6 Documentaries That Will Help You Get Your Nature Fix Without Leaving The Couch


Author: Courtney Kruk




We’ve always got time for a nature documentary. But even we can admit, it’s not always the vibe for a Friday night in.

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Documented By: @kimi_swimmy

We’ve always got time for a nature documentary. But even we can admit, it’s not always the vibe for a Friday night in.

Settling in for a two-hour educational on ecosystems or reminder of the grim realities we face after a long week at work? Yeah, nah. Even the dulcet tones of David Attenborough don’t quite do it when you are craving some pure, unbridled escapism. 

The good news is that uplifting nature documentaries do in fact exist. For a nature fix that won’t send you spiralling, we’ve got the perfect watchlist. From legendary photojournalism to the show that scored Barack Obama an Emmy, here are six docos that will remind you just how cool the planet is. 

The Alpinist

Documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi put free soloing on a lot of people’s radars with Free Solo, a film about Alex Honnold’s incredible 3,200-foot free climb up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. (For the uninitiated, free soloing is a form of rock climbing done without protective gear or other climbers.) If Free Solo left you wanting more of this insane sport, put The Alpinist on your watchlist. 

The Alpinist follows the free-spirited but reclusive Marc-André Leclerc, a Canadian solo alpine climber who completed some of the boldest ascents in history. These have included seemingly impossible feats like scaling Torre Egger in Patagonia and Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies. 

The scenery is reason enough to put this one on the big screen. But you’ll also find yourself endeared to Marc’s elusivity, natural talent and pure vision of solo climbing.


 It’s hard to think of a clothing brand as committed to the natural world as Patagonia, especially after its founder just gave the entire company away to fight the earth’s climate devastation. It doesn’t just make clothes and outdoor gear though – Patagonia has produced nearly 70 short and full-length films “on behalf of our home planet”, one of which is Fishpeople. 

Fishpeople tells the stories of people who have dedicated their lives to the sea and the transformative effects of time spent in the ocean. The cast includes Hawaiian “freediving huntress” Kimi Werner, long-distance open water swimmer Lynne Cox, MeWater founder Eddie Donnellan and free surfer and activist Dave Rastovich. If you love the ocean and being in the water, you will appreciate this wholesome film. 

Fantastic Fungi

Mushrooms are no longer just an enthusiastic subject for people who love raves and giving tips on how to open your third eye. They’re also a source of fascination for people who’ve seen Fantastic Fungi – a film that will make you realise fungi are some of the most incredible living organisms in nature. 

Released in 2019 and directed by Louie Schwartzberg, Fantastic Fungi goes deep on mycelium networks and all the amazing and intelligent things they do without us realising. While an 80-minute documentary about fungi will be a hard sell for some, we promise this film will charm even the most nature-averse and give you a whole new appreciation for mushrooms and the earth’s many mysteries. 

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Documented By: Christoffer Engstrom

Our Great National Parks

Barack Obama is the nature narrator we didn’t know we needed, until now. Released earlier this year, Our Great National Parks is a five-part series narrated by the former president, showcasing some of the planet’s most spectacular national parks. Noteworthy spots include Chilean Patagonia in South America, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar and Kakadu National Park in Australia. 

If you’re not that into traditional nature documentaries, you’ll like that this series doesn’t go super hard on the educational angle, so you don’t have to be too switched-on to enjoy it. Just sit back and let Barack’s soothing voice do all the work.

The Salt of the Earth

“A photographer is literally someone drawing with light. A man writing and rewriting the world with lights and shadows.” 

Legendary Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist Sebastião Salgado spent 40 years travelling around the world documenting major events in history. His thought-provoking work put a lens to international conflicts, starvations and exodus, paying tribute to some of the most dispossessed people in the world. Co-directed by filmmaker Wim Wenders and Sebastião’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, The Salt of the Earth takes a closer look at the photojournalist’s life work and chronicles a photographic project to discover pristine territories and grandiose landscapes. 

Sebastião’s early work rarely depicted comfortable shades of the human condition. But his swerve into environmental activism and nature photography, combined with his brilliance and purposeful approach, is ultimately inspiring and eye-opening.

North of the Sun

In 2012, friends Inge Wegge and Jørn Ranum swapped the comforts of normal life for nine months of cold, sunless Norwegian winter in the isolated and uninhabited bay of a remote, arctic island. On the coast of Northern Norway, they built a cabin out of driftwood and washed-up trash, ate expired food destined for the bin and surfed some of the world’s finest surfing waves. 

You probably won’t watch this and want to follow in the pair’s footsteps, but you will be captivated by their adventure and the landscape’s untouched beauty. There’s also a nice feel-good element to this story: the pair not only built a home out of trash, but also collected over 30 tonnes of waste that had washed in from the Atlantic Ocean.


Documented By: @BARACKOBAMA, @kimi_swimmy, Christoffer Engstrom


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