As the movie Black Panther comes to Netflix this month, many fans are dreaming of visiting the African nation where the film is set. Unfortunately, Wakanda isn’t real. But from its landscapes to its attire and architecture, the fictional country actually takes a lot of inspiration from real-life spots in Africa that are sure to pique the interest of curious travellers.
The Marvel film takes place in an isolated nation in Africa that has never been colonised. While it is cloaked by technology in order to keep its true appearance hidden from the rest of the world, Wakanda is really home to the most technologically advanced city in the world, Birnin Zana or the Golden City, bolstered by its possession of the rare metal Vibranium. Even though Wakanda isn’t real, some travel companies are still hoping it will spark interest in visiting the continent. In fact, it hasn’t stopped hundreds of Brits from searching for Wakanda on travel site Kiwi.com.
Wakanda’s incredible appearance comes from its combination of traditional and futuristic environments. Production designer Hannah Beachler said in an interview on the official Marvel website said that she began looking at contemporary architects who have designed buildings in Africa. “The more I started digging into Senegal and Nigeria and finding things, while not necessarily futuristic-looking, very modern in their sensibilities as far as the way they’re putting together their elements and the colours that they use, I was struck by that. I think in Kenya, Uganda — Johannesburg was another one — where no matter where you go, you really do see that they’re always keeping in mind the tradition,” she said.
The film’s costume designer Ruth Carter took inspiration from a lot of different places in Africa to create a look specifically for Wakanda, combining African customs and the country’s futuristic technology. The Black Panther suit is supposed to be woven with vibranium, and according to an interview with Carter with Marvel, the suit features a triangle pattern she called Okavango, named for the Okavango river delta in Botswana. The Dora Milaje, the female warriors that protect the king of Wakanda, T’Challa, wear uniforms that are based on tribal influences.
Travellers who aren’t afraid to pick up a phrasebook and practice a new language can even try out one spoken by characters in the film. Through the film, characters speak Xhosa, a Bantu language that uses click consonants and is one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
But while there’s plenty of inspiration to visit Africa in the film, it wasn’t actually filmed there. Part of the movie was filmed at the incredible Iguazu Falls in Argentina. The characters also pass through Busan, South Korea and part of the movie was actually filmed there. But, if you’re looking for the incredible futuristic views of Wakanda, sadly it’s mostly movie magic. The film was also shot in Atlanta, Georgia, which is perhaps what inspired Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to offer up a – sadly fake – flight to Wakanda.
But even if the flights to Wakanda are fake, you can still plan an amazing trip to Africa.
This article was updated on 12 September 2018.