Our planet is truly a magical place filled with endless wonders that capture our imagination in ways we didn’t think possible. With so many things to see and experience, it’s hard to keep track of everything our world has to offer. With varying degrees of beauty including natural formations, animals and even manmade cities, there’s an infinite number of marvels all around us. Our planet has given us rivers, trees, mountains, waterfalls, oceans, rainforests, animals, fish and so much more, with each of these having their own unique qualities that are simply captivating.
Sometimes the beauty around us is too difficult to adequately describe in words and the age old saying of “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies to our planet. The creative people producing BBC’s Planet Earth have set out on a journey to do just that – capture the world in ways never before done through hundreds of thousands of miles of travel, new camera technology, innovation in research and science, and daring people willing to go where others have not. The result has been some of the most stunning imagery ever captured on camera.
Here are twenty-five of the most breathtaking images from BBC’s incredible documentary series, Planet Earth.
25 The Giant Himalayas
This photo was taken from an altitude of nearly fifteen thousand feet up, highlighting the beauty and power of the Himalayan Mountain Range in Nepal. The cameraman is photographing the range, positioned on Gokyo Ri, one of the highest mountain peaks in the Himalayas, a sister to Mount Everest.
Although the photograph does an excellent job of capturing the beauty of these immense mountain tops, it still doesn’t do it justice as there’s no way to replicate the power that exudes from these giant natural formations along with their graceful presence. The blanket of white is truly magnificent.
24 The Beauty of America
Although the United States is often associated with large megacities, it should be noted that America is full of incredible natural spaces that can match any other place in the world. In this picture perfect photograph, the makers of Planet Earth were able to capture the wooded natural parks of the US, highlighting the greenery and mountains.
The contrasting colors in one single image are stunning, punctuated by the green from the trees, the blue from the lake, the fog’s white and the brown hues from the mountains.
23 Cat in the Wild
The Himalayan Mountain Range makes another appearance on our list, joined by the magnificent snow leopard. Photographed by a still camera, this image is rare, considering it takes years of patience to even capture one photo of the elusive cat in the wild.
According to BBC Planet Earth, “there may be as few as 3,500 snow leopards left in the wild” which makes them nearly impossible to come into contact with. Their beauty certainly doesn’t disappoint as their white coat and black spots stand out in the white backdrop that is Nepal’s mountains.
22 The Immensity of the Alps
The Alps are truly stunning in their size, stretching across a significant portion of Europe, passing through France, Italy, Switzerland, and even into Russia. This photograph was taken from nearly ten thousand feet high in the French Alps and features the tallest mountain peak in the entire range, Mont Blanc. The peaks are semi-covered in snow because of their altitude, but have varying ecosystems further down into the Alps considering their incredible length.
21 Hoofs For Climbing
To the dismay of most, hoofs are just as effective for climbing rock mountains, proven every day by the mammal pictured here. According to the BBC Planet Earth scientists, the “Nubian ibex are some of the most sure-footed of nature’s mountaineers.”
Pictured on the rock mountains of Israel, this hoofed goat is able to escalate thousands of feet up the cliff, using its hooves, powerful legs and strategic climbing skills. They are able to evade predators that have more traditional climbing extremities with ease, reaching speeds many animals wouldn’t be able to on the flat ground surface below.
20 Lightning in the Desert
Africa is an expansive country with so many varying ecosystems that span wooded forests, rivers, mountain ranges and of course, deserts, what they are most known for. The Namibia desert is pictured here while a powerful thunderstorm passes through, wreaking havoc with its downpour, with lightning striking in several different places at once.
Although the storm can be intimidating, it’s a welcome sight, considering Namibia goes through significant droughts throughout the year.
19 The Horsepower of the Mustang
Horses are often seen as graceful and peaceful creatures, considering their idyllic relationship with horse owners across the world and especially in the US. The reality is that wild horses roaming the great plains of the United States are just that – wild. Pictured in the southwest plains of America, two horses show their immense power as they go toe to toe in a test of wills and a battle of dominance.
As BBC puts it, “when two evenly matched mustang stallions come together the results can be short but explosively violent fights.”
18 The Pride of Africa
The term "King of the Jungle" has long been associated with lions, but that term is actually pretty inaccurate. A more realistic term for them would be "King of the Desert", considering they spend most of their lives on the plains of Africa in the open deserts.
The BBC went to great lengths to capture this image of a lioness in the sands of the Namibia Desert, as she leans low to the ground, in pursuit of her next meal, stalking her prey.
17 Slow Water Treading
The Pygmy three-toed sloth is photographed swimming in the waters of the island it is indigenous to, La Isla Escudo de Veraguas in Panama. The sloth lives most of its life in the trees where it feeds on leaves, plants and sleeps. In the rare occasion that it decides to move across the island, it swims slowly across the rivers to look for a new home.
The Pygmy three-toed sloth is one of the most endangered species in the world, facing extinction because of its difficulty surviving in the wild due to its limited physical capabilities along with human destruction of their natural habitat.
16 Giant Metropolis
BBC Planet Earth is mostly known as a documentary series that explores the wonders of the natural world, but it has expanded its depth to include megacities in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of human activity and its effect on the planet.
The makers of the show traveled to one of the largest and busiest cities in the world, taking this fantastic aerial view image of Shanghai, China. The city’s imposing skyline on the waterfront is both stunning and impressive.
15 The Rocky Mountain Range
The nature of the United States makes another appearance on our list as Planet Earth visited several of the country’s grand natural parks, which are home to striking imagery throughout.
In this picture, photographers captured the prominent colors of the Rocky Mountains as the blue sky reflects on the lake below, alongside the perfectly aligned greenery formed by the wooded trees. The mountain peak only adds to the serenity that is America’s wild.
14 Starry Night
Photographers from the BBC visited Castle Hill, New Zealand where they captured this perfect image of the nighttime sky filled with stars above the castle-like rock structures that are found throughout the country.
As the photographer puts it, this “panoramic shot was taken just as the Moon was setting, the light giving the rocks a defined edge.” There are few shots that can compete with the immense beauty of the Milky Way’s stars with such incredible clarity.
13 Award Winning Image
The monkeys in this photograph were captured with such stunning clarity, allowing viewers to get a sense of the animals like very few pictures can offer. The photographers who submitted this image to BBC Planet Earth won the show’s Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 Award. Cited for its precision and simplicity, the mammal’s vibrant colors and magnificent detail leaps from the image. Everything is immaculately visible, including their large dark eyes and lucid, colorful coats.
12 The Milky Way Stuns
In a rare image that truly captures the depth and vastness of our galaxy, photographers were able to snap this once in a lifetime photo while in Switzerland.
Taken from Susten Pass, a manmade passage road located in the middle of the Swiss Alps, this photograph not only includes the Milky Way Galaxy in superb clearness, but it also manages to show us an incredible shot of the Swiss Alps mountain range as well. If the image alone is breathtaking, one can only imagine the experience of seeing this in person.
11 United Kingdom Sunrise
The photographer of this image put a lot of thought and effort into attempting to capture an image of the landscape of Wales within the UK that few get to see. He spent the night on the cliff, ready snap this image at the perfect time.
As he puts it, according to the BBC, “with very little cloud in the sky to diffuse the sunlight it meant I had to be quick off the mark as the light would soon become too harsh to work with.” The work paid off, as the photo is truly something to behold.
10 Magnificent Beasts of the Wild
Although this male lion was not photographed in the wild, it doesn’t make the shot any less fantastic. Pictured on the grounds of Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the lion’s beauty is captivating with every bit of detail on full display in the photo.
The lion’s power exudes from the image which cannot be understated. According to the BBC, “these powerful beasts have a roar that can be heard from up to eight kilometers away!” That’s unmatched power!
9 The Changing of the Seasons
The Swiss Alps make yet another appearance on our list, proving their photogenic nature continues to shine. Taken from Grindjisee, Switzerland, the photo captures the changing of the seasons, from warm summer to cool autumn. The fall foliage is visible in the trees up front while the giant mountain peaks in the background hold their typical snow all year long.
The color from the fall punctuates the scenery, making for another spectacular photo from the team at BBC Planet Earth.
8 Octopus in Stunning Clarity
It’s rare to get such a clear image of any animal in the world, much less underwater far below the surface of the ocean. It’s a testament to the advent of new technology brought on by the BBC team in their never-ending quest to always display nature in the best ways possible.
In this photo, we are given a glimpse into the world of the brilliant octopus. According to the BBC, “octopuses have a complex nervous system and excellent sight, and are among the most intelligent and behaviorally diverse of all invertebrates.”
7 Surf Water
Hawaii is known as the best place in the world for surfing, home to not only the largest number of, but most gifted surfers on the planet. It’s easy to see why this is the surf capital of the world when there are superb waves like the one captured here off the coast of Oahu.
The photograph of the powerful wave is simply magnificent, capturing the perfect aqua blue color of the ocean water and the mist spray gathering violently above the surface.
6 Beautiful English Coastline
Known for its important geological presence in England, this section of the UK is known as the Jurassic Coast. Given its name, it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that this stretch of coastline is home to important discoveries from prehistoric times with fossils from different dinosaur eras.
Under that lush field of green is a rock that is home to remains that come from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The striking white rock alongside the ocean water forms a stark contrast to the green plains adjacent to it.
5 Perfect Preservation
Located along the same Jurassic Coastline in England as our previous entry, the preservation of fossilized remains is captured by BBC photographers. Amazingly, these ammonites, which are extinct sea creatures that resemble giant rolled up shrimp, are perfectly conserved, frozen in ice.
The circular crustaceans along with their shell-like tails are clearly visible, with several of them scattered throughout, proving nature’s amazing ability to withstand the test of time.
4 Nighttime Serenity
The city of Dubai is always associated with images of a grand metropolis made up of goliath manmade structures, home to the world’s tallest skyscraper. Nature is not the first thought that comes to mind, but incredibly, this photo of the nighttime sky lighting up the world was taken from right outside the city of Dubai, on the outskirts.
The city is surrounded by endless desert lands and a short drive away will take you out to the tranquil nature where peaceful images like this are common.
3 A Land Full of Ice
It’s safe to assume that the average person knows very little about the country of Iceland. When we think of it, we probably hone in on the name, which likely conjures up images of a giant land of ice. Well, predictably, a significant portion of Iceland is just that – ice.
The ice cave under the Vatnajokull glacier is one of the country’s biggest tourist draws, attracting tens of thousands of visitors, all looking to experience the breathtaking imagery it holds.
2 The Magnificent Dolomites
The Dolomites are not a household name like other mountain ranges in Europe, but they are certainly deserving of it. Located in northwestern Italy, the Dolomites are more popular with native Italians as a destination for fun “with skiers in the winter and many other thrill-seekers throughout the summer months” according to BBC Planet Earth.
In this image, their jagged peaks jut out into the sky above the clouds while autumn sets in below.
1 Rare Storm
BBC Planet Earth filmmakers happened to catch this rare storm while it was in the midst of forming without expecting to do so. As one of the storm chasing photographers of the BBC described the experience, “'the storm was heading right on top of us as the sunlight started literally burning the clouds away. As it moved into drier air, all the clouds started falling apart, while still remaining in the circle-like shape.” Truly a remarkable image captured by incredible chance!