Trekking Colombia’s “Lost City”

I first heard about the trek to Colombia’s Lost City last year, when I was on my Trans-Atlantic crossing. I decided then that I’d visit Colombia just to do this iconic trek.

The 4-night / 5-day hike covers 44 kilometers (about 27 miles) and it’s considered moderately difficult hike with lots of steep ascents, some bouldering and only a small jungle path to follow. I have to admit, it was definitely the muddiest trek I’ve ever been on and I relied on a sturdy bamboo walking stick to help me stay upright on the slippery slopes.

Natural Landscape

The trek’s jungle landscape was simply beautiful. Lush and green, the surrounding hills were covered in vegetation, including banana trees, coca plants, and bamboo.

The trek included about six (12 in all) river crossings. Some were just small streams, where we took off our shoes to keep them dry and scampered across. Others were fairly deep and we took off our pants and waded through about thigh-high. On the return trip home we were getting lazy and either hitched a ride on the backs of our guides or simply splashed across without bothering to remove our sneakers.

One of the highlights of the trek was at the end of the second day of our hike when we visited a water fall with several of the local children. The water was spectacularly cool (and so refreshing in the jungle heat after a long walk). We spent more than an hour or two jumping off the rocks and swimming around.

Indigenous Villages

Another highlight of the trek was that our path passed through several small Kogi villages. The Kogi are one of three indigenous tribes living in the area. Luckily, our trekking company is on good terms with the Native Americans (apparently, not all are) and we were able to visit the children and see their houses up close.

One of the villages houses about 35 families. The day we visited all the adults were off working in the fields, and the smallest children were looked after by a few older ones.

Actually, since both the girls and boys have long hair, the only way we could tell them apart were the side-slung bag that the boys wore and the long-necklaces worn by the girls.

Off the Beat Track

To me, the trek’s natural beauty, a chance to get meet one of the local tribes up close, and the visit to the actual Ciudad Perdida ruins was a potent combination, making the trek one of my favorite experience exploring ruins.

And while I’ve seen my share of ancient lost cities, including Peru’s Machu Picchu, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, and Guatemala’s Mayan ruins at Tikal, the simple fact that you can only get to Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida via this arduous 5-day hike makes the trip all the more satisfying.

Enticed?

The trek cost $320, plus tipping for the guide and cook. You can arrange the tours online. Two of the biggest trekking companies are Magic Tours (the one I went with) and Turcol (highly recommended). The tour departs from either Santa Marta or the smaller town of Taganga.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, October 20th, 2012 and is filed under South America.

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