ALL POSTS IN [On Location]

Wes Dening with Mount Everest in the background.

Wes Dening with Mount Everest in the background.

“This is Nepal in front of us. The border closes at 5:30. We made it with 8 minutes to spare.”

Those are the words you’ll hear from Bruce Kirkby as he and his family rush across the Tibet/Nepal border in Travel Channel’s Big Crazy Family Adventure. But truth be told, they weren’t alone. Off-camera, racing alongside the family like a pack of wild broncos, was our production team in tow. As Bruce uttered those words in his one-of-a-kind Kirkby accent, our crew (with pelican cases in 1 arm, personal bags in the other, and passports wedged in our mouths) scurried by his side. Just like Bruce; his wife, Christine; and their 2 sons, Bodi and Taj, we, too, had made it into Nepal with only 8 minutes to spare.

As we crossed the border, we were greeted by warm, healthy smiles and friendly pats on the back. We could feel it in their welcoming hug — an instant kinship with our Nepalese production team, with passports still wedged between our teeth. We would be living and working with this group of locals for the next 7 days. READ MORE

Mariana van Zeller and Michael Voltaggio

Mariana van Zeller and Michael Voltaggio in Jerusalem’s Old City, at the hand of Christ.

We’re 1 month away from the premiere of our new series Breaking Borders an episode in Jerusalem (“Mother of All Conflicts“). Travel Channel executive producer Brian Leonard traveled to Jerusalem with the Breaking Borders crew and its co-hosts, journalist Mariana van Zeller and chef Michael Voltaggio. It was Brian’s first time in Jerusalem, so we thought it would be the perfect time to have him give us his insights on everything Israel: the people, the food, the historical significance and more.

Related: Brian Leonard Talks “Breaking Borders” on BlogTalkRadio

What were your expectations?
I could not wait to land in Israel and get to Jerusalem, even though most of what you see on the news seems like “unrest,” i.e., clashes between soldiers and the Palestinian youth, tear gas, riot helmets and flak vests. My family definitely had some concerns about safety, but that, for me, was easily overshadowed by what I was about to experience. For the record, I never felt threatened or unsafe, even when we were in the middle of some Jewish tourists being “escorted” through the Old Market in Hebron in the West Bank. There was some pushing and shoving and yelling, but it was fairly under control.

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Kinga Philipps films in a swimming hole on Oahu

Courtesy of Kinga Philipps

TravelChannel.com Originals host Kinga Philipps is no stranger to Oahu, but for The Trip 2015 she really pushed her limits, both by free diving and spear fishing in the ocean and strapping on a parachute to do 360-degree loops in a glider. Her Hawaiian adventures will be captured in a 5-part web series.

What brought you to Oahu?

I’ve been to Oahu dozens of times, but it’s never the same experience twice, so I keep coming back. It’s relaxing, wild, peaceful, exhilarating — all rolled into one. This time, we came for Travel Channel’s yearly special The Trip to show off some adventures one can have on the island. We teamed up with locals to show us their idea of a good time, from spear-fishing to private hikes to glider rides and, of course, local grindz.

What were your expectations while filming/visiting Oahu?

I’ve learned to leave expectations behind when I travel — even to places I’ve been before. I did expect to have a lot of fun and eat a lot of good food, and that definitely transpired. It’s also a fact that people who are very good at a sport make it look easy, so I knew the spear-fishing and free-diving segment would exceed my level of experience, and I would have to push myself. I’m comfortable in the water and I’ve dabbled in free diving, but when Shaun Harada, my guide, said, “Make sure you take the snorkel out of your mouth when you dive deep, because if you black out, it acts as a funnel for the water into your lungs,” I knew I was in a bit over my head (pun intended). I don’t want to spoil the ending, but clearly I made it, or I wouldn’t be writing this — although I still can’t hear out of my left ear. Totally worth it.

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Photo courtesy of Marika Kelderman

Travel Channel’s director of marketing and partnerships, Marika Kelderman, shares her experiences from being on location for the filming of Trip Flip’s The Hobbit special in New Zealand.

What brought you to New Zealand?

I went to New Zealand to film a special 1-hour episode of Trip Flip with host Bert Kreischer. The episode is built around The Hobbit and is set to air just before the third and final Hobbit movie, The Battle of the Five Armies, premieres in the US. We surprised 2 Hobbit super-fans with a trip. New Zealand is the real-life Middle-earth of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. READ MORE

Photo courtesy of Daniel Schwartz

By Daniel A. Schwartz, Executive Producer

I traveled to Germany to join Josh Gates and the Expedition Unknown team to hunt for the missing eighth Wonder of the World — the legendary amber panels. These were from a room made of gold and jewels and presented to the Russians in the 18th century as a gift. But the Nazis stole it during the war and brought it back to Germany, and after that, it vanished in the chaos of World War II. New evidence has surfaced that it may be hidden in southeastern Germany, so that’s where we went! READ MORE

Photo courtesy of Sean McKnight

Travel Channel executive producer Sean McKnight (not pictured) traveled to Istanbul for the filming of the upcoming series Booze Traveler. With the crew and host Jack Maxwell by his side, Sean shares his insights into the City of the World’s Desire.

Open letter to the CIA:

More baseball.

Seriously. If you want to really shake things up at a grassroots level, teach more kids how to play baseball — or at least how to throw a decent split-finger.

Our man on the ground in Istanbul (pictured above with Jack — whose name is withheld here, just in case President Erdogan and his pals are doing a bit of light reading in their spare time) got mixed up in last year’s rioting but couldn’t quite go the distance.

After throwing many stones, a high percentage of which were high and/or outside, our guy would retire to the bar for a beer or 6, so he might live to throw another day.

Fortunately for us, things got (a little) better, and our guy stuck around to help us navigate Turkey.

What brought you to Turkey?

The crew of Booze Traveler traveled there in April 2014 to shoot our premiere episode (coming Nov. 24 at 10|9c on Travel Channel), and with some expert local knowledge, we found our way through a country that exceeded our expectations. READ MORE

Brian Unger at the Griffith Observatory

Brian Unger at the Griffith Observatory

On Oct. 13 and 14, I traveled to Los Angeles to field produce 3 web series — Meet Brian Unger, My Hometown and A Day in the Life — with new Travel Channel host Brian Unger of Time Traveling With Brian Unger, which will premiere in 2015. By the time we were done filming, I’d discovered a new side of LA’s valley.

It’s always a challenge filming in Los Angeles because it’s been done so many times, but lucky for us, our task was to showcase Los Angeles’ “other side,” its valley (the San Fernando Valley), which consists of a few cities, including Glendale, Burbank, Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys — all of which we covered, and then some, for Brian’s My Hometown web series. What we uncovered were some amazing places to eat, work out and play. READ MORE

Ostriches

Photography by Maria Bukhonina

Recently back from filming an episode of the upcoming series Booze Traveler in South Africa, cocktail connoisseur, adventurer and host Jack Maxwell shares some of his favorite memories from the Rainbow nation.

What brought you to South Africa?

When you think of a place like South Africa, different kinds of drinks are probably not the first thing that pops into your head. I thought that would really be worth exploring and figured it would be a great surprise, which it was, and of course, that’s what the show is all about.

Bee Shine

Photography by Maria Bukhonina

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Coney Island (Courtesy of Anna Garwood)

By Anna Garwood, Director of Programming & Talent Relations

What brought you to Coney Island?

I’m overseeing a general casting search for Travel Channel to find unique personalities who are passionate about travel and we can potentially develop shows around. After reviewing an initial round of Skype interviews of potential candidates, I narrowed it down to a short list and brought them to Coney Island in New York City to shoot in-field casting reels. Arthur Hsu and Will McKinley from Travel Channel were there as well to help me produce and shoot the reels. READ MORE

Samantha Brown in Cape Town South Africa

Feeling on top of the world at the summit of Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town and the surrounding mountains. A 5 a.m. wake-up call is tough (especially when it’s really midnight your time) but worth it to see the sunrise at 3,500 feet.

Look who we found in South Africa! Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown was recently in Cape Town. We thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Sam and get the “skinny” on her trip: unforgettable moments, things to do and, of course, what to eat in Cape Town.

What were your expectations of Cape Town, and did it live up to them?

I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about Cape Town for close to 10 years. It’s where my husband and I wanted to go on our honeymoon but couldn’t, due to lack of time. When I arrived early Saturday morning, I was mesmerized by Table Mountain; I mean, the location of Cape Town is just overwhelmingly beautiful. However, when I went out for a long walk, I was a bit underwhelmed. I headed downtown, which was a ghost town. All the shops were closed, and I wanted to go to a coffee shop I had read about that is run by a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. When I got there, it, too, was closed. I finally made it to a cute, hip neighborhood that ran along Kloof Street and had a great pot of tea and a nice conversation with the owner, who told me that if it’s a nice day (and it was gorgeous, especially for their winter), everyone closes up shop and heads to the beach. That’s when I realized Cape Town is really a city that’s a beach town at heart. It was also the last time during the trip that I was underwhelmed by Cape Town.

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