Not every nature lover has the luxury of time to travel to retreat to the farthest places of the planet. But hey, you can simply watch the best nature documentaries on Netflix to feel close to nature without leaving your house.
You can take a deep dive into the wonders and beauty of the natural world on your next staycation or as often as you want. Not only that. You can also educate yourself with some of the disturbing studies that explore the relationship of humans with nature.
Netflix is not just home to a wide selection of romantic comedies, sci-fi, original, and fantasy series. The streaming giant has a deep library of nature documentary mini-series, specials, and films as well, from true crime to ocean exploration.
Whether you are into learning about grave environmental issues or watching animals living in the wild, Netflix has something for you. It is a treasure chest that contains plenty of awe-inspiring and awakening nature documentary series that will suit your taste.
These offerings will let you admire more of nature’s pristine beauty inch by inch right from the comforts of home. More so, you can also become aware of the environmental challenges our planet is facing right now.
This 2021, Netflix has a slew of big releases coming out, starting off with Planet Earth. Presented by Sir David Attenborough, the series has become available as an exclusive title to the platform since April.
You will surely love the best planet-centric and nature documentaries you can stream anytime on Netflix. But once again, we gladly come to your aid to help you easily settled for your next binge-watching session. We have rounded up the best ones there is, like the harrowing investigative feature, The Ivory Game.
Here, we put together a number of nature documentaries focusing on fascinating ecosystems. That includes the intimate series Planet Earth and the expansive oceans of Blue Planet.
So, without much further ado, let’s take a closer look at the 26 best nature documentaries to stream now on Netflix. Also, expect this list to mention the iconic naturalist David Attenborough quite more than a few times.
While you’re at it, you may also check other viewer guides we especially concocted for you. You can watch the 25 best comedy shows on Netflix, 25+ best westerns, 10 best revenge movies, and much more.
We like to begin strongly, right off with Life Story. This nature documentary series is a collaboration between BBC and The Open University. This show displays how animals do what they can to hurdle the threats they encounter throughout their lives. It also shows how they still further their species by bearing offspring.
Distributed by BBC, this nature documentary is available for one whole season. It has six main episodes, with six extra episodes that let you take a peek into the behind-the-scene footages of the series.
The purpose of creating Life Story is to account the life, from birth to death of a myriad of wild animals. These include tigers, elephants, chimpanzees, and many others.
72 Cutest Animals
72 Cutest Animals, as the name suggests, is indeed a cute nature documentary from Showrunner Productions. The creator has, in fact, a number of titles on Netflix. It is mainly famous for documenting the deadliest and most terrifying animals in the world.
However, in 2016, Showrunner Productions also went out of its way to offer a look at the other end of the spectrum. It created 72 Cutest Animals, which spans 12 episodes for its one-season run. The show gives a glimpse at baby polar bears, monkeys, tiger cubs, and most significantly, the Koalas.
72 Cutest Animals, in fact, offers a visually stunning look at the world’s most adorable animals. In this show, creatures are interestingly rated on their cuteness and then ranked on a sliding scale wherein the cutest animal on the planet will ultimately be unveiled.
Nature’s Great Events: Diaries
Also distributed by the king of nature documentaries BBC, Nature’s Great Events: Diaries is available for one whole season. Compared to other shows, this series is quite unique. It centers on the natural phenomenon of where animals migrate due to breeding or changes in the climate.
The series runs for six episodes, which range from the great artic melt, the great salmon run, to the great flood. While Nature’s Great Events: Diaries may not be on par with BBC’s best nature documentaries, it still meets the fans’ expectations.
Nature’s Great Events: Diaries was released for television in February 2009.
Nature is produced and distributed by PBS. It features four various nature documentary series that document different creatures around the planet. All four seasons are available to watch on Netflix.
The first season of the series titled NATURE: Natural Born Hustlers takes a look at naughty and hard grafting animals across four episodes.
The second one, meanwhile, is called NATURE: Raising the Dinosaur. In this season, a team examines the most recent discoveries of dinosaur fossils. This particular season of the series, however, has received mixed reviews from critics.
The third season, NATURE: Animals with Cameras, is a three-part documentary. It narrates how most of the nature documentaries use cameras in unlikely ways. This includes the part of animals where they wear those cameras.
The fourth series is called Nature’s Great Race. It is epic footage that captures a trio of the world’s most historical land migrations. The show follows the hazardous journey of elephants, caribou, and zebras.
Netflix collaborated with award-winning filmmaker James Cameron to produce Mission Blue. Released in 2014, this documentary is inarguably an eye opener that investigates the extreme conditions some of the ocean creatures live in.
Mission Blue explores what are the causes and effects of the problem, and foremost, the solutions. Also, it calls for action to protect the ocean and its vital ecosystems.
This documentary surely looks stunning. It represents the life and work of Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer, marine biologist, and environmentalist.
Mission Blue runs for a 1 hour and 34 minutes.
72 Dangerous Animals
A collection of the more recent seasons of 72 Dangerous Animals from Showrunner Productions are also currently available for streaming on Netflix. Every season, the show transports the audiences to a different place on Earth to document and catalog the world’s deadliest animals in various forms and sizes.
Season 1 of 72 Dangerous Animals explores the continent of Australia. The 12 episodes of the first season look into most dangerous animals in the land, from spiders to snakes.
Season 2, meanwhile, is the first to be tagged as a Netflix Original. In the 12 episodes of this season, you will journey to Latin America as it covers sea life and stealth hunters.
The latest season of 72 Dangerous Animals was released in 2018. The show, this time, travels to the vast continent of Asia.
Africa is another BBC-produced nature documentary in collaboration with The Discovery Channel. Spanning a single season, this show looks into Africa as home to world’s most diverse living animals.
This mini-series comes in six installments. It displays gorgeous animal species and biomes that continue to thrive in the vast and diverse environments of Africa. It also includes hours of never-before-seen footage of plants and weather in some of the furthest places on the planet.
Africa took four long years to make. The show captures a wide array of never-before-filmed species, from lions to dung beetles, and discover previously unchartered places.
David Attenborough himself presents and narrates on location. As always, he gets to deliver the same quality that viewers expect of him. He takes nature lovers on a ride through the harsh deserts, lush savannahs, and the continent’s deepest jungles. According to Attenborough, there’s nowhere in the world where wildlife puts on a greater show.
This critically acclaimed nature documentary also gets a companion book titled Africa: Eye to Eye with the Unknown. This companion book is authored by Michael Bright, an ex-producer of BBC Natural History Unit. The foreword is written by David Attenborough himself.
DisneyNature: Wings of Life
Apart from its popular live-action and animated family-oriented movies, Disney also produces nature documentaries courtesy of DisneyNature department. Over the years, the largest entertainment company has produced breathtaking documentaries featuring some talented presenters. However, such content is not given that much credit.
Netflix luckily secures Wings of Life as the only available DisneyNature title for streaming on its platform. It is expected, however, that it will be moved to the new Disney streaming service later this year.
DisneyNature: Wings of Life beautifully presents flying critters, such as butterflies as well as birds of different kinds. What makes this nature documentary even more impressive is the special participation of multi-award winning actress Meryl Streep as the narrator
Life Below Zero
BBC and National Geographic have brought to the fore Life Below Zero. This nature documentary series spans a total of nine seasons. However, Netflix is half-way behind on the show with only four seasons available for streaming on its platform.
Life Below Zero is a fascinating documentary that explores the coldest reaches of our planet. This show will open your eyes to the life of the inhabitants there, including the ecosystems in icy regions.
Also, it documents how terrifying the extent to which people will go just to survive in the harshest environment. Nevertheless, Life Below Zero is another well-produced series from BBC.
MeatEater also serves as one of the best nature documentaries you need to check out on Netflix. Distributed by the streaming giant, this show produced by Zero Point Zero Productions runs for seven seasons.
The show’s past season is the first one to be featured under the Netflix Original banner worldwide. Unfortunately, you can only stream three out of the seven episodes on Netflix. Particularly, you can watch seasons five through to seven. Some argue that these seasons are when the show started to do really well.
MeatEater looks into hunting and takes the viewers to different parts of the world to do so. However, if you are not much into hunting, this series is not for you, therefore, you can skip it. It tackles things surrounding hunting as a hobby and the ethics involved.
As of now, it remains to be seen whether MeatEater will get an order for an eighth season.
The Ivory Game
The Ivory Game is a film produced by famous Titanic actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Unlike other warm and fuzzy nature documentaries, this feature exposes the dark, twisted world of the illegal ivory trade.
More recently, the world has become aware of the plight of wild elephants in Africa and taken interest against poaching. Each of the show’s moment is remarkable. It is absolutely genuine in revealing to the viewers that side of life that has been lightly shown before.
In this nature documentary, filmmakers went undercover with ivory poachers. For 16 months, they investigated the killing of elephants for their tusks. The smuggling of ivory is rampant in China where ivory is seen as a status symbol.
Although legal in the country, the exposé highlights the black market where unacceptable business practices of ivory trade transpire.
The Ivory Game gets to unravel the corruption behind the continuity of the illegal ivory trade. In fact, African elephants are now on the verge of extinction.
This epic nature documentary journeys from Tanzania, Zambia, and Kenya to China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, with a short stop in London, UK.
Illegal ivory trade has since become an alarming global environmental issue. Governments and the environmental advocates are now said to be taking steps to stop poaching before African elephants go extinct.
Frozen Planet (Collection)
Distributed by BBC Earth and co-produced by Discovery Channel, the Frozen Planet collection is currently available to stream on Netflix. The collection includes Frozen Planet, Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice, The Making of Frozen Planet, and Frozen Planet: The Epic Journey.
The seven-part series tackle their distinctively epic journey and unfold the ultimate portrait of the planet’s Polar Regions. It also looks into the life and the Arctic and Antartic environments.
The creators made the Frozen Planet to purposely film an encompassing account of the natural history of the Polar Regions. That is especially now that climate change has begun to have an alarming impact on glaciers, ice shelves, as well as the extent of sea ice.
The footage offers the audiences a peek at cute and magnificent animals living in the coldest depths of Earth. Overall, this nature documentary is as captivating and beautiful as it is an invaluable piece of research.
Frozen Planet is among the contents available on Netflix that also features Sir David Attenborough. The production crew explored the frozen depths for a total of 2,300 days.
Blue Planet I & II
Our guide to the best nature documentaries to stream on Netflix does not dare to miss two of BBC’s top-rated docuseries, Blue Planet I & II. Once again, David Attenborough returns in these epic shows that explore the Earth’s oceans.
The Blue Planet opens our eyes to the vast surroundings left unseen beneath the sea and what happens under the waves of the ocean. It looks into the lives of plants and animals teeming under the sea.
This BBC show takes a deep plunge into the fascinating underwater world to discover different creatures, no matter how small, at each level of the ocean. You will be amazed at the gigantic blue whale that has a heart as huge as the size of a car but not only that. You’d be mesmerized by the graceful dancing dolphins and by the most bizarre species breathing at the ocean’s abyss.
Both the Blue Planet I and Blue Planet II are wonderfully told and masterfully crafted. Truly, they are the best-in-class, proving once more BBC’s successful feat in making some of the world’s most remarkable nature documentary shows.
Blue Planet II is one of the recently released documentary shows on Netflix. It first aired in 2017 on the BBC and has since brought a significant impact across regions in the world.
The show serves as a wake-up call on the issue of plastic that kills fishes and other species in the oceans. It has inspired public movement and change to do something about this global environmental concern.
Netflix’s documentary Virunga has received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. This show is a mix of investigative journalism and nature documentary made in partnership with Leonardo DiCaprio.
This feature takes a closer look at the struggle to control Congo’s abundant natural resources. It further gives credit to the embattled team of park rangers who devote their lives to preserving Virunga National Park and protect the endangered mountain gorillas in Africa their most possible way.
Virunga centers on the conservation effort and investigates the operations Soco International, a British oil company, inside the UNESCO World Heritage site. It exposes how rich ecosystems, particularly the Virunga National Park, have become battlegrounds for governments and sites of corruption.
After Virunga’s nomination at the Oscars, fans can look forward to seeing more of DiCaprio-produced nature documentaries. It is expected that environmental films are in the pipeline as the actor entered into a multi-year partnership with Netflix.
Planet Earth I & II
Just like Blue Planet I & II and other huge docuseries, Planet Earth I & II are also distributed by BBC. This nature documentary showcases an excellent craft in filmmaking.
Planet Earth initially debuted on the small screens back in 2006. It achieved unprecedented success in documenting a wide array of animal species and locations across the planet. This BBC series has, in fact, received accolades and awards for its role in transforming the ways viewers look at nature.
Voiced by naturist icon David Attenborough, the critically acclaimed BBC documentary span 11 episodes. Each episode takes the audiences on a thrill ride across the planet and journey to places they have never gone to before. You start discovering the myriad of creatures living in different regions on Earth and how they interact with their respective habitats.
Sure, this series won’t disappoint, especially when you view it in high definition. As with Blue Planet, Planet Earth series is just as completely stunning, specifically Planet Earth II, which is available on Netflix in Ultra 4K definition.
The exact same team returns in the second season with all-new footages. It even looks like the BBC raised the bar a notch higher when it released Planet Earth II 10 years after Planet Earth I.
The original Planet Earth captivates viewers with breathtaking sights of nature around the world but the sequel is much more delightful. It showcases the diversity of wildlife around the world, ranging from the warmest tropics to the coldest mountain reaches.
Both seasons of Planet Earth are awesomely beautiful. You will absolutely be blown away as you discover the diverse biomes of our planet. It is highly recommended that each and everyone in the world should watch this epic nature documentary film.
Planet Earth took five years to make that it was even dubbed as the gold standard for nature documentaries. Filmed in early, the miniseries was the only docu-series that was shot in high definition as it explored the exotic but horrifying territories on planet Earth.
Netflix brings one of its original heart-warming documentary series called Dogs. When it was released in November last year, the show instantaneously took the social media by storm.
The viewers were taking adorably cute photos and videos of their own pet dogs watching Dogs and shared them on their walls. And why not?
This special “dogumentary” tells intimate stories of the emotional connection between dogs and their persons. It also presents the tail-wagging tale of Zeus, a Syrian refugee husky, Ice, a Labrador of an Italian fisherman, and Rory, a service dog.
Our Planet is the latest ground-breaking nature documentary from the creators of Planet Earth and Blue Planet. It debuted on Netflix just last month. Also voiced by the iconic naturalist David Attenborough, this docuseries attempts to take a look at our planet, hence the title of the show.
In this nature documentary, you would be able to learn the various issues and predicaments the entire world is facing. It also presents what are the possible solutions to the problems, including some blueprints of full rehabilitation.
Our Planet will introduce nature lovers to the furthest biological realms, from animal migrations in Africa and unfathomable depths of the oceans to the pack of wolves wandering in the Chernobyl’s forests.
Blackfish is an unforgettable documentary film that startled the world when it first hit the small screens about seven years ago. This feature digs up the underlying impact of holding orcas, otherwise called killer whales, in captivity.
Blackfish tells the tale of one performing orca known as Tilikum. The killer whale was involved in the death of SeaWorld’s lead trainer Dawn Brancheau and two other people.
The show focuses on the effect of lifelong captivity on the creature and its intelligence. This film to critics is powerful and troubling, as it exposes SeaWorld’s perilous entertainment trade. In fact, this documentary takes is powerful, the amusement park had to carry out some changes.
Overall, Blackfish is hailed as an aggressive, impassioned nature documentary show to watch. After which, you will not look at performing killer whales the same way again. Truth is, the show has brought a heavy impact that is still felt until now since it made its debut many years back.
Life is Netflix’s incredible feature voiced by the recognized master of nature documentaries David Attenborough. The Emmy-nominated 11-part docu-series explores life on Earth and its ability to adapt amid the planet’s environmental changes.
Life looks into the wonderful and bizarre evolutionary process that the species have to undergo in order to survive on their respective corners of the planet. This BBC series successfully covers the biome and landmass on the planet that it is being likened to the prequel to Planet Earth.
The show took more than four years in the making, filming over 3,000 days around the world. In this nature documentary, viewers will witness the myriad ways millions of plants and animal species have adapted, thrived, and survived in evolving environments.
The Tigers of Scotland
The Tigers of Scotland is a feature-length documentary film that focuses on Scottish Wildcats. It aims to raise awareness of viewers about incredibly cute and rare wild cats. Most people believe that tigers are the preserves of Africa or India.
However, Scotland has a feline species that are now critically endangered and on the brink of extinction, but not only that, though. The country’s native wild cats are also facing other threats brought by humans.
The Tigers of Scotland was released in 2017.
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs is an Emmy-winning documentary that was issued in 1999. The series takes the audiences back to the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Triassic period. You get to have a look at the world through the eyes of particular herds and individual dinosaurs.
The show succeeded in its attempt to recreate and bring the dinosaurs to life using CGI. Narrated by actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh, Walking with Dinosaurs was definitely cutting edge when it premiered two decades ago in 1999.
In this day and age, however, the documentary’s special CGI effects now appear to be quite dated.
If you are one of those who love legendary naturalist David Attenborough and his body of work will definitely love Nature Curiosities. In fact, Attenborough has been well-known for his involvement in several masterpieces of nature documentaries ever created in history.
It may be true that nature can be weird, and this nature documentary delightfully highlights all that. The audiences will truly feel privileged to witness and learn from Attenborough’s intricate selection of natural curiosities and occurrences.
Natural Curiosities explores a host of the extremely surprising and mind-boggling behavior in nature. It further shows the process that animals develop these habits and the reason behind such habits.
The film follows Attenborough’s journey across the world where he visits some of his personally chosen natural peculiarities. The famous wildlife expert is taking the viewers with him as he and his team look into talented insects, armored animals, and a lot more.
Columbia: Wild Magic
Columbia: Wild Magic is a nature documentary feature that showcases the rich diversity of this beautiful country in Latin America. It also tackles the fragile ecosystem as well as the significance of conservation of the beauty of nature.
In Columbia: Wild Magic, you will take a tedious journey across biomes of the northernmost part of South America. No stone is left unturned as this documentary film captures the country’s landscape, ranging from the Amazon forests down to the coastlines of the Caribbean and the vast desert in front of camera’s lens.
Encounters At The End Of The World
Encounters at the End of the World is a breathtaking documentary that offers a view of Antartica, Earth’s southernmost continent that only few can likely see in real life. This documentary shows a touching study of the human mind amid the coldest, windiest, and driest landscape.
Encounters at the End of the World was filmed by German director Werner Herzog who is also the narrator and travel guide to Antartica. Herzog is also known as a legendary voice in the nature documentary genre.
In this film, he documents his visit to the Mcmurdo Station, the largest research station on the continent of Antarctica. Herzog further looks into the psyche of the scientists who have been working there.
It appears that although Antartica is an extremely remote place, intrepid explorers travel there to uncover the secrets of the coldest continent in the world.
This nature documentary feature provides a peek at a span of an almost uninhabited, ice-covered landmass. The place is as deadly as it is beautiful.
Encounters at the End of the World is a must-watch documentary for fans who want to educate themselves about this frozen terrain on the planet.
Hidden Kingdoms is a playful documentary series that tells the tale of life tiny living creatures. It is a three-part series that uses cutting-edge camera technology.
This nature documentary follows tiny insects, rodents, and other little species with the help of some cool camera tricks and cinematic angles. The audiences will gain insight as to how the shots were filmed, mixed with some whimsical and technical brilliance.
Some critics feel that the use of sounds is absurd and slammed the production team for it. The series, however, does not disappoint despite the fun sounds, especially if viewers would just take it lightly.
This one-of-a-kind nature documentary gives the audiences a look at animals’ experiences in their kind of world from their own point of view.
In Hidden Kingdoms, nature enthusiasts will be able to open their eyes to the worlds as seen through the eyes of tiny animals and insects, i.e. chipmunk and a Japanese rhinoceros beetle.
As the show capitalizes on its use of amazing camera technology, Hidden Kingdoms offers footages anyone thinks is not possible.
Chasing Coral is a nature documentary feature released in 2017. This film is helmed by Jeff Orlowski, the man who was behind the director’s chair for Chasing Ice, which was out in 2012. After a span of five years, Orlowski shifts his focus from the artic to the ocean.
Chasing Coral documents coral bleaching and how the carbon emissions and pesticides destroy the environment, particularly the reefs. Similar to other nature documentary features included in this Netflix guide, this film raises awareness of people in regard to the material and measurable impacts of global warming.
According to critics, Chasing Coral delights the audiences with a captivating view of the beauty of some of the Earth’s most fascinating natural wonders. In addition to that, however, it delivers a serious warning about their destruction in the future if not acted upon.