The boiling river of the Amazon that is often mentioned in legends and folklore is actually real. Researcher Andrés Ruzo discovered it in 2011, but he explains that it was already known by Amazonian communities. He has been working on elucidating the nature, and source of the heat of the water-body which he has, many times, witnessed cooking living animals.
The Amazon rainforest encloses in its midst great mysteries. A huge portion of the staggering variety of life existing and flourishing there has remained beyond our reach. It is, therefore, little wonder that so many fictional stories of wonderful creatures and landmarks ascribed to it have sprouted from the mind of man. One such landscape feature mentioned in legend is the boiling river. Generations and generations of Amazonian and Peruvian populations have been carrying the tale of a river in the Amazon, Peru, that can burn anything it touches because of its boiling nature; local shamans claim the source of the heat is a serpent spirit named Yacumama. The existence of the river that has hitherto remained undocumented has often been dismissed as fiction, not to mention of the unbelievable stories associated with it; it has remained undocumented until geophysicist Andrés Ruzo decided to clear the fog surrounding its being – it turns out the river is indeed real. And, yes, it can boil animals to a scorching death.
As a matter of fact, the river has been known by indigenous communities of people of the Amazon for hundreds of years now. It was only a ‘myth’ because it has never been mapped ‘officially’. The work of researcher Andrés Ruzo will hopefully bring it to the spotlight. When he had first attempted to consider its existence, he was told by experts he consulted that the river could not exist because while hot rivers are real, they are only in the vicinity of volcanoes and no volcano exists in that part of Peru; besides, hot springs are generally much smaller than a river.
Ruzo has been studying the ‘mythical’ river since 2011 with the permission of a local shaman. He has even authored a book on the subject named “The Boiling River” relating his adventures and experience with respect to the wonder of nature that is the river.
The boiling river situated in Peru is known as Shanay-timpishka by the locals; its name means “boiled with the heat of the Sun”. From the studies of Ruzo, we learn that its heat, of course, does not come from the Sun. Is it similar to geothermal springs, then? Not exactly. Unlike hot springs, the river is incredibly huge. Maybe, this is why it has been easier to consider it as a product of folklore and fiction. Its hot water runs for 6.24 km and the river itself is 25 metres in width and 6 metres deep. The average temperature has been recorded to be 86˚C in spite of the fact that the nearest volcano is 700 km away. The energy needed to keep such a great volume of water hot is, therefore, huge. Ruzo is still working on understanding the source thereof.
Most animals that get into contact with the river will die because of the high temperature. Ruzo says that he has indeed witnessed such a scene several times during his study of the phenomenon. He relates that the flesh of the organism falling into it is cooked after its eyes have been destroyed. On the other hand, in spite of the harsh conditions of the river, there is life living in and around it. Genetic analysis of these extremophiles has revealed that they are newly-discovered species of microbes.
The water of the river came from rain, according to the analysis done by Ruzo. The exact location of the heat source is as yet unknown. This meteoric water might have gone underground after it first fell as rain and it was then heated by the geothermal energy of the Earth to eventually emerge in the Amazon into the river; this would suggest the existence of a gigantic hydrothermal system of which the river would be but one part. Ruzo also says that he had initially thought the river was the result of an unnatural event like a malfunction of an oil or gas well; however, his research revealed otherwise, as mentioned previously.