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Paititi is a legendary Inca lost city or utopian rich land. It allegedly lies east of the Andes, hidden somewhere within the remote rainforests of southeast Peru, northern Bolivia or northwest Brazil. The Paititi legend in Peru revolves around the story of the culture-hero Inkarri, who, after he had founded Q'ero and Cusco, retreated toward the jungles of Pantiacolla to live out the rest of his days in his refuge city of Paititi. Other versions of the legend see Paititi as an Inca refuge in the border area between Bolivia and Brazil.

Recent findings[edit]

In 2001, the Italian archaeologist Mario Polia discovered the report of the missionary Andres Lopez in the archives of the Jesuits in Rome.[1] In the document, which dates from about 1600, Lopez describes a large city rich in gold, silver, and jewels, located in the middle of the tropical jungle called Paititi by the natives. Lopez informed the Pope about his discovery.[2] Lopez's report and its discovery were widely publicized, though its content is third-hand and far from reliable, Lopez himself having never reached Paititi but only having heard about it from the natives. It focuses on the story of a miracle performed at the court of the king of Paititi by a crucifix taken there by a group of baptized Indians. Many other historical sources of the Colonial period (16th to 18th centuries) refer to Paititi, to its possible locations and to expeditions searching for it. Some of the most informative of these documents include those of Juan Álvarez Maldonado [es] (1570), Gregorio Bolívar (1621), Juan Recio de León (1623–27), Juan de Ojeda (1676), Diego de Eguiluz (1696).

In 2001, two researchers from the University of Helsinki, Dr. Ari Siiriäinen [fi] (archaeologist) and Dr. Martti Pärssinen (historian), put forward a hypothesis relating the Paititi legend to the Inca expeditions into the Amazonian jungle and to the possible Inca military presence in the region of the Beni and the Madre de Dios rivers.[3] In order to test this hypothesis, a joint Finnish-Bolivian archaeological expedition in 2001–2003 investigated the fortified site Las Piedras near the town of Riberalta in Eastern Bolivia. Some fragments of imperial Inca ceramics were found during the excavations, but the presumed Inca origin of the site remains questionable.[4]

Historian and anthropologist Vera Tyuleneva has contributed to the idea of the non-Peruvian origin of the name "Paititi" and its original locale; she has made expeditions to northern Bolivia and provided extensive and detailed written reports on her findings.[5][6][7]

On 29 December 2007, members of a local community near Kimbiri, Peru, found large stone structures resembling high walls, covering an area of 40,000 square meters; they named it the Manco Pata fortress.[8][9] Researchers from the Peruvian government's Cusco-based National Institute of Culture (INC), however, disputed suggestions by the local mayor that it could be part of the lost city of Paititi.[10] Their report identified the stone structures as naturally formed sandstone. In 2008, the municipality of Kimbiri decided to promote it as a tourist destination.[11]

Recent historical work by the explorer Andrew Nicol examined primary historical texts and concluded that a jungle city or remote Inca outpost, such as the city described by the Paititi legend, could theoretically exist within the Peruvian Amazon Basin. Nicol references the existence of the sites of Vilcabamba, Peru and Mameria as the chief sources of evidence supporting this theory.[12] Parts of this region discussed in Nicols' research are referred to as Antisuyu, one of the four regions into which the Inca empire was divided.

In 2016, French researcher Vincent Pélissier published an online article and subsequent video on YouTube claiming to have found the lost city of Paititi. Pélissier claims to have made the discovery in July 2015. The article presents a first-hand account of Pélissier's research and details the evidence that he uses to make his case. His article expounds upon prior research, including that of Thierry Jamin. One of Pélissier's significant pieces of evidence is an interpretation of petroglyphs at Pusharo as a map to Paititi. These petroglyphs are located on the south shore of the Palatoa River. However, the petroglyphs have not been confirmed to be of Inca origin. In his article, Pélissier makes extensive use of Google Earth screenshots that include coordinates and a hand-created overlay that highlights rivers, mountain ranges, and supposed Inca roads. Pélissier asserts throughout the article that he believes he has found the lost city of Paititi. He also includes details of experiences that he claims to have had (i.e. being hacked, burgled, etc.) as a result of his research.[13]

Expeditions in search of Paititi during the past 100 years[edit]

  • 1925: Percy Harrison Fawcett (Mato Grosso, Brasil).[14]
  • 1954 to 1955: Hans Ertl (Bolivia)[15]
  • 1958 to 2003: Peruvian explorer Carlos Neuenschwander Landa [es] led multiple expeditions in search of Paititi, in the Madre de Dios region and Cusco region.[16][17]
  • 1971: A French-American expedition led by Bob Nichols, Serge Debru, and Georges Puel travelled 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 on, 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.[citation needed]
  • 1984 to 2011: various expeditions led by Gregory Deyermenjian, member of The Explorers Club. These included the documentation of Incan remains in Mameria,[18] the exploration and documentation of the petroglyphs at Pusharo,[19] exploration and documentation of Manu's Pyramids of Paratoari, and others [20][21][22][23][24][25]
  • 1997: Lars Hafskjold set out from Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru. He disappeared somewhere in the unexplored parts of Bolivia.[26]
  • In June 2001, the Kota Mama II expedition led by John Blashford-Snell located some significant ancient ruins in the jungle east of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia that are believed[by whom?] to be identical to those discovered earlier by Hans Ertl.[27]
  • 2001: Thierry Jamin investigates the site of Pantiacolla. The pyramids are in fact natural formations but Jamin discovered several Inca artefacts in the same area.[28]
  • 2002: Jacek Pałkiewicz undertook an expedition.[29]
  • The June 2004 "Quest for Paititi" exploration team of Deyermenjian and Mamani discovered several important 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.[30]
  • 2005: The French explorer Thierry Jamin and the French-Peruvian Herbert Cartagena studied Pusharo petroglyphs and reported to have seen large geoglyphs in a valley nearby. They thought they might have found a "map" showing where Paititi might be located. Further expeditions were set up in the following years.[31]
  • 2009 to 2010: Olly Steeds looks for Paititi while filming Solving History with Olly Steeds in the episode "Lost City of Gold".
  • 2009 to 2011: various expeditions by Italian researcher Yuri Leveratto [es]. He reached one of the Pyramids of Pantiacolla (or Paratoari).[32]
  • 2011: British expedition to investigate the Pyramids of Paratoari with Kenneth Gawne, Lewis Knight, Ken Halfpenny, I. Gardiner and Darwin Moscoso as part of a documentary.[33][34] 
  • 2014: Josh Gates looks for Paititi while filming Expedition Unknown.[35]

Paititi in popular culture[edit]

  • The 2012 film Tad, The Lost Explorer is an animated adventure with characters who travel to Peru in search of Paititi.
  • The 2018 video game Shadow of the Tomb Raider features Paititi as a key locale hosting artifacts hunted by Lara Croft. It also mentions Lopez, Fawcett and others.
  • In the 2016 game Sid Meier's Civilization VI Paititi makes an appearance as a Natural Wonder in the 2020 Maya and Gran Colombia Pack DLC included in the New Frontier Pass.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu Archived November 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ See
  3. ^ Siiriäinen, Ari and Pärssinen, Martti. The Amazonian Interests of the Inca State (Tawantinsuyu). In: Baessler-Archiv Nº49. Berlin. 2001.
  4. ^ See Pärssinen, Martti y Siiriäinen, Ari. Andes Orientales y Amazonía Occidental Ensayos entre la historia y arqueología de Bolivia, Brasil y Perú. UMSA – Colegio Nacional de Historiadores de Bolivia. Producciones CIMA: La Paz. 2003.
  5. ^ Tyuleneva, Vera. La Tierra del Paititi y el Lago Rogoaguado. In: Estudios Amazónicos Nº6, June 2007. Lima: Centro Cultural José Pío Aza. Pp. 97-162.
  6. ^ Tyuleneva, Vera. Apolobamba: Zona de contacto entre la sierra y los Llanos Amazónicos. Informe de la temporada de campo 2007, presentado a la Dirección Nacional de Arqueología de Bolivia. La Paz, 2008.
  7. ^ See also Tyuleneva, Vera. La leyenda del Paititi: versiones modernas y coloniales. In: Revista Andina Nº36, 2003. Cusco: Centro Bartolomé de las Casas. Pp. 193-211. The first part of this article concerning Paititi in the oral tradition is still relevant, while the second part related to the historical sources has been since radically reconsidered by the author
  8. ^ "Peru: Archaeological Fortress Discovered in the town of Kimbiri, Cusco". Living in Peru. ANDINA. January 10, 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  9. ^ "New archeological vestiges found in Manco Pata fortress". ANDINA - Peru News Agency. Jan 29, 2008. Archived from the original on February 12, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  10. ^ Kelly Hearn (February 25, 2008). "Peru's "Lost City" Is a Natural Formation, Experts Rule". National Geographic News. Archived from the original on October 22, 2011. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  11. ^ "Peru: Cusco authorities to promote Manco Pata archaeological site in Kimbiri". Living in Peru. ANDINA. August 5, 2008. Archived from the original on 2014-05-04. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  12. ^ Andrew Nicol (2009). "Paititi: The Last Secret Of The Incas? A Critical Analysis Of The Legends Surrounding The Lost Inca City Of Gold" (PDF). International Journal of South American Archaeology (5).
  13. ^ Vincent Pélissier (2016). "The Discovery of Paititi Last Capital of the Incas". Vincent Pélissier. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  14. ^ Fawcett, Percy Harrison. Exploración Fawcett. Santiago de Chile: Zig-Zag. 1955.
  15. ^ Hans Ertl (1956). Paititi: Ein Spähtrupp in die Vergangenheit der Inkas, Anden-Amazonas-Expedition 1954/55. München: Nymphenburger Verlag.
  16. ^ Carlos Neuenschwander Landa (1983). Paititi, en la bruma de la historia. Cuzzi. ASIN B0046QFQ62. OCLC 11724089.
  17. ^ Carlos Neuenschwander Landa (1963). Pantiacollo. Lima: Organizacion Peruana del Libro. OCLC 8604014.
  18. ^ Gregory Deyermenjian (2003). "Mameria: an Incan Site Complex in the High-Altitude Jungles of Southeast Peru". Athena Review. 3 (4). Archived from the original on 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  19. ^ Preston Peet (2005). "A Conversation with Greg Deyermenjian". Underground!. The Disinformation Company. p. 286. ISBN 1-932857-19-2.
  20. ^ "Ancient "Lost City" Discovered in Peru, Official Claims". National Geographic News. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  21. ^ Interview with Greg Deyermenjian FN’88 at explorers.orgExpedition 2000 at Athena Magazine
  22. ^ "Expedition 2006 at" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  23. ^ "Expedition 2008" (PDF). The Explorers Club. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  24. ^ "FOLLOWING THE TRAIL OF THE INCAS". Vol. Thirteen, no. Two. Expedition News. February 2006. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  25. ^ "Gregory Deyermenjian, who has been looking for the city for 20 years has found about 15 different settlements". 3 August 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
  26. ^ "Lars Hafskjold's disappearance". Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2009-07-19.
  27. ^ "The Kota Mama Expedition". Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  28. ^ "Buscan la ciudadela perdida de los incas en selva del Manu". Perú 21 (in Spanish). Peru. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  29. ^ "Jacek Palkiewicz: traveler, explorer". 2002-02-04. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  30. ^ Quest for Paititi
  31. ^ "Le site des chercheurs du Gran Paititi". Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  32. ^ Yuri Leveratto (2010). Cronache indigene del Nuovo Mondo. ASIN B007H9DMHU.
  33. ^ "Dundee explorer's search for 'lost city' of Paititi". BBC News. 3 August 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  34. ^ The Secret of the Incas Archived 2018-03-22 at the Wayback Machine (2011, October 6) Retrieved March 14, 2015
  35. ^ Expedition Unknown, City of Gold Season 1, Episode 5

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Gregory Deyermenjian (2006). "In Search of Paititi: Following the Road of Stone into an Unknown Peru". The Explorers Journal. 84 (1): 28–35.
  • John Blashford-Snell and Richard Snailham (2003). East to the Amazon. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-6504-9.
  • Jamin, Thierry & Ruquier, Pierre-Albert (2006). L'Eldorado Inca : A la recherche de Païtiti (in French). Paris: Hugo & Compagnie. ISBN 978-2-7556-0098-8.
  • Jamin, Thierry (November 2007). Pusharo, la memoria recobrada de los Incas (in Spanish). Lima, Peru: Edisa. ISBN 978-9972-33566-2. OCLC 213862634.
  • Tahir Shah (2004). House of the Tiger King: A Jungle Obsession. London: John Murray.