WHO HASN’T PAUSED to appreciate a beautiful sunset?
Or listen to the wind rustling through the trees? By
the sea, there are mesmerizing tides and a salt-air
scent; in the sky, dazzling formations of birds, and
Behind all those experiences are the natural forces that power
our planet. They give rise to the sounds, smells, and sights we
perceive; the life that swarms around us, moving at every speed.
Those phenomena are the focus of this special issue and of a six-
part National Geographic television series, starring Will Smith
and available on Disney+.
In print and broadcast media and on digital and social platforms,
this project shares one title: Welcome to Earth. That’s an oddly
appropriate greeting, addressing us as if we’re strangers to a place
we think we know well. But we may find that we don’t know it well at
all, as Welcome to Earth invites us to look at the planet in new ways.
In this issue, six chapters explore one phenomenon each, such as
color, sound, speed, and pattern. I don’t want to give away too much
In Tanzania’s Serengeti
National Park, two male
lions take a break in a
dry lake bed.
Welcome to Earth is
available on Disney+
before you turn the page—but I will
say that the chapter on smell features
a process we’ve used just once before in
National Geographic’s 133-year history:
a “scratch and sniff ” sample. Check
page 26 to see what that’s about. Then
there’s the chapter documenting life
on the Serengeti, amazing storytelling
that features the photography of Charlie
“I’ve been going back and forth to
the Serengeti for 25 years, and it’s never
lost its wonder to me,” Hamilton James
says. “There simply isn’t anywhere bet-
ter on Earth to photograph wildlife.”
Cumulatively, he’s spent more than two
years there for National Geographic to
capture the epic annual migration of
about 1.3 million wildebeests—a swarm
if ever there was one.
Also included in this issue, in print
and online: a Serengeti poster with
maps and illustrations by Nat Geo art-
ists and cartographers.
Each month, we aim to transport
you to places you’ve never been and to
show you the world anew. I hope you
think this issue more than fills the bill.
Thank you for reading National
PHOTO: CHARLIE HAMILTON JAMES
FROM THE EDITOR
NO. 0 1
GETTING TO KNOW