A Collection of Geography-Related Films and Shorts, Part II: The Time-lapse Travel Edition

Every few months, The Basement Geographer brings you an assemblage of short films from around the Internet featuring geography and landscape in a prominent manner.  For the previous instalment of films, click here.

After my own travels through the winter insanity of western Canada these past two weeks (I’m a winter person by nature so I don’t mind, but I can see how others might), I got to browsing about other people’s arduous long-distance travels by vehicles, which led to a lot of links to various time-lapse videos of long-distance trips.  Add that to the fact that one of my good friends I was visiting while out on the west coast is an avid time-lapse photographer, and it just seemed like an omen to make the next geography video article an all-time-lapse edition.   If you’re looking to see entire countries in just minutes from your desktop, think of this as express sightseeing.  Sit back and enjoy!

Panama Canal

This collection of videos begins with a breathtaking journey from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean via the flooded rainforest of the Panama Canal.  Taken from the top of a cruise ship, the time-lapse demonstrates the sheer scale of both the canal and of the artificial Gatun Lake, which flooded 425 km2 of forest in order to facilitate the canal.

Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, United Kingdom – Tønsberg, Vestfold, Norway

Speaking of boats, there are multiple boats involved in the form of ferries in this journey that begins in southeastern England and heads across the North Sea to the Netherlands and then up through Germany, Denmark and Sweden before ending in Norway’s oldest city, Tønsberg.

London, United Kingdom – Zurich, Switzerland and the Channel Tunnel

If you’re not a boat fan, another option for travelling from the UK to Europe is the Channel Tunnel.  While the actual tunnel part of the time-lapse is a bit boring from the driver’s point-of-view (drive into container, wait a few minutes, drive off), this video is still quite interesting due to the presence of the dashboard clock within the viewframe, giving you an idea of the actual driving time between the two cities.

If you’re looking for a time-lapse of the Chunnel in particular, a better time-lapse is this one where the camera has actually been mounted on the front of a Eurostar train between Paris and London.


Speaking of the English Channel, here’ a relaxing drive around the isle of Jersey.  Lots of winding roads and beaches in this one.

Antrim Coast Road

Maybe my favourite of the bunch is this drive along the coast of Northern Ireland on the famous section of the A2 highway known as the Antrim Coast Road.  The video calls itself ‘Best Driving Road in the World?’, and it’s hard to argue.  Few things are more fun than a twisty coastal drive with plenty of farms, picturesque villages, and rugged coastlines.

Hong Kong Island – Lantau Island, Hong Kong

For a less leisurely island drive, there’s this time-lapse of a trip to Lantau, the largest island of Hong Kong.  It begins with the skyscrapers and expressways of Kowloon and ends with the winding mountain roads of south Lantau.

Tokyo, Japan at Night

Watching this video is almost like playing a video game or riding a roller coaster.

Collingwood, Ontario – Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada

A 3 800 km (2 360 mi) journey across the bulk of Canada in just 35 hours during the waning days of winter.  The highlight may be driving through the snowsheds in the Selkirk Mountains at night in the final minute of the video, which is a mesmerising experience at regular speed, let alone this speed.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – Tofino, British Columbia, Canada

A party rock band from Ottawa named HellBros! recorded their 2011 cross-Canada tour via time-lapse.  Since the band was playing their gigs at night (naturally), their daytimes were spent travelling, meaning we get to see the entire country traversed in daylight in this video.

Anchorage, Alaska – Pine Bluff, Arkansas, United States

From Alaska, across western Canada, and then south to Arkansas at 2 frames per minute.  Very interesting how the trip accelerates once the contiguous US border is reached.

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Another boat-bound journey.  Watch this cruise ship navigate through the icebergs on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.  The interface of frozen mountains and placid ocean is stunning.

Dakar, Senegal – Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

A 20-minute time-lapse of the journey between the two capitals, taking in everything from savanna to coastal marshlands, roadside villages to large cities to wilderness, expressways to dirt roads, and even visits with armed soldiers.

R540, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Thanks to the vast repository of imagery in Google Street View, one can even make time-lapse videos of locations across the planet without ever leaving the comfort of home.  Below is such a video documenting the length of the R540 regional road in western Mpumalanga (you’ll notice that it occasionally moves from one side of the road to the other, giving the impression at times that one is travelling backwards in the wrong-hand lane).

Earth from Space

Finally, the ultimate travel time-lapses: time-lapse views recorded from the International Space Station.  These stunning views not only show the Earth at night with cities glowing bright yellow, but the ionosphere is visible as a thin line over the horizon, and in the second video the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) even make an appearance.

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