Travel Movies & Books

Last year, while we all quarantined ourselves within the four walls of our respective homes, we turned into couch potatoes and binge-watched movies and series, of which many were related to traveling. Well, that was the best we could do to beat the woes of not getting to explore the world as freely as we did before 2020. As we continue to grapple with the global pandemic, confining ourselves behind the closed doors and practice social distancing while dealing with the second wave, I’ve started watching some of the timeless travel series narrated by Sir David Attenborough, and trust me when I say this, these shows will offer a virtual escape and satiate your wanderlust.

Renowned nature documentarist, David Attenborough has inspired millions by bringing the natural world into our homes. His life is marked by a tenacious desire to explore, innovate and enlighten, and that has impacted travelers across the world in ways that can’t be comprehended in words.

His narration makes us forget about everything bad and restores our belief in the fact that the world is a magnificent place where we can find everything – from the snow-white polar bears that roam the Arctic Circle, to the vibrant coral reefs that fill the oceans; from the mighty animals dwelling in the African countries to the tiniest of insects found in the rainforests of Borneo.

The Blue Planet

A glimpse of The Blue Planet.

70% of the Earth is covered with water, and we humans would barely get to know anything in that world which is beyond our reach. Sir David Attenborough narrated this eye-soothing docu-series, The Blue Planet, which was created and produced by the BBC in the year 2001, taking us closer to the marine world. It was aptly described as ‘the first ever comprehensive series on the natural history of the world’s oceans’. As I binge-watched all those eight episodes at one go, I was mesmerized to see the spectacular world in the depth of the oceans, and how the tides create survival opportunities for marine life as well as the predatory skills of whales & sharks. Watching the series 20 years later, it seemed as if new chapters were unfolding in front of my eyes – things that I never knew about and was never told before!

Where to watch: Discovery Plus

Blue Planet II


In 2017, The BBC Natural History Unit released yet another extraordinary series, which outdid the predecessor, The Blue Planet (2001), using modern filming equipment and techniques, letting the viewers dive deep into the greatest, yet lesser-known, parts of our planet – the oceans. Returning back to the blues and collecting breathtaking footage of the marine lives in their natural habitat, the series would take you on a magical adventure across the tropical seas and the frozen waters around the poles. Mesmerized by the bold cinematic presentation along with the narrations by Sir David Attenborough, I stayed hooked to the screen for hours while watching the bottlenose dolphins playing with corals in the Red Sea, the orca and humpback whale feasting in large schools of herring in Norway, large packs of giant trevally hunting tern chicks in atolls in the Indian Ocean, and thousands of walrus resting and breeding on the melting ice in the Arctic.

Where to watch: Discovery Plus

The Hunt

Official trailer of The Hunt, released on BBC America’s YouTube Channel.

As the name suggests, The Hunt showcases the fascinating relationship between predators and their prey in some of the world’s extraordinary habitats. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, you’ll sure get goosebumps watching some of the most determined, specialized, and cunning predators of the world and how they chase their equally cunning and elusive prey. From the orca hunting humpback whale calves in tropical waters to the polar bears stalking the seals in the meltwater pools, from the lions chasing the buffalos in East Africa to the endless search of ocean predators to find their food – this series has captured the remarkable strategies adopted by the animals to hunt and how the prey manages to escape at times. The incredible storytelling will surely keep you hooked for hours, as you witness some of nature’s most compelling tales of rivalry.

Where to watch: Discovery Plus


A glimpse of the magnificent series – Africa.

As the name suggests, this docu-series created by the BBC Natural History Unit was released in 2013 focusing essentially on the varied landscapes of the African continent and the lives that thrive there. From the deserts of Kalahari to the Savannah region of East Africa, from the chimpanzees dwelling in Congo Basin to the great whale sharks of the Cape – you’d get to explore the nooks and corners of Africa while sitting at home. I recently stumbled upon this series and while watching the herd of elephants in Amboseli, I had clear flashbacks from my month-long trip in Kenya where I had a chance to get a closer look at the BIG 5. Honestly, I was touched by the final episode which showed The Future of Africa, where Attenborough has thrown lights on some of the critical environmental issues affecting Africa’s wildlife, including poaching, habitat loss, climate change, and human population growth.

Where to watch: Discovery Plus

Planet Earth

A clip from Planet Earth showing the chase of Snow Leopard in the Himalayas.

Released back in 2006, Planet Earth was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC and also the first to be filmed in high definition. From the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, this breathtaking blockbuster series was written and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Needless to say, this would take you on an unforgettable journey through the challenging seasons and the daily struggle for survival in the Earth’s most extreme habitats. A stunning television experience that combines rare actions, unimaginable scale, impossible locations, and intimate moments with some of the rarest, wildest, and most elusive creatures – Planet Earth was the ultimate portrait of our planet that was ever made until then.

Where to watch it: Discovery Plus

Planet Earth II

Official Trailer of Planet Earth II.

Almost a decade after the release of Planet Earth, BBC released another documentary series as the sequel of the previous one, describing this as – ‘Experience the world from the viewpoint of animals themselves. From spellbinding wildlife spectacle to intimate encounters, Planet Earth II takes you closer than ever before.’ Making the best use of technological advancements, this series was shot with stunning Ultra-high definition details, taking us through the jungles and deserts, mountains and islands, grasslands and cities across the world, showing us how the extreme forces of nature shape lives as well as the iconic landscapes. It’s a treat to watch the remarkable ways in which animals tend to overcome the challenges of survival in the wildest places on Earth.

Sit back and experience the wonder of the natural world as you embark on an epic adventure through the wildernesses and get closer to the wildlife through the words of Sir David Attenborough.

Where to watch it: Discovery Plus

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Official Trailer released on Netflix YouTube Channel.

In this documentary, he reflects upon both the defining moments of his life as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen, over the years. Looking back at his journey over six decades, Sir David essentially focuses on the decrease of Earth’s natural habitat and the increase of global temperatures and released this masterpiece as his witness statement. While recounting his explorations of the unreached world throughout his career, he urges the viewers to be more mindful and understand how our actions affect the planet. Our planet is in danger, with the rising carbon levels in the air and the gradual decrease in the wilderness over the last 100 years – David Attenborough has brought up some important questions for us and sends a message of hope for future generations.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Our Planet

Official trailer of Our Planet.

From the jungles and rainforests that are home to an incredible variety of species like the preening birds, intelligent orangutans, and remarkably ambitious ants to the deep, dark, and desolate oceans that are home to the strangest creatures – Our Planet showcases enchanting views from the different corners of the Earth while making us feel guilty about the impacts of human activities that are causing great damage to the natural environment, leading to global warming, climate change and even extinction of several species. As I watched Borneo’s jungle transforming into oil-palm monocultures in a time-lapse shot, my heart ached with the thoughts that our next generations might not have the chance of seeing the orangutans and the pygmy elephants for real. As you traverse through various landscapes in each episode of ‘Our Planet’, you’d get to see how beautifully nature unfolds itself if we humans are careful of our actions. A mindfully crafted series that would leave you awestruck with a tinge of guilt, and make you wonder with a sense of concern, and keep you entertained while you feel the need to be more responsible for your actions, I’m sure that most of you reading this article have already watched this recent docu-series released during the earlier days of lockdown in 2020 (but if you haven’t watched it yet, then you must watch it ASAP!).

Where to watch: Netflix

Life In Color

Official trailer of Life in Color.

Did you know that the group of zebras is often termed as ‘a dazzle’, as the zebras use their stripes as camouflage when they’re together in a big group to confuse predators – by making it harder to pick out individual zebras? Or the fact that the yellow and black stripes on a Royal Bengal Tiger’s body appear to be green to the Chital and Sambar deer? Well yeah, released only a couple of weeks back, Life in Color with David Attenborough is an extraordinary docu-series that has been shot with innovative technology and ultraviolet lenses to make us see the world from a fresh perspective as animals use color to survive and thrive in the wild. Not only will these three-episode series quench your wanderlust, but it would also endow you with ample knowledge about the animal kingdom and how color plays an important role in their lives to conceal and confuse as well as to be cautious for survival.

Where to watch: Netflix

Wild Karnataka

Official trailer of Wild Karnataka.

I was watching this documentary with a friend who has been living in Bangalore for the last 5 years and as we stared at the screen in awe, she said, “Why have I not seen this Karnataka yet?” Well, we often miss out exploring what’s right next to us, and if you’ve not explored the jungles of Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary or hiked through the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, then you can surely make your plans for the post-pandemic times. But for now, sit back and enjoy this mind-blowing show displaying the varied habitats and species across Karnataka. This is the first Indian wildlife-based film that has been narrated by Sir Attenborough and it would take you through the forests of Karnataka which support 25% of the elephant population of India and 20% of the tiger population of the World, making it home to the largest population of tigers and Asiatic elephants on the planet. Along with the background music composed by Grammy-award winner, Ricky Kej, Wild Karnataka would surely tickle your itchy feet and make you fall in love with the state’s majestic and beautiful natural history and heritage.

Where to watch: Discovery Plus

The Year Earth Changed

Official Trailer of The Year Earth Changed.

The global lockdown didn’t just change our lives but it also changed nature in the most unexpected manner. As the city streets across the world became deserted, flights were grounded, cruise ships ceased sailing across oceans and beaches had zero footfall – something incredible happened and the wildlife started venturing into places they had never been seen before! Released in April 2021, ‘The Year Earth Changed’ is a timely documentary that would hit you hard and make you aware of what was happening to the natural world during the pandemic, as you see the uplifting stories that have come out of it. Addressed as ‘the love letter to the world during the lockdown’ by BBC Studios Natural History Unit, this documentary essentially highlights nature’s resiliency and ability to bounce back if we humans become more conscious of our actions.

“During this most difficult year many people have reappraised the value and beauty of the natural world and taken great comfort from it,” said Sir Attenborough. “But the lockdown also created a unique experiment. The stories of how wildlife responded have shown that making even small changes to what we do can make a big difference.”

Where to watch: Apple TV+

Brilliant cinematography by world-class crew, supported by stunning narrations in the voice of Sir David Attenborough will make you drool for days, as you’d get to explore the world (virtually) while becoming more aware of the human actions and their impact on the natural surroundings. The Earth is a beautiful place to be – and when you’d get to step out for real and set out on an epic adventure, make sure to be a more responsible traveler.

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