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Looking for Tatooine

When George Lucas heard the name of Tataouine and visited the town he liked it so much that he felt the name inspired him to proclame Luke Skywalker’s home planet as Tatooine. I, being a die-hard fan of Starwars, decided to make a pilgrimage to this fantastic set in the remote Tunisian desert.

We had been driving for hours and apart from the obvious beauty of the desert, the dunes, the aircraft fun, and salt plains, we had to see the Star Wars movie set!

Where is Tatooine?

The exact location wasn’t easy to spot as it is fiercely protected and used by locals to earn a few coins, so there are really no maps that take you there. However, we had come prepared and had a rough idea of its locations.

Tunisia served as shooting locations for many of the Star Wars films, and as we drove through this beautiful country we encountered many spots that were used for the whole saga. Ksar Ouled Sultane, used in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as the slave quarters

Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmata, later known simply as Star Wars Hotel was used to shoot the Lars dinner scene in Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of The Clones and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Some of the interiors and the courtyard of Luke’s house in The Phantom Menace were filmed in this hotel as well. We could visit this hotel with no problem as many other people do, you can take photos and even see the painted ceiling of what was used for the Skywalker dining room. The funny thing is that in the movie, when Luke walks out of the farm, he appears in a flat deserted area (our mission goal), while in reality, as soon as you walk out of the hotel you’ll see houses, small stone hills and a lot of prickly pear-trees (a variety of cactus that is very common in Tunisia)

However our search mostly focused on finding the spot for the pioneer movie, the one that dazzled all fans around the world: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Easier said that done though, after much driving we started losing hope as most signs would drive us to Episode I and II locations only. But as we approached Tozeur, hints and signs were given to us until we found the Road to Tatooine. This road was built especially for the movie shooting, so that more than 60 tracks could easily reach the locations that will serve as Luke Skywalkers’ home town, Mos Espa, here in Onk Jemal (Berber for ‘camel’s neck’), about 38 km northwest of Tozeur and about 20 km northeast of Nefta

It looked so promising that I couldn’t hide my thrill. We drove until the magic Tatooine appeared in front of our eyes and it looked exactly like in the movie

The unmistakable Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi shrouds with Lightsabers  are used to welcome people and perhaps to let them know they arrived at the correct place.

Iconic Starwars Props

If you are a big fan of the saga as I am, you probably know of those props that were unique and very rememberable like those sticky rockets you coul see in the desert. The rockets (in the movies they were actually moisture vaporators) that you see standing are entirely made of wood, which is impressive if you think about it, they survived through many sand storms and high temperature since they were placed in 1977

 

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In the saga, these vaporators  were devices used on moisture farms in order to capture water from a planet’s air. They were especially used here in Tatooine since water was scarce.

Another very memorable prop is the lightsaber

Darth Vader’s lightsaber. The most famous weapon of the fantasy world ever known.

Details of the houses depict futuristic simple homes

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The inside of houses made basically out of papier-mâché

And more futuristic devices found outside of most houses

A little gift shop with typical Star Wars souvenirs. The town is inhabited by two nomads who run the souvenir store

At the Tatooine souvenir shop you can buy stones, lightsaber replicas and other little props from the Starwars saga.

Unfortunately, one must not forget that we are basically in the Sahara desert, and the Sahara is slowly pushing dunes everywhere, jeopardizing locations such as this one as a huge sand dune has been tracked moving towards Nefta at a rate of 4 cm per day. It won’t be long before this alien town is buried beneath the sand. Go now!

By:

Italian-Chilean travel writer, photographer & culture enthusiast with a penchant for la dolce vita and a severe case of wanderlust.

7 comments

  1. Lori N.

    I am SOOOOO jealous, I would love to see this place in real life. It looks amazing. Thank you for sharing your trip. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Stanito

      Thank you Lori for commenting 🙂
      Oh it was incredible… I had only dreamt of finding the Starwars set, never thought I’d actually visit it one day. Really an amazing trip 🙂 you feel like in the movies.

      Reply

  2. Alina

    This is such an interesting article! As soon as our kids grow- we will be traveling as well:) love your pictures

    Reply

    1. Stanito

      Thank you much, Alina 🙂 I’m happy you enjoyed it!
      It is a special place to visit especially because it’s been there since the 1970’s! Can you believe it?
      I hope you can go soon, Tataouine governorate is threatened by huge sand dunes so they struggle keeping the place intact.

      Reply

  3. Jess

    This place looks UNREAL!!!! Your photos have told as brilliant a story as your captivating article.

    Reply

    1. Stanito

      Thank you much, Jess :)!!! It means a lot to me.

      Reply

  4. Wiki

    Hello ,

    I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!

    I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. 🙂
    I have even created an Instagram account for them ( https://www.instagram.com/tayo_home/ ) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. 🙂

    Keep up the good work on your blog.

    Regards
    Wiki

    Reply

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