Journey Beyond the Screen

Yardang Field at Chott el Gharsa

Tunisia: Star WarsYardang Field at Chott el Gharsa: Jedi Duel Site

Location

The yardangs of the Chott el Gharsa are sandstone rock formations carved by wind out of the weaker, surrounding evaporite-sands. The abrasive desert winds turn them into distinct shapes, with blunt edges facing upwind and rigdes that taper off downwind.

Typical yardangs of the Chott el Gharsa.

Typical yardangs of the Chott el Gharsa.

 

Key Scenes

This particular yardang field features in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in a number of scenes. Where there is a pair of yardangs next to the road, the one closer to the bank had a metal springboard buried at its base to provide a platform for Darth Maul's somersault towards Qui-Gon Jinn.

Part of the duel sequence between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn.

Part of the duel sequence between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn.

200 metres away, a solitary yardang next to the base of the sand dune was where the film crew constructed a landing ramp for Qui-Gon Jinn, Jar Jar, Padme and R2-D2 to embark from their spaceship.

The landing of the spaceship in the main yardang field was computer-generated.

The yardang area on the left is visible in a scene, where a herd of banthas move across the sand, and also when Qui-Gon Jinn returns from Mos Espa with the hyperdrive part.

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Map

The yardang field lies in the same area as the Mos Espa set and Darth Maul's lookout and is a 25 kilometre drive from the desert town of Touzer, but bear in mind that the site is hard to find without a local guide. Should you decide to drive without a guide, make sure that you have a full tank of gas and plenty of water.

Take the sandy piste to Chott el-Gharsa, which starts at the northern edge of Tozeur, skirting the back of the airport. When the track joins with a sealed road, turn left into that road. After about 200 metres, turn right and go around a palm grove. You are now driving on the 'Saul Zaentz Imperial Highway', named after the producer of The English Patient, who when filming in the area requested that this road be upgraded. 

Follow the piste, which is mainly hardpacked sand or salt, until it approaches the chott and climbs up to a ridge. From here, the route takes you in north north-west direction. After 24 kilometres on the Saul Zaentz Imperial Highway, you should spot a tall rock cairn on the rigde to your right, immediately followed by a junction. The right track leads to Ong Jemal and the location of Darth Maul's lookout.

The left branch takes you down the ridge and onwards for another 10 kilometres towards the yardang field and the Mos Espa set.

For more information on this location, refer to Mark Dermul's guidebook Trip to Tatooine

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