15 Best Nature Documentaries on Netflix (July 2024)

Netflix has many documentaries offering in-depth analyses of different genres, including true crime, drama, historical, medical, biographical, paranormal, and more. For those seeking engaging content pertaining to the gifts of nature, we bring you a curated collection of stunningly shot nature documentaries that the streaming giant offers, each looking at the essence of nature from a different angle and exploring it from the beginning of time to its potential future. What makes these documentaries stand out from the rest is that they all have been created by a dedicated team of researchers, filmmakers, and technical experts who have pulled their resources and shared their collective vision in a never-before manner.

15. Chimp Empire (2023)

A four-episode mini-series directed by James Reed and narrated by Mahershala Ali, ‘Chimp Empire’ is, in many ways, the real-life counterpart of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ film franchise. Set in Uganda’s Ngogo rainforest, the series explores the region’s chimpanzees and their society, which, just like any human society, runs on complex social dynamics involving parents, children, elders, and young ones. It also sheds light on their fight for territory. To learn more about these sentient beings who are our closest relatives, you can watch ‘Chimp Empire’ here.

14. Life on Our Planet (2023- )

Narrated by Morgan Freeman and executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, ‘Life on Our Planet’ traces the origins of life on Earth and takes us back 4 billion years. An in-depth exploration of several geologic periods, the series traverses the different stages of evolution underscored by the cataclysmic events, including mass extinctions, which shaped and reshaped it. From the smallest lizards to the largest dinosaurs, from flowering plants to marine vertebrates, from volcanoes to asteroids, ‘Life on Our Planet’ is an amalgamation of all aspects of the revolution of life. You can stream it here.

13. Our Universe (2022-)

Also narrated by Morgan Freeman, ‘Our Universe’ is a 6-episode limited series that follows two stories parallelly: the formation of the universe with a special focus on planet Earth and how it came into being and iconic animals in their habitats. Freeman explains how these two stories are connected in an extensive scheme that transcends time and space, underscored by brilliant visuals courtesy of hyper-detailed animations of cosmic events using suggestions and scientific data provided by astrophysicists, including the notes of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Kip Thorne, who was also the scientific consultant for Christopher Nolan’s epic sci-fi movie ‘Interstellar’ (2014). You can stream ‘Our Universe’ here.

12. My Octopus Teacher (2020)

Winner of the Best Documentary Feature at the 2021 Oscars, ‘My Octopus Teacher’ explores the unlikely friendship between naturalist Craig Foster and a young octopus that forms over a year and how it changed Foster’s view towards life. His bond with the octopus changed how he interacted with his family, friends, and peers. Filmed by Foster himself, ‘My Octopus Teacher’ is an emotionally moving documentary that stresses the inexplicable connection that connects us to other life forms. All it takes is a little patience. You can watch the film here.

11. Living with Leopards (2024)

Directed by Alex Parkinson and narrated by Brad Bestelink, who also serves as the director of photography, this film follows a mother leopard, Mochima, and her two cubs, Dakunga and Kutjira, as they grow and learn to navigate their lives, from infancy to adulthood, across the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Southern Africa. The dramatic visuals of this up-close-and-personal documentary make it one of the best leopard documentaries out here. You can stream ‘Living with Leopards’ here.

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10. Animal (2021- )

Each episode of this docuseries centers on a different species of wildlife, exploring its life by capturing special and intense moments of survival, protection, and more. Get to know the world’s most magnificent creatures and how they make their living in the heart of nature. Narrated by celebrities including Pedro Pascal, Bryan Cranston, Andy Serkis, Rashida Jones, and Rebel Wilson, ‘Animal’ is an Emmy-nominated nature documentary that blends cutting-edge filmmaking technology with nature at its most intimate. You can stream it here.

9. Wild Babies (2022- )

This 8-episode limited series follows 16 wild babies, each of a different species, and follows their growth amidst the surroundings they are born into and those they have to navigate and survive in. Narrated by acclaimed English actress Helena Bonham Carter, the series has been shot in multiple locations, including South Carolina, Costa Rica, and South Africa. From baby seals to lion cubs to baby elephants to little penguins and Arctic foxes, ‘Wild Babies’ picks at your instincts of care as you wonder how the young ones will survive in the wild. The series can be streamed here.

8. Dancing with the Birds (2019)

Directed by Huw Cordey, ‘Dancing with the Birds’ is a breathtaking exploration of exotic birds and their stunning mating rituals underscored by Stephen Fry’s narration. We get to see how different species of birds, including the Black sicklebill, the Carola’s parotia, the Lance-tailed manakin, and the King of Saxony bird-of-paradise, try to woo their potential mates by flaunting their skills. To find out how, you can watch ‘Dancing with the Birds’ here.

7. Puff: Wonders of the Reef (2021)

A visually stunning documentary film that introduces you to Puff, a newborn sharpnose puffer fish, as it navigates its underwater surroundings in search of a home, ‘Puff: Wonders of the Reef’ reveals the micro-verse of wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. Follow Puff as he makes his way through other creatures, some of which are hunters, to find a safe haven, almost invisible to the human eye but magical to our tiny friend. Directed by Nick Robinson and narrated by actress Rose Byrne, ‘Puff: Wonders of the Reef’ can be streamed here.

6. Chasing Coral (2017)

Directed by Jeff Orlowski, this documentary won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, among many other accolades. The film explores coral reefs and the threat of bleaching they face from the POV of scientists, photographers, and divers, who are investigating the event and searching for ways to protect one of the world’s most sophisticated lifeforms. A must-watch venture, ‘Chasing Corals’ can be streamed here.

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5. Night on Earth (2020)

State-of-the-art low-light camera tech (Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos) throws light at Nature after the setting of the sun in this 6-episode limited series. Narrated by Samira Wiley, ‘Night on Earth’ explores multiple terrains, including deserts and oceans, and shows what animals, from the smallest to the largest, are up to at nighttime. You can stream the series here.

4. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)

Narrated by Emmy and BAFTA-winning naturalist Sir David Attenborough, this documentary film serves, in his own words, as his “witness statement” and his “vision for the future.” It traces his journey as a biologist/naturalist interspersed with the evolution of the natural world. He explains his concern for nature that humans have targeted for its usage and how it can have adverse effects to a point where there is no turning back. Attenborough’s powerful first-hand account makes the film a personal message of urgency of saving our planet and hope for future generations. It is directed by Directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes, and Keith Scholey and can be streamed here.

3. Life in Colour With David Attenborough (2021)

Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, this 3-episode series explores nature’s purpose in its myriad colors. While humans see colors as a thing of beauty, they serve as essential tools for wildlife, serving each species in its fight for survival. From wooing to warning to warding off, colors in nature serve various purposes. Using cutting-edge cameras and technology, much of which was developed specifically for this series, ‘Life in Colour With David Attenborough’ showcases stuff that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye. Sounds interesting? You can stream the series here.

2. Our Living World (2024)

A project that took six years to come into being, ‘Our Living World’ is a mini-docuseries created by the Emmy Award-winning team behind ‘Our Great National Parks’ (2022). This four-episode docuseries explores life and how its support system works to shape the world, maintaining a delicate balance like a silent guardian. Narrated by two-time Academy-award-winner Cate Blanchett, ‘Our Living World’ offers a macroscopic and microscopic view of nature, its vast network, its changes, and the threat of human change. In simpler terms, considering you are a film buff, this series is proof of the presence of Eywa (watch James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ for more info) around us. You can stream this series here.

1. Our Planet (2019-2023)

As Netflix’s first nature documentary, ‘Our Planet’ claims the top spot on our list. The series is created by the Emmy Award-winning team behind ‘Planet Earth’ (2006), led by filmmakers Keith Scholey and Huw Cordey. It takes the viewers on a magical journey that explores nature and animals across numerous ecosystems, with a special focus on how climate change affects them, be it the jungles, the seas, the deserts, or the frozen poles. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, ‘Our Planet’ is a must-watch. You can stream it here.

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