For almost four miles, the “Boiling River” roils and steams, reaching, at its most impressive, up to 80-feet wide and 16-feet deep. For years the Boiling River was said to be a legend – and indeed, it would be difficult to believe in its authenticity without having photographic evidence. A river that non-discriminately boils alive living things foolhardy enough to fall in, buried in the richly bioactive Peruvian Amazon? It was the stuff of mythology. Until, that is, Andrés Ruzo confirmed that is was the nightmarish – and awe-inspiring – stuff of reality.
At its hottest point, the Boiling River reaches over 200-degrees Fahrenheit. The standard maximum temperature for a hot tub is 104-degrees Fahrenheit. Your coffee is made at 195-degrees Fahrenheit. In its cooler sections, the Boiling River only reaches around 80-degrees, and if you were to fall in, you’d best hope that you were in the milder waters in the wet season. It’s a regular occurrence for a small mammal, amphibian, or reptile to fall victim the to Boiling River’s tempest of heat, a death which comes from being boiled alive. For four miles that death is a possibility for you and for me.
It’s easy to see how a river like this could come to be revered or feared by the native population. Indeed, the Boiling River is still regarded as a place with spiritual power, and the surrounding area is inhabited by two shamanic Amazonian communities whom consider it to be a home for spirits. The scientific origin story of the river, however, was first hotly debated between three schools of thought. The first held that this was a volcanic feature, while the second held that it was simply hot water flowing out of the earth at an unusually high rate. The third claimed that the river was an unnatural product of an oil field accident.
Bizarrely enough, the truth is in the second school of thought, which provides the most simple and, therefore, perhaps the most perplexing answer. The Boiling River is a natural, non-volcanic geo-thermal feature. The deeper into the earth you go the hotter it is, and the river is the offspring of extremely hot water being pushed up extremely quickly from extremely deep. The river of death is a river that springs from the hellish interior of our own earthly home.
The Boiling River is a fascinating phenomenon, and although geothermal features are a common enough occurrence, it’s possible the Boiling River is the largest of its kind in the world. Unfortunately, as is the oft-repeated story, the area is currently being threatened by deforestation and oil spills. Sound advice to anyone entering the realm of the Boiling River, whether for good or evil, would be to tread lightly. The Boiling River isn’t quick to forgive.