“Ten years ago, one of his kind stalked and eliminated an elite special forces crew in central America. There were two survivors. They indicated that when trapped, the creature activated a self-destruct device that destroyed enough rainforest to cover 300 city blocks.”
That’s Peter Keyes (played by Gary Busey) in Predator 2, explaining the aftermath of the jungle massacre endured by Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in 1987. It would be a shame if it was true, as Predator was filmed in the pristine rainforests of Palenque, Mexico (about 90 minutes outside of Puerto Vallarta).
There are plenty of famous filming location horror fans can visit, and many will welcome you fondly. Visiting the site where John McTiernan helmed Predator, however, may seem like a destination only the most intrepid could achieve. While it isn’t exactly easy to find, those looking to stray far off beaten paths will actually find an oasis has risen around the fictional ashes.
I know this because I’ve been there.
If you find yourself in Puerto Vallarta, Canopy El Eden Tours will spirit you deep into the same rainforests where Mayan culture flourished starting around 300 BC before the jungle mercilessly reclaimed its territory sometime in the 4th Century. You may choose to travel by Jeep or in a convoy of ATV’s; either way, you’ll soon feel worlds away from the sunny beaches packed with tourists.
El Eden sits between jagged peaks, transverse by a cool, clear stream that forms inviting pools suitable for swimming; a cantina sits in the thick of it where you can enjoy seafood and cervezas before or after exploring your surroundings. If you’re a horror fan, you’ll be excited to check out the only true remnant of 1987’s Predator: The shell of a military helicopter.
It’s not like the rebel village is still standing, nor any of Dutch’s innovative boobytraps. Still, it’s a chance to stand in an actual movie set and a beautifully secluded paradise. It’s something you can’t do visiting the exterior of a home in Los Angeles, for example, and there are no velvet ropes to stand behind. You’re actually in the thick of it—and it’s stunning!
The real X-Factor of El Eden, however, is a truly unique way to experience both the set of Predator and the jungles of Southern Mexico: The truly daring can take a zip line tour! It begins with a hike that feels like a mile straight up through trees, ferns, and vines and consists of a dozen cables thrillingly whooshing you back down again.
The lines vary from short and steep to long and leisurely; El Eden staff will even accommodate true adrenaline junkies with tandem zips that allow visitors to dangle freely above the primordial canopies—a sensation that can’t be duplicated. If you’re worried about losing your camera or cell phone trying to capture the experience for posterity, a staff photographer will document the highlights of your adventure (for an additional fee, of course).
While the zip line tour takes about 90 minutes, trips back to civilization return at somewhat random intervals of at least several hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to relax. You can check out a few selfies I took of myself enjoying the amenities of El Eden below.
While you aren’t likely to cross paths with any Yautja during your time above and below the canopy (besides the replicas in the cantina), the jungles are indeed teeming:
“El Edén is made of 2.500 acres of jungle and wildlife and with two waterfalls. Eden´s wildlife jungle is full of tigers, deer, nutrias, hawks, iguanas, snakes, guacamayas, coati mondies, raccoons, oriols, wild chickens, foxes, butterfly’s and more.”
If you’re planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta, and want to make certain a trip to El Eden is part of your adventure, you can learn more and make reservations at their official website, HERE. While I had an absolute blast, I will offer this as a word of warning: Don’t be surprised if your caravan stops for an “unscheduled” tour of a local tequila distillery (or three)!
With the release of Shane Black’s The Predator set for September 14th, the franchise is sure to shoot back into the forefront of popular consciousness. I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks at Canopy El Eden find themselves flooded with a new breed of horror fans, excited to check out the literal roots (and vines) of a true genre classic.
As for The Predator, the film’s sizable ensemble cast includes Thomas Jane, Jake Busey, Trevante Rhodes, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, and Augusto Aguilera. Give the trailer a spin below and check back for more Predator-related content here at Dread Central all month!
From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
Also, make sure to stay connected with all things Predator with 20th Century Fox’s Official Fan App! Download it here.
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