There is something about Star Wars – it could be the intricate fantasy world, or the loveable complex characters, or perhaps even the nostalgia surrounding it – but this franchise seems to grip and transfix audiences no matter the age, background or gender.
I began my Star Wars journey a couple of years ago, rushing to watch them all before The Force Awakens was released and I tasted the kool-aid in all it’s force glory. I am a fantasy fan, world building is my jam, and in many ways I understand how G.R.R Martin can get lost in his own world (but dammit that we need that new book already!?!).
George Lucas did that well, he created lands that were believable, that were entrancing, that each had their own way of living that was specific to it. Just like Tolkien and others before him, Lucas, J.J Abrams, Rian Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy etc, have made us believe in a world, ‘in a galaxy far far away.’
Travelstart recently published a post whereby they featured all the locations of the previous Star Wars films from A New Hoperight through to A Force Awakens, and as vast as the planets are in the films themselves, the locations have differed from Tunisia to Italy to Norway to Iceland – beautiful, interesting locations.
Perhaps it is my biased opinion but oftentimes when watching films where different locations are shot in different countries, I think, that they might as well come to South Africa. We have like 50 different countries tied in one pretty package, a galaxy of our own.
I am still processing all of my emotions post-The Last Jedi but as a sort of promotion (in case the Disney/Lucasfilm location scouts are looking for locations for future Star Wars films) here are some of the famous locations that could be in replicated right here in South Africa:
1. Canto Bight/Sun City
The casino planet that Rose and Finn visited in order to find the master codebreaker, is an opulent and beautiful city, where the elite come out to play. The scenes were originally filmed in Dubrovnik, Croatia (where some of Game of Thrones is filmed too).
The obvious South African equivalent is the luxurious Sun City, based just two hours away from Johannesburg. The home to the Valley of the Waves is a glamorous and beautiful location. The Palace of the Lost City is inspired by the myth of a lost African kingdom and is visible all across the resort (just like the casino in Canto Bight).
2. Ahch-To/Drakensberg Mountains
Probably one of the more popular locations, is Ahch-To, the birthplace of the Jedi and where Rey finds Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens. In The Last Jedi we get to know this planet better as Luke trains Rey in the ways of the Jedi. It is a beautiful land, filled with interesting new species, stunning beaches and amazing mountains. The Ahch-To scenes were filmed at the UNESCO site of Skellig Michael in Ireland.
There are many beautiful beaches around the country which easily could be Ahch-To, but the one location I choose to rep ole Luke’s hideout is the Drakensberg Mountains. The escarpment stretches for over 1000km and reaches its’ greatest elevation at 2000 – 3482m. They have the world’s second highest waterfall, the Tugela Falls.
3. Crait – Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The small mineral planet of Crait, where the final battle takes place, and probably many of our *gasps* happened. The planet is located in the Grumani sector of the galaxy’s Outer Rim Territories and is covered with white salt over its red-coloured soil. The scenes on this beautiful Resistance base planet were shot in Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, which is a legacy of a prehistoric lake that went dry, and gives a desert-like landscape.
Although not exactly a salt flat, the Karoo desert is a semi-desert with a well-preserved ecosystem which is represented by many fossils. One can almost see the X-fighters raising across the plains of the Karoo, out there, willing to fight the First Order and to protect what is left of the Resistance.
What’s on your bucket list for 2018? To travel around the world on your own Stars War tour? If it is, that’s amazing and TravelStart have put together an excellent infographic to help you along (seen below). But perhaps you want to do your own localised Star Wars tour, to discover the ways of the Jedi in your own country. Travelstart is here to help you, with cheap flights to Johannesburg so that you can experience your own Canto Bight and other locations.