House of the Tiger King
A Jungle ObsessionBook - 2004
In 1572, the Spanish Conquistadors stormed the Inca stronghold of Vilcabamba in Peru, searching for great golden treasure, only to find the city deserted, burned, and already stripped of its wealth. A legend says that the Incas had retreated deep into the jungle, where they built another magnificent city in an inaccessible quarter of the cloud-forest. And for more than four centuries explorers and adventurers, archaeologists and warrior-priests, have searched for the gold and riches of the Incas, and this lost city of Paititi, known by the local Machiguenga tribe as 'The House of the Tiger King'.
After the lost city obsession had gnawed away at Tahir Shah for almost a decade, he could stand it no more. He put together an expedition and set out into Peru's Madre de Dios jungle, the densest cloud forest on Earth. He teams up with a Pancho, a Machiguenga warrior who asserts that in his youth he came upon a massive series of stone ruins deep in the jungle. Pancho's ambition was to leave the jungle and visit a 'live' bustling city so the two men make a pact: if Pancho takes Shah to Paititi, then he will take Pancho to the Peruvian capital.
Here is the tale of Shah's remarkable adventure to find the greatest lost city of the Americas, and the treasure of the Incas. Along the way he considers others who have spent decades in pursuit of lost cities, and asks why anyone would find it necessary to mount such a quest at all.