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The 5 Most Popular Myths of the Amazon Rainforest

Myths of the amazon rainforest.

The lush layers of the Peruvian Amazon not only house its rich biodiversity but also conceal a tapestry of legends and myths of the Amazon rainforest that have thrived for centuries, untouched by time.

Join us as we peel back these layers, inviting modern myth-seekers to immerse themselves in captivating narratives echoing through the verdant canopies.

Peru Amazon Trips unravels captivating tales of the Peruvian Amazon for your knowing.

These are not mere stories; they are portals to a world where magic unfolds with every step, stirring the hearts of generations past, present, and future.

As night falls, moonlit clearings come alive with mythical creatures dancing to the rhythm of the jungle. The allure of these enchanting encounters transcends the ordinary, weaving tales that linger in the memories of those fortunate enough to witness them.

Many mythological tales take place during the night in the Amazon.

The “Yacumama”

In the depths of an impenetrable forest, lush with vegetation, there existed a little-known lake for those living in the vicinity of that place.

It seemed to be exceedingly tranquil, peaceful, essentially an oasis of serenity; unfortunately, it was quite the opposite.

Those who had encountered it asserted this, knowing that it had a “mother” who diligently guarded the place, ruthlessly pursuing anyone unfortunate enough to fish in its waters.

One day, a fisherman arrived, following the course of a stream that led him to the lake. At first sight, he felt joy, believing he was the first to discover this forgotten lagoon, anticipating a miraculous catch of abundant fish.

Regrettably, it was not so. Upon entering the lake, he immediately found a spot to cast his net. Despite being intrigued by the water’s movement, he continued rowing confidently. However, the continuous rocking of his canoe remained a concern until he felt something emerging from the lake’s depths.

Serpent-like Creature

Swiftly, he turned to investigate, and what did he see? A fearsome head, suspended almost a meter above the water’s surface, moving its monstrous figure with erect ears and protruding its pointed tongue.

He hastily turned his canoe, plunged his oar deep into the water for better propulsion, and in those critical moments, he noticed the shoreline plants closing in as if following some mysterious design. Terrified, he turned to see the creature pursuing him at full speed.

In that moment of horror, he raised his eyes to the sky and cried out to the Almighty God, convinced that he could do nothing to escape this aquatic monster alive.

Miraculously, the Lord heard his plea. Four wild pigs, inexplicably falling into the lake, fought and bit each other ferociously, creating a tremendous noise.

The terrible commotion frightened the serpent, none other than the dreaded Yacumama, who swiftly submerged back into its lake.

Inexplicably, the aquatic plants returned to their original position, and all became calm. Even the wild pigs escaped upon seeing the horrifying Yacumama.

The fisherman, observing all this in astonishment, wasted no time and distanced himself from this fateful lake before the Yacumama could block his path again.

Unfortunately, he left without a single fish, as the “mother” of that lagoon refused to give up its pacos, sardines, sábalos, bujurquis, lizas, and gamitanas.

It is said that when an ordinary person approaches the shores and ventures into these enchanted lakes, a sudden infernal storm is unleashed, causing the boat to capsize, and the person inevitably drowns.

The Yacumama lives underneath the Amazon water corpses waiting for its victims.
The Yacumama lives underneath the Amazon water corpses waiting for its victims.


Probably the best known myth of the Peruvian jungle. Tunche, which was an indigenous expression meaning ‘fear’, is the name given to this being that roams the Peruvian jungle at night.

According to local lore, the Tunche is believed to be the ghost of a tormented man, now demonized and roaming silently through the exotic jungle trails. Its eerie whistle, heard when it approaches solitary travelers, is considered an omen, signaling impending death.

Despite varied interpretations—some perceive it as a bird, others as a witch or an evil spirit—the Tunche remains unseen. Its distinctive whistle, “fin… fin… fin…,” echoing through the jungle or near dwellings, evokes fear and superstition.

Responding to the Tunche’s whistle is strictly cautioned against, as it is believed to invite the creature, resulting in a gruesome and unimaginable death. Mocking or insulting the Tunche can intensify its attacks persistently, leading to panic, madness, or death.

Survivors of Tunche encounters are said to lose their reason, driven to madness by the presence or whistle of this mythical being. While the true nature of the Tunche remains uncertain, common elements in various versions suggest it is a mythical seducer, capable of assuming any form to lead people astray in the Peruvian jungle.

The fate of Tunche’s victims is ambiguous—whether they are left to perish from hunger or are devoured by other creatures, or if the Tunche itself consumes them. In the mysterious realm of the Peruvian jungle, the Tunche serves as a reminder that evil can manifest in diverse and unsettling forms.

It is said that the tunche takes any shape in order to captivate its victims

It is said that the tunche takes any shape in order to captivate its victims

The Ayamama (The Potoo Bird)

In the dark nights or under the moonlight, some little birds in the Amazon rainforest sing in a way more resembling a sad lament:

“Ayamaman Huishchurhuarca”

(“Dear mother dead, we have been abandoned”)

Legend tells of two children transformed into these birds – a boy and a girl.

Their mother’s death left them orphaned. Initially loved by their father, everything changed when a new woman entered their lives. This stepmother dominated their father, treating him like a slave. Neglected and despised, the children endured harsh labor. The situation worsened when the stepmother had a child of her own.

On one occasion, after a meal, she said to her husband, “Listen, we are very poor, we are going to have more children, and we won’t be able to live like this. We must get rid of these lazy children of yours. What are they good for? Only to eat.” The man, faced with such a proposition, protested, but then agreed, as he did with everything his treacherous wife asked.

She continued, “Early tomorrow, you will take them far into the jungle, and there you will leave them.” The boy, who at that moment was behind the kitchen, next to the wall, heard the whole conversation. However, he didn’t tell anything to his little sister. That night, he took two corn cobs from the barbecue, shelled them, and filled his pockets.

An unsolicited wish

At dawn the next day, a man led his children into the forest. He left them, promising to return after cutting a stick. Unbeknownst to the children, he never returned. The girl cried, but her brother found the scattered corn kernels, untouched by jungle animals, leading them back home.

At nightfall, they reached their home. Their stepmother became furious and blamed her husband, saying he hadn’t left them far enough and that he should take them even farther.

Abandoned, the children found tranquility among jungle creatures, turning the wild into an enchanted palace with a supernatural aura. Sleeping under a bombonaje plant, dreams revealed a comforting white-haired woman. Unafraid, they traversed the jungle for days until a dream beneath a renaco tree disclosed their metamorphosis into birds.

With a longing to return home, their fairy guardian had spared them suffering by turning them into winged beings. And at night, when the moon rose, they arrived there and, perching on the roof, sang in chorus, sadly:

Ayamaman Huishchurhuarca 

(“Dear mother dead, we have been abandoned”)

Their father, who was sitting on the doorstep of the house, already regretting what he had done, stood up and, like a madman, said to them, “Children of my soul, come…” But they flew into the jungle.

Both abandoned kids dreamt about transforming into birds.
Both abandoned kids dreamt about transforming into birds.

Curi Yacu

Juan Antonio Pinedo Panduro was an honest farmer who, in his youth, devoted much of his time to hunting. One morning, he asked his mother for permission to go in search of deer. After she packed half a dozen boiled eggs and a couple of ripe bananas in his bag, he headed towards the Cumbaza stream and followed it upstream until reaching its headwaters, where several other streams converge.

Suddenly, he saw some golden “shitaritos” fish in the waters of one of them. Eager to catch them, he followed the little fish, but they eluded him, as if sensing his intention, heading to a pool of dark water. Pinedo discovered with surprise, lying on the edge of this pool, a huge black and shiny bull, drooling something yellow.

Overcoming the strong impression he had, he decided to investigate up close. The bull remained in the same state and the same place; he realized that where the animal’s drool fell, there were pure gold nuggets. Happy with this discovery, he decided to return home. Facing a sudden storm while walking, Pinedo, determined to reach his village, tossed gold nuggets into a stream.

Miraculously, the storm ceased instantly.

Pinedo recounted what happened to an old man; he said, “As soon as you collected the gold nuggets, you should have cut yourself anywhere on your body; you would have made a cross with your blood over the nuggets to break the enchantment.”

The old man and Pinedo reached the stream, but the golden fish and bull had vanished. The Curi-Yacu river remained, named “river of gold.”

"Cori" stands for gold and "yacu" for water or river.

The Chullachaqui

A group of young people was building a canoe in the jungle, about half an hour’s walk from their hut. One morning, after completing the work and contemplating how to transport it to the river, they heard in the distance a sound resembling a large troop of monkeys approaching. One of them went back to the hut to fetch his shotgun to hunt them. After a while, when the noise of the monkeys seemed closer, the other saw his brother arriving with the shotgun on his shoulder. From a certain distance, he signaled for him to follow. They walked a long way through the jungle, and the sound continued ahead of them as they progressed. The young man then noticed that the trees around him were very large and unusual, ones he had never seen in those places.

Suddenly, he realized that his companion’s feet were uneven: the left foot smaller and with nails resembling tiger claws. The young man stopped in fear. Upon noticing that the young man wasn’t following, the fantastical individual also stopped and looked at him, smiling maliciously; his eyes had a horrible gleam. The young man, fearing his eerie companion, crossed himself, pleaded to God for freedom. Closing his eyes, he reopened them—the Chullachaqui vanished.

He heard shotgun shots in the distance and oriented himself by them to return. He found his real brother, who had been searching for him for a long time. The young man couldn’t speak properly for several days; his tongue felt tied.

The chullachaqui leads its victims to the middle of nowhere to concrete its evil intentions.
The chullachaqui leads its victims to the middle of nowhere to concrete its evil intentions.


In a world where nature meets magic, the Amazon rainforest unveils its hidden wonders through captivating myths and legends.

These aren’t mere tales; they’re time-traveling echoes from past generations, resonating indigenous wisdom, cautionary tales, and spiritual beliefs. Embark on a realm where the ordinary turns extraordinary, with rustles of leaves whispering countless untold stories.

For young adventurers, the Amazon isn’t just a rainforest—it’s an enchanting realm, turning exploration into a magical odyssey. Let’s not forget to listen to the tales that make the Amazon truly come alive with wonder and mystery.

Contact us to head in the myth itself and enjoy your day!

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