Image Credit: Devlin Gandy.

The Amazon’s Legendary Boiling River is Real; It Can Boil Animals Alive


The Amazonian river can boil animals alive. An ancestral legend in the Peruvian Amazon speaks of a mysterious, boiling river. Hidden deep within the rainforest, this body of water is unlike any other. Since time immemorial, the natives of the region have talked about a river in the Amazon that burns so hot it can kill.

A geothermal scientist familiar with the story and legends of an alleged boiling river turned into an explorer and decided to determine whether the stories were just that. To his surprise, he discovered an incredulous river deep in the Amazon, with water hot enough to kill a human. Historically a pilgrimage for shamans and sorcerers, the river now faces increasing threats from poachers, loggers, and squatters.

The boiling river

According to the local indigenous people, the Boiling River is shrouded in mysticism and Amazonian spirituality and is significant as a dwelling for powerful spirits. In addition, it is a place where traditional knowledge of plant medicines and appreciation of flora and fauna is passed down from masters to apprentices.


The water is dangerous. It Boils. It Burns. It can burn any living creature that dares swim in its waters. But this has remained a legend for centuries, just like many other regional stories. Local oral traditions suggest that the Boiling River existed “Before the time of the grandfathers.”

Image Credit: Devlin Gandy.
Image Credit: Devlin Gandy.

The river’s name is Shanay-Timpishka, which means ‘boiled with the heat of the Sun.’ The Spanish Conquistadors, as they made their way into the rainforest in search of mythical and lost cities filled with treasures and unimaginable wealth, supposedly came across the river. But legends remained only that, tales from conquistadors who soon forgot about the river and continued their search for the Amazon’s golden cities. However, the river is far from a myth. It is hot as it can get.

Amazon’s boiling river

This river is a place of worship for the natives of the region. The river, the Shanay-timpishka, is also referred to as La Bomba. The mighty river is a tributary of the Amazon River and holds the title “only boiling river in the world.” The boiling river is deep within the Mayantuyacu sanctuary, part of the Huánuco high forest, an area of the Peruvian rainforest inhabited by the ancestral Asháninka community.

A huge river system

The total river system is approximately 9 kilometers (5.5 miles), but only around 6.24 kilometers (3.8 miles) on the lower part of the river are home to extreme water temperatures. Most of that flow, particularly during the dry season, is hot enough to kill you. The river is generally about as wide as a two-lane road but can get up to 80 feet (around 25 meters) wide at its widest point and reach 16 feet (about 5 meters) deep at its deepest point.


It is known for the very high temperature of its waters—from 45°C to nearly 100°C. The river’s name means ‘boiled by the sun’s heat,’ though the heat source is geothermal. As a result, small mammals, reptiles, or amphibians regularly fall in and are boiled alive. The river was ‘revealed’ by geophysicist Adrés Ruzo. You can learn more about the Boiling River here and see how you can help preserve this precious natural wonder.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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