The Wild Tale Of One Adventurous Scientist And His Fight To Save Peru’s Mythical Boiling River

10.19.16 2 months ago

Sofia Ruzo

The reasons to travel are as varied as the terrain that covers this great blue rock of ours. Some of us seek a slow-paced respite spent on sun-soaked beaches. Others long to trod the well-worn tracks of our ancestral backpackers, over the hills and far away. But only a brave few dare to search for the impossible, seeking out rare legends and chasing everlasting glory.

Andrés Ruzo used to hear old stories about his Peruvian ancestors sending gold-hungry conquistadors deep into Amazonia, in search of untold riches. Those who returned to civilization brought back tales of gargantuan snakes, tiny people living in the trees, and rivers that boiled men alive. At first, these ramblings were dismissed as myths, but as science and discovery marched on we learned that massive anacondas do exist. Pygmies do too.

Alas, the “river that boiled” remained elusive. This, it seemed, was nothing more than a story. Until one day when Ruzo’s aunt insisted she had seen the river with her own two eyes and could lead her nephew deep into the jungle to find it. Together, they set out on an adventure. What they found at the end of a trail was a geothermal river that boils for nearly four miles of its run — at temperatures reaching 200F.

In those scorching waters, Ruzo discovered his calling. He’s spent the last six years dutifully studying the river and the source of its magic, with the blessing of the shamans who watch over it. Last week, we sat down with Ruzo to talk about his scientific discoveries and how a call to adventure lead him to create The Boiling River Project.

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