Want some awe-inspiring scenery from the comfort of your own home? The beauty of the Earth and all of its treasures needn’t only be experienced first-hand. Over the years, nature documentaries and travel shows have become more and more eye-opening and educational, encouraging us to question our role in humanity when it comes to preserving the Earth and all the beauty it puts forth.
Here’s our pick of the top 5 best nature documentaries and travel shows available to watch right now.
Where David Attenborough and planet documentaries are concerned, you can almost guarantee you’re in for a tear-jerking, compassionate portrayal of the world around us. A Life On Our Planet is certainly no exception, but does seek to bring home an even starker truth—that we all need to come together if we’re to begin to reverse the changes that our planet has undergone since civilisation began.
Heralded by some as the most important documentary of the year, Attenborough reflects on the way the Earth has seen some devastating changes since his time as a naturalist visiting every continent on the globe. The overriding message of the entire documentary is that humanity needs to consume less within all aspects of our lives if we are to have any positive change on the Earth. These include, changing our diet to be more plant-based, reducing the size of the areas we are farming on land and sea, and reducing our carbon footprint through the use of renewable energy sources over fossil fuels. This is all brought across by the soothing tones of Attenborough, but don’t be deceived—A Life On Our Planet seeks to be an urgent message to humanity, that we are running out of time, but not if we act now. A truly eye-opening, must-watch.
A fine mixture of education and entertainment, Down to Earth follows Zac Efron and wellness expert, Darin Olein, as they traverse the world, uncovering each country’s secrets to good health, long life, and a higher level of eco-consciousness. Throughout the series, the pair become more aware and accustomed to the different cultures around them and the importance of human unity, showing the more efficient ways in which some country’s use their resources, and how these can be utilised throughout the world to improve our lives and the ecosystem.
What is endearing about this show, is Zac Efron doesn’t pretend to be an expert about the issues the planet is facing—he isn’t the larger-than-life, Hollywood actor he has been understood to be. In this show, he is a student learning lessons from cultural teachers, and viewers are simply invited to follow along on this educational journey. Akin to the overriding messages of David Attenborough’s A Life On Our Planet, Efron uses his platform to bring to the surface and address the immediate dangers that our planet is facing, and how changing our perspective and the way we use our resources could be the shining light. From Iceland’s renewable energy efforts and Paris’ tap water system, to an eco-village in Costa Rica, and the world of potato cryopreservation in Peru, the show is a learning curve in itself, and seems to offer the notion that even if you are uneducated on living more environmentally, it is better to start somewhere than to not start at all.
Encapsulating the true magnitude and powerful force of Mother Nature, Magnetic portrays stories of athletes who have been utterly drawn to the magnetism of Earth’s natural elements, from surfing some of the largest waves at Nazaré Canyon in Portugal, to skiing along Mirshikar Summit in Northern Pakistan—with no guarantee that an avalanche won’t fall at any minute. These are the type of people who make you question if fear even exists for them, and provides an exhilarating watch, allowing you the chance to follow these adrenaline-seeking individuals and witness these extreme sports first-hand. The cinematography offered up by Magnetic is truly sublime, displaying beautiful locations enough to take your breath away. This is an insight into the minds of these intrepid athletes and what they see as their extreme form of bliss, but it is also an appreciation of the planet’s unbridled elements, fulfilling their full stupendous potential.
You may need some tissues at the ready to hold back the tears for this one. Relying entirely upon the kindness of strangers, former broker, Leon Logothetis, travels around the world—a social experiment that seeks to expose the good of humanity and the generosity around us. At a time when the pandemic is limiting our personal interactions, The Kindness Diaries feels like a haven that shows the selfless acts of others. But there is another mission that Leon seeks to fulfil throughout the series—that of rewarding these random acts of kindness by transforming the strangers' lives in return, as the series shows that it is often those who have the least who are willing to help those in need. Possibly one of the best travel shows on Netflix currently, it’s a chance to enjoy a spot of armchair travel and open your heart to the goodwill of humanity despite these difficult times. The show proves that oftentimes our perception of people and different cultures do not live up to the true nature of the kindness of people who are willing to lend a helping hand to their fellow humans. If you’re looking to instill more kindness into your life, have your faith in humanity restored, or simply wish to carry out a bit of travelling from the comfort of your own home, The Kindness Diaries will fill the void.
Painting a hopeful picture about the innovative technologies currently being developed to solve the water crisis, Brave Blue World interviews a number of experts across five continents who all have their own view on how to build towards a more sustainable water future. Bringing home a stark truth, that 95% of the water we use is just thrown away, the areas of development that are discussed include water reuse, nutrient recovery, energy generation, decentralised treatment, and the digitisation of water. Hearing from high-profile activists including Matt Damon and Jaden Smith, this feature-length documentary is given a noteworthy platform in order to get its message across. Separating itself from other documentaries that appear to paint a bleak picture of the future of sustainable water, the overall message is one of hope for future generations, from a visit to a NASA research centre showing how water is recycled in space, and a textile plant in India meeting 90% of its water needs from recycled water, to algae being used for renewable car fuel and fertiliser, Brave Blue World shows that it is all possible in our lifetime.
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