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
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
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
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
Details of the houses depict futuristic simple homes
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
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!