Amazon Explorer Who Disappeared in 1925
Percy Fawcett, Amazon Explorer
Percy Fawcett First Expedition to South America
Facwett And His Many Expeditions to the Amazon
Born Percival Harrison Fawcett in 1867 U.K. Hr is better known as Percy Fawcett and was a noted British geographer, cartographer, archaeologist and explorer of South America. His father, Edward Boyd Fawcett, was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), and his older brother Edward Douglas Fawcett (1866-1960) was a mountain climber.
Fawcett joined the Royal Geographical Society in 1901 (RGS) to study surveying and map-making. He had been working for the British Secret Service in North Africa when he promoted to Major in 1906. But, the military was not uppermost in his thoughts. He wanted to be an explorer and discover and map the world. It wouldn't be long before he was offered an expedition to South America by the Royal Geographical Society. From that time forward,, Fawcett would have seven exploration trips to South America.
Fawcett made his first expedition to South America in 1906. He arrived in Laz Bolivia in June of that year.
In 1907 on his second expedition, he claimed he shot a 62-foot Anaconda and reported other unknown animals such as cat-like dogs with double noses. And he claimed to find an Apazacua Spider that is poisonous and to has killed several locals.
In his 1908 Expedition, Fawcett traced the source of the Rio Verde (Brazil) River. Fawcett and his companions faced many dangerous situations. He became obsessed with finding the lost city he believed existed in Brazil.
Fawcett encountered rapids he was unprepared for on the Maidi River. The crew would lose one boat loaded with supplies leaving them extremely low on food and equipment. He was faced with marching on foot, so he decided to bury some equipment and sixty gold coins to make their load lighter. Years later, stories circulated that he had buried gold coins, and that, of course, brought out treasure hunters. However, Fawcett had reclaimed those gold coins on his return trip, so there was a treasure to be found.
As they continued walking following the river, they noticed the water that had been clear was now bitter and no fish. They had marched some ten days with their food gone. Fawcett decided to go over the Ricardo Franco Hills to find food. But just getting up the canyon was difficult. It was taking two hours to go four miles.
They arrived at the top of Coblaga
Dangerous Rapids, Lost Equipment
Proceeding up the Madidi River, they encountered dangerous unexpected rapids losing food and equipment. Fawcett decided to bury some material to lighten their carrying load. He also buried sixty gold coins for his return trip. The most crucial thing they lost was the gifts for the Indians. The Indians always expected these and it would play a critical problem.
Madidi River Rapids, Rafts,
Reaching the plateau on Ricardo Franco Hills
Desperate for food, Fawcett knew he couldn't go back the same way but had to forage. Reaching the plateau, which was above the treetops of the jungle was an area almost isolated in the heavily treed wilderness. Fawcett would later tell his excellent friend Conan Doyle about the plateau. Doyle would use this picturesque description in his book, The Lost World.
Lost World by Conan Doyle
Fawcett discovers Manuscript 512
While on this expedition, Fawcett discovered two things. First, he discovered double-nosed dogs, and then he somehow discovered Manuscript 512. The crew had never seen dogs like this and believed perhaps it made them better bloodhounds. The Manuscript was written by an explorer, Joao da Gwimaraes in 1753. In the Manuscript, he describes in detail a city of arches, statues, and a temple. Unfortunately, he did not give a specific location. Today, that document is housed in the National Library in Rio de Janeiro. The discovery of a lost city would further drive Fawcett to search for this elusive city he believed existed and named "Z."
World War I
At the beginning of World War I, Fawcett returned to Britain for duty even though he was fifty years old. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel and received the Distinguished Service Order. He retired from military service and was still determined to return to South America to find his lost city he now called: Z". He did return back in 1920 but fell ill and had to return home.
Fawcett's Final Expedition
In 1925 Fawcett, his son Jack and Jack's best friend left for another expedition. Being experienced, Fawcett took only minimal equipment and food consisting of canned goods, powdered milk, guns, a sextant, and a chronometer. They were never heard from again. Fawcett did send a letter to his wife saying all is well, but if he shouldn't return, send no rescue party. There are many scenarios of what happened to them.
Some say the Indians killed them, and others felt they ran out of food and died of starvation or were lost. Many searches were conducted over the years, and when some bones were found, after analysis, they were determined not to be Fawcett's.
On one research expedition in 1996, Rene Delmotte and James Lynch were stopped by Indians and detained them for days. They were finally released but lost the $30,000 equipment they had.
The Kalapalos Indians denied knowing anything about the disappearance of Fawcett and his men. Fawcett's wife continued throughout her life, believing Fawcett still lived. An explorer, Henry Costia who had been with Fawcett on previous expeditions felt that Fawcett had good relations with the Indians and he thought it was lack of food and exhaustion that killed them
It will probably always remain a mystery, but the jungle is perhaps too threatening to continue to search. He never did find his lost city but he certainly tried.
Many believe that the Book and movie, Indiana Jones was based on Fawcett and his expeditions.