The Best Nature Documentaries Ever Made: Check Out These Amazing Shows!

Any list of the best nature documentaries ever made would include the work of Sir David Attenborough, including the acclaimed Planet Earth and Planet Earth II, Life On Earth and accompanying series such as The Life of Birds and The Private Life of Plants.

Other well-regarded nature documentaries include recent series such as Tiny World, narrated by Paul Rudd, and Our Planet, produced by Netflix.

On this page you'll find a selection of the best nature documentaries. Our selection covers a number of natural history subjects and locations. If you love natural history then any of the titles on this list are likely to provide you with many hours of entertainment…

The Best Nature Documentaries: Quick Picks

Below are three of the best nature documentaries. Continue scrolling to see the entire list.

You can click on the images and links on this page to view the documentary on Amazon. (We may receive a small commission if you subsequently make a purchase.)

Planet Earth (I and II)The HuntThe Blue Planet
Stunning visuals, enthralling stories: the yardstick by which all nature documentaries continue to be judged.A series that focuses on the struggles faced by the world’s predators. Features perhaps the best cinematography yet seen in a nature documentary.Breath-taking footage of an amazing undersea world. View whales, dolphins, fish, crustaceans and other marine organisms in their natural habitat.
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Page Index


In the early 1950’s, a young David Attenborough travelled the globe as part of an expedition to capture rare and endangered species for London Zoo. He documented his travels in a series named Zoo Quest, the first of which was broadcast in 1954.

The series proved to be hugely popular (the pursuit of wild animals to be taken into captivity was not, at the time, the controversial subject that it is today).

Zoo Quest was among the first natural history series ever to be brought before a large-scale audience.

Attenborough has since shaped the natural history genre, presenting, narrating and writing a huge variety of classic nature documentaries, including many on the list below.

Zoo Quest paved the way for modern nature documentaries. Today we see animals and plants on our screen in full color and high definition. Film technology has allowed us to warp time, capture arial footage using drones and even bring extinct animals “back to life”. We can travel to the deepest oceans or to the highest mountain peaks.

This list will explore the best nature documentaries of all time. From the revolutionary to the unforgettable these much-loved series give us a better understanding of the natural world, and are some of the most popular and visually-impressive documentaries on any subject.

List Of The Best Nature Documentaries Of All Time

15. Nature's Most Amazing Events

Nature's Most Amazing Events blu-ray cover
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  • Year produced: 2009
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • A pride of lions migrating across the savannah during a drought.
  • A pod of orcas combines brutal strength with teamwork to capture its prey.

Nature's Most Amazing Events (Nature’s Great Events in the UK)

2009 was an important year for nature documentaries, with the world famous BBC Natural History Unit producing not one but four series: Life, Yellowstone, South Pacific and Nature’s Great Events.

Whereas all four were excellent (we look at Life further down the list), Nature's Most Amazing Events (known as Nature’s Great Events in the UK) was perhaps the most visually-stunning of them all.

Across its six episodes Nature's Most Amazing Events takes viewers across the globe to witness some of nature’s greatest spectacles.

You’ll see: grizzly bears gathering to feast on the riches of the annual salmon migration; the epic conflict between predators and migrating wildebeest on the African savannah; and arctic foxes, polar bears, narwhals and beluga whales in the Arctic.

This visually powerful and truly epic study of nature’s greatest wonders is must-watch for all animal lovers.

14. Dynasties

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  • Year produced: 2018
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • A male lion rescuing his brother from a pack of hyenas.
  • A pack of painted wolves fighting to survive in a dangerous world.

Taking the concept of Nature’s Great Events (2009), Dynasties focuses on a particular group of animals in each episode. This five-part masterpiece pushes the boundaries of wildlife photography as it follows threatened or endangered species in their natural environment.

The series features: emperor penguins battling the Antarctic cold in hurricane-force winds; a chimpanzee group learning new skills and overcoming various challenges in its forest home, a tiger family trapped within a shrinking and crowded territory competing with humans and rival tigers that threaten their existence; a pride of lions experiencing the harshness of life in the Savannah; and a pack of painted wolves struggling to regain lost territory while facing hyenas and lions at every turn.

This ground-breaking series showed the struggles of animals in a world on the brink.

13. Walking With Dinosaurs

Walking With Dinosaurs
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  • Year produced: 1999
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: Kenneth Branagh
  • Available on Netflix: Yes

Highlights Include:

  • A pliosaur–a giant marine reptile–hunting its prey in a dramatic and intense sequence.
  • A grand orchestral score accompanying one of the largest of all land-based animals ever, the brachiosaurus, is a truly magical television moment.

Walking with Dinosaurs

This immensely ambitious documentary series is one of the most ambitious nature documentaries since Planet Earth (2006).

Walking with Dinosaurs brings its prehistoric stars to life using a combination of remarkable CGI and advanced use of animatronics.

One of the BBC’s most expensive and famous documentaries, this six-part series leaves viewers awestruck by the cinematography and special effects, which were more realistic than many movies of its time.

Walking with Dinosaurs was the first of nine series on prehistoric life, which also includes documentaries such as Walking with Beasts, Sea Monsters and Walking with Monsters.

Of all the excellent “Walking With” series, Walking with Dinosaurs remains the most revolutionary and, in our opinion, the greatest.

12. Tiny World.

  • Year produced: 2020
  • Producer of Series: Apple TV
  • Narrator: Paul Rudd
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • Sugar gliders glide away from raging bush fires.
  • Beautiful footage of pygmy marmosets shows just how small these bizarre monkeys truly are.

Tiny World

Tiny World is one of the best nature documentaries produced in recent times. The 2020 series’ revolutionary cinematography and stunning photography allows viewers to witness Earth from the perspective of the smallest of animals; species usually dismissed for their diminutive size.

Tiny World is narrated by Paul Rudd and produced by Apple TV. The series features a huge variety of tiny animals and offers viewers a glimpse into their hitherto-unseen world. Watching Tiny World, you’ll truly feel that you’re among these amazing animals!

11. Human Planet

Human Planet
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  • Year produced: 2011
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: John Hurt
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • The entire series provides an epic look at how humans have adapted beyond the capabilities of any other animal. The episode on mountains is a highlight of the series.
  • A hunter pushing his body beyond human endurance, entering a trance-like state before diving beneath the waves for up to 5 minutes. Although the pressure would have been strong enough to shrink the volume of his lungs, he is able to move efficiently across the sea floor in order to catch fish. During his dive, the urge to breathe would have been near irresistible.

Human Planet

2011 saw the release of Human Planet, a documentary aimed at providing a new perspective on humanity itself. Across the series’ eight episodes, viewers can witness the extraordinary adaptions of the most intelligent animal on the planet: Homo sapiens.

The documentary series, narrated by John Hurt, explores the complex relationship between man and the natural world in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. As such, it is one of the most important nature documentaries, and one all should have an opportunity to watch.

(Some of the scenes in Human Planet were subsequently found to have been artificially-produced by the makers of the series. As a result, it has been removed from some networks.)

10. Chasing Coral

  • Year produced: 2017
  • Producer of Series: NETFLIX
  • Available on Netflix: Yes

Highlights Include:

  • Mesmerizing footage of coral reefs and the coral themselves

Chasing Coral

This Netflix-produced, Emmy award-winning documentary film reveals the mysteries of the coral reefs. Produced by divers, photographers and marine biologists, Chasing Coral also describes how humanity is killing some of the most beautiful natural wonders on the planet.

Also highly-recommended is Chasing Coral’s highly-acclaimed 2012 predecessor, ‘Chasing Ice’.

  • You can find out more about Chasing Coral here.

You can watch the entire film for free on YouTube below:

09. March of the Penguins

March of the Penguins nature documentary cover
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  • Year produced: 2005
  • Producer of Series: National Geographic
  • Narrator: Morgan Freeman
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • The emperor penguin is the only animal able to survive the harsh, hurricane-force winds in the height of the Antarctic winter.
  • The film’s beautiful footage of penguin chicks is truly memorable.

March of the Penguins

March of the Penguins was released in 2005 and is narrated by Morgan Freeman. The film met with nothing but praise for its dramatic and exploration of the emperor penguin migration.

The film does not shy away from the brutal reality of an emperor penguin’s life, yet remains an entertaining and heart-warming experience.

March of the Penguins paved the way for later series and films, including BBC Earth’s ‘Dynasties’, which also relied on dramatic storytelling and the focus on a single species.

08. Life on Earth

Life on Earth
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  • Year produced: 1979
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator /Presenter: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

Attenborough’s magical and unforgettable encounter with mountain gorillas is surely one of television’s most iconic moments.

Haunting images of sharks are both horrifying yet unforgettable.

Attenborough sitting beside a pool of captive dolphins in a fascinating experiment to hear their bizarre method of echolocation.

Life on Earth

1979’s Life on Earth is both the first great nature documentary and the oldest entry on this list.

This BBC masterpiece was the first of nine stunning series grouped together under the banner of the “Life” series, which also includes: The Living Planet, Trials of Life, Life in the Freezer, The Private life of Plants, The Life of Birds, The Life of Mammals, Life in the Undergrowth and Life in Cold Blood.

These nine series were produced over a period of twenty-nine years. Although all deserve a place on this list, Life on Earth, being the first and most iconic of the series, is the one we’ve chosen to represent this impressive body of work.

All of Life on Earth’s thirteen episodes hold up remarkably well despite their age, and the series is still definitely worth a watch.

07. Life

Life Nature Documentary
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  • Year produced: 2009
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: Oprah Winfrey (USA) / David Attenborough (UK)
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • Time lapse photography showing the growth and movement of plants throughout a year.
  • The chilling introductory sequence to Creatures of the Deep (ep. 9).


Life highlights the incredible variety of life on earth and explains the complex and strange adaptations of plants and animals in their fight for survival. Produced three decades after the groundbreaking Life on Earth, Life is an expanded and updated look at the evolution of both fauna and flora.

Across its ten episodes, Life is one of the most varied and large-scale nature documentaries ever made. Its at times stunning visuals, a decade later, continue to impress.

Sir David Attenborough wrote the script and narrated the series’ UK version, but Oprah Winfrey narrated the series U.S. version.

06. Africa

Africa Wildlife Documentary
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  • Year produced: 2013
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • In the opening episode rival male giraffes brutally attacking each other using their powerful, muscular necks.
  • Night vision photography revealing the secret life of rhinoceroses after sunset.
  • Attenborough’s heart-breaking encounter with a young, blind rhinoceros is one of the most best-known Attenborough moments.
  • Hatchling sea turtles making their way to the sea while being attacked by birds.


Africa, rather than concentrating solely on the iconic animals of the African savannah, reveals instead the secret wildlife of the entire continent.

The documentary’s subjects range from ancient birds that can only be described as living fossils to a fish found in a lake deep beneath the ground.

Whether your interest lies in the animal kingdom or the continent itself, Africa is an outstanding series and well worth a watch.

05. Frozen Planet

Frozen Planet Documentary
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  • Year produced: 2011
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • Time lapse of glaciers as they slice through the rocky terrain is an unforgettable and shocking moment.
  • The first episode, has segment exploring the incredible world of Antarctica, here we see orca whales, bizarre seals and marine invertebrates beneath the ice sheet, a deep volcanic crater and a cave of crystal ice as well as exploring the fascinating geology of one of the most bizarre locations on the planet.
  • A hilarious scene follows penguins building nests, as they steal rocks from their neighbors.

Frozen Planet

In 2011, the BBC Natural History Unit treated wildlife fans to a number of excellent series, including Madagascar, a documentary exploring the island’s many unique species; Human Planet, a fascinating eight-part series that looked at the relationship between humans and wildlife; and Earth Flight, a documentary that gave viewers a bird’s-eye view of our planet.

However, it is the ambitious Frozen Planet, another 2011 release, that we’ve included in this list of the best nature documentaries.

A follow-up to the highly-regarded The Blue Planet and Planet Earth, Frozen Planet gives viewers the chance to experience Earth’s polar regions and the stunning variety of wildlife that inhabits these inhospitable, beautiful places.

Over the course of seven episodes, the documentary reveals many of the secrets of Earth’s wildest locations. It also covers the effect of global warming on both the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Frozen Planet that doesn’t shy away from the often harsh nature of life in Earth’s polar regions. Visually dramatic, and an honest reflection of the state of some of the most fragile parts of our planet, this is a must-see documentary.

04. The Blue Planet

The Blue Planet
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  • Year produced: 2001
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • The iconic footage of a blue whale in the opening sequence of the first episode is unforgettable.
  • The entire deep ocean episode is remarkable: gulper eel, angler fish, dragonfish, comb jellies and many more alien-looking animals are among the most fascinating creatures featured in the entire series.

The Blue Planet

The Blue Planet, produced in 2001, introduces viewers to the beautiful and infinitely-varied species that make their homes both in and around the world’s oceans.

Across its eight episodes, The Blue Planet allows viewers to experience the true power and wonder of undersea life. It’s more than just a documentary; it’s an experience.

In 2017, a sequel, Blue Planet II arrived. Using the latest cameras and technology, Blue Planet II unlocked even more of the ocean’s secrets.

Notable sequences include predatory fish leaping from the ocean to catch birds; and worms that bury themselves in the sand before grabbing unsuspecting fish in their jaws.

Both Blue Planet series are revolutionary and considered by many to be among the greatest nature documentaries ever made.

03. The Hunt

The Hunt Documentary
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  • Year produced: 2015
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

  • Footage of a blue whale – the world’s largest animal – gliding through the sea, with the camera zooming out to reveal the immensity of the open ocean.
  • A young tiger hunting a stag in dense undergrowth.

The Hunt

2015’s The Hunt is a seven-part series that focuses on the challenges faced by predators from all around the globe.

Of all of the visually stunning nature documentaries in this list, The Hunt is perhaps the most impressive of them all.

The footage of predators – which range from sharks to lions – is of such high quality it’s hard to imagine how any documentary could ever top it.

The Hunt will give you a new perspective into the lives of predators. It is perhaps the most cinematic nature documentary yet made and for this reason cannot be recommended highly enough.

02. Our Planet

  • Year produced: 2019
  • Producer of Series: NETFLIX
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: Yes

Highlights Include:

  • A Siberian tiger is caught on a camera trap, resulting in a once-in-a-lifetime image of this beautiful animal.
  • Stunning aerial footage of a blue whale and its calf as they migrate across the open ocean.

Our Planet

Our Planet was produced by the makers of Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and The Blue Planet, all of which are featured on this list of the best nature documentaries. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Our Planet continues in the tradition of stunning visuals and engaging storylines.

Narrated by David Attenborough, Our Planet showcases incredible wildlife while reminding us that much of the natural world is threatened and that we should care for that life because we are dependent upon it.

Several episodes of Our Planet are available to watch for free on YouTube, including "High Seas", below:

01. Planet Earth (And Planet Earth II)

Planet Earth Nature Documentary
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  • Year produced: 2006
  • Producer of Series: BBC Earth
  • Narrator: David Attenborough
  • Available on Netflix: No

Highlights Include:

Dramatic footage of great white sharks catching sea lions in their jaws.

A large pride of lions hunting elephants around a desert watering hole during a midnight thunderstorm.

Planet Earth

Planet Earth is our choice for the title of ‘best nature documentary’. Stunning visuals, captivating stories and an atmospheric soundtrack combine to create a truly immersive experience.

The 2006 documentary contains amazing footage of countless animals, plants, landscapes and geology that highlight the beauty and wonder of our planet.

Despite competition from Our Planet, The Hunt, and the other ground-breaking nature documentaries featured on this list, in our opinion Planet Earth can still be crowned the king of nature documentaries despite being almost fifteen years old.

Planet Earth II

While Planet Earth took the photography, cinematography and scale of nature documentaries to new and unrivalled heights, its 2016 sequel, Planet Earth II may even have surpassed the original.

Notable sequences in Planet Earth II include urban leopards in Mumbai, marine iguanas being chased by snakes, lions chasing giraffes, and ground-breaking snow leopard footage.

Best Nature Documentaries Of All Time: Conclusion

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading our list of the best nature documentaries of all time. Have you seen any of the series on this list? What are your favorite wildlife films / series / shows? Let us know in the comments section below!

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