In Search of the Last Great Inca Treasure

New York: Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2004

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What it’s about:

In 1887, two British sailors landed on the coast of Ecuador and set off across the Andes on a secret mission. Their task? To locate an immense hoard of Inca gold which had been lost for hundreds of years in a remote and inaccessible mountain range above the Amazon. A botanist who had recently returned from Ecuador had provided them with documents proving it still existed and gave them the route to find it. And find it they did - but both perished before they could make their way back to the cave a second time.

Valverde's Goldis one man's attempt to unravel a riddle that has inspired frustrating and fatal treasure hunts for centuries. Delving into the botanist's life, the author discovers an ancient Spanish treasure guide and is drawn into the mystery. Undeterred by the cursed history of the gold, he embarks on an epic, life-changing journey into the last uncharted range in the Andes: the Llanganati Mountains of eastern Ecuador.

This is the true story of how the lure of gold intoxicates even the most level-headed of historians, and how both men, and women, are seized with the desire to claim treasure from one of the most inhospitable landscapes in the world. Honigsbaum battles through mountains, jungles, and conflicting stories, and, as he draws closer to the hidden cache, illuminates the allure of lost gold and its hold on our imaginations. Rich in description, atmosphere and adventure, Valverde's Gold is an unforgettable tale of greed, obsession and grit, and a must for anyone fascinated with the sources of myths and legends.

What the critics say:

‘This treasure tale is true [and] dazzlingly documented, with words to whet one's greed’. --The Washington Times

‘Glimpses of the pure, bracing thrill of the quest for lost treasure’. -- The Boston Globe

‘Skilfully walks the tightrope between serious research and action-packed adventure. . . . An astonishing detective thriller [with] a cast of unusual characters [that] never ceases to amuse . . . Anyone who has ever entertained the idea of seeking a lost Inca treasure would do well to read this book, not least because it introduces the awful reality of tropical cloud forest, and the indispensable need for hope, especially when the only certainty is defeat’. -- The Washington Post.