Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Lost City of Z

I just happened to pick up this book in the local library: “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession”. Its about the English colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, who dedicated years to explore and to map much of the uncharted Amazon is the far reaches of Bolivia and Brazil. Often considered one of the most extraordinary explorers of the 20th century, his adventures mirrored the modern day Indiana Jones and inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s bestseller “The Lost World” (1912). His eight and final expedition and his sensational disappearance made headlines around the world.
His trips were sponsored by the British Royal Geographical Society and his meticulous note keeping were instrumental in mapping much of the unknown parts of Western Amazonia.

Who was Percy Fawcett?

Percy Fawcett began his career as a map maker and explorer, cataloging the disputed border between Bolivia and Brazil. He made a name for himself by being unafraid to venture away from the rivers and move inland. He adopted a policy of peace with the native Indians and gradually grew to respect them immensely.
Percy Fawcett
Map of Percy Fawcett’s Expeditions: source

The book focuses on Fawcett’s expeditions in the lower Xingu, a southern tributary of the Amazon. Here Fawcett believed he would discover a great lost city which he named “Z”.

El Dorado - the mythical city of gold

For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it. In pursuit of the legend, Spanish conquistadors and numerous others for years searched Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Guyana and northern Brazil for the city and its supposed fabulous king. In the course of these explorations, much of northern South America, including the Amazon River, was mapped. By the beginning of the 19th century most people dismissed the existence of the city as a myth.

While earlier expeditions across much of South and Central America were unsuccessful in locating this city of gold, Percy Fawcett was convinced he could. Getting an assignment from the Royal Geographical Society to map the remote still unknown regions of Amazonia in Bolivia and Brazil was a perfect opportunity to fulfill his dreams. In 1925, Fawcett, along with his son Jack and Jack's best friend Raleigh, disappeared into the jungle after declaring that they knew where the Lost City of Z was located.

In the next seven decades, scores of explorers had tried and failed to retrace Fawcett’s path. Some nearly died of starvation, while others retreated in the face of tribes that attacked with poisoned arrows. Then there were those adventurers who had gone to find Fawcett and, instead, disappeared along with him, swallowed by the same forests in the Mato Grosso region which travellers had long ago christened the “green hell.”

Fawcett's Expeditions - 1906 to 1914

See the Official Royal Geographical Society Map by Percy Fawcett (Copyrighted)

Click on Thumbnail Image to View 

 Map of The Final Expedition

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