I have a hard time finding decent nature documentaries. Some have terrible quality shots or bland narration, and some are just downright boring. However, documentaries are a great source of information, so I decided to watch all the rainforest documentaries I could find on Netflix so I could recommend the best ones to you. I chose Netflix since most people seem to have an account, so there’s easy access to them. I’ll be basing this off of my own personal taste in documentaries.
In the past week I have watched 15 documentaries (two of them are not on Netflix, but I have to mention them!). Here are my favorites, in order:
Planet Earth, Episode 8: Jungles
Planet Earth and Planet Earth II are my favorite documentaries ever. They have spectacular imagery, excellent narration, and wonderful editing and music. The HD shots are beautiful and unmatched by any other documentary I’ve found. This documentary manages to make even fungi interesting (and they caught some really cool shots of it, too!). This episode starts off with birds of paradise, which are always interesting, and ends with a chimpanzee raid. There’s not a single boring moment in-between.
Planet Earth II, Episode 3: Jungles
Planet Earth II is not yet on Netflix, but you can probably easily find it online somewhere. It starts off with a touching family moment between two spider-monkeys and then you’ll see a hummingbird with a beak longer than its body. This one also goes over some birds of paradise. Wonderful HD shots and perfect editing, music, and narration.
Planet Earth II, Episode 1: Islands
Again, gorgeous HD shots and amazing editing, music, and narration. You learn that there’s an island where 2,000 komodo dragons live and you’ll see one of the fanciest-looking birds in the world. The whole episode is not only about rainforests, but parts of it do cover certain rainforests, like in Madagascar. You’ll still learn a lot and have fun while you do!
Wildest Indochina, Episode 1: Malaysia: Freaks of Nature
Very good camera quality, editing, and music. It has good humor and manages to make some scenes tense and entertaining. Gives you information about how the land was formed, where it is, as well as all the plants and animals that exist there. It makes new information exciting. And it talks about orangutans! You also learn a lot about caves and mangroves. This is my favorite documentary outside of Planet Earth.
Wildest Indochina, Episode 2: Thailand: The Wild Heart
This one catches some really pretty shots. About 20 minutes in, it starts talking specifically about the rainforest. Quality narration and editing, but not always the greatest choice of music (for me anyway). This one goes over a lot of freaky bugs, wildcats, and monkeys. You learn a bit about Siamese history and belief system as well as hunting tactics.
Wildest Indochina, Episode 4: Phoenix From the Ashes
This gives you a brief history of Vietnam as it relates to the land. It also covers how the Vietnam war destroyed a lot of Vietnam’s land and animal species. Apparently, a lot of animals we thought were extinct, some for even up to 60 years, are reappearing (in small quantities). This documentary also talks about the daily resources the rainforest gives to indigenous people, which I think is always good to learn about. Good quality and editing, and smooth narration.
India’s Lost Worlds, Episode 2: Kipling’s Paradise
You’ll learn about the jungle that inspired The Jungle Book. This episode talks about India’s spice trade and tea business, as well as the conflicts between people and elephants, as well as tigers. This touches on Indian belief systems. It also talks about certain groups of Indian people and how they interact with the world around them. You’ll see something called the “Tiger Dance”. Seems to be as much about the people as it is the land. This documentary has beautiful shots, good music choices, and interesting narration.
Wildest Latin America, Episode 1: Amazon: One Jungle, Many Worlds
This documentary covers a lot of creatures I haven’t seen in other documentaries. Their music choices can seem odd and the editing isn’t the greatest, but the narration is pleasant and you get a lot of information in just a couple of minutes. They use their time wisely and give you a good sense of the Amazon’s magnitude and biodiversity. It also covers indigenous peoples and their daily life. What I really liked about this documentary is learning about a bullet ant ceremony that the particular tribe they cover does.
So that’s it; those are the documentaries I would recommend from Netflix! I hope you enjoy them and learn a lot. If I missed any good ones, or if you want to suggest any, feel free to comment! And let me know how you like these documentaries!