This blog post was updated on February 8, 2022.
Reckless explorer, relic hunter, and incorrigible ladies man. Who doesn’t love Indiana Jones? The cynical archaeologist is one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time; a true pop culture icon who never fails to charm audiences throughout the decades with his wildly entertaining movies. From Raiders of The Lost Ark to The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull, Dr. Henry Jones Jr. (just don’t call him that) has traveled all around the globe whipping his way out of impossible situations while exploring some of the most exotic places on Earth.
Want to follow in his footsteps? Then join us on this trip through some of the most memorable Indiana Jones places you can actually visit during your vacation!
Audiences were first introduced to the legendary archaeologist leading a ragtag expedition through the thick Peruvian jungles in order to locate the temple where a valuable idol is kept. As it happens, those Raiders of The Lost Ark opening scenes weren’t shot in Peru after all, but in the Hawaiian “Garden Island” of Kauai. While the outdoor scenes of the aforementioned temple were set at the picturesque region of Kipu Ranch, Hule’ia National Wildlife Refuge served as the main location where one of the most iconic moments in movie history was born: Indy’s last-second runaway from a rolling giant boulder! Although access to this natural reserve is very restricted due to its conservation efforts to preserve local waterbirds, many guides offer all-terrain tours through Kipu Ranch to visit the exact locations where many famous movies were filmed. You can even rope-swing over the Huleia river on the same spot where Harrison Ford performed this trick to escape the Hovito tribe’s wrath!
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Fun fact: although most of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom takes place in India, Steven Spielberg couldn’t get the permits to shoot in the Rajasthan province as he intended because its authorities considered the script too offensive. Instead, he had to move the production to the nearby island of Sri Lanka. Probably the most breathtaking moment of the whole movie, the rope-bridge scene where the Thugee priest Mola Ram met his end is fondly remembered as adventure filmmaking at its best. Want to cross the flimsy bridge machete in hand? Well, so do we. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s possible, however, to see with your own eyes the same 300-feet gorge where our hero saved the day. You just need to go to the top of the Victoria Dam, located around a 1-hour drive from the city of Kandy, to admire the beauty of the scenery. If you explore the area you will find a security fence that leads to 2 concrete pillar beams on the eastern side of the cliff that signal the original emplacement of the now disappeared bridge.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, the third installment of the saga, had Southern Spain as the setting to some of the most special scenes of the film. Indeed, Andalucía’s dry climate and arid landscape seemed the perfect choice to recreate the desertic environments where Indy (this time, with his dad) struggled to keep the Holy Grail away from Hitler’s armies. Nested in the Granada province, the small town of Guadix forever changed the day the filmmakers decided to transform its humble train station into the busy transportation hub and street market of Iskenderun, the Turkish city where Marcus Brody, Sallah, and some pesky Gestapo agents shine in a truly hilarious action scene. The impact that Spielberg’s visit had was so profound that Guadix still proudly commemorates its small role in the Indiana Jones lore. The best example of this was the 25th Anniversary celebration that took place in 2013, when hundreds of fans from all parts of Europe gathered to learn whip lessons, attend conferences, listen to symphonic concerts, and, of course, recreate the beloved scene at the Iskenderun train station. When visiting, don’t miss the opportunity to book at least one night on one of Guadix’s famous underground cave houses from Medieval times to live the experience at its fullest!
Also, if you have time for a 2-hour drive from Guadix to Cabo de Gata Natural Park, you’ll find another iconic location portrayed in that same movie: Monsul Beach, where Sean Connery took down a Nazi aircraft by sending a flock of scared birds right into its turbines. As he brilliantly put it, “let my armies be the rocks, and the trees, and the birds in the sky.”
Al Khazneh, Jordan
Same movie, different country. The unforgettable climax of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, when the Joneses finally get their hands into the Holy Grail after surviving three lethal tests, takes place at one of the most magnificent structures on Earth: Al Khazneh (The Treasury), a temple directly carved out of Mount Hor’s sandstone rock face by the Nabateans around 300 BC in the ancient city of Petra. Or at least, that’s what we see from the outside: the indoor scenes were filmed elsewhere. Al Khazneh’s impressive façade perfectly set the ominous tone of this epic ending, driving thousands of tourists to this same spot and boosting airline flights to Jordan like crazy practically since the movie was released in 1989. No wonder it was named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007!
Although you might find that the interior of the structure is closed due to the high volume of visitors, just looking at this ancient marvel sounds pretty amazing…especially if you’re lucky enough to ride a horse through the canyon to face the temple for the first time the same way Indy and his friends did in the movie. A dream come true to any fan, that can actually become a reality if you hire one of the local tour guides who operate in the area for around $200 per person!
Iguazu Falls, Brazil / Argentina
We put an end to our intrepid trek revisiting Indiana Jones’ most recent adventure: The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. Indy’s controversial return in 2008 brought with him some of the most stunning landscapes ever appeared in the franchise thanks to one of Latin America’s most rutilant wonders: The Iguazú Falls. Considered the longest waterfall in the world, the falls are so big (almost 2 miles long) that they act as a natural border between Brazil and Argentina, being also visible from nearby Paraguay. In the movie, our heroes brace themselves for a really long fall when they sail the waters of the digitally enhanced waterfall on an amphibious truck. Don’t worry, though. They survive.
You can get to Iguazú (which means “big water” in Guarani, by the way) from either the Brazilian or the Argentinian side. Visiting from Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil) gives you the opportunity to hop into a helicopter to admire the best views if your budget allows it. Also, the entrance to Iguazú Falls National Park is slightly cheaper from this side ($12). Reaching from Argentinian Puerto Iguazú, on the other hand, provides a more abundance of walking pathways, easier access to the impressive lookout Garganta del Diablo, and the chance to get really close and personal with the waterfall by booking a boat tour that will get you soaking wet.
Have you been in any Indiana Jones location not featured in this article? Let us know in our comments section below!