The Best Trek in Colombia | The Lost City Trek
Isolated in the middle of the thick forests of the Sierra Nevada mountain with no reception whatsoever carrying only a small backpack with the extensions and the stick to help me climb one of the adventurous track to the mysterious ancient ruins.
The Cuidad Perdida, or lost city is an abandoned city hidden in the forest which was home to the long-lost indigenous Tyrona tribe whose origins date back to the seventh century. It is believed that La Cuidad Perdida has been home to at least 3,000 people, and was their main political and economic base. Stone stairways lead to Terraces on which the long-gone huts used to stand. Some terraces have more than one concentric ring. This is because when a family member dies they used to bury them under the first Terrace along their precious gold, and then burn the house. If the family wanted to return to the site of the original house they had to build a ring smaller than the previous one and build a house on this newly-formed ring.
Upon the arrival of the Spaniards, the city was Wiped Out and the tribe moved further up into the mountains, and their City vanished into the thick forests only to be discovered by grave robbers in the 1970s. Several other gave robberies heard about this discovery and rival fights begin over the gold and precious ruins. These treasures were later restored by the Government and can now be found in the Museo Del Oro in both Bogota and Santa Marta.
I don't want to sound too dramatic but, I'm not much of a big hiker, so this is how it went! Sweat was dripping down my body. My face was flashing red with all the blood pumping in my veins. I was breathless and my heart was pounding so hard I feel like it was coming out of my chest. My legs feltso heavy; climbing uphill on such steep slopes that felt never ending was not on my mind when I booked it for this trek. I definitely did not think it was so tough; yet it was an adventurous Mission I had to accomplish.
Being only accessible on food, the trek to La Cuidad Perdida takes a minimum of 4 days to a maximum of 6. The 5th and 6 days are only there for the less fit hikers. Personally, I am not a big hiker and having never trekked such a long distance I have managed to do it in four days. The tour starts at El Mamey with a 4 by 4 from Santa Marta, where you get to eat a good portions lunch before the trek. The trek is a total of 44 kilometres round trip, walking at least 6 to 10 kilometres daily over four to seven hours.
This trek is definitely not only about the destination but mostly about the journey. You get to witness breathtaking views, cross waist-deep ferocious Riverbanks, and walk hanging Bridges, and swim in Natural pools which comes as a great treat after a strenuous uphill. The accommodation is part of the adventure too. You get to sleep in hammocks for the night or in a bed that thankfully has a mosquito net. The beds are outside in nature you'll sleep to the beautiful sounds of rivers, the hissing of insects and the sound of crackling trees.
Make sure you take sweets this will allow you to get up-close-and-personal with the kogi tribe children. It is incredible to see the indigenous people along with the track who still live in huts and live a simple life. Our guide explained some of their traditions and rituals to us - he explained how Male Kogis over the age of 18 are given Poporo in which coca leaves are chewed together with the powder of seashells making the ingredients to give them a cocaine-like high to go through the day with no need for sleep or food.
During the hike, you will be getting up at 5 in the morning to start hiking at 6 . This calls for Lights Out by 8 p.m. The food served in the camps is delicious and generous portion are offered, that gives you a taste of Colombian cuisine.
It takes one and a half days going uphill to arrive to the Lost City. The trek is sometimes tough climbing steep slopes sometimes for an hour and a half straight. Thankfully you do get fruits and water breaks at several stations (that are strategically located to find one just when you need it!). The final stage would also needs to climb around 1200 narrow and slippery steps.
A full morning is spent at the Lost City, and is enough time to explore this ancient ruin. Getting back to the starting point takes another two days. Going downhill is not as easy as it sounds because at this point your legs are so tired your ankles start giving in and your knees tremble with pain. It's especially difficult when it rains because the track becomes muddy and slippery and quite dangerous so walking with care is necessary.
The price of this adventure is 700,000 Colombian Pesos which includes transport from Santa Marta to El Mamey, good portion food and a few snacks as well as accommodation. It is also possible to start the Trek from the villages of Taganga and Palomino.
Tours leave daily except for the first two weeks of September whereby the indigenous tribes who still live on the mountain need to clean the bad souls left on the track by tourists.
Before heading to this trek, make sure that you pack the following essentials:
1.5 litres of water
Long pants and long sleeved top
5 pairs of socks and underwear
Trekking shoes and sandles
First aid kit
Anti diahorrea medicine
Toothbrush and toothpaste
You can also consider taking the following items with you
One word of advice. Do not plan to go to the Tyrona Park right after you've finished the hike - you would surely not feel like another 2 hours hike after this check but you would rather take a break at Taganga or Palomino first.