodile jumping from the water to lock its jaws around Grainger’s camera and drag it out of his cameraman’s hands.

Extreme Encounters in Travel concludes with a trek across the Antarctic Island of South Georgia in the wake of the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Where Shackleton succeeded against all odds, Grainger’s expedition is hit by a blizzard.