What die-hard Star Wars fan wouldn’t want to stroll the sands of Tatooine and walk in the footsteps of Luke Skywalker? Amazingly, you can visit quite a few old Star Wars sets in southern Tunisia and do just that. While you could rent an all-wheel drive vehicle and venture off into the desert yourself, there are a number of guided tours specifically designed to appeal to Star Wars fans, some of which last a week or more and include meals and accommodations along the way.
One of the highlights of any tour of Tunisian Star Wars locations is the Lars Homestead, where Luke Skywalker grew up in A New Hope. The Berber town of Matmata has many underground buildings, or troglodyte dwellings, and one of these is the Hotel Sidi Driss, which was used for the interior sets of Luke Skywalker’s home. The hotel is still in operation, featuring 20 rooms and a restaurant. Many of the Star Wars tours offer an overnight stay in the hotel – you can even sleep in Luke Skywalker’s room. The exterior sets of the family home are a little worse for wear, as they were constructed of fiberglass for the film and not made to withstand the desert conditions for any great length of time (and for full disclosure, the igloo that is left near Tozeur is the reconstructed one from the 2002 prequel, not the original 1976 one).
The desert city of Tozeur is a good central place to see a lot of Star Wars locations. Sidi Bouhlel ravine (also know as Star Wars Canyon) is nearby. Instantly recognizable, this was where R2D2 was abducted by the Jawas, as well as the location of the Sand People attack from A New Hope. Desert ridges known as the Yardangs were the site for the epic lightsaber duel in Phantom Menace, and the ruins of the Mos Espa spaceport set built for that film are nearby as well. Restored after the film for the tourist trade, but largely abandoned due to the country’s political strife afterwards, the desert has begun to reclaim these sets a bit. There is also a town named Tataouine in the area, where George Lucas supposedly got the name for his desert planet. It’s close to two stunning fortified Berber villages, or Ksars, both of which were used to film the slave quarters of Mos Espa in The Phantom Menace.
Another must-visit site for Star Wars fans is Djerba Island. Beautifully situated off the coast of southern Tunisia, the town of Ajim is home to the exterior buildings of Mos Eisley Cantina from A New Hope, as well as the area where the Millennium Falcon departed Tatooine. Just outside of Ajim is a mosque which was used as the location for Obi Wan Kenobi’s desert home. In addition to the film locations, the island is also home to the oldest synagogue in North Africa.
Some local guides may be able to give you a much more comprehensive tour of Star Wars locations than others – many local people were hired to work on the films, so there is a lot of knowledge about what was filmed where in the area. But don’t let your love for Star Wars keep you from exploring the other amazing sights in the area as well. For a more well-rounded trip, be sure to include some of the other stunning locations around southern Tunisia on your visit as well, such as the Roman Coliseum in El Jem, or the Tunis Medina, a UNESCO site with many historic mosques and markets.