Photo by Radek Borovka/Shutterstock
Photo by Jo Crebbin/Shutterstock
King penguins form colonies in South Georgia, an island in the Antarctic region south of the Falkland Islands.
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the new wildlife series spotlights our majestic natural world—and makes a serious case for the need to protect it. Here’s how to travel to some of the locations featured while keeping conservation in mind.
Made over four years, in 50 countries, and across all continents, Netflix’s new original documentary series Our Planet is a spectacular survey of the natural world. Launched worldwide on April 5, the eight-part series focuses on the planet’s remarkable diversity, from the remote Arctic wilderness to recovering coral reef communities in Indonesia.
Each hour-long episode features wildlife scenes that producers Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey—the same team behind the award-winning nature series Planet Earth—claim have never before been captured on film. (Made in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund [WWF], the series’s most astonishing sequences include a gathering of 100,000 walruses in northern Russia, the largest-ever group of dolphins filmed in Costa Rica, and two Arabian leopards mating in Oman—a scene that took over two years of placing remote cameras in position to capture.)
The first episode takes viewers from calving glaciers in Greenland to seabird colonies on the Peruvian coast, highlighting the ways in which the planet’s ecosystems are interconnected. Each episode that follows focuses on one of Earth’s key habitats—its icy tundras, jungles, coastal seas, deserts and grasslands, high seas, freshwater regions, and forests—pointing not only to their immense beauty but also to the urgent environmental challenges that each currently faces.
“Biodiversity is declining in every region of the world, all as a consequence of the way we have chosen to live,” notes nature historian Sir David Attenborough, who narrates Our Planet, in the foreword for a companion photography book published in tandem with the series. “But as the problems are of our making, so the solutions can be ours too.”
After watching Our Planet, audiences can explore a range of accompanying conservation-oriented resources that were created to help answer questions specific to the series. But beyond providing viewers with inspiration to help preserve our natural world, the documentary series will surely move many to get out and explore it. Here’s how to visit some of the locations featured in Our Planet with tour outfitters and operators that promote environmentally responsible travel.
In the series’s first episode, titled “One Planet,” a sequence shot in Serengeti National Park marks one of the first times African wild dogs have been filmed since the endangered species disappeared from the protected area in 1991. The scene, in which the hunting dogs chase wildebeest calves, is one of many wildlife sightings that’s possible to witness on safari in the Serengeti. On the eight-day “Great Tanzania Migration Safari” with Natural Habitat Adventures (WWF’s official travel partner), naturalist expedition leaders lead small groups through the UNESCO-listed plains during peak migration season for wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras. From $9,495 per person
Our Planet crew members spent a month filming at this Indonesian archipelago, where rebounding coral reef systems emphasize the importance of sustainable fishing and marine protection. (According to the series, the number of fish in the area has multiplied by three, and sharks by 25, after only a decade of conservation efforts.) Episode four, titled “Coastal Seas,” kicks off in the waters around the Raja Ampat archipelago. For real-life snorkeling sessions off the shores of this island chain, embark on a 10-day luxury schooner sail with Remote Lands. The tour agency conducts specialized trips throughout Asia and often connects its travelers with NGOs in the places they visit. From $20,500 per person
In episode five, “From Deserts to Grasslands,” a timelapse video in the Atacama Desert gives viewers a glimpse at the oldest desert (and the driest nonpolar desert) on Earth. At an elevation of 7,900 feet, the barren Chilean plateau is one of the best places in the world for stargazing at night—but in the daytime, the Mars-like landscape offers geysers, salt flats, and lagoons to explore. The four-day “Atacama Adventure” with World Expeditions takes travelers on excursions to the best of them. (As part of the outfitter’s Positive Impacts Projects, a portion of the proceeds from every trip purchased is invested into projects that accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources in developing nations.) From $1,299 per person
In South Africa, One Planet crew members documented the largest group of feeding whales ever filmed. The sequence appears in episode six, titled “The High Seas,” and follows a super-group of humpback whales off Cape Town’s coast. You can track the country’s “Marine Big Five” (sharks, dolphins, seals, penguins, and whales) on a seven-day adventure with Natural World Safaris that includes visits to Cape Town, the Whale Coast, and the De Hoop Nature Reserve, which is known as one of the best whale-watching spots in South Africa. Natural World Safaris supports many wildlife conservation initiatives and foundations in countries across Africa and around the world. From $4,705 per person
Covering 75,000 square miles across Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay, the Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland. The extremely biodiverse ecosystem makes an appearance in “Fresh Water” (episode seven), with rare footage of an elusive jaguar hunting capybara and caiman in Brazil. The 11-day “Jaguars & Wildlife of Brazil’s Pantanal” journey with Natural Habitat Adventures includes expert-led wildlife spotting tours, nature walks, and visits to ecological refuges in the vast South American region. From $9,295 per person
To illustrate how intensely the world’s polar regions are being impacted by climate change, Our Planet’s second episode, titled “Frozen Worlds,” takes viewers to isolated tundras such as South Georgia Island, where wildlife behaviors are changing as a result of melting ice caps. On the 19-day “South Georgia and the Falklands” adventure with National Geographic Expeditions, travelers can spot lion seals and king penguins alongside a stacked team of naturalists, researchers, and wildlife experts. (The trip is offered in partnership with the environmentally conscious cruise operator Linblad Expeditions.) From $17,940 per person
According to Our Planet crew members, the team was the first to film the behavior of the carnivorous pitcher plant in Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo, in a scene that appears in episode three (titled “Jungles”). The 14-day “Jungles and Rivers of Borneo” expedition with GeoEx Adventure Travel visits this protected rain forest in Malaysian Borneo (among others) and focuses on the region’s rich biodiversity. From $8,945 per person
In the final episode of One Planet, a sobering reveal discloses the fate of an important natural ecosystem in Madasgascar. (You’ll have to watch the eighth installment, titled “Forests,” to learn more.) On the “Classic Madagascar” expedition with Wild Frontiers, travelers can explore the Indian Ocean island and contribute to its conservation. Itinerary highlights include exploring four of the island’s national parks on foot and taking part in a reforestation program to help build conversation areas for endemic wildlife. From $4,345 per person
When asked about the hopes for what impact the series has on global audiences, One Planet coproducer Alastair Fothergill states, “I hope they’ll be entertained—we’ll certainly show them things that they’ve never seen before—but I hope they take away an urgent message that our planet is in our hands. What we do in the next 20 years is critical for the natural world,” he continues. “But equally critical for us.”
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