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These days, it's hard to imagine there's a single corner of the globe that hasn't been discovered yet. In fact, more than half of the planet's surface is still a complete unknown. And one of the most mysterious regions is the Amazon rainforest. Think two million square miles of dense jungle.
Over 10 percent of the world's species live there, comprising Earth's most complex ecosystem. And thanks to impenetrable underbrush, deadly predators, tropical diseases and an inhospitable climate, we still haven't scratched the surface of what the region holds. But in nineteen twenty five, one explorer named Percy Fossett tried to unlock some of its secrets. Percy plunged into the depths of the Amazon jungle to look for an ancient mythical city, and in the process he went missing without a trace.
This is Supernatural, a Spotify original from podcast, I'm your host, Ashleigh Flowers. Every Wednesday, I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained occurrence to try and figure out the truth. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify. And if you like what you're hearing, reach out on Facebook and Instagram, that podcast and Twitter, a podcast network. This week I'm talking about an explorer named Percy Fawcett.
He explored the Amazon jungle looking for a hidden civilization called the Lost City of Z. As for whether he found it, nobody knows because he never came back. But some people believe Percy did find what he was looking for and stepped through a gateway into another round. I'll talk about all of that in just a bit. Stay with us. This episode is brought to you by Ford of 150, the all new F1 50 is available with seven point two kilowatts of best in class on board power.
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The Bronco sport is built wild. With seven available goat modes that go over any type of terrain, Bronco sport is just as adventurous as you learn more at Ford Dotcom. On July 4th, 1986, a surveyor and mapmaker named Percy Fossett embarked on this daring journey deep into unexplored wilderness. He's headed to the boundary between Bolivia, Peru and Brazil to settle a border dispute. This is Percy's first expedition, but he comes from a good pedigree. His father and his brother were both explorers, and Percy has studied with the Royal Geographical Society, which is literally a school for wannabe adventurers.
He's put in all this work because Percy has always dreamed of being a surveyor and he's not going to let anything get in his way for this border mapping mission. He takes a mule train through the Andes Mountains during a blizzard, rafts down uncharted rivers and Bushwackers through a region so deadly. It's called the Railroad of the Dead. The whole time, though, he is just brimming with excitement while his companions are griping about disease carrying mosquitoes and the lack of fresh game, Percy's having the time of his life.
At one point, he encounters a giant anaconda, and that doesn't even faze him. He just cuts off a piece of its skin while it's still alive to send back to Europe for study. I mean, Percy can not be deterred. He was born for this kind of work.
Plus, Percy is charming everywhere he goes, he befriends the Amazonian tribes people. This is unusual because a lot of his contemporaries think that the inhabitants of the Amazon jungle are these brutes who need to be wiped off the face of the earth. But Percy considers himself their defender. He refuses to let his colleagues shoot or kill the indigenous people, even in self-defense. The problem is Percy still thinks of the members of the Amazonian tribes as backwards and undeveloped. So when they show off their skills in hunting and agriculture, Percy doesn't take this as a sign of their intelligence or ingenuity.
He figures the Amazonian must have learned these practices from a different, more advanced civilization that's hidden somewhere in the depths of the jungle. And he actually has a couple of facts that he thinks backs up this idea, he's heard from missionaries and other explorers that locals keep making references to this lost city that's deep in the rainforest. They say that it used to be a thriving metropolis, but all its inhabitants died or disappeared. And now all that's left are ruins.
So Pursey figure is that maybe this ancient vanished culture is the same society that taught the Amazonian tribes how to hunt and farm. Now, he's not the only one to reach this conclusion. For centuries before Percy came along, European explorers all swarmed through the region looking for something called El Dorado, which is a legendary city of gold, and none of them found anything. But things are different with Percy. For one thing, he doesn't buy into the idea that there is a literal gold settlement.
He's basing his theories on the locals more modest accounts, plus a few shards of pottery and other artifacts he uncovers during his trip. He figures there's probably some ancient ruins in the Amazon jungle, which he dubs the lost city of Z. Now, this lost city, if it exists, is important for a couple of reasons. The main one is that it could completely redefine everyone's understanding of life in the Amazon. There are a ton of different tribes in the jungle, but they're all fairly small and fairly scattered.
Most scientists believe it's impossible for a complex society to form in the region. There's just too many predators and diseases and not enough food.
But Pursey figure is if there is a metropolis deep in the rainforest that says something pretty incredible about the human spirit, it means people can flourish anywhere. They can overcome whatever challenges that nature throws at them.
So the question of the lost city isn't just about archaeological curiosity, Percy's theories say something about how he sees the world and humanity's place in it. He wants to prove that people are more than ordinary dumb animals and he's going to find the metropolis to prove it. So he spends every spare moment he can talking to the indigenous people, digging for old relics and collecting artifacts. Now, I don't know exactly what he uncovers because Percy is notoriously secretive. He's so worried someone else is going to beat him to the ruins.
He goes to extreme lengths to try and throw people off his trail, which means nobody really knows what he finds or how compelling the evidence is.
But somehow, in the midst of his journey to the border and all his surveying work, Percy also decides that he knows where this ancient city is. The problem's going to be getting to it now. Again, it's not clear where Percy thinks the Z is located, but it's almost guaranteed that he'll have to wade through piranha infested waters, skitter over patches of quicksand or sneak in and out of hostile territory. That's all par for the course when it comes to the Amazon.
And of course, he's going to need companions and supplies for the journey, and that means he needs money. So as soon as he wraps up the boundary dispute and gets back to Europe, he starts fundraising. The good news is people are super willing to support him because they're also impressed with his work on the surveying job. I mean, this mission was supposed to take like two years and Percy wrapped it up in one.
This really cements his reputation as an incredible mapmaker and explore all the positive buzz, makes it pretty easy for Percy to get a group of mounted explorers together. And before long, he leads them back into the jungle. He is determined to find the lost city of Z, but the journey doesn't go well at all. In fact, most of his companions get sick or injured. There isn't enough to eat. The insects are just devouring them, and the sweltering heat and incessant rainfall makes everything miserable.
They barely make any progress before Percy and his team have to turn back. They make another disastrous expedition that fails again, and this time, as soon as they emerge from the jungle, they find out that World War One has broken out. Percy immediately enlists, and he spends the next four years fighting on the Western Front. But in 1920, he raises enough money to go looking for the lost city again. At one point during his latest trip, Percy stops by a remote outpost that's deep in the jungle.
He'd managed to get his mail forwarded there, including a letter from his son, Jack. And Jack claims that he had a prophetic dream that one day he's going to walk into an ancient temple just like the one in the lost city of Z. Now, Percy's the sort of guy who takes visions and predictions really seriously, so I've got to imagine this makes him feel more driven than ever. The problem is the rest of the team doesn't feel nearly as optimistic.
They're convinced they're all going to starve or get sick or killed after only a month. They all turn on Pursey and insist that they have to turn back. He wants to keep going, but it's not like he can survive in the jungle alone. So Percy calls it quits and returns to Europe once again. But he still doesn't give up. He does another round of fundraising. And finally, in nineteen twenty five, he is ready to mount his final search for the lost city.
Now, this expedition is going to be different from anything else he's ever done before because he doesn't want to lead dozens of men to their deaths. So he's only heading out with two companions, his son Jack and Jack's friend Rawly Rimmel. The three of them are going to journey into the Amazon jungle alone. And on April 20th, the trail load their gear onto their horses and ride into the wilderness. They figure they're either going to find the ancient city or they're going to die trying.
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Explore the all new twenty twenty one f 150 at four one fifty glasses full size pickups under eighty five hundred pounds. GBW are the owner's manual for important operating instructions. Now back to the story. So Percy and his two companions, Jack and Ralley, are headed into the Amazon jungle. They're not exactly sure where to look for the lost city of Z, but they think they have a general sense of the direction they need to go.
Now, Percy knows better than to try and get through the rainforest alone. So they hire a couple of local porters to accompany them on their first leg of the journey.
But Percy's so anxious to get to the fabled town, he keeps outpacing his guides. One day he spurred his horse so far ahead that when the rest of the team reaches a fork in the path, they have no idea where Percy's gone. They end up setting up camp right at that intersection, hoping Percy will show up before nightfall. But the sun sets and he's still missing, Jack, and really start to worry that something has happened to him.
But there's not much they can do. So an entire night passes.
Everyone's so nervous they don't sleep at all. And when morning comes, all of a sudden Percy trots up on his horse. He tells everyone that he got so excited the night before.
He didn't even notice that they had fallen behind. By the time he realized he was lost, it was too late. So he just slept all alone on the ground.
Now, the worst part of this is Percy doesn't even seem to notice how much danger he was in. I mean, he spent the entire night alone. He didn't have a tent in a territory that's swarming with Jaguars and Cayman's and hostile tribes. And now he still wants to keep up his incredibly aggressive pace. But as optimistic as Percy is, his companions seem less than enthusiastic. I mean, Raleigh has an infected wound on his foot so he can barely walk.
And Jack's pretty irritable in general. But Percy still insists that they're going to succeed. He won't clarify why he's so confident and his guides probably think he's a bit delusional. I mean, the next stop on their journey is a waterway that's literally called the river of death.
The borders aren't too keen on this leg of the journey, and they decide that this is the right time to part ways with the British explorers before they go, Percy, Jack and Raleigh write letters to their loved ones back at home, and the Amazonian agreed to have them delivered. And that is the last time anyone ever hears from them. In his final note to his wife, Nina, Persse says that he knows he might die, but he doesn't think it's likely.
He even writes, quote, By the time this dispatch is printed, we shall have long since disappeared into the unknown. You need have no fear of any failure, end quote.
When Nina receives the letter, it probably eases her mind. I mean, Percy sounds really optimistic. So she waits for the next update for a few weeks, which then becomes a few months, but it never arrives. Nina holds out hope. Maybe he's just too deep in the jungle to get any more letters out.
Even as the months turned to years, Nina refuses to give up. She keeps checking for telegrams every day, thinking any time now, Percy's going to reach out and tell her that he's fine. When the Royal Geographical Society starts talking about declaring him missing and maybe mounting a rescue expedition, she fights them. She insists that nothing is wrong. After all, his first expedition was supposed to be a year and a half long, and Percy hasn't even been gone much longer than that.
I mean, for all anyone knows, Percy might have actually found the lost city of Z. If he's staying with the inhabitants and learning about their culture, the last thing he needs is for some rescue team to come barging in. So Nina keeps insisting that her husband's going to return in triumph and she doesn't want anyone to undermine that by hinting that he's dead or hurt or lost.
But you got to think that she's starting to worry and she doesn't want to doubt her husband in public. So Nina starts inquiring about him through less traditional channels. Specifically, she consults psychics like dozens of them.
One mystic says she can feel Percy's presence in the room, even though he doesn't seem to be bound to his body anymore. The spirit says that he's still alive.
Another day, a different psychic claims that Jack's spirit is floating in the room and he promises that he's going to come back and see his mom again someday. These accounts really resonate with Nina. She figures if her son and husband had passed away, she'd know. Instead, something in her gut tells her to hold on to hope that Percy and Jack and Raleigh are all still out there, regardless of whether they're alive or dead, they have to be somewhere.
So finally, the Royal Geographical Society overrule Nina's objections to mounting a rescue operation. They dispatch this man named George Miller Diet in February nineteen twenty eight, which is about two and a half years after Percy's disappearance. Now, George is really experienced with this sort of adventure. He's also kind of a daredevil like he actually has piloted one of the first ever airplanes and he's trekked through the Amazon a few times in the past.
So he builds a team based on his own assumptions about what makes for a good explorer. That means his companions are all male and they're all single because he believes marriage makes men soft. And in the spring, he leads them into the jungle. It takes a few months, but eventually George makes contact with a tribe called the Jukwa. Then who were some of the last people to ever see Percy alive? And they have bad news. They say an enemy tribe captured and killed him.
The problem is when George ask some follow up questions, his contacts keep changing the details. Like first, they say Percy got beheaded and then they say he was shot. George can tell that he's not getting the full story. And so he decides to keep searching maybe than a Jukwa are lying and Percy's still alive. But even if he's not, at least George can find out what really happened to him before George leaves their land. The tribe's people give him a warning.
The nearby region is Suja territory and the soldiers are incredibly hostile and dangerous. But George ignores their advice and plunges forward, which turns out to be a mistake. A group of Amazonian warriors captured George and his colleagues almost immediately, and he only manages to keep himself alive by promising he's going to give his captors a bunch of gifts in the morning.
Then in the middle of the night, when everyone is asleep, his team sneaks out of the village. They don't stop until they're out of the Amazon completely. And when George gets back to England, he insists that an unspecified Amazonian tribe killed Percy, which is a claim that you have to take with a grain of salt. I mean, George was skeptical of the news was accounts before he reached Suja territory, and he didn't exactly find new evidence to change his mind.
It kind of seems like he just said Percy was dead to save face. Either way, nobody is any closer to finding out what really happened there. Not even 100 percent confident Percy's in trouble. A few people seriously entertain the idea that Percy's in the lost city. Either way, expedition after expedition plunges into the jungle, hoping to find Percy's team or at least their bodies. Now, record keeping wasn't great at the time, and there's no list of exactly who went looking for them.
But we know a bunch of would be rescuers never made it out of the jungle alive. Roughly a hundred people and some of them die in a really gruesome ways. They can track tropical diseases or get murdered by indigenous tribes or starve. But a bunch just disappear without a trace exactly like Percy did in 1934.
The Brazilian government stops giving people permission to go looking for Percy. I mean, it's been nine years. Tons of people have died and still nobody has a clue how his journey ended. It looks like Percy's mystery will never be solved, but that all changes. In 1951. That year, an Amazonian tribe called the Apollo actually confesses that they killed Percy and they even show a Brazilian government official his skeleton to prove it.
You'd think that that would settle the matter, but it doesn't, because at some point, a member of London's Royal Anthropological Institute examines the bones and this person notices that the teeth in the skull don't match Percy's dental records. Plus, the skeleton is about six inches shorter than it should be. So they conclude that these bones couldn't have come from Percy Fosset. Once the institute releases their findings, the Kylo Pollos admit that they didn't kill Percy. The skeleton was one of their elders.
They lied to discourage more search and rescue teams from venturing into the rainforest and dying on a fruitless mission.
And OK, this is a wild length to go to to keep people out of the jungle.
You got to wonder, like, did they really lie in order to save explorers lives? Or did they have some other reason to want people to stay away because it is possible piracy was on the right track? Some people still think he went missing because he found the lost city of Z and they say they have a prophecy to prove it. Coming up, the truth about the lost city. Already broke your New Year's resolution. Maybe it's time to try something new, that's where Blue Apron comes in with recipes that are chef created and nutritionists approved.
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And last up to 48 hours in just one dose. NorTech Audette is a prescription medication for the acute, not preventive, treatment of migraine and adults don't take. If allergic to NorTech Audette, the most common side effect was nausea. For more information, including important safety information, patient information and prescribing information, visit NorTech Dotcom. That's and you are tech dotcom. Talk to your doctor about NorTech today. Now back to the story. There are a couple of reasons that it's so hard to say what happened to Percy Jack and.
First, there's a wealth of misinformation and lies surrounding the circumstances of the disappearance, most of which come from Percy himself. Remember, he was terrified that some other explorer would get to the lost city before him. So he fudged the details in his journals and letters to make sure nobody could know what he discovered about its location. We don't even know where he was headed when he vanished. But based on a few hints in his letters and testimony from the last people who saw him alive, we can make an educated guess as near as anyone can tell.
He probably believed that the lost city of Z was somewhere in the wrong could were mountains in Brazil. Those mountains are legendary among mystics and occultist. I mean, local legends say that the range is inhabited by these mysterious, almost magical creatures. Sometimes the region's indigenous people stumble on footprints and handprints that look identical to humans, except each has six fingers and toes. Plus, there is this lake at the base of the mountains called Lagoa and Cantata, which translates to Enchanted Lagoon.
According to legend, nothing can live in its waters. No fish, no snakes, no bugs, nothing. And the locals refuse to swim or take boats out because some kind of supernatural force pulls every living thing into its depths.
If you were to somehow cross the water, you'd reach a cave entrance that leads deep into the wrong Catorce. Allegedly, monsters live in the cavern, pale skinned, six fingered creatures that come from another world.
And there's a legend that any person who sets foot in the wrong or tunnels instantly disappears.
So maybe that's why Percy vanished because he got swept away in the wrong or caves, except there's just one problem. This is open wilderness. There's no city in the Rockies or mountains, but maybe the lost city of Z doesn't exist in the physical world at all. Percy thought that that was a possibility. See, before he began exploring the Amazon, Percy was a student of a mystic and a psychic named Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. She liked to go by HP B and she basically founded modern spiritualism HP BBs teachings center around these powerful spiritual beings who can literally shape the course of the universe.
They have abilities like mediumship, fortunetelling and prophecy. Supposedly, students and followers flock to these mystical leaders and when they attain a certain amount of power, they form communities called white lodges.
HPD followers say that Atlantis used to be a white lodge and so was ancient Egypt. Since South America has pyramids that look a lot like the ones in Egypt, a lot of spiritualist figure, there's an undiscovered white lodge somewhere there. To Pursey believed the lost city of Z was a white lodge. He shared a few of his theories in this spiritualist journal called the Occult Review. At one point, he says it might contain, quote, the treasures of the invisible world.
It sounds like he's hinting that the missing town isn't a physical city at all, it might be more of like a portal, something that can ferry you beyond the Earth to this invisible world of the spiritual realm. So if Percy found this portal in the or caves, maybe he went through it. That could explain why he and Jack appeared to the mediums outside their bodies because they were transformed into something that wasn't quite human.
And that's not just my interpretation. In 1968, this guru named Udoh Lychner declared that Percy had walked through a portal into another universe and was going to lead his followers through the same gateway. He creates a compound right near the mouth of the Chicago River, which is where Percy probably disappeared. And he predicts that in nineteen eighty two the earth is going to be destroyed. But he and his followers will escape the apocalypse by fleeing into the wrong door caves and going through the portal, which obviously didn't happen.
But Ðuro isn't the only doomsday prophet who's zeroed in on the wrong khutor mountains. In the past century, tons of cults and spiritualist movements have sprung up in the region, and a bunch of them say that Percy never died. He found the lost city and became some kind of spiritual being that dwells in the white lodge. Someday he's going to emerge from the caverns with other worldly knowledge and change the fate of humanity. Now, I know all of that sounds really out there, but there's no way to argue against it, because even today, we still don't know what's inside the rocket or caves.
Part of that is because they're super hard to get to. The local tribe hasn't had much contact with the outside world and Brazilian authorities are trying to keep it that way. So you can't enter their territory without a very expensive permit. That's notoriously difficult to get. That hasn't stopped some people from making their way into the caverns. One time, a Brazilian reporter apparently led a whole TV news crew into the tunnels. They recorded every step into the darkness through the winding passageways.
But then all of a sudden the cameras and lights all abruptly failed for no reason. The reporter and his crew had to retreat.
Later on, around two thousand eight, a blogger tried to follow in his footsteps. But just before he could go into the caverns, the indigenous people demanded he leave their territory. He complied, and that was probably for the best because, according to legend, the other local tribes are so protective of the cave they'll kill anyone who sees it secrets. Another legend says the indigenous people don't kill visitors. They just never leave the OR caverns a lie. The myth doesn't say what happens to them, but it sounds consistent with the idea that the caves have some kind of portal to another world.
Which does explain why Percy and his crew and so many people who went looking for them seemed to disappear without a trace. After all, it's not that ridiculous to think Percy could have actually found the lost city of said he really did know what he was talking about when it came to mapping and surveying.
He was instrumental in mapping South America and he surveyed thousands of miles of the jungle. The Royal Geographical Society gave him their most prestigious honor for his work.
Plus, his theories about the lost city weren't totally baseless. Four decades after his disappearance, researchers kept discovering these manmade mounds in the jungle. They couldn't tell who made them or even why, but it seemed like there had been a civilization in the area in 2018.
A team of archaeologists decided to solve the mystery. They compile all these satellite images, and that's when they realize there is an ancient, forgotten city deep in the Amazon jungle. It's in Mato Grosso, Brazil, which is exactly where many people believe Percy was exploring this forgotten metropolis might have been home to one million residents.
And I mean, for context at the time, that was more than the populations of London, Paris and Beijing, combined with the inhabitants, all disappeared sometime around 1500 A.D. in that word disappeared. Could be literal because researchers haven't found any mass graves like you'd expect if they just died. Now, this might just be because the jungle is dense and full of scavengers, but a million bodies just vanishing. I mean, it's kind of hard to believe there's still a lot we don't know about this ancient civilization or what happened to it.
The timing suggests the people might have been wiped out by the first wave of deadly European diseases. But again, it's weird that there aren't any graves or that there wasn't a single survivor to tell the story of what happened.
I mean, we don't even know what this city was called. It's all just really strange. But the point is, Percy was right. There was an ancient lost city. So maybe he's right about the other parts of his theory to. Maybe when smallpox and measles started to sweep through the region, the people in the city fled to the wrong khutor mountains, all one million people disappeared into the caves or got swept up into the White Lodge. After all, where else could they have gone?
Imagine you wake up one day and every person in Austin is just, poof, gone. And then afterward, nobody ever even mentions these missing people. Nobody has theories about where they are or where they went or what happened to them.
It becomes this unmentionable thing. The white lodge idea sounds pretty outlandish, but I'm having a hard time coming up with any rational scenario where this would just happen. One thing is clear. The wrong Utah mountains hold some secret that has yet to be uncovered. And until we solve the mystery, explorers are going to keep disappearing into the chasms where they'll encounter death or maybe enlightenment. Thanks for listening. I'll be back next week with another episode for more information on Pursey Fosset, I found the lost city of Z, A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann.
Especially helpful to my research, you can find all episodes of Supernatural in all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify. And if you like this show, follow at Sparkasse on Facebook and Instagram and app podcast network on Twitter. Supernatural stars Ashley Flowers and is a Spotify original from Park asked its executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Carrie Murphy with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Erin Larson. This episode of Supernatural was written by Angela Jorgensen with writing assistants by Kate Gallagher and Drew Cole, fact checking by Annibale and research by Mikki Taylor.
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