Quest for the lost city of Paititi

November 12th, 2007

The legend of Paititi refers to a lost city in the Amazon rainforest, said to be founded as a refuge from the Spanish by surviving Incas. During colonial times it was sought out by dozens of explorers eager to conquer it’s people to retrieve it’s gold.

Today there are those who still seek out this lost city in search of fame and gold, in the jungle regions near Cusco. In recent decades, these explorers have made many confirmed finds and say they’ve made other unbelievable discoveries.

Among the confirmed discoveries are Inca roads leading into the jungle. Carlos Neuenshwander in the 1960s took areal photos of the area he hoped to find the city, instead, his photos revealed Inca roads. He, when forced to call-off more searching, visited the petroglyphs of Pusharo and interpreted them as a map to Paititi. The abstract figures on the rocks seem to be walking off into the jungle away from the mountains.

On the mountain table of Pantiacolla, satellite photos from 1975, taken by the Landsatt II, suggested the existence of pyramids in the area, and in 1979 explorers Herbert and Nicole Cartagena claimed to have seen “wild savages more than two metres tall” and huge ruins. The couple had become lost in the forest and had to be found and evacuated by helicopter.

Also in 1979 a huge discovery was made. The Inca city of Mamería, long since reclaimed by the dense Amazon forest, was re-discovered. These ruins, some way out into the jungle from where the known boundaries of the Inca empire lay, seem to have been a outpost and coca growing area.

Last year, explorer Gregory Deyermenjian made the journey to the Yavero River, a tributary
of the Urubamba. Deyermenjian has been studying the area for a decade
and has found the Inca road Neuenschwander saw from the air, lost in
the dense vegetation.

Most expeditions in search of Paititi now concentrate their efforts in this area bordering the Manu reserve in southern Madre de Dios. Others though, such as Argentinian historian Fernando J. Soto Roland, believe that the Pantiacolla area is just the entrance to the new Inca empire of Paititi and that the city itself will be discovered closer to Brasil, hundreds of kilometres into the jungle.

Some say that the belief in the existence of Paititi is the result of the conquering of the indigenous of the Cusco region, who hope that somewhere some of their people escaped to continue their culture and traditions. They say the myth has been passed down since the days of conquest.

Others say it is a passed-down historical fact, that some Incas left their defeated empire to start again out of the reach of the Spaniards.

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