Unfortunately, in Los Angeles, there aren't a lot of green spaces that aren't luxury golf courses, so as odd as this might sound, I often turn to Netflix to watch nature documentaries to fill the tree-shaped void in my field of vision. Although some of my personal favorites are no longer streaming on the platform (Netflix, if you're reading this, please bring back Chasing Ice and Virunga), there are still lots of nature-focused films worth adding to your queue.
After scrolling through the media giant's current offering, I'm recommending the eight best nature documentaries on Netflix that will, without a doubt, make you worldlier. From a visually stunning film about the migration of the monarch butterfly to an eye-opening look at the illegal ivory trade, these are the flicks that I think everyone should watch this Sunday night. Now, all that's left to do is pop some popcorn.
Encounters at the End of the World
Filmmaker Werner Herzog chronicles his journey to Antarctica as he visits McMurdo Station, the United States' largest research center on the continent. Not only does Encounters at the End of the World showcase the hauntingly beautiful landscape, but it also explores the minds of the scientists studying the otherworldly wildlife there.
The Ivory Game
Leonardo DiCaprio's latest documentary, The Ivory Game, exposes the deep-rooted corruption driving the global ivory trafficking crisis. Filmed over the course of 16 months, filmmakers went undercover to gain intel on the trade. The film watches more like a thriller, but shockingly, it's all true.
This reboot of Carl Sagan's show by the same name, Cosmos, stars astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. In the 13-part series, Tyson takes viewers on a spacetime odyssey, exploring the scientific concepts that make our world so wonderful. It retains the kitschiness and informativeness of the original with stunning modern footage.
Flight of the Butterflies
After nearly 40 years of research, Dr. Fred Urquhart finally mapped the migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to the U.S. and Mexico. The historic Flight of the Butterflies is part detective story, part visual masterpiece, and 100% a must-watch nature documentary that's currently streaming on Netflix.
BBC's Planet Earth claims that you'll see the world "as you've never seen it before," and honestly, the series does not disappoint. From the frozen tundra to the fertile rain forests, the 11-episodes series delivers compelling information and imagery, not to mention, it's narrated by naturalist David Attenborough.
The Blue Planet
This BBC series goes beyond the territory covered in Planet Earth and dives into the depths of the seas. The Blue Planet, also narrated by legendary naturalist David Attenborough, spans coasts of various continents around the world and covers a range of creatures from microscopic coral polyps to blue whales.
Colombia: Wild Magic
Colombia: Wild Magic showcases the biodiversity of the northernmost South American country. From the Caribbean coast to the Amazonian forests to the southern deserts, this documentary literally covers a lot of ground. While the landscape is undeniably beautiful, the film also underscores its fragility.
Yet another David Attenborough narrated nature documentary, Life, explores the strange evolutionary adaptations animals on our planet have made in order to survive. The 11-episode series took around four years to film, covering every continent and habitat on earth. Consider this series the prequel to Planet Earth.
Looking for more recommendations? Here are the nine best documentaries on Amazon Prime that will change your life.