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Elusive El Dorado

The search for El Dorado (which means, in Spanish, "The Gilded Man") and his supposedly wealthy kingdom began with the arrival of the conquistadors to South America in the 1500s and continued into the 1900s. The suspected location of El Dorado (as the kingdom came to be called) changed depending on who was searching. The most captivating story placed it in Colombia, in a village where each year Chibcha natives rolled a chieftain in gold dust. The chieftain then paddled to the middle of sacred lake Gustavita and bathed. So powerful was the lure of finding riches there, that when conquistadors Gonzalo Pinzarro and Francisco de Orellana heard the story, they mounted an expedition of hundreds of men, horses, and dogs. They went east over the Andes, descended its steep slopes, and dropped into Amazon rain forest. Along the way they lost most of their men and animals. They never found El Dorado or any gold. Nor did Sir Walter Raleigh, Colonel Fawcett, or numerous others who searched. Many, like Fawcett, succumbed to illness or arrows and never returned.

Updated: 09-2013

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