Wildlife documentaries you must watch in lockdown

Wildlife documentaries you must watch in lockdown: By Marc Harris on May 22, 2020 in Africa, Angola, Congo, the Democratic Republic of, Kenya, Regions, South Africa, Tanzania, Various trips, Videos, Zimbabwe

With much of the world in one form of “lockdown” in one form or another, there is no better time to be transported to Africa from the comfort of your own chair. Exploring some of our favorite wildlife documentaries will provide hours of entertainment, but can also inspire you as to where you could stay if you want to visit Africa once it is safe to do so. When you do, you may even have a chance to testify to some of your own “documentary-like” observations.

Wildlife documentaries
Wildlife documentaries

Dynasties: Painted Wolves

By far, the most enigmatic animals in Africa, the wild dog, aka the painted wolf, is one of the most sought after animals on safari. The BBC is constantly providing breathtaking photographic work and exciting scenes which are all complemented by the narration of Sir David Attenborough.

Never before has the life of wild dogs been so meticulously documented and disseminated. With threats on every street corner and in every water source, this particular episode demonstrates the vulnerability of painted wolves and questions the stigma that had previously labeled them as cold heart killers and pests.

Shot in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, this national park is one of the most spectacular for watching wild dogs, it is also home to a fabulous population of extremely impressive lions, buffalo and elephants who stand on their hind legs to reach the tallest branches of the tallest trees.

Sir David spent several nights at Camp Vundu in Mana during the filming of this episode which has proven time and time again that this is one of the best places to visit on the continent to search for these elusive canines.

Blood Brother: Sabi’s Sand Lions

Say the name “Mapogo” on a South African safari and all the guides will know exactly what you are referring to. A coalition of five huge male lions that have controlled and dominated the Sabi Sands for years. Such large coalitions had never been registered before, but it was the brutality of the lions that made them stand out from the rest. The Mapogo were among the fiercest lions to ever honor the Great Kruger, killing over a hundred other lions, including cubs and females, these lions were a force to be reckoned with.

The documentary follows their uprising from cubs to kings and their possible fall, but it highlights certain character traits that are insightful and extraordinary to see. Their lineage still lives today and although the Sabi Sands is the region to visit for the chance to see the heirs of arguably the most famous lion coalition in Africa, it is also home to some of the best leopards in the world.

Okavango: River of dreams

This three-part series told by Joubert’s is one of the most impressive documentaries on the cinematic front in recent times. From breathtaking aerial shots over the Okavango Delta, to exceptional underwater scenes in the meanders of rivers, not to mention the adrenaline pumping action sequences, this series has everything to please. What we like about this documentary is that it looks like an exploration along the river.

Witness the arrival of the first waters of the Angolan highlands, up to the fan-shaped wetland up to the sprawling fingers that reach the Kalahari before drying out. This adventure constantly reminds us that it is not only the big things that make our ecosystems thrive, although elephants open up the waterways, fish like tilapia and barbels are just as important, if not more, to allow these places wild to flourish.

While the Delta is a vast and varied landscape, the visit here guarantees you a private and intimate experience with some of the best wildlife viewing on the planet. Whether you decide to walk, take a vehicle or slide in a mokoro, exploring the delta is an invigorating and exciting safari experience.

National Geographic Lions Kingdom

The number of documentaries on lions that have been made must be in the hundreds or even thousands, but finding one that overshadows them all makes them even sweeter. Ruaha is known for its huge lion population (around 10% of African lions live there), so it’s no surprise that some of the best wildlife scenes have been played here.

While the lions challenge the huge herds of buffaloes that gather in the thousands is always an incredible sight, what makes this three-part documentary series stand out is animal behavior never seen before. Lions digging in the beds of rivers to find water for baboons who are silent instead of sounding the alarm when predators are present, this gives an extraordinary vision and of course there is an explosive end to each episode. do not miss.

Ruaha is a wild and wild national park in southern Tanzania. With an area the size of Israel, the scale of the park is difficult to imagine, especially since there are only a handful of lodges here! Closed in April and May due to long rains, it is towards the end of the dry season (August-October) in camps like Jongomero or Ikuka where you are most likely to witness some of these breathtaking scenes breath.

The last animals

While Stroop has drawn most of the headlines, The Last Animals has gone under the radar, but it has stepped up its efforts to tackle some of the biggest conservation issues today and this documentary film is not to be missed. The illegal ivory and rhino horn trade is wiping out the African population of these beloved creatures and The Last Animals explores the main battles fought across the continent to deal with them.

From the last northern white rhino in Kenya to the elephants in Kruger National Park, it’s a brutal reminder of how quickly Africa’s beloved animals could disappear from our planet. But there is hope. Explore the different options that environmentalists take; from front line rangers to the owner’s game farms, the issues discussed are enlightening and impactful, creating an incredibly powerful film. Prepare for an emotional roller coaster.

The Ol Pejeta bush camp in Asilia is the best place to visit if you want to see the last two northern white rhinos. Unfortunately, the last man, Sudan, died in 2018, Ol Pejeta’s conservation work is exceptional and constitutes a vital trip if you are in Kenya.


Mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo are undoubtedly the least seen of the gorilla populations. Uganda and Rwanda are much safer for tourists, these two destinations have taken center stage of gorilla hikes in recent years, but we must not forget the gorillas of Virunga national park in the DRC. In a country plunged into a civil war, Netflix addresses the problem of poaching, the sacrifices made and the links between rangers and orphaned gorillas. While the rangers fight against the poachers every week, the civil war approaches the “house” with the filmmakers and the participants all caught in the crossfire. Passing on the brutal truth of what it is to try to protect these precious specious animals in one of the longest protected parks in Africa, it is not surprising that the Virunga have won countless awards.

With the DRC being off the radar for most people, Uganda and Rwanda are the places to go gorilla trekking. While Rwanda specializes in the luxury side of trekking with gorillas (and with permits of $ 1,500), Uganda is for the more adventurous and really lends itself to those who wish to have a complete and brilliant experience. Licenses being half the price of Rwanda, there are also a plethora of other activities, whether you’re looking for shoebills on Lake Victoria or hiking and canoeing to Murchison Falls, Uganda is an exceptional destination.

Big cat week

It captured an audience of millions of people across the UK when it first aired on TV, and rightly so. It is the harsh and rough side of the safari that is often not seen in other documentaries. Located in Kenya’s famous Masai Mara, this series follows the lives of three different families of predators: The Marsh Pride, Kike the cheetah and Bella the leopard. From stuck in the ditches to lunch landing on the presenter’s lap, the stories of big cats are not the only stories to be told.

The charming, humorous and truthful way in which Big Cat Week is filmed and presented makes you feel like you’re in the heart of the action. Whether it’s Jonathon Scott, Simon King or Saba Douglas-Hamilton in front of the camera showing their love and explaining the stories behind these beautiful creatures, you can be sure that there is laughter, an adrenaline rush and beautiful moments.

The Masai Mara remains one of the best places in the world for watching big cats and with much of the great wildebeest migration in July-September, it’s no wonder the crowds flock here. While Kichwa Tembo and Speke’s Camp are great luxury camps, if you jump across the border from Tanzania, there are a range of different lodges and camps to explore. The game viewing is just as good as the Mara, but without the huge crowds and day trippers.

Choosing a favorite among these documentaries is certainly not easy and all have their own merits. I certainly haven’t touched on all the documentaries because there are of course many more that capture the imagination and raise very important questions, but it would be great to hear about your favorites.

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