There is a mysterious river flowing deep through the Amazon rainforest in Mayantuyacu, Peru, that can literally boil small animals almost instantly. While water temperatures along the 6.4-km-long river range between 50 and 90 degrees Celsius, in some parts almost reaching the boiling point of 100 degrees. That’s hot enough to cause third-degree burns in a matter of seconds.
The local Asháninka people have known about the mysterious Boiling River for centuries, referring to it as ‘Shanay-timpishka’, which translates to ‘boiled with the heat of the sun’. Ancient legend has it that the hot water is unleashed by a giant serpent named Yacumama (mothers of the waters) and a large boulder shaped like a serpent’s head lies at the river’s headwaters, as a testimony to the primitive tale’s veridity.
For the rest of the world, however, this natural oddity was just that – a legend. Apart from a few references dating back to the 1930’s there was no scientific documentation of the boiling river and most geologists simply dismissed its existence based on the fact that it would take huge amounts of geothermal heat to boil entire sections of a river, which would be impossible because the Amazon basin is located 400 miles away from the nearest active volcano. Except for a few tourists who visit Mayantuyacu each year to experience the traditional healing methods practiced by the Asháninka people, the civilized world was oblivious to the existence of a real boiling river.