As anyone will tell you, there is nothing quite like eye to eye encounters with Africa’s wildlife or witnessing one of its unique mountains, deserts or lakes. These are a few of our favourite nature documentaries that are almost as good as the real thing.
One of the most comprehensive documentaries ever made about Africa, BBC’s Africa series, took four years of painstaking field work to make before its release in 2013. From the very first episode it delivers never-before-seen encounters with a number of species, unearthing new animal behaviour. Highlights include the most violent giraffe fight ever documented, the first evidence of black rhinos’ social behaviour at Etosha Pan and footage of the world’s largest underground lake at Dragon’s Breath Cave. There are six hour-long episodes in the series, each one concentrating on a different, unique aspect of Africa’s geography and wildlife.
The greatness of Africa in size, species and ecosystem is captured beautifully with characteristically perfect narration by David Attenborough and spectacular camerawork.
Plan a safari to the starkly beautiful Etosha National Park.
The Greatest Animal Migration
Africa’s Great Migration is when hundreds of thousands of wildebeest move from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July and October. Built into their genetics, the herd is focussed solely on the journey, forgoing water and food, to reach newer, more verdant lands and water sources – nothing but nature can stop them. The journey is fraught with obstacles, most notably predators such as the crocodile, which will attack buck as they cross rivers.
Nature’s very own odyssey, the documentary showcases Africa’s unforgiving side contrasted with the wildebeest’s determination and sheer will to survive. The only downside is rather staid narration.
Stay at the luxury Serengeti Migration Camp to witness this momentous feat of nature.
Cheetah: Against All The Odds
This hour-long documentary focusses on two female cheetahs of the Serengeti as they try to raise their cubs to maturity while danger looms in the form of lack of food, other predators and scavengers like vultures and hyenas. Despite the cheetah’s agility and predatory skill, it’s vulnerable to attack due to its solitary nature and having to leave its cubs when it hunts. Nine out of ten cheetah cubs don’t survive to adulthood, making a cheetah mother’s quest to raise her cubs a true battle against the odds.
The graceful hunting skills of the female cheetah are caught wonderfully on camera, juxtaposed with her dedication to her cubs no matter what the situation.
Despite being made 13 years ago, Predator Bay remains a fascinating documentary as it follows the lives of two ancient predators, the crocodile and the shark. Despite being at the top of the food chain, these two animals face danger from each other. The film is set in Kosi Bay, located in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. This region boasts a diverse estuary system, leading into the Indian Ocean, where crocodiles, sharks, hippos, turtles and other reptiles try their hand at survival.
Predator Bay gives much-needed insight into a highly developed eco-system and the unique life of a crocodile, which is less easy than we imagined.
Plan a beach and bush safari to Kwa-Zulu Natal.