African Filmspiration

Be transported to the great plains of Africa from your couch

From South Africa, Malawi and Zambia to Kenya and Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda, people around the world have documented and become inspired by the stories of Africa.

Find inspiration for your next safari adventure from the comfort of your couch by watching some of our favourite African-inspired movies…


South Africa 

South Africa is an extremely versatile country that offers beautiful cities for travellers to explore, and idyllic open spaces brimming with wildlife and quintessential African experiences.

Many filmmakers have used this unique location as the backdrop of their cinematic creations. 


In this globetrotting romantic comedy, two single parents, Jim and Lauren (Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore), sign up separately for a family vacation with their kids after an unsuccessful date. Coincidently, and unbeknownst to them, they will be sharing a luxurious suite at an African safari resort for a week on this holiday. 

The filming locations included Georgia, USA, and Sun City in South Africa. 

Sun City offers a wide range of activities for all ages that appeal to both adventure seekers and those wanting to switch off and relax. It’s home to the famous Valley of Waves and borders the Pilanesberg National Park, so visitors can enjoy a surf and safari holiday just two hours from Johannesburg International Airport. 


Penguin Town

Follow three sets of penguins – a veteran couple, a newlywed couple and a young bird earning his first feathers – in this eight-part docu-series set in a penguin’s favourite mating season spot – Simon’s Town

Simon’s Town is one of South Africa’s oldest towns, located just 35 kilometres outside of Cape Town. Its penguin colony is one of its biggest drawcards, with the famous Boulders Beach drawing crowds from around the world. It is also a short drive from a nature-lover’s dream location – Cape Point Nature Reserve.


Khumba, a half-striped zebra, is born into a herd obsessed with stripes, where rumours of his strange pattern spread abound. Before long, he is viewed as a curse and blamed for the drought they are currently facing in the area. Khumba sets out to find a safe waterhole, save his herd and find acceptance from his family, learning along the way that being different is not a weakness but a strength.

South Africa’s Great Karoo, the setting inspiration for the film, lies between the Great Escarpment and the Swartberg. With low annual rainfall the region is generally regarded as a semi-desert, while it remains extraordinarily diverse as it represents a meeting point of topographies, vegetation biomes and wildlife.


Holiday in the Wild

After her husband abruptly ends their marriage, Kate (Kirsten Davis) embarks on a solo trip to Africa. It is on this adventure that she meets Derek (Rob Lowe), a pilot, and together they rescue a baby elephant. While helping to nurse the elephant back to health, Kate falls in love with her surroundings. 

Scenes from this movie were filmed in both South Africa (in Hoedspruit and the Drakensberg), as well as in Zambia, at Game Rangers International Elephant Orphanage in Lusaka.

Game Rangers International (GRI) is a non-profit organisation working in Zambia to protect Zambia’s wildlife and wild spaces by empowering rangers and supporting them to be more efficient and effective in conserving wildlife.

Close to this location, travellers can get a feel for the movie by visiting the Lower Zambezi National Park. With a thick riverine forest, floodplains, rolling hills and magical woodlands, the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including huge herds of elephants.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

After having experienced a terrible drought, a gifted student with a passion for physics – William Kamkwamba – decides to dedicate himself to saving his village from starvation by building a wind generator and providing electricity for his family.

This moving true story is set in central Malawi. Nestled between Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, Malawi is a vibrant country renowned for its friendly people, geographical diversity and exquisite lakeshore beaches. With more than nine national parks, there are plenty of unspoilt wildlife viewing opportunities in the country, however, in Central Malawi one reserve really stands out – Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

This reserve is home to prolific birdlife, as well as newly translocated elephant, sable, kudu, buffalo, waterbuck, impala and warthog.


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The Lion King

Whether you watch the live action or original animation version of this tale, it remains a classic children’s film that follows a young lion, Simba, as he grows up to take back his homeland, after deciding to follow in his noble father’s footsteps. 

Before creating the film, the animators travelled to Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. There, they found the dramatic landscapes perfect for the setting of their tale. 

Hell’s Gate National Park was a particular inspiration as it was there that they discovered Pride Rock’s real-life inspiration, although the team supposedly also visited Mount Kenya National Park, the Masai Mara, Buffalo Springs and Shaba Reserve, the Ndoto Mountains and Chyulu Hills and Sesriem Canyon in Namibia. 

The Elephant Queen

Embark on an epic journey as you follow Athena, a majestic elephant matriarch, who leads her family across an unforgiving (yet cinematic) natural landscape made up of grasslands and woodlands as the waterholes dry up and they search for the refuge of rain.

As the filmmakers set out to create The Elephant Queen, they aimed to inspire the world and make them fall in love with elephants and Africa. 

Tsavo East National Park, which acted as the setting for the film, forms part of the largest protected area in Kenya, and is home to most of the larger mammals, including elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, pods of hippo, crocodile, waterbuck, lesser kudu, gerenuk and prolific bird life of over 500 recorded species.


Out of Africa

This famous film follows Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) as she travels to Africa to be a dairy farmer with her husband Bror (Klaus Maria Brandauer), who is set on running a coffee plantation. After discovering Bror’s affair, Karen develops feelings for hunter Denys (Robert Redford). The two form an attachment until Karen must choose between their love and her personal growth. 

The film was mostly shot in Kenya, near the Ngong Hills outside of Nairobi. 

Ngong Hills derives its name from the Maasai phrase “enkong’u emuny”, which means “rhinoceros spring”. The name derives from a spring located near Ngong Town. It also forms part of the Great Rift Valley and overlooks the Nairobi National Park.

Blood Diamond

Archer, a man tortured by his past, works to make himself a key player in the business of conflict diamonds – relying on his strong survival instincts to navigate rampant unrest. Upon meeting Solomon and the beautiful Maddy, Archer is given a chance to make peace in the chaos that surrounds him. 

The movie was filmed in a couple of different locations across Africa, including Cape Town (South Africa) and Maputo and Goba in Mozambique. 

Goba is located in the western part of Mozambique, close to Gorongosa National Park – one of the most diverse reserves in Africa. The Park has undergone a tremendous transformation from the 1980s – when it was downgraded into a virtual wasteland during the civil war – to its current abundance as the park is used for wildlife restoration, in partnership with the Government of Mozambique.


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Hotel Rwanda

Discover the true story of a heroic figure to many in Rwanda – Paul Rusesabagina. A manager at  a luxury hotel, Rusesabagina uses the skills that made him a success at the hotel to keep over 1000 Tutsis, an ethnic group that was being hunted and annihilated by Hutus at the time, safe from violence. 

Some filming took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, however the majority of the movie was filmed in Kigali, Rwanda. 

The capital of Rwanda, Kigali sits roughly in the centre of the country. Visitors to the city will come across many memorials associated with the country’s civil war, along with symbols of the vibrant Rwandan culture. 

Close to Kigali is Akagera National Park, a primate hub where visitors can spot the big five and the endangered shoebill stork, as well as enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Ihema.

Gorillas in the Mist

Learn about the renowned life of Dian Fossey, founder of the Karisoke Research Centre and notable mountain gorilla scientist, in this biographical drama. Follow Dian (played by Sigourney Weaver) as she falls in love with Africa and finds friendship with the mountain gorillas that call Rwanda home, later going as far as to fight to protect them from the outside world. 

The movie was filmed in Volcanoes National Park, near the site of Fossey’s research centre. 

Today, the Karisoke Research Center is a program of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which aims to protect Rwanda’s mountain gorilla families through conservation, science and the training of expert gorilla trackers. It also operates education and community programmes, which visitors  can take part in. 

Volcanoes National Park itself offers a magnificent mountain range, a chain of dormant volcanoes and a rich mosaic of ecosystems and wildlife ready to be explored. 


Queen of Katwe

Follow 10-year-old Phiona as she navigates her family life and caring for her baby brother from the slums in Kampala, to her ascension as she becomes a top chess player under the guidance of a missionary, Robert Katende.

Some shots of the film were filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa, but the majority was captured in the Katwe slums in Kampala, Uganda.

Kampala is Uganda’s national and commercial capital, and holds the title of Uganda’s largest city and one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Rolling hills and grassy wetland valleys surround this urban centre of contemporary skyscrapers. 

Must-visit sites in the area include the Uganda Museum; the Ugandan National Theatre; the Nakasero and St. Balikuddembe Markets; and the Lubiri Palace, the former setting of the Buganda Kingdom, set on Mengo Hill.

The Last King of Scotland

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, Nicholas Garrian, a Scottish doctor, flies to Uganda to provide aid. Soon after arriving, he meets General Idi Amin, the country’s president, and is invited to act as the General’s personal doctor, with the promise to help modernise the health care system. However, he soon finds himself trapped in the moral abyss of the General’s murderous megalomania, desperate for a way out.


The film was shot mainly in Kampala, and makes use of its ample urban setting, as well as the generously lavish nature that surrounds the city.

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