There is an ancestral legend in the Peruvian Amazon that speaks of a mysterious, boiling river. Hidden deep within the rain forest, 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, who was familiar with the story and legends of an alleged boiling river turned into an explorer, decided to find out whether the stories where just that.
To his surprise, he discovered an incredulous river deep in the Amazon, with water hot enough to kill a human.
Historically a place of pilgrimage for shamans and sorcerers, the river now faces increasing threats from poachers, loggers and squatters.
The Boiling River is shrouded in mysticism and Amazonian spirituality, and significant as a dwelling for powerful spirits according to the local indigenous people. 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 is capable of burning any living creature that dares swim in its waters.
But this has remained a legend for centuries, just like many other stories from the region. Local oral traditions suggest that the Boiling River has existed “Before the time of the grandfathers.”
The rivers name is Shanay-Timpishka— and it 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.
But the river is far from a myth.
In fact, it’s real as it can get.
The river itself is a place of worship for 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 as the “only boiling river in the world”.
The boiling river is located deep within the Mayantuyacu sanctuary, part of the Huánuco high forest, an area of the Peruvian rainforest inhabited by the ancestral Asháninka community.
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.
In fact, 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 can get to 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 heat of the sun’, though the source of the heat is actually geothermal. Small mammals, reptiles, or amphibians regularly fall in and are boiled alive.
The river was ‘revealed’ by geophysicist Adrés Ruzo.
You can find out more about the Boiling River here, and see how you can help preserve this precious natural wonder.