The interior of Brazil’s Mato Grosso is perhaps less known than any other area in the world wrote American researcher and explorer Harold Wilkins in 1946. Between the headwaters of the Xingu and Araquaia, two large tributaries of the Amazon, there are vast swaths of jungle in which white men dare not enter. One can imagine these lands hiding almost anything. Much has been written about ruined cities and civilizations, white Indians and prehistoric monsters. One legend circulating among the local Indians is of a mapinguari that roams the forests - a hairy, nearly two meter tall creature, howling and stinking. It is also said that giant anacondas longer than 20 meters lurk in the waters.
In 1925, English traveler and explorer Colonel Fawcett braved this green hell, a man who knew the wilds of South America better than most. He believed a lost marble city of the ancient civilization of Atlantis to be hidden here. He hacked through the jungle along the Indian River to the Rio Kalpala Kuleune. There, Indians told him about temple ruins deep in the jungle and towers topped with stone balls that radiated a clear, cold light during the night. A light whose origin is unknown by science today. Fawcett then went further east towards the mysterious city, across the lands of the dangerous Xavante Indians, where he and his team disappeared without a trace. To this day no one knows what happened to them. Several expeditions have tried to discover over the years what became of Fawcett, but none have ever succeeded; only more have disappeared. Did they fall victim to the Indians?
Green Hell no more
We flew to Brazil with the same goal. To explore and find what Colonel Fawcett was looking for - the lost city of an advanced civilization. But right from the start we had bad luck. The airlines lost all our important equipment for exploring and filming. Yet we didn't let this stop us.
We started in Cuiaba, capital city of Mato Grosso. From here, Colonel Fawcett began his famous expedition into the jungles of Mato Grosso, to discover an ancient civilization. In the past, this was the last outpost of civilization before the land of wild Indians and impenetrable jungle forest began. Today, it’s a city like all others: full of cars, people, and chaos, something completely different from 100 years ago.
In 80 years, not only Cuiaba but also Mato Grosso has completely changed. We were expecting a difficult journey through uninhabited and unexplored jungle, as Mato Grosso had been described in all articles and books of the last century. Instead, we drove through an empty and flat countryside of fields and pastures, sometimes overgrown with bushes and low trees. Stretching to infinity, the jungle had disappeared. The people had cut down all the trees to make farmland. Civilization had ruthlessly penetrated even here. Everything is fenced pastures, with paths intersecting between farms – fasendami. To imagine that the stone ruins of an ancient city still lay hidden was almost impossible. Nevertheless, we intended to explore not only on the ground but also from the air. If there were any traces of stone structures, they would be easily visible far above the ground. With no money to rent a helicopter, we used a powered paraglider.
The jungle begins far to the north of Mato Grosso, where the Indians of the Xavante tribe live. White men are not allowed here unless you obtain permission from the Indians. Today, unlike 50 years ago, you don’t have to plod on foot with a machete in your hand and packs on your backs into a wilderness full of rocks and waterfalls. You can travel by jeep, although the road is dangerous and difficult in places.
Where would we get thousands of dollars? We decided not to apply for an official permit. Instead we found a local Brazilian tour guide in the town of Cmapinopolis who knew the son of the local Kasik - a Xavante village chief. And for 250 dollars for the chief’s son and a lot of gifts for all of the villagers, the tour guide was able to arrange a visit.
We met with the Xavante chief and all the villagers. An official welcoming ceremony was held, with an exchange of gifts followed by speeches and dancing.
We were finally able to discuss our mission with the chief. Supposedly there were no ruins of lost cities to be found, but we learned of a mysterious lake, shrouded in many legends and mysteries.
The lake Lagoa Encantada (Enchanted Lake) is reputed to be bottomless and dead. No one has been able to measure its depths. Indians are scared to swim in it because of an unknown force which will pull them down to their deaths, never to return. Apparently, there is a "portal" to the world of the gods in the lake.
With help of Brazilian divers from Cuiaba, Fábio Luiz D'Almeida, Carlos Manoel Ferreira, and high spirited Marcelo Barreto Borges, we decided to uncover lake´s mysteries.
Gods living in the lake supposedly come out of the lake during the night as balls of light that fly through the night sky. From our modern perspective, it seemed all other UFO stories. Yet, who are the gods, if not aliens?
What are the divers going to discover under the surface? Will they pass through the gate of the gods? Will they even return?
“It wasn’t pleasant,” told us Carlos after he surfaced. “Visibility was very low, but the lake is not bottomless. We reached the bottom at 25 meters. Life also exists. We saw small fish, not many, but they are there. Otherwise, we didn‘t encounter anything mysterious”.
The secrets of Lake Encantada, shrouded in old Indian legends, were secrets no more. But not quite. The mystery continued. The mysterious lights that supposedly fly at night out of the lake go to a giant cave nearby. Through this cave, a tunnel leads to the underground realm of Ibez, which is something like a legendary Agharta. Apparently, a very old civilization dwells there, and, according to some, they are the descendants of ruined Atlantis, while others believe them to be aliens.
Tunnel to Agharti?
The chief told us that some years ago his predecessor went to the cave and down a corridor. He came to an underground lake above which a brightly lit object hovered. The light from Lake Encantada. The Indians believe that this light protects them. Local ufologists are convinced that this is a means of transport for the aliens who live underground. Today, the underground tunnel is blocked after a few meters. The mysterious inhabitants of the subterranean realm want to discourage unwanted visitors.
The Indians are afraid to enter the cave, but for us it was a challenge. We had a chance to get to the bottom of this mystery. Before we would come back to the cave with our speleological equipment and lights, we wanted to do some research.
From the editor of a local TV station in Barra do Garcas Genito Santos we learned that we weren't the first. They had also been interested in this mystery and had bribed the Indians for access to the cave. He showed us their footage from their search. Just before the pile of collapsed rock, there was a corridor leading to the left. It seemed as if it could also lead to the mysterious lake of light. But after a few meters, their equipment started to fail. The batteries for the camera and light suddenly went dead and all their devices stopped working. A typical event that occurs when examining paranormal phenomena, as if "something" wanted to stop them. They got scared and retreated. But we wanted to get to the lake. The next day we would come back with our equipment and try to penetrate the realm of the unknown inhabitants, if they existed.
However, we didn’t anticipate that our presence in the Indian reservation would cause so much commotion. Local tom toms promptly went to other Xavante villages and told them that we were here and had brought gifts. White visitors are rich, so why should they not pay them as well? So one of our cars was attacked on a deserted road and money demanded.
Either we had to pay 3000 dollars or they would take our cars and equipment. We wouldn't be the first expedition to end up like this. I have learned about expedition AUTAN of James Lynch, who in 1996 experienced something similar.
We had to escape. Catching them by surprise we raced away. We still wanted to come back and negotiate an agreement to allow us to continue our exploration of the cave near the lake.
Unfortunately, a war had begun between our hosts at the village we visited and the other tribes. Luckily, they didn't kill each other as in the times of Colonel Fawcett, but it was still violent. The Xavante Indians remains faithful to their reputation as a dangerous warrior tribe. Exploring the cave was out of the question.
Ataide Ferreira, a leading ufologist in Mato Grosso, persuaded us that there were more tunnels in Brazil leading to the underground kingdom. One of the entrances was at the beginning of the Roncador Mountains, where in fact, Colonel Fawcett had been headed. Only a few people know that he also dealt in mysticism and with the occult, and that he knew the missing city was hidden underground. He was actually searching for underground tunnels, yet only his family knew about this.
Fawcett believed that the creatures who lived underground were the descendants of Atlantis. Today, however, Brazilian ufologists, including Ataide, are convinced that the underworld inhabitants are actually aliens. Most UFO sightings have occurred in the Roncador Mountains. Ataide’s friend, Genito Santos, showed us a picture he painted based on his own sighting in Roncador. With his wife, he watched a flying saucer fly over his car, heading towards one of the cave entrances. And in these areas, stone discs shaped just like flying saucers can be found.
Alien with six toes
These aliens, who settled the planet's interior, supposedly have big heads and six digits on the ends of their limbs. Ataidy showed us a picture of a mummy of one of these aliens that was supposedly found here...he also knows about a cave where you can find footprints with six digits on the walls of the cave.
The picture of the mummy with the large head didn’t convince us, but we were interested in the cave. Mainly, Honza, our archeologist, who was looking for any tangible traces of a yet unknown, developed civilization. The cave was called Gruta do Pezinho, located in a military zone near Barra do Garcas. Getting permission to enter the zone was worth it though.
The local engravings are remarkable and unique. They captured the prints of both small and large feet, with three, four and six toes. The insides are very smooth, almost as if the rock was softened, the prints made and then solidified again. What purpose did this place serve in the distant past? What meaning do these alien prints have?
The last report from Fawcett to London right before his disappearance contained a warning that they might not hear from him for many years. All entraces to the city of the dead are supposedly guarded by a special race of bat Indian, the Morcegos - small, hairy and dark-skinned cannibals who live in the holes of the cliffs and caves in the yet unexplored and unknown areas of the Roncador Mountains. In Cuiaba, Fawcett was told that no one had ever come back alive from these mountains, and nobody even knew the location of the mountains. Even as recent as 50 years ago, the mountains were not recorded on any maps and believed to be just a legend. But today the Roncador Mountains are famous especially among ufologists. Many sightings of UFO are reported from there. Roncador is situated east of river Rio Xingu.
It is a large mountain of many rocks and valleys running over many tens of kilometers. Also here, there are strange lights which appear regularly, the ideal place to make contact with aliens. Mystics seek out places like this for meditation. The most interesting area is Portal do Roncador, a massive rock, resembling a mesa from the Lost World of Sir Conan Doyle. Tunnels to the underground city should be hidden around the mountain. This is where Colonel Fawcett was headed.
Pavel flew with his paraglide above the mountain looking for interesting sites to explore. At the top of the mountain there is a bizarre formation, a rock needle called the Finger of God. Supposedly, a cave, in which local people are afraid to go, is located at the formation. A certain star constellation opens the gate to the underground kingdom. Is Pavel going to see any holes in the earth?
He came back with good news, there are many openings in the rock and all kinds of cracks - plenty for us to explore. We climb up the overgrown slope, through the foliage, over rocks. We’re not very careful, only in sandals. This proves almost fatal as we nearly step on a poisonous snake jararaca, bushmaster snake.
Guardians of entrences
Not far from the Finger of God we found one cave. According to local legend, the entrances to the underground cities are guarded by the dangerous Morcegos Indians. They sleep during the day in the caves and only come out at night in the jungle. Their eyes are sensitive to the sun, but they have a sense of smell better than dogs and can smell intruders over long distances. Although they are armed only with clubs, they are extremely dangerous due to the use of meta-physical techniques during battle. Anthropologists do not believe in their existence because such a tribe has never been discovered.
We stretched through the gap, about 30 meters into the rock, but it is getting narrower. A draft reveals that it continues. It was a cave which is mentioned in many sources. This is the cave that supposedly leads through the portal into another world. The stars weren't in the right alignment because the gate to the other world didn't open for us. On the other hand, we have a wonderful view of the surroundings from the Finger of God.
As night falls we try to enter another cave, looking for a tunnel to the long sought after underground kingdom. Here, we might encounter mysterious guardians – Morcegos Indians, who come out of the cave at night.
But the entry to the depths of the earth was guarded by a very different type of underground guardians - wild Brazilian killer bees.
We thought that they wouldn't notice us at night and we would be able to sneak past them in silence, but we didn't fool them. They began a furious attack and we beat a quick retreat.
We encountered similar resistance at the next cave. Here again we were attacked by some kind of yellow jackets. Our hair was full of them and we got some stings.
Something similar happened to some cave surveyors a few years ago before they investigated the caves discovered by Richard Shaver. This cave led to the underground world, supposedly inhabited by ancient civilizations. American Charles Marcoux was unexpectedly attacked during his survey of the cave’s entrance by a swarm of bees and died of cardiac arrest. Everybody then remembered Shaver’s warning that the underground dwellers use every means available to protect their world against uninvited visitors. Were the wild bees that attacked us guarding the underground world? We haven’t met the bat Morcegos Indians anywhere. Actually...Ataide has shown us one. Or rather...a picture of one. It was a little creature with bat wings. In our opinion, to small to be a human being. Supposedly, farmers found the dead body in the jungle, and it is now in the museum in Uberaba. We wanted to see it, but the museum owner wouldn't agree.
Still unknown creature Troa
Therefore, we tried to get some information directly from the Xavante Indians, who are apparently the only ones who have contact with the Morcegos Indians. When we showed the picture of the little monster to the chief, he just shook his head. That's not a Morcegos he told us, but he didn't want to give us any specifics. He couldn’t talk about them. It was a tribal secret.
Finally, our guide Anelucy, a cave surveyor from Chapada, explained the mystery to us. Morcegos are really diminutive Indians with white skin, but without wings. They are called bats because they live in the dark and hate the sun. They hide from white men, and that's why there is no scientific record of them. The creature in the picture is something else, a so-called "Troa". A dangerous animal with the head of a monkey, wings of a bat and lives in caves. At night, it wanders through the jungle making strange noises: tru, tru, tru. When it attacks people, it pierces the body. The only protection is to jump in water.
So, we calmed down. At least there's no shortage of water to jump in to, but the "Troa" failed to make an appearance.
And any traces of unknown underground civilizations?
In some caves, there were drawings on the walls and domes, which looked as if they had been artificially made and carved in the rock...flat walls...and flat ceilings, and tunnels leading from them. We noticed them, for example, at one natural pool at Lagoa Azul on the edge of a mile-long sandstone corridor, Aroe Jari. We found many entries to the underground here, but it didn‘t look as if we were the first to be here. Most likely, these caves have been searched a long time ago. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything of interest."
Despite this, we found something that no white man had ever seen before. Our guide on an Indian reservation Parabubure where white men are not allowed showed us a cave that has never been studied and does not even have a name. Actually, not a cave, but a sort of niche. But that doesn’t change the fact that its walls were covered with strange symbols. Finally, something! Something no one had ever documented before or even seen. Our archeologist, Jan Hrdina, was very excited. He located seventeen different symbols, mostly of a circular shape, inside of which were lines and circles. Many times, each symbol was different from each other only in the small details. The symbols were very reminiscent of the pictograms discovered on pillars of a ruined city in the jungle in the 18th Century by Portuguese conquistadors and raiders.
We made one more big discovery. There is an especially sacred lake on the Xavante Indian reservation, the Fervedouro. When you step into its waters, a mysterious force pushes your body up and won’t allow you to sink under the water. The Indians believe that their gods are protecting them from drowning. We also tried it and were surprised how buoyant we were. We took a bit of water along to analyze. Perhaps it is dense, the same as in the Dead Sea.
However, we found something completely different and unexpected. At the bottom of the lake was some dangerous quicksand, which could devour anything...even humans. Above it was a current of water pushing everything up, preventing anyone from sinking into the sand. How was this possible? It is the current of a strong spring coming from the sand. Interesting, but nothing supernatural.
At the end of our journey, we celebrated with our new Brazilian friends that our fate was better than that experienced by Colonel Fawcett. Unlike him, we did not disappear in the green hell but returned alive and healthy and with new discoveries. After a joyous celebration with a bottle of brandy, we were all a little tired but satisfied.