Significance of Site ⋆ Boiling River
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Significance of Site

“What speaks to the soul escapes our measurements.”

-Alexander von Humboldt, the great naturalist and explorer, on the beauty of nature

Even if we presented all the possible data, facts, and figures from research in the Boiling River area, it would still fall short of describing the special aura of this place. When you find yourself alone with the Boiling River, feeling the heat from the rocks below and the river’s vapors, listening to the chorus of sounds from the jungle’s wildlife, and looking at shooting stars cross a night sky filled with innumerable stars, you begin to realize its significance, and why the locals believe this river is sacred.




The Boiling River is shrouded in mysticism and Amazonian spirituality, and significant as a dwelling for powerful spirits according to the local indigenous people. It is a place where traditional knowledge of plant medicines and appreciation of flora and fauna is passed down from masters to apprentices.




The jungles surrounding the Boiling River have become a sanctuary for wildlife fleeing deforestation in the surrounding areas, which have been totally cleared for agriculture. There is still more work to be done in cataloguing and documenting the plethora of Amazonian plants and animals that call this jungle home. Thus far, information from a preliminary biodiversity survey suggests that the Boiling River’s jungles may hold a number of species new to science. This richness of biodiversity is not only present in the jungle, but even in the Boiling River at dangerously hot temperatures. Preliminary microbiological work has identified previously undocumented extremophile life forms. We have only begun to scratch the surface of the Boiling River area’s biodiversity, and much more work needs to be done, but even these initial findings show the tremendous ecological value of this unique ecosystem.



The Boiling River area holds significance for its peculiar collection of non-volcanic thermal rivers: the Salt River (a salty thermal stream), the Hot River (a thermal freshwater stream), and the Boiling River. The Boiling River is the crown jewel of the area—with boiling and near-boiling hot springs feeding its large thermal flow. It flows hot for approximately 4 miles (over 6 kilometers), gets up to about 80 feet (around 25 meters) wide at its widest point, and around 16 feet (about 5 meters) deep at its deepest point. There are numerous thermal waterfalls along its course, the most impressive of which boasts a drop of about 20 feet (close to 6 meters) into a large thermal pool. What is most impressive is that the Boiling River, and the two smaller local thermal streams, exist independent of volcanism— over 430 miles (over 700 kilometers) away from the nearest active volcanic center! Given its formidable magnitude, the Boiling River certainly ranks among the world’s largest geothermal features (e.g., hot springs or fumaroles)— volcanic and non-volcanic.