Machu Picchu, Indiana Jones's first trial
According to legend, George Lucas drew his inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones from Hiram Bingham. On July 24th, 1911, this over-the-top American historian, ethnologist and explorer discovered the Inca city of Machu Picchu after months of search. It is only logical this spectacular location was chosen to open the first adventures of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (released in 1981).
The sacred city was deemed lost for centuries but is now part of the New Seven Wonders of the World. A place of worship for the Incas, it is today a first rate archaeological site. In its prime, the Machu Picchu – built in the 15th century – was the most amazing construct of the whole New World! Treading its ground just like Indy, get ready to be blown away!
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Asian adventure for the second film
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (released in 1984) starts in a 1930s Shanghai nightclub… However, Steven Spielberg and his team actually elected to shoot the scene elsewhere. They went further south to Macao, at the time still a Portuguese colony, to shoot the chase with Indy and Half-Moon on the famous Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro.
In this gambling paradise, less than one hour away from Hong Kong, the atmosphere is all the craze. Neon lights and casinos are lined up, shopping malls thrive and buildings now spring up like mushrooms. And yet, this provocative evolution of Macao has not prevented it from keeping its roots alive. The Lusitanian culture perspires in the food and mostly in the architecture, especially in the historical centre, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage, retaining its quaintly charming paved streets and pastel houses. A city open to all sorts of adventures!
The quest for the Holy Grail!
Remember the magical scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (his third adventure, released in 1984) when he manages to grab the Holy Grail… The audience was immersed in this red mausoleum cut out of rock. Are you tempted by the adventure? Then head for the ancient city of Petra in Jordan – about 125 miles from Amman. Just like the Machu Picchu, it has made the list of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Such a wonder does not come for free. In order to enjoy the treasures it holds, you have to follow a winding path between two rock formations, the famous Siq. It takes about 15 minutes to cross over by foot, but you may also ride a horse or a donkey… This rite of passage is worth its weight in gold: you'll eventually come across Al Khazneh, a tomb dug in the rock and which façade, adorned with ancient columns and capital, stretches high over 130 feet. According to legend, the place houses invaluable riches. Get ready, treasure hunters!
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Venice, looking for his father…
Still in Last Crusade, Indiana Jones goes to Venice to find his father, a literature teacher captured by the Nazis. More precisely, he heads over to the san Barnaba church, which façade was used by the film crew as the entrance decor to the famous library through which he accesses the tomb of a Templar knight. The Most Serene abounds with legends, attracting many visitors fond of mysteries.
Take the time to discover the lagoon and its singular mode of transportation, with gondoliers casually paddling up and down the canals. Like Indiana and Elsa, jump from one vaporetto to another like you'd move from one island to the next. Lose yourself in the maze of alleyways and bridges. Wonder at the marvellous palaces of varied architectural styles lined along the waterways like paintings, such as the Palazzo Grassi, which welcomes the city's Museum of Modern Art. If you only have a few days ahead of you, do not think twice and indulge in a romantic getaway on the footsteps of your hero.
San Barnaba church
Spectacular scenery at Iguazú Falls
Remember the spectacular waterfalls of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (released in 2008), the aquatic rampart which Indiana hurtles down three times. It is the general consensus that the Iguazú Falls, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage, are the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. To get there, you will need two hours of northeast flight from Buenos Aires, at the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
Inside the 60,000 hectare national park, walkways have been set up to allow you to get as close as possible to the torrential waters bursting out from the forest. Alternately, you can also admire them from below, in a boat. The site is surrounded with a giant forest housing more than 2,000 species of plants and animals quite typical of the region: tapirs, ant bears, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and even crocodiles. The high road to adventure is full of surprises!