Africa is a stunning holiday destination with an enormous diversity of experiences. It’s also been the filming grounds for some of the greatest movies in history.
Here are some of our favourites, from the epic historical drama of Gladiator to the exhilarating Mad Max: Fury Road (which holds a incredible 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes to this day).
Africa’s top movie locations
Mad Max: Fury Road
Released in 2015, Fury Road was the fourth instalment in the Mad Max series. Set in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities – and the inspiration for some insane road battles – the story stars South Africa’s own Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy as the eponymous Max.
Did you know? The movie was supposed to be filmed in Australia, but when rains transformed the outback desert into a lush field of (totally inappropriate) wildflowers, filming switched to the Namib Desert near Swakopmund in Namibia instead.
Starring Russell Crowe as Mr Maximus Decimus Meridius himself, Gladiator was filmed in a number of locations, including England, Malta and Tuscany. Another key location – for the scene where Maximus is taken as a slave to train as a gladiator – was the spectacular medieval ksar of Aït Benhaddou in southwestern Morocco, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
Did you know? Other movies filmed here include The Mummy, Alexander, Prince of Persia and Kingdom of Heaven. Game of Thrones fans will also recognise the mud-brick structures of this fortified village, which doubled for the city of Yunkai.
Another historically epic film, Hotel Rwanda was filmed in Kigali in Rwanda and Johannesburg in South Africa. It follows the heroic struggle of hotelier Paul Rusesabagina to protect Tutsi refugees who went into hiding in the titular hotel (the Hôtel des Mille Collines, located in Kigali), in order to escape the ethnic cleansing violence by Hutu militia. The hotel remains today and many Encompass Africa guests enjoy staying here and visiting the Kigali Genocide Memoiral to learn of the history.
Did you know? After the film’s release, it came to light that that Paul Rusesabagina was not as heroic as his character depicted in the movie. According to IMDb: “The people who sought shelter at his hotel were made to pay for their stay, with priorities given to the wealthier people.” The backlash against him was so bad that he’s apparently never dared to return to Rwanda. Ironically, without the movie many people would never have even heard of the genocide.
This story of a mercenary (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) who attempt to retrieve a rare pink diamond in the midst of the Sierra Leonean civil war, captured some spectacular scenery of Africa. It highlights the atrocities generated by diamonds mined in war zones to finance warlords and diamond companies across the world. It was filmed in Cape Town and Port Edward in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and in Mozambique. KwaZulu Natal mimicked Sierra Leone’s tropical wilderness.
Did you know? The film also stars Arnold Vosloo, a South African actor best known for his role as Imhotep in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. As Colonel Coetzee in Blood Diamond he has several lines of dialogue in Afrikaans, his first language.
Watch the official movie trailer below to remind you of this great film.
The Last King of Scotland
This story of a Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) who becomes the physician and close confidante of dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) and witnesses the atrocities of his dictatorship, was filmed wholly in Uganda. Director Kevin McDonald wanted to retain the authenticity of the novel on which the movie is based. Some of the scenes were shot at the exact location of the actual event, such as Entebbe Airport where the hostage crisis occurred back in 1971.
Did you know? For his role as Idi Amin, Whitaker won numerous awards, including Best Actor at the 2006 Academy Awards.
Honorary mentions: Invictus (South Africa), The Good Lie (Kenya, South Africa), The Constant Gardener (Kenya), Nowhere in Africa (Kenya), War Witch (the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Out of Africa (Kenya), Cry Freedom (Kenya), District 9 (South Africa), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (South Africa), The African Queen (the Democratic Republic of the Congo), The Gods Must be Crazy (Botswana, South Africa), Cry, the Beloved Country (South Africa), A United Kingdom (Botswana), Gorillas in the Mist (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda), Born Free (Kenya), Ali (Mozambique).