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Attenborough at his Best – Our Favourite Moments

HOME > BLOG > AFRICA > Attenborough at his Best – Our Favourite Moments

During these strange times, our team are relying on the soothing voice of David Attenborough to get us through the isolation blues. Watch our favourite moments and explore the best that nature has to offer, right from the comfort of your living room.

SWIMMING WITH NORWAY’S ORCAS – BLUE PLANET

Brought up on the wild west Irish coast, being on the water is where I love most. From our tin tub we can spot seals, sunfish or basking sharks. So, unsurprisingly, Blue Planet brings out the worst in my television habits, snapping at those who dare start conversation mid episode. I did not need to mute any of my companions when the orcas hit the screen. Even their virtual presence is humbling and there is no mistaking their power, size and intellect.

I have watched that episode so many times it felt like deja vu when I found myself high in the Arctic Circle, deep in the Lyngen Alps of Norway with my binos on the hunt for orcas. When we eventually found them, I was spellbound. Quite simply, they were the most incredible beasts I have ever laid eyes on. Over and over in their hundreds they surfaced and dived for herring with an unimaginably beautiful backdrop.

I spat out my tea when my most charming host Svein offered me a dry suit and told me to hop in the water with them. Terrified but knowing I could not refuse, I geared up, resembling a rather tubby grey seal, famously an orca’s favourite treat. Heart in mouth I slid off our boat into the depths of the Arctic Ocean. Ears submerged, I heard them communicating with one another as in the Attenborough clip, and I captured a glimmer of a couple before the almost frozen water seeped through to my toes.

Molly, Senior European Specialist

ZIMBABWE’S PAINTED WOLVES – DYNASTIES

Having grown up in Zimbabwe, spending every holiday in Mana Pools National Park, I have been in awe of these endangered packs of painted wolves my entire life. To see their story so beautifully shared by David Attenborough on Dynasties was a huge moment – these programs are so important in connecting people to the intricacies of wild species.

One of my favourite moments with them was whilst hosting a safari across the length of Mana Pools. I would wait for my guests to return from their canoe safaris on the Zambezi River and in one particular spot, a pack with young pups were around us. Not knowing exactly where they were at the time, I walked out to the only ant hill that had phone signal in order to call my parents. Little did I know, this beautiful pack of dogs (wolves) were asleep on the other side of the mound, camouflaged in the leaves. As soon as I realised, I whispered goodbye to my poor parents and slid down the side of the mound, sitting in awe whilst the dogs woke around me.

An incredible exchange with wild animals – it was as if they knew I was no danger to them, and I knew they were no danger to me. They played with each other, some gave me a sniff and they went off on their way, thirty of them. We had a mutual understanding and a very special moment whilst on the banks of the Zambezi River. I shall always be grateful to the BBC and David Attenborough for all that they do.

Christabelle, African Safari Specialist

SENEGAL’S CHIMPS HUNT & EAT A MONKEY – THE TRIALS OF LIFE

My grandfather recorded every David Attenborough series on VHF video and numbered them in a bookcase by his TV. Number four was called “Hunting & Escaping,” and it has to be my earliest and still most memorable Attenborough footage. Following a troop of chimpanzees as they move through the thick Senegalese jungle on the hunt for colobus monkeys, he explains in a whisper the hunters’ tactics before the forest erupts with sound and screams as the troop close in on the colobus and snatch their prize.

The four-minute piece of film is both impressive and upsetting, dramatically graphic and brutal but delivered in a way that’s informative and educational. It’s Attenborough through and through – right at the heart of the action, warts and all, and always delivered with a message. It’s amazing to think it was filmed thirty years ago and can still cause the same emotions now as it did then. Two years ago, when I found myself trekking with chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains, a project that is itself thirty years old, I treated the alpha male primus with the greatest of respect!

Peter, Managing Director

HOWLING WITH WOLVES – LIFE OF MAMMALS

I grew up next to the North American Wolf Foundation, a wolf sanctuary whose mission was “To preserve the wolf in the wild; through education and exposure.” Sometimes we heard the eerie, longing sound of wolves howling at night. The pack of grey wolves and another of British Columbian timber wolves delighted me; familiar and playful like my favourite types of shepherd dogs. However, I quickly saw the wild edge to these animals and have always respected their ferocity and complex social stratifications within the pack.

To watch David Attenborough stand in a frozen landscape and unleash that pitch-perfect primal howl in Life of Mammals was moving beyond words. And then, as the howl lingered and echoed, the truly extraordinary happened and the wolves answered. Attenborough proved what I’d often tested unsuccessfully but always hoped – that humans can speak the language of animals.

Meredith, Asia Travel Specialist

NAMIBIA’S DESERT ADAPTED ELEPHANTS – OUR PLANET

Deep in the heart of remote Kaokoland in north-western Namibia, our guide stopped the vehicle, allowing us out to stretch our legs. After all, we were on top of a kopje with a 360° view of the desserted wilderness and there was no danger to be seen. We spent some time looking out over the vast dry landscape of rocky mountains and desert plains, when suddenly we noticed movement in the treeline. Meandering out into barren landscape beneath us came a herd of desert-adapted elephants. These elephants are known to travel up to 200km in search of water, so this encounter was something completely unexpected. We observed the elephants at a distance as they genlty crossed the plain and in my mind I could almost hear the dulcet tones of David Attenborough narrating their path.

I had only been home from Namibia three days when Our Planet was released on Netflix. As I settled in to watch, I found myself stopping to rewind – as there, captured at 2 minutes 45 seconds, was footage from that very same kopje and in the exact same position that I had taken photographs from the just the week before. I quickly scrambled through to the episode and enjoyed seven full minutes of my favourite safari moment, caught on camera, and described in true Attenborough style.

Molly, Director of Operations

THE JUNGLE THAT JUMPS – PLANET EARTH

In life, you do not get many practice runs. The same rule applies to animals in the jungle. David Attenborough captures jungle animals on what seems to me, like suicide missions. We all love these slow-motion clips, where monkeys and frogs leap for their lives between the trees.

I find myself seeking adrenaline-fuelled adventures quite regularly, even now. Attenborough always described Borneo as this ‘hazy green blanket of jungle,’ and I was curious to see this for myself. One memorable morning cruise in a small tin boat on the Kinabatangan river in Borneo, I found myself extremely fortunate. The Proboscis Monkeys that live in the trees along the densely packed river kindly gave me a free exhibition into these suicide practices. I first spotted one brave male monkey casually swinging on his branch. Then, for what felt like a whole minute, I watched this monkey plummet, arms and legs out at all angles, as he crashed down into the crocodile-infested rivers. His friends followed.

Tuning into Planet Earth‘s Jungle, I am fixated, in particular watching the gliding leaf frogs, as they slowly descend using their huge webbed feet as parachutes to slow their falls. These flying frogs are enough to get any child’s imagination racing. “Surely with the use of a few kitchen utensils, I too will be able to land from a raised wall outside my house in slow motion.” I for one have tried this very unsuccessfully.

Katie, Senior Asia Specialist

RWANDA’S GORILLAS – LIFE ON EARTH

For as long as I can remember, I have been watching David Attenborough on our screens, observing the most extraordinary wildlife encounters unfold. Although the quality and definition of his documentaries have vastly improved over the years, for me, nothing is more iconic than Attenborough’s 1978 series ‘Life on Earth’. It is impossible to forget the footage of Attenborough spending time with two families of mountain gorillas on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda. Although not permitted today, one of the most memorable moments was when Pablo, a playful youngster sits on David Attenborough’s lap and you can see the pure delight in David’s face.

Attenborough described this encounter as one of the most unforgettable moments of his career, and having trekked these gentle giants througth Rwanda and Uganda in November 2019, I must agree. It is hard to describe the feeling when you meet the gaze of these vulnerable and highly endangered creatures, who are not so different to us. As always, Attenborough summed it up perfectly, explaining, “There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know.”

Georgie, Senior African Safari Specialist

IGUANA ESCAPES – PLANET EARTH

Along with so many others, I have grown up to the fantastic voice of David Attenborough, with many a long car journey spent with ‘The Complete Series’ of Planet Earth on DVD.

My favourite David Attenborough moment has to be in the first episode of Planet Earth II, with the ultimate escape of a lone marine iguana from the onslaught of racer snakes on the Galapagos Islands. Although I may be slightly biased due to my fairly crippling fear of snakes, this particular piece of footage has the ability to leave you on the edge of your seat, willing the young iguana to defy the odds which are most definitely not in its favour.

As ever, David Attenborough has an innate ability to know when to talk and when to sit back and let nature do the talking. There are so many moments of immense courage and bravery watching animals of every species survive in the wild. Thankfully, in this particular sequence, the baby iguana has a near miraculous escape to safety (as Attenborough would say) for now…

Charlotte, Tailor-made Travel Coordinator

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