The Lost Empire Of The Inca, And The Legendary Gold City Of Paititi

Tales of Lost cities and legendary civilizations that ruled the earth exist all around the globe.

No matter where we look, we find tales, legends, and myths that speak of mighty civilizations that vanished without a trace, or incredible ancient cities, made of gold, hidden for centuries waiting to be found.

For more than 500 years, explorers have searched and failed to pinpoint the ruins for Paititi, the legendary Lost City of Gold. Despite never finding it, many explorers, authors, archaeologists and adventurers became convinced that the city remains hidden in the last undiscovered and uncharted areas of the Amazon.

The countless, infamous journeys to rediscover the ruins of Paititi were one of the main factors that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write “The Lost World.”

Paititi, the lost Inca city in the Peruvian Amazon

This ancient Inca City is supposedly located somewhere east of the Andes, devoured by dense vegetation in the remote rainforests of southeast Peru, northern Bolivia or southwest Brazil.

The Legend of the Lost City of Paititi originated from writings of the sixteenth century.

It all started when authors Vaca de Castro, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, and Juan Álvarez Maldonado started mentioning a kingdom located in the Amazon lowland, probably near the current border between Bolivia and Brazil.

The legend of Paititi gained fame in 1635 when, in the Chronicles of Lizarazu, the Inca Guaynaapoc was cited traveling from Cusco to Paititi where Guaynaapoc’s father reigned. The city was described existing in the vicinity of the Guaporé River (currently the Brazilian state of Rondonia).

The city was constantly mentioned in legends. Another legend draws its origin from the history of Inkarriwe: After having founded Q’ero and Cusco, he retired to the Pantiacolla jungle to live the rest of his days in the city of Paititi.

In the last one hundred years, countless expeditions have been organized to find the long-lost city; many explorers vanished in an effort to find the ruins of Paititi.

Ancient map
An ancient map created by Jodocus Hondius dating to the year 1600 approximately. Depicted on this map we see the region of Moxos and the supposed Laguna de los Xarayes (today Pantanal). Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1925, Percy Harrison Fawcett traveled to the Amazon to search for the long-lost city. He explored the Mato Grosso region in Brazil.

From 1954 to 1955: Hans Ertl explored the region near the Bolivian border in search of Paititi.

From 1958 to 2003, Peruvian explorer Carlos Neuenschwander Landa led multiple expeditions in search of Paititi, in the Madre de Dios region and Cusco region.

In 1971, a French-American expedition led by Bob Nichols, Serge Debru, and Georges Puel traveled up the Rio Pantiacolla from Shintuya in search of Paititi. The party’s guides left after a 30-day agreement expired, and though the three continued, they never returned. Japanese explorer Yoshiharu Sekino contacted Machiguenga Indians in the area the following year and confirmed that the expedition members had been killed.

From 1984 to 2011 various expeditions led by Gregory Deyermenjian, member of The Explorers Club took place. These included the documentation of Incan remains in Mameria, the exploration and documentation of the petroglyphs at Pusharo, exploration, and documentation of Manu’s Pyramids of Paratoari, and other sites.

In 1997 Lars Hafskjold traveled from Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru in search of Paititi. Like many others before him, he too disappeared in the unexplored parts of Bolivia.

In June 2001, the Kota Mama II excursion led by John Blashford-Snell discovered significant ancient ruins in the jungle east of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia which are believed to be identical to those discovered earlier by Hans Ertl.

Another expedition tool place in 2001 when Thierry Jamin investigated the site of Pantiacolla. The pyramids are in fact natural formations but Jamin discovered several Inca artefacts in the same area.

In 2002 Jacek Pałkiewicz undertook an expedition to search for the long-lost city.

In June 2004 the “Quest for Paititi” exploration team of Deyermenjian and Mamani came across several significant Inca ruins along branches of the Inca Road of Stone at the peak known as Último Punto in the northern part of the Pantiacolla region of Peru.

In 2005 French explorer Thierry Jamin and the French-Peruvian Herbert Cartagena analyzed Pusharo petroglyphs and described to have seen huge geoglyphs in a valley located in the vicinity. They believed they might have found a “map” revealing where Paititi might be located. Further expeditions were set up in the following years.

In 2007, members from a local commnuy near Kimbiri Peru reported finding massive stone strcuture ressembling walls, covering an area of around 40,000 square meters. They wen’t on naming the site Pata fortress.

2009 to 2010 Olly Steeds searched for Paititi filming Lost City of Gold, Season 1, Episode 1.

From 2009 to 2011 various expeditions by Italian researcher Yuri Leveratto are organized. He reached one of the Pyramids of Pantiacolla (or Paratoari).

In 2011 a British expedition to investigate the Pyramids of Paratoari with Kenneth Gawne, Lewis Knight, Ken Halfpenny, I. Gardiner and Darwin Moscoso was set in motion, as part of a documentary.

More recently, in 2014 Josh Gates looks for Paititi while filming Expedition Unknown.

Despite countless expeditions, the ruins of Paititi have never been found.

Featured Image Credit: Rock face carving by the Natives. Image by Fernando S. Gallegos.

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