While the ruins of La Ciudad Perdida may not be as spectacular as some of it more famous cousins of South America, the steps that you climb to get there are very atmospheric as they cut through a dense jungle and in a very steep fashion. There are around 1200 of them and they are very well-preserved as are the terraces to which you will emerge upon...more
If you come to La Ciudad Perdida expecting “the Machu Picchu of Colombia” you are likely in for a bit of a disappointment especially if you have been to Peru's famed ruins. No, it is not an intricate fortress of a city and in fact all the rains are some 170 “stone terraces” on which the indigenous Tayrona people built their thatched huts. The...more
One of the common things you will hear about the trek to La Ciudad Perdida is that it's more about getting there than the actual ruins. It is true that the ruins can be seen as a bit anti-climatic if you have been to Machu Pichu. It's just not as dramatic or visually stunning though certainly interesting. The trek is quite beautiful and much less...more
Though the trek to La Ciudad is very straight forward and with a few cursory signs, it would be pretty hard to get lost heading to the “Lost City,” it is forbidden to do the trek independently. You must do it with in a group with one of the official guiding companies. It was not long ago when only one company existed but today there are a few...more
The trek to La Ciudad Perdida is a mere 50 kilometers round trip but as with all walks Colombian, you cannot really measure distances and locals never give you such information. They talk in terms of how long it takes to walk there and of course this is how long it takes THEM to walk there, not you, you silly gringo. By nature, Colombia is not a...more
Turcol is the only company organising treks to Ciudad Perdida (but I have heard there might be other tour companies soon). I went to Turcol’s office in Santa Marta to hear which days they would have a trek. I wanted to go in two days, but they just had a trek the day after or in four days. I decided to take the trek in four days. I went to an ATM...more
If you are lucky enough to have Edwin as a guide, he will give you a very thorough tour around the ruins, explaining the history and the culture of the Tayrona people who built it. Of course, he will also tell you the story of his capture by guerrillas, which is the story everyone really wants to hear. Be sure to ask him about the burras too!more
What is perhaps even more impressive than the ruins themselves is the amazing landscape that surrounds them. The city lies on top of a peak in the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and while there are plenty of beautiful views along the trail on the way there, only when you stand on the terraces and look around you do the jungle-covered...more
The vast ruins, built at least 1300 years ago but perhaps nearly twice that old, consist of 169 stone terraces, and may once have housed up to 8000 people. The houses and buildings, apparently built with wood, are no longer there, leaving just the terraces. This makes it hard to visualise what it would have looked like, but if you have a good guide...more
While the food on the trek was not exactly gourmet fare, it was certainly good considering the circumstances it was cooked under and there was a fair amount of variety. Scrambled eggs were typical in the morning if there were eggs to be had and dinners included pasta night as well as a variety of meals with the ubiquitous rice. Vegetarians were catered to somewhat but it always seems the “regular” meals were more filling, a factor when you've been hiking all day.
Favorite Dish: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the trek was the last breakfast when the managed to make up arepas con huevos, my personal favorite of Colombian breakfasts and not exactly the easiest thing to make for a large group. While the cook was preparing these, our guide went off and came back with a whole pitcher full of freshly squeezed tomato de arbol juice! He was quite popular with that well-timed maneuver (the last day!) which no doubt contributed to my giving him a decent tip. During the day when meals were mostly sandwiches, they gave us snacks like fresh fruit to keep us going, endearing them to my wife to no end who does love her fruits.
Tour operators and even local villagers learn quickly that backpackers like their beer, especially after a day of hiking. Since the camping areas/villages can only be reached by foot, the price of the beer is not cheap but they do have to carry everything up so you can't blame them for trying to make a bit of money for their efforts. It really depended on where you were but prices ranged from 3000-5000 ($1.50-2.50). The oddest one was the first night when you had to go down a fairly steep dark trail to the village store where everyone "in town" was watching what was likely the only TV. After it got dark, it became popular to buy someone a beer if they would go get it!
Dress Code: Night attire was long sleeves so our "jungle whites" finally came in handy to fend off the few mosquitoes there were.
Getting to the trail head that leads to La Ciudad Perdida is the firs leg of your adventure. While they do require you to go on an organized trek, I'm not entirely sure anyone could find their way to El Mamey without the aid of a guide. That, a decent four-wheel drive vehicle, and a driver that knows the road. This is one rough road, comparable to roads that lead into The Kimberly of Western Australia and though it was a relatively short trip of an hour or so, it was quite interesting to say the least. Once in El Mamey, where you stop for lunch before setting off on the trek, it is easy to find your way. It's basically the road that runs through down that peters out into a dirt track first and then a trail that runs along the river.
One of the main reasons my wife did not want to do the trek to La Ciudad Perdida (aside from the hammocks and having done a very arduous seven day trek around El Cocuy just a month earlier) was the area's infamous mosquito population that just might be carrying malaria or dengue fever, take you pick. Neither of us is big proponents of oral chemical...more
One of the biggest problems of the trek to La Ciudad Perdida is keeping your gear dry. Though it must be even worse in the wet season, it was even so during our trek in a very dry “dry” season. We only had one late afternoon/evening rain and it was after we were in camp. My wife and I were never actually in the rain. The problem is your clothes get...more
El Parque Arqueológico de Ciudad Perdida, also known as Teyuna for its native name, is an archeological national park set aside to protect the ruins of “the lost city” which remained undiscovered until the early 1970s by grave-robbers bent on ravaging the remains of indigenous people who were forced deep into the mountainous jungle by invading...more
The valley you walk through to get to Ciudad Perdida is laced by the Rio Buritaca, a fairly mighty river in places and one you will have to cross numerous times to reach your destination. In fact, on the third day of the trek you must ford it nine times! It can be quite deep in the wet season, up to the waist in cases but we were lucky to have it...more
I suppose I should mention the kidnapping incident, although the chances of it happening again are very low. On September 10, 2003 Edwin Rey and another guide named Manuel were with a group of tourists at Ciudad Perdida when they were captured by a group of ELN rebels. Edwin and the other guide were tied up and left there, while eight of the...more
Now I've been in lots of places that are popular with mosquitoes, but Ciudad Perdida has to be the worst I have ever experienced. Along the trail is not too bad, but on the night you spend at the ruins be prepared to be eaten alive. Mosquito nets are provided in the sleeping area, but you can't stay under the net all the time, and plenty of them...more
Camping gear is provided at each camp and set up for you but you need a day pack to carry your clothes and basic gear you will need at camp. Alternatively, you can make your backpack smaller with compression straps. We just brought one backpack for the two of us as we did not have a day pack with us. Long sleeve shirt and pants are good for camp,...more
On the list of things to bring Turcol advised that you pack in a small backpack. Some people in my group had stuffed everything in a small backpack (some even with things outside) and they looked very heavy on the shoulders. I took my big backpack with good support on the hips, but left many things in Taganga, so it wasn’t heavy. I think that is a...more
A small daypack for your personal items (porters will carry the rest) Poncho, though you'll get wet anyway as it rains every afternoonAn extra set of dry clothesBathing suit unless you want to swim in your underwearSturdy walking shoes Insect repellent Sleeping bag or sleep sheetFlashlight 20,000 pesos for 'factory tour' Any extra sweets you...more
The first three days are easy. We walked for 4-6 hours to the next camp. The third day was the best since you walk in the river and stop at points for swimming brakes. We found this kewl place were we could go with the current in a natural slide. Everyone kept sliding through like little kids :).more
In addition, there is one family of Indians in the Ciudad Perdida as well... again, I suspect they were paid actors :). The return to Taganga is through the same path in a shorter time. Oh, lets not forget the groovy ride. The colombians have taken apart an old land cruiser and put in a funky makeshift truck. It sure gets you in the mood :).more
In the afternoon of the third day, you climb the 1,200 steps from the River to the lost City... from the entrance of the city; you climb another 800 steps to the camp. We spent two nights here. On the fourth day, we took a tour through the lost city. It’s an amazing place. The Tyrona Indians constructed this city with terraces... as in Pueblito...more
The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is not an easy place to find. You pretty much have to take a tour to get there and at the time I visited in 2001 the best bet was to take the one offered by Hostal Miramar in Santa Marta. The cost is a bit under $140 USD. This includes everything, form food to transport for 6 days (less the dinner of day 6). Trust me, it's more that worth it! Oh, lets not forget the groovy ride. The colombians have taken apart an old land cruiser and put in a funky makeshift truck. It sure gets you in the mood :).
Over the next days, we found a pace that suited us and did not rush to keep up with the fastest in the pack. Though we were a group, there were certainly some much fitter than others and the reality was, the trek was easy to follow and there was no chance of not meeting back up in the afternoon. Besides, the days were pretty short and we had the...more
So, we set out dressed in the same “desert whites” we had done El Cocuy in. On that trek, we wore long sleeved shirts and pants to protect ourselves from the high altitude sun. We had worn the same clothes when we spent a few months in the deserts of the United States Southwest earlier that year too. This time around, we were wearing them as much...more
It's always interesting when you meet up with a group you're about to spend the next week with, especially when you'll be sleeping in close quarters, in hammocks no less. Backpackers love to *** and much of what is said is generally about what everyone has done so far. Since I'm generally about 20-30 years older than everyone I tend to keep my...more