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Discover Machu Picchu and Peru with the Transformers movie as your guide

The release this weekend of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts shines an unprecedented spotlight on Peru’s many magnificent attractions. Relive the drama of the film on a Machu Picchu and Amazon adventure of your own.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a tourist brochure like no other. Never before have the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu, the mighty walls of Sacsayhuaman, the exotic impenetrability of the Amazon and the imperial majesty of Cusco been beamed across the planet in glorious 3D technicolor.

While the wonders of Peru may come as a surprise to many a Transformers fan, we at SA Expeditions have been taking discerning travelers to all of the sites above for the best part of the decade. Read on for a rundown on the main locations in the movie and an explanation of how you can see them for yourself.

The locations: Showcasing Peru’s immense beauty

The Peruvian part of the story takes place in four main locations...

Machu Picchu: The Lost City of the Incas

Machu Picchu Wonder of the World ancient Inca ruins in Peru
Recognize these terraces?

Emerging from rain-forested peaks like a mirage shrouded in wispy clouds, the vast ruins complex of Machu Picchu is one of those places you simply have to see before you die. It’s not just the star of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and a fantastic place to snap movie-related selfies. It’s also one of the most important ceremonial sites in the Inca empire and an astounding feat of engineering. Find out more about it in 10 Things you probably didn’t know about Machu Picchu. It’s no surprise Machu Picchu is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Sacsayhuaman: If walls could talk

Sacsayhuaman ancient Inca ruins in Cusco, Peru
Look closely at the Transformers’ surroundings when they first land in Peru.

Remember the fortress with the giant stone blocks and the circular ring of stones from the movie? That’s also a real place, and it’s called Sacsayhuaman. Construction began around a thousand years ago, and at its peak, Sacsayhuaman was a vast complex. The inner precinct was a maze of narrow streets dominated by three large towers which were probably used for storage and as barracks. If you’re wondering how the Incas managed to slide those giant boulders so perfectly into place, you’re not alone. Sacsayhuaman’s construction remains one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries. Click on this link for a rundown of some of the main theories, including a couple of great video explainers.

Cusco: A pulsating living museum

Dancers in traditional costume for parade in Cusco Plaza de Armas in Peru
Folk dancing in traditional, colorful costumes is a significant element of Andean culture. (Photo: McKay Savage from London, UK, Peru - Cusco 090 - traditional Andean dance fiesta (7143132801), CC BY 2.0)

Another place that gets a lot of airtime in the film is the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, also spelt Cuzco. The dramatic parade in the city’s main square might seem like it was put on for Hollywood’s benefit, but this is actually a typical day in the life of this modern Andean city. Cusco has a very rich legacy dating back thousands of years, and it remains a melting pot of pre-Colombian culture. It’s also drop-dead gorgeous (think cobblestone streets, gold-leaf churches and snowcapped peaks) and packed with fantastic hotels, restaurants, boutiques and galleries.

The Amazon: Exotic wildlife wonderland

View of boat on river in Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon in Peru
The dense jungle is where the Autobots first meet the Maximals.

The characters in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts also spend a lot of time traipsing through the Amazon jungle in search of the missing half of the Transwarp key. This too rings true to life: after being rudely interrupted by the Spanish conquistadores, the Incas fled Cusco and Machu Picchu and descended into the jungles below. Home to 10% of the world’s species, and a fifth of the world’s fish and bird species, the Amazon is one of the world’s great wonders. Find out much more here.

The culture: Peru’s other intoxicating drawcard

As the director of the film, Steven Caple Jr., explains in the video below he chose to set the film in Peru because of “the spiritual connection felt in sacred places.”

The Andean civilizations of Peru are one of the five main branches of the tree of humanity, and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts does a fantastic job of showcasing this living culture. Never more so than when Optimus Prime greets the locals in Quechua, their native tongue. Rise of the Beasts also highlights the important festival of Inti Raymi, an annual celebration of the Inca Sun God that takes in all the main sites of Cusco before culminating at Sacsayhuaman.

The transformative power of Transformers

One of the best parts about the Transformers: Rise of the Beasts story is that the decision to film in Peru had a fantastic impact on the local economy. As Variety reports, filming took place in late 2021 at a time when many local businesses were on the verge of financial ruin. Filming:

is said to have injected an estimated $10 million-plus into Peru’s economy. More importantly, it prompted the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a new artistic production visa that provides special migratory status to visiting crew and talent. 

See it for yourself

Our 8-Day Transformers Machu Picchu & Amazon Adventure is a fantastic way of not only visiting all the main locations in the movie, but also of immersing yourself in the ancient culture that so impressed the filmmakers. As a proud B. Corp, SA Expeditions works exclusively with local guides and providers to provide authentic experiences that inject real cash into the local economy.

If you’re feeling truly adventurous, our 9-Day Great Inca Trail to Vitcos trek will help you to tick off all of the main locations in the film, while also taking you on a once-in-a-lifetime trek through the jungle en route to the real Lost City of the Incas.

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