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Top 10 Intriguing Mysteries Of South America

by Estelle
fact checked by Jamie Frater

It is believed that the continent of South America broke free from the supercontinent Pangaea more than 220 million years ago. Since then its countries’ populations continued to grow and flourish even during hard times. Today, because of the rich history and diverse culture found here, millions of tourists flock to well-known sites including Macchu Pichu, the Amazon rainforest and the Nazca Lines every year.

South America also has its fair share of mysteries, especially the unsolved variety. From strange disappearances to weird occurrences in nature, it remains to be seen whether explanations for some of its biggest mysteries will ever be found.

10The Eye


In a swampy area of the Parana Delta near northeastern Argentina, lies an island with a difference. Named The Eye, the island is a near-perfect round circle of land surrounded by an equally round thin circle of water. The water is very clear and very cold in comparison to the other bodies of water in the area. The diameter of the island is said to be 130 yards (119 meters) across the outer circle. On top of all this strangeness, the island also seems to rotate (or float) slowly around its own axis. Comparing first images taken of it in 2003 and using the slider tool on Google Earth, clearly shows that the circle of land has moved around within the hole it is located in.

Most people share the opinion that the island is too perfectly shaped to be a natural formation, but if it was indeed man-made, what is the purpose of it? Conspiracy theories are rife, with the most popular of the lot being that the island is concealing an alien base below its surface.

A filmmaker is now working on a crowd-funding project to allow scientists and other experts to research the phenomenon and hopefully come up with an answer to the mystery.

9Parallel Worlds


In the early 1970s, a professor from the University of the Andes walked across the parking lot of the campus chatting to people on the way to his car. He waved at a bunch of students before opening the door and climbing into the driver’s seat. The car remained stationary. When people went to investigate after a while, they were astonished to find the car empty.

Witnesses confirmed to police that they saw the man get into the car after which the vehicle never drove off. The professor remains missing to this day. The most popular theory surrounding this mysterious disappearance is that the professor entered a portal when he opened the car door which sucked him into a parallel universe.

In 2015, scientists reported that they found evidence of eternal inflation. This basically means that other universes (and our own) float in and out of reach of one another with ever-expanding space between them. This in turn, according to the scientists, could prove the existence of parallel universes.

However, looking back at the mystery of the unnamed professor, it seems that parallel universes might have been a reality all along.

8Upside-Down Stairs


Amongst the chambers, citadels, and other structures found within the Sacsayhuaman ruins, one phenomenon, in particular, has grabbed the attention of explorers and architects alike: a massive granite rock with upside-down stairs on its top half.

Experts muse that the rock may have been part of another structure which could have been destroyed by an earthquake or another natural disaster, causing it to land upside-down. Others feel another power may have had a hand in turning the giant stone so that the stairs now lead to nowhere.

It is also unknown what kind of technology the builders of Sacsayhuaman had available to enable them to lift these granite boulders into place, or what the purpose of the upside-down stairs may have been (if they were built upside-down on purpose). One theory has it that in order to be able to lift these massive rocks, they would have been towed with the help of a ramp, lowered onto a pile of logs which would then have been removed one by one in order to slowly drop the rocks into place.

7Amazonian Stonehenge


In Amapa, north of Brazil, archaeologists have made a discovery that does not quite fit in with what they know about the Amazon so far. An arrangement of massive, very heavy stones protrudes from the ground on top of a hill—127 of them. The belief was that before colonies settled in Europe, there were no advanced societies to be found in the Amazon. The discovery of these stones, arranged in a similar fashion to the stones at Stonehenge, negates this.

The stones have even spaces between them and stand upright, leading archaeologists to believe that they might collectively be a solar calendar or an observatory. This would indicate that the Amazonians would have been able to determine their crop cycles by observing the moon cycles and stars.

Shards of ancient pottery found here indicate that the site has been around for at least two thousand years. However, all of the above remains speculation at this point, as ongoing research is needed to determine the exact purpose of this “Amazonian Stonehenge” as it has been dubbed.

6Los Roques Curse


On January 4, 2013, a small plane carrying fashion boss Vittorio Missoni, his wife, and four others disappeared on route from Los Roques to the airport just outside Caracas. When authorities failed to find the wreckage, rumors of the “Los Roques” curse began making the rounds.

Before this particular plane disappeared, there had been more than fifteen reports of other small planes experiencing difficulties or crashing or even disappearing while flying the same route or in the same area. In one instance, a plane carrying fourteen passengers crashed into the ocean, and only one body was recovered. The wreckage was never found. Naturally, people began to ignore rational explanations such as human error and natural disasters, and instead focused on conspiracy theories such as the parallels that these disappearances held with the Bermuda Triangle, the Devil’s Sea, etc.

Six months after Missoni’s plane crashed, authorities located the wreckage off the coast of Key Carenero. And while it was reported that the bodies were found as well, reports a year later stated that all were found except for Missoni himself.



Another mystery involving a plane played out on August 2, 1947. On this ill-fated day, a British South American Airways airliner called Star Dust carrying six passengers and five crew members crashed during its journey from Buenos Aires to Santiago. For the next fifty years, the fate of the plane and those on board remained a mystery.

As is always the case, the accident was blamed on aliens, espionage, sabotage, etc. Especially since the incident occurred during a time of political unrest in South America. Then in 1998, climbers came across a piece of wreckage on a glacier fifty miles east of Santiago. An ice storm delayed the ensuing recovery mission, but eventually, a group of mountaineers reached the site in 2000.

Investigation showed that it was likely that Star Dust flew into inclement weather, cleared it, and the pilot then indicated that he would be landing the plane in approximately four minutes. The radio operator then tapped out STENDEC as a message to the receiving operator in Santiago. Star Dust proceeded to fly into the Tupungato glacier killing everyone on board. The meaning of STENDEC remains a mystery.

4Band of Holes


A rather overlooked phenomenon in Pisco Valley lies right on the same plateau as the very well-known Nazca Lines. A band of shallow holes has been carved into rock covering miles of uneven surface.

These holes number into the thousands; each a meter wide and up to two meters deep. Considering that they had been carved into mountain rock, a lot of hard labor must have gone into creating them. There is no discernible pattern to the holes, with some being in a straight line and others just haphazardly dotting the rock surface.

The only certain thing about these mysterious carvings is that they were man-made. Their purpose and who created them remains an unsolved mystery. A recent theory has been put forward that the holes could be the remains of an ancient Inca tax system. Other theories include vertical burials, food/water collection points, and trail markings.

3Mystery Tomb

mystery tomb

“Within these walls are deposited the bodies of Mrs Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death which happened upon the 25th day of Nov 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgence to him.”

The above is an inscription on a tombstone located in Plymouth, Tobago. This inscription remains unexplained and has given way to many theories, one wilder than the next. One of the more popular theories has it that young Betty proceeded to get the man she was in love with to marry her, by supplying him with so much alcohol that he did not know what was happening. She then became sick after falling pregnant and given birth while unconscious. Another out-there theory suggests that there was a taboo relationship between Alex and a black female slave and the inscription was meant to be a concealment of the truth.

Perhaps the craziest theory has it that Betty gave birth to four children, all while unconscious and was never aware of it. Hence the “mother without knowing it” being included on the tombstone.

2Twins of Atlantis


For many years now, scientists have been trying to put together the puzzle pieces of the mystery that is, or was, the lost city of Atlantis. Popularly told as a mythical tale around the world, experts now believe they may have found a hint of evidence that Atlantis not only existed but that it may have been part of Bolivia at one point.

This new theory comes from the fact that several ancient depictions of twins were made in the Andes; including both human and animal examples. While this in itself may not be the most interesting thing, it does become intriguing when looking at the legend of the Great Flood and the many variations of the story.

Bolivia’s version of the tale has it that the gods destroyed a city located at the edge of a lake by means of floods and earthquakes. The leader of the gods, Tunupa, then disappeared underneath the water of the lake. Another story says that Tunupa disappeared into the mountains of Pampa Aullagas instead. Pampa Aullagas is believed by several scientists to be the site of what used to be Atlantis.

In Greek mythology, Poseidon and Cleito had five pairs of twins who eventually ruled ten provinces which as a whole, made up Atlantis. The story of these twins is also found in Bolivian legends; two brothers survived the flood, after which one of them drowned in a lake. The remaining brother married one of the women he and his sibling were involved with and made the other his mistress. He had five sons with each. It is thought that this Bolivian tale ties in with its Greek counterpart.

It is thought that the legends of the twins may have originated from Bolivia which in turn may mean that the country could have been part of Atlantis.

1Disappearance of Keith Davis


In August 2015, Keith Davis, a fisheries observer, boarded the MV Victoria No. 168, a tuna transshipment vessel with Taiwanese and Chinese crew members on board.

Five weeks into the voyage, the vessel was just over 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Peru and receiving tuna from another vessel. Davis was observing the transfer from the deck. Ten minutes later he was called by the crew to sign a declaration, but Davis was nowhere to be found.

Four hours later the captain of the Victoria ordered a search of the surrounding ocean. Several other vessels assisted in the search, but it was called off 72 hours later with no trace of Davis found. The observer’s life jacket and survival suit lay untouched in his cabin. To this day, the ultimate fate of Keith Davis remains a mystery.

Previously, he spoke to his friends about lawlessness at sea and crimes that go unpunished. At one point he shared a video with them depicted four men being shot in cold blood while their murderers posed for selfies on a fishing vessel. Even so, the last email Davis sent to his father did not raise the alarm that things were not as they should be, deepening the mystery of what may have happened to the young man.

Estelle lives in Gauteng, SA.

fact checked by Jamie Frater

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.