Movies capture some of the world’s most enchanting destinations that you can visit on a Zicasso tour tailored to you. From the rolling red dunes of the Sahara Desert with a Mars-like escape to the lush New Zealand countryside for a fairytale paradise, the splendors of the world in which we live transport us to other worlds, times, and eras through cinema. Travel and movies work hand in hand, with destinations around the world inspiring some of the greatest filmmakers. You don’t have to just enjoy these spectacular sceneries through movies alone.
The gorgeous landscape of Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is featured in the classic, award-winning film The African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. This gem of wildlife and ecological diversity is the largest nature reserve in Uganda and charms visitors with sightings of hippos, giraffes, lions, leopards, and herds of elephants grazing on the open emerald landscape. The original steamboat used in the movie was recently restored, adding another layer of cinematic charisma to the national park that you may enjoy at a local lodge during sunset cruises on the rushing waters of the River Nile.
The city of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco is the foundation on which ancient cities of Saharan mud-brick architecture have been recreated for films like Gladiator and The Mummy. The fortified village remains frozen in time, and its 11th-century red sandstone neighborhoods, located just south of the High Atlas Mountains, have also served as the sets for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Jewel of the Nile. You may bask in remarkable views of the landscape and unfolding sand dunes of the Sahara Desert from lofty viewpoints atop preserved buildings and stroll the winding lanes past near-abandoned historic homes during your visit.
The sensational arid desert of Namibia is often categorized as the oldest desert in the world, dating back more than 43 million years. Its barren beauty and undulating scenery features flat golden plateaus and ascending hills of oxidized sand dunes that have become famous as the parched wastelands from the award-winning film “Mad Max: Fury Road.” When wandering through the delicate ecosystem of the Namib Desert, it’s easy to see how the desolate landscape punctuated with camelthorn trees, and welwitschia plants caught the eye of filmmakers in need of an untouched area conjuring images of a post-apocalyptic world.
The natural scenery and lush countryside around New Zealand inspired Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth, bringing to life renowned trilogies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The spreading proliferation of greenery and dramatic mountain landscapes added to the epic ambiance of the iconic films, and a set famously known as the Hobbiton, or the Shire in the fantasy franchise, was created amongst the luxuriant landscape of Matamata. Travelers can lose themselves in the fairytale world exploring the hobbit holes, immense olive-green gardens, and lively Green Dragon Inn, the tavern that Frodo and his comrades would gather in for an ale.
Few destinations have captured the attention of top-class filmmakers as powerfully as the Svínafelsjökull Glacier in Iceland has. After all, the glistening, icy scenery has garnered the nickname “Hollywood Glacier” because of the number of films featured in its pearly landscape. The dynamic scenery shimmers blue and white with the intermittent backdrops of black rock shaped by the area’s volcanic activity. These images were made famous as the setting for the icy planet of Hoth in the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back. Its frozen expanse also played a role in Batman Begins and as the planet of Mann in Interstellar.
The gorgeous landscape of Glenfinnan is reflected in the majestic panoramas of the Harry Potter films, with the iconic Hogwarts Express train gliding past the rich mountain greenery and steaming over the world-famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. As the train rumbles along the bridge, you may gaze out over the sparkling waters of Loch Shiel and absorb the scenery as if you were a wizard transferring from the muggle world to the wondrous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The highlands gleam with greenery beneath the viaduct and roads connecting to the nearby Rosslyn Chapel, which played an equally prominent role in The Da Vinci Code.
Directors of the Star Wars films have a keen eye for dramatic scenery, and this is seen in the rugged landscape of Skellig Michael in Ireland. Used as the set for the secluded home of Luke Skywalker in the films Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the picturesque island sits off the coast of County Kerry. The island once hosted monks of the 7th century, a history you may learn about as you explore the remains of the beehive monastery and homes hidden amid the rocks and tufts of grass. A series of 618 steps will lead you to craggy summits, where you will capture the epic natural beauty of the island and cobalt sea.
New technology has allowed filmmakers to transpose fantastical environments on top of stunning natural landscapes, culminating in fictional sets that burst with real-world drama and atmosphere. This is no better depicted than in James Cameron's blockbuster film "Avatar," a movie whose set derives from the soaring 600 feet tall sandstone quartz pillars reaching across the Zhangjiajie National Forest in China. These seemingly floating karsts inspired the suspended islands of Pandora in the film, and you may admire their majesty as you explore the park and cross the glass Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk hovering 4,600 feet above the valley floor.
Those who find pleasure in the rarely visited parts of the world need look no further than the natural charms of Wadi Rum. Featured in films like Lawrence of Arabia, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and The Martian, the quintessential desert landscape contains chiseled canyons showcasing vibrant colors at dawn and dusk with Bedouin communities traversing the sometimes-treacherous rains and scorching heat of the untamed red valley. Wadi Rum traces a fascinating geological, anthropogenic, and cinematic history you will be thrilled to delve into.
The Eternal City of Rome in Italy is the embodiment of a cinematic jewel with recognizable monuments around every corner found in American classics such as Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn and Italian staples like Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, with Marcello Mastroianni, as well as newer popular films like John Wick: Chapter 2. The enchanting city blends haunting ruins and inspirational artworks, preserved architecture, and a celebrated romantic ambiance spanning nearly 3,000 years. During your travels, you may visit the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and other generational highlights famously used in film.
Whether you wish to wander the desolate red sandstone landscapes of the Namib Desert made famous as the wastelands of Mad Max: Fury Road or stroll the lanes of Hobbiton in New Zealand, Zicasso will take you to the world’s best destinations featured in blockbuster films. Plan your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist by completing a Trip Request or calling us on 1-888-265-9707.