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Boiling Mayantuyacu River: the enigma of the Peruvian Amazon

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Boiling Mayantuyacu River: the enigma of the Peruvian Amazon

Among the lush vegetation of the Peruvian Amazon lies one of the most surprising mysteries of nature. It is the Boiling Mayantuyacu River, a place whose waters exceed 90 degrees Celsius. The uncertain origin of its temperature and its healing power make this place a great tourist attraction in the region. If you want to know the secrets of this enigmatic destination, you cannot miss this article in which we tell you everything you need to know to visit it. 

And, apparently, there is no need for the presence of a nearby volcano to see these geothermal manifestations (fumaroles or hot springs). At least that is what the boiling river that hides in the undergrowth of the Amazonian forests of Mayantuyacu (Huánuco), a few kilometers from the Ucayali region, shows us. A land where the chroniclers described it as a land of powerful shamans, warriors with poisoned arrows, trees so big that they covered the sun and torrents so hot that the water actually boils. 

The Peruvian geologist Andrés Ruzo explorer of the National Geographic and consecutive client of our hotel, made known at an international level, this Peruvian wonder that is known as a tributary of the Pachitea River, its indigenous name is Shanay-Timpishka which means "boiled with the heat". del sol", thermal waters, which reach up to 93°C. 

In certain sections you have the opportunity to enter its medicinal waters like a natural sauna, and observe the picturesque biodiversity of the area. The place is approximately 2 hours from the city of Pucallpa (by land), 20 minutes by boat and 1 hour of walking in the forest. 

Where is the boiling Mayantuyacu River located?

The boiling river of Mayantuyacu, named by the locals as Shanay Timpishka, is located in the district of Honoria, department of Huánuco. Mayantucayu is a center for the study of medicinal plants in which science is mixed with tradition to explore all the benefits of the flora that grows here. 

Although this place is visited mainly to see the boiling river Shanay Timpishka, in reality Mayantuyacu has many more attractions. Here you can explore and analyze a large number of plants. Such is the diversity that, according to experts, this forest has more than 70 species per square meter. 

Where does the water of this boiling river come from?

Herein lies the great mystery of the Shanay Timpishka River. Although it would be normal for this hot water to come from a nearby volcano, the reality is that in this case it is not. The geologists who study the area, among whom Andrés Rizo stands out, have a theory: the water of the boiling river comes from Andean glaciers and enters deep areas of the earth, where it reaches this temperature. 

But like all mysteries, the boiling river of Mayantuyacu also has its own mythological story that explains its origin. According to the inhabitants of the area, who attribute numerous healing powers to the river, this water was created by a huge snake called Yacumama (mother of the waters), an animal that is represented by a large rock in one of the limits of the river. . Be that as it may, the origin of these hot waters is still not known with certainty and experts on the subject continue to study this unique river.

Scientific discoveries of the Mayantuyacu River

Mayantuyacu is a mysterious river 25 meters wide and 6 meters deep in which its waters reach high temperatures. But, one of its greatest enigmas is not its hot waters, but their origin, since they are not located near a volcano. For this reason, it has been the subject of research by geologists and scientists. 

One of the most important is the geologist Andrés Ruzo, a National Geographic grantee, who is credited with important research. Likewise, he is recognized for having been the person who showed the world the existence of this natural wonder. 

The true causes of this phenomenon are not exact. However, there is a theory that shows the possible origin of this boiling river. According to research, everything indicates that this is due to a hydrothermal system of water from the glaciers of the Andes that seeps into the interior of the earth, in which the temperature begins to rise gradually until it reaches the boiling point.

What to do in the boiling river and its surroundings?

Although the main tourist attraction in this area of the Peruvian Amazon is knowing the boiling river and being able to see the steam that its waters emanate, in the surroundings of the Shanay Timpishka there are various activities to spend a very entertaining day. 

You will start by walking along the banks of the boiling river, where, along its six kilometers in length, you will be able to notice the changes in temperature and, on some occasions, you will even need to separate yourself from the river because the heat is quite extreme.

Luckily, some areas of the Shanay Timpishka have a lower temperature and become the perfect place to take a relaxing bath in its hot springs and enjoy all the benefits that they will provide to your body. Also, on the way you will find a spring and a waterfall, both of hot water. 

To complete your experience, what better than knowing how the communities of the area coexist with the famous boiling river? In Mayantuyacu you will find an Asháninka medicine center and you will be able to enjoy various ceremonial and healing rituals through which you will feel a great connection with nature. 

In addition, in the surroundings of the boiling river there are different shamans who can accompany you in an ayahuasca session, a typical plant of the Amazon that, according to the master healers, helps you connect with yourself and provides you with infinite health benefits.

The boiling river route

To get to know this sought-after natural attraction, depart from Pucallpa (Ucayali), the most accessible route. Being in Tierra Colorada, you must board the buses or groups that go to the city of Campo Verde, like someone heading west along the Federico Basadre highway. Then, take another vehicle that takes us directly to Codo del Honoria, one of the five districts of the Puerto Inca province (Huánuco). 

From here, in the port of Honoria, the trip by land is exchanged for a boat tour that has the shores of Mayantuyacu as its destination. The tour costs approximately 15 soles, a more than rewarding investment because you can see the winged kingdom and some wild animals that sneak through the bushes of the riverbed. 

But this journey along the Pachitea River does not end there, after which you have to enter the vegetation along a path. The trekking that lasts forty minutes, borders a hot stream that acts as a guide through this agitated jungle. The tour ends at the Mayantuyacu Sanctuary, which must be entered with a permit provided by the local guides as it is private property. 

Once this challenge has been overcome, the first silhouette of the boiling river can be dazzled in the distance. A legend come true in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. An Amazonian little corner where the humidity emanated by the steam extends towards the sky as if it were a natural sauna.

There is not much reference to the Shanay-timpishka river, its discovery by the American geologist Andrés Rizo, an expert in volcanology and geothermal deposits, has made a detailed study of this torrent, reaching the conclusion that it has a route of six kilometers and is born in a puquio of cold water, in which the temperature gradually warms up until it almost reaches boiling. 

Rizo, like many of us, heard stories from his Peruvian father as a child. They were legends about El Dorado or Paititi, a city covered in gold, which led many Spaniards to explore extensive areas of the Peruvian Amazon. 

“Survivors came back with stories of (Amazon) warrior women, gigantic snakes that ate men, and rivers of boiling water,” he says. 

However, motivated by the curiosity of that legend and using his experience as a geologist, he undertook an odyssey through the Huánuco jungle in order to identify the existence of this unique river in Peru. And he did it in 2011. There is so much to explore in this fantastic world that never ceases to amaze us. So go out, travel, live and, above all, be curious. 

On track 

Route: From Lima by air (one hour) and by land, on a marathon trip of approximately 20 hours (Lima-La Oroya-Tingo María-Pucallpa). 

Then, go by bus or collective along the Federico Basadre highway to Campo Verde, to the west. Then continue to Honoria, to the south, crossing the border with Huánuco. Continue the trip by boat until you reach the shores of Mayantuyacu. 

  • Accommodation: Sachamama Lodge & Expeditions. 
  • Gastronomy: Patarashca, juane, tacacho with cecina, inchicapi and a variety of dishes with river fish. 

How to get to the boiling river Shanay Timpishka?

Like any other adventure in the Peruvian jungle, to get to the boiling river you will have to take different means of transportation. To begin with, your starting point should be the city of Pucallpa, located in eastern Peru, in the heart of the Amazon. For those tourists who are in Lima, to get to Pucallpa you will only have to take a plane: in just over an hour you will land in this city.

Once here, we recommend you spend a night in Pucallpa to start the excursion to the boiling river very early in the morning. The next day, try to go out early to Honoria. From the Pucallpa bus terminal you will find vans that, starting at four in the morning, leave for this district. The price is around 15 soles (4.5 dollars) and the journey lasts about two hours. 

When you are in Honoria, walk to the port, where you will have to take a boat that can fit up to eight people and has a price of 20 soles (6 dollars) between all the passengers. Although the journey over the Pachitea River is short (only 15 minutes), it is always relaxing and a great experience to go through the waters of the Amazon jungle and be able to observe its spectacular landscapes.

After the boat ride and to get to Mayantuyacu, you will have to take a walk of about an hour that, although not complicated, becomes a bit uncomfortable due to the constant heat of the jungle. Once in Mayantuyacu, you will have to fill out a form and pay the entrance fee, which costs 20 soles (6 dollars) and gives you the right to spend the whole day in the boiling river and its surroundings. 

Although you can get here on your own, at Denomades we offer a tour to the boiling Mayantuyacu River, with all the amenities included: we pick you up at the door of your hotel in Pucallpa and take you to this tourist attraction by bus and boat hand in hand from one of our guides. 

What should you take to the boiling river?

For those who have never visited the jungle, it is difficult to pack a suitcase for such an unknown destination, so here are some recommendations of what you do or do have to go in your backpack to explore the boiling Shanay Timpishka River. 

Waterproof trekking shoes: the jungle is unpredictable and since you are going to hike through it, it is important that you wear good waterproof trekking shoes, in case it rains or the ground is very muddy.

Sunscreen: the sun can be very extreme in the Amazon and, as you will be walking outdoors, it is always advisable to bring sunscreen.

Mosquito repellent: some areas of the jungle are full of mosquitoes that will not stop following you, so you can prevent their bites with a good repellent.

Food and water: although there is a store in the center of Mayantuyacu, it is recommended that you bring your own food and water in case you get hungry or thirsty along the way. The temperatures are so high that you will surely need something to drink.

Clothing: although it is hot, to avoid mosquito bites it is always advisable to wear thin but long clothing. Also, don't forget your swimsuit, so you can relax in the hot springs of the boiling river.

Best Tours in Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

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