The famous line that perfectly captures the essence of Indiana Jones is delivered with a stoic expression, halfway through the renowned 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Tired, bruised, and weathered, the archaeologist-adventurer declares, “It’s not the years… It’s the mileage.”
Over the course of five films and 42 years, Indiana Jones has accumulated quite the mileage. Apart from fedoras and the charismatic Harrison Ford, one of the franchise’s most iconic visual motifs is a map featuring a red line traversing oceans and continents, representing Dr. Jones’ exploits as he unearths treasures, engages in romances, and confronts adversaries using various modes of transportation such as boats, planes, bikes, and even submarines.
The latest cinematic installment, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, is poised to inspire a new generation of adventurers, following in the footsteps of its predecessors.
“Imagine how much less enchanting the world would be if you didn’t feel like there was a realm of adventure and discovery beyond your own neighborhood or city streets?” ponders Albert Lin, a National Geographic Explorer, scientist, and host of Lost Cities with Albert Lin. “When I was a child growing up with Indiana Jones, those different worlds were showcased. And these places truly exist. There’s a city built into the cliff walls of Jordan. There are mummies in the mountains of Peru. There are chambers beneath the Egyptian desert.”
However, many of the locations depicted in the five-film series are not precisely where they appear. Due to political considerations, logistical challenges, and the intricacies of shooting, innovative location scouting was required. As a result, an array of often unexpected destinations can be found scattered across the globe.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The “jungles of Peru” were actually filmed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in the United States. The dramatic Kalalea Mountain provided the initial shot for the film. Other locations in the vicinity, such as Huleia National Wildlife Refuge and the historic Kipu Ranch near Puhi, stood in for the territory of the Chachapoyan warriors.
Kauai, also known as the “Garden Island,” boasts lush and unspoiled nature that is best explored through hiking trails and boat excursions.
PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANS LANTING, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION
The Egyptian street scenes, including the now-famous sword fight that never transpires, were actually filmed in the Tunisian city of Kairouan, often referred to as “little Cairo.” Kairouan is renowned for its carpet making and historic mosque.
(For Star Wars enthusiasts, here are eight must-visit locations.)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Contrary to its billing, the Club Obi Wan was not situated in Shanghai but rather in Macau, an island often referred to as the “Las Vegas of Asia.” The film’s opening scenes, set in a monsoon-soaked and neon-lit environment, were shot in Macau. After nearly 500 years as a Portuguese colony, Macau became a Special Administrative Region of China in 1999. It features flamboyant architecture and a glitzy gambling culture.
Although the story is set in India, the production shifted to Sri Lanka for The Temple of Doom due to concerns about potential cultural stereotypes (a critique echoed by contemporary viewers). A tea plantation near the central city of Kandy in Sri Lanka was transformed into the rural village depicted in the film, which has since become the site of the Ceylon Tea Museum. The climactic rope bridge scene was filmed near the Victoria Dam on the Mahaw
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about adventure
Q: Are the locations mentioned in the Indiana Jones films real?
A: While the films depict various locations around the world, many of them are not exactly where they appear. Due to logistical and shooting considerations, innovative location scouting was necessary, resulting in a trail of often unexpected destinations across the planet.
Q: Where were the “jungles of Peru” scenes filmed in Raiders of the Lost Ark?
A: The scenes depicting the “jungles of Peru” were actually filmed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in the United States. Locations such as Kalalea Mountain, Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, and the Kipu Ranch near Puhi stood in for the territory of the Chachapoyan warriors.
Q: Were the Egyptian street scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark filmed in Egypt?
A: No, the Egyptian street scenes, including the famous non-starter sword fight, were filmed in the Tunisian city of Kairouan. Kairouan is known as “little Cairo” and is renowned for its carpet making and historic mosque.
Q: Did the Temple of Doom movie actually take place in India?
A: Although the story is set in India, the production of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom shifted to Sri Lanka due to concerns about potential cultural stereotypes. A tea plantation near the central city of Kandy in Sri Lanka was transformed into the rural village depicted in the film.
Q: Where was the Last Crusade’s “Al-Khazneh” scene filmed?
A: The iconic “Al-Khazneh” scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed in the ancient rock city of Petra in Jordan. The stunning cliff-cut architectural wonder is believed to have links to the real Crusades and has captivated historians for centuries.
Q: What real locations were used to represent Venice in the Last Crusade?
A: The Last Crusade used various locations to represent Venice. The building hiding the entrance to the catacombs, which is not actually a library, is the church of San Barnaba in Venice’s Dorsoduro district. The film crew briefly gained control of the Grand Canal for a few hours during shooting.