The original Planet Earth is regarded as one of the best nature documentaries of all time. So, it was a little surprising that it took ten years for the BBC follow-up to arrive. But the wait was worth it. Six new episodes of Planet Earth II are wowing TV audiences with incredible images of wildlife in their natural habits.
To capture the mesmerising footage, the team travelled to spectacular, and quite often remote, destinations around the world. In an interview with The Guardian, the series producers revealed their most memorable locations.
Zavodovski Island, South Atlantic
Zavodovski Island is an uninhabited volcanic island in the South Atlantic, about 1300 miles off the coast of the Falklands. It is home to the world’s largest colony of chinstrap penguins. Chosen by producer Elisabeth White, the images captured upon the team’s arrival were breathtaking: a large, white, smoking mountain surrounded by 1.5 million penguins. With that many animals, there is a very powerful smell but this is undoubtedly wild and unspoilt nature.
There are no official tourist rates. To visit the island, it’s best to arrange a boat trip from the South Sandwich Islands.
Gokyo Valley, Khumbu Himalaya, Nepal
The Gokyo Valley is located in the Himalayan mountains and is far from an easy destination to reach. It took the film crew six days to get themselves and their luggage up to 5360 metres, but for Justin Anderson, it was worth it to gaze upon the mountains and glaciers. The Himalayan tahr, which is related to the mountain goat, and the Himalayan Monal, Nepal’s national bird and one of the most colourful in the world, call this place home. During shooting, a Yak took a keen interest in the tents of the visitors, and at first, the filmmakers thought they’d encountered the mythical Yeti.
You will need about three weeks holiday for a trekking trip and you should be in very good physical condition. Guides are required in the area.
The island nation in eastern Africa is already very famous and its wildlife has been researched extensively. Nevertheless, capturing the indri, the largest living lemur, left a lasting impression on Emma Napper, the producer of the episode Jungles. Every day the team would set up in the morning to film the animals. The incredibly loud but beautiful cries of the indri sweetened the waiting time and there were plenty of intriguing reptiles, insects and all sorts of other animals to observe. The team also managed to get some unique shots of geckos and a very unusual insect that none of their local guides had ever seen before.
There are great guided nature tours with rainforest-trekking through the most beautiful national parks of the island. Wildlife viewing is included.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The northern part of the coast of Namibia and its hinterland bear the evocative name, Skeleton Coast. For Deserts producer, Ed Charles, it was one of the wildest and most unbelievable spots he had ever visited. It’s rare to come across other people in this remote landscape but the little water-storing riverbeds were bustling with activity. The team captured incredible footage of elephants, antelopes, lions and even extremely rare shots of the cheetah. At one point, Charles stood face to face with a female - but when he pulled out his camera, she had disappeared and they never managed to spot her again.
The southern part of the Skeleton Coast Park, as far as Terrace Bay, is freely accessible with a permit. Day visitors are allowed to park and visit from sunrise but must leave by 5.00pm at the latest. The northern part can be only travelled with private safari companies.