6 day trek to the Lost City

Trip Start Dec 12, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, February 7, 2008

We were picked up traditional Latin American style, late, and driven to the take off point where we finished the formalities and squeezed in the back of a 4WD jeep and headed off. 30 minutes later we started hitting the jungle and a very bumpy track. Military checkpoing of course accompanied. We went off road for over 2 and a half hours, and over the time it got really, really bumpy inside the car to the point that everyone was laughing because all our heads had hit the roof several times and must of pushed rolling point atleast a couple of times. Finally reaching our drop off point, we all were on mates terms already. We hopped out and were immediately attacked by Mosquito's and bloody Sand Flies which took quite a big chunk out of your skin upon biting. We had a fresh salad sandwitch manually made before heading off on our trail. The trail wasnt quite so difficult yet. We were about a kilometre up and we could see the clouds lining the side of the mountain valleys. We descended down a track a couple of feet wide through those clouds, that turned the forest very mystical as we could only see 10m infront of us. The vegetaton was dense and beautiful jungle. Its difficult to imagine how remote we would be in 4 days time when we reach Ciudad Perdida. We regulary went over waterfalls and walked alongside 100m drop offs along the way to our first came. We descended alot today, so was pretty easy going, however I definitely dont think it will always be like this, haha!

We arrived just as night fell at our camp. We were situated right onthe top of a mountain, that will provide a fantastic view in the morning when the sun rises and lights up the jungle. Our stay was in hammocks for the night, which Im looking forward too! For dinner the guides made us this awesome chicken and rice salad, over a fire stove. All of us warn out hikers sat there on the wooden table, lit up by candle light to eat our meal, with the sounds of the jungle making all sorts of unfamiliar noises in the darkness surrounding us.

Just before we went to bed I was whitness to fireflies! This is my first time I have ever seen them, so was quite amazed and curious as I sat there watching them all light up in the black night sky.

We awoke early on the 8th and ran down to where we consumed our meal in a mater of 2 minutes! The morning was clear, and demonstrated how beautiful and remote we were getting. Thick jungle covering every inch of the mountain, in which we were about to trek through. And just as fast as we awoke, we were off again with my shirt still soaked with sweat from yesturdays hike. As we lowered into valleys, we filled our water bottle up with fresh mountain streams. If the river was big enough, we would strip down and head for a swim. The water was freezing, and felt like pins stabbing you all over upon jumping in. Needed a wash though so it did me good, haha! After stopping at the valley rivers, we always had a steep hike up the next mountain that always lasted hours. The humidity made all of us sweating again within a couple of minutes, however the coolness of the jungle made it more bearable than when in the sun. The walk went on forever and the group of us 12 split up into 3 or 4 different groups. Matty and I was hanging around one bloke Eddie, from Alaska, that twisted his knee on a descent, which was a bummer as he had to fall back to the guide. After taking several stops to admire the magnificent view and guzzle from our water bottles, we arrived half way there for the day, and rewarded with slices of Pinaple growing locally right up ontop of a mountain, that seemed to take forever to ascend. Towards the end of the day, a few of us that were trekking by ourselfs stumbled upon a little hutt that had stuff that the muel was carrying, as the track gets more difficult the next couple of days and the muels will be unable to come. We opened one of the bags and found a bunch of oranges that we stole and hoed into! haha... The clouds descended on the night sky, putting another end to a very long and tiring day, as we enclosed on our sleeping spot for the night...

The hike today really was rewarding as we passed indigenous villages and people imbedded deep in patches of the jungle, hidden away from the world living completely dependant with their own banana plantations grow for food.

Our camp tonight is fantastic. We are purchased on the end of a mountain ridge, with multiple valleys descending below. We all were very sore, so after an awesome cooked meal we listened to Manwell (our guide) tell us the story of how he was kidnapped by Guerilla groups a couple of years back on this exact route. The guerillas armed with automatics and machette's tied the hands and feet of all the guides, tourists and even some of the indigenous people up with rope. He managed to get his hands and legs free, to rescue a few tourists before fleeing into the jungle for days trek back through the jungle to Santa Marta to raise help. The military and Paramilitary worked together on this occasion to rescue some of the others. Unfortunately one girl was held hostage for 74 days before she managed to get out. Amazing, and alot of respect to Manwell our guide for doing what he did.

Tonight I tried my first coca tea, which was quite deliscious actually, and gave a relaxed and numbing sensation. I sat in solitude after, mesmorized with the fireflies flikering in the darkness with my thoughts, before I went to sleep, sharing a plank of wood with Carsten from Denmark and Milrco the crazy Italian.

An early and crisp morning presented itself to us, and I had a really good sleep which is a supprise with sharing a bed with those 2, haha! Unfortunately the sky was completely covered with low cloud, only revealing a patch of the jungle every now and then. Breakfast consisted of toast and deep fried eggs, with coffee and chocolate milk. (if you call powder milk, milk that is)! I put on my sweat soaked shirt and shorts and headed off. I first attempted to keep up with the front guide, but he was too much of a machine and hiked down steep slopes like it was nothing. haha! So us guys at the front followed the track at our own pace, which we thought was fast enough haha. We now have a total of 3 injuries on us, which Manwell will hang back with and make sure they are ok for the slow, long walk ahead. It was so moist and slippert the path, not to mention steep with little place to put your feet, so alot of people ended up ass up on the ground! I would of done some serious damage to myself upon tripping up on one slópe if it wasnt for the tree next to me I could grab a hold of.

Upon hitting the valleys riverbed, we all had a bit of a swim, wash and headed back up to ascent the mountain above us. This was no easy task as the path pretty much became verticle and we found ourselves using both our hands and feet to climb. Times there was barely a square inch to place your entire body weight onto, combining with a near verticle drop below us if we slipped. Was quite scary at times actually! Im supprised they dont give you a warning on this trek before we head off, as you have to be very fit and able to do some sections of this! I have no idea how the injured people are gonna make it up here... This ascent continued on for aproximately 45 minutes, and when we reached the top we would had of lost litres of water by sweating. The others were too slow and resting to much, so I took off ahead in the jungle by myself for a couple of hours to gain some ground on a couple of the Irish guys that took off infront. Treking in the jungle you are in so much solitude, and have so much time to think about everything. A river crossing eventually made an appearance where we had some lunch and jumped of high rocks into the water for fun.

After lunch, there were a couple of banana plantatinos where the indigenous people lived. Eventually we arrived at another river that we had to cross, and cross it several times. Once when I was walking on a small path above the riverbed, it collapsed and I would of plumetted 30m straight down onto rocks in the river If I hadnt grabbed a conviniently placed vine dangling near by - phew! The scenery was beautiful, with the thick lush green jungle rising up each side of the crystal clear water that flows in between them. After a few more crossings, we came across a small opening in side of the jungle on the riverbed with primative stairs leading up, - WE ARE THERE!!! We are so buggered and so relieved that finally we are there, onlyh to find out that there is over 2000 steps to walk up... These steps arnt exactly easy to walk up either, as they are so small, on random angles and have moss growing on them all for us to slip on. The stairs extended furthre and further up as we ascended, lit up by only small gaps in the trees above. We climbed all the stairs after several rests and moans finally reaching the top. The central area in Ciudad Perdida is so beautiful and tucked away from view from the river. No wonder why they only found this 30 years ago. I was standing on the edge of the thousand year old ruins gazing mesmorized at the huge beautiful mountains that extend into the distance completely covered in thick lust green jungle. The mist rolled in and blanketed the sky turning it a light grey colour just above our heads. It was all worth it, what we were seeing was so amazing! In the distance we could see a small wooden structure with a fire, which was our camp. The trek was so bloody hard, especially todays, but seeing such beautiful ruins hidden away from the world is definitely worth it. We all were pretty stunned with what we were currently experiencing, as its just so surreal! Everyone was dead quite just taking it all in, as words cant express the feeling we are all getting from being here after days of hard trekking through thick jungle.

In the night, we showered from close by running water that was freezing, ate dinner that our guides cooked over fire that felt like the biggest reward, and sat there in the pitch darkness, except for our faces lit up only by 2 burning candles. We headed off to bed around 7.30pm... Happy times!!!

10th of Febuary sounded and I woke next to Eddie, which arrived last night around 11pm. Manwell (our guide), Eddie from Alaska, the old German and his young Colombian mistriss which shouldnt of even come on this trek, had to hike for hours on end in complete darkness, that would of been absolutely scary out there!! We were worried a bit last night as no one had any idea what had happened to them, and a few of the guides went out looking for them without any luck. Manwell the champ, got them through it with only a few cuts and bruises.

We arose early today and ate our Pampas that our Amigo Pipin (2nd guide) cooked. Pipin is so funny, he keeps yelling out "amigo amigo" to us - so friendly. Manwell then took us around the lost city for a couple of hours and explained a few things about them and the native Tayronas that used to and still do live here.

The tayronas used to be very nomadic but 1500 or so years ago settled in this location and this was formed as a result. This place originally had alot of treasures and gold here, as the natives used to bury their loved ones with valuables to take with them into the next life. Unfortunately when the Spanish entered and invaded South America, they tortured these people for information on the whereabouts of their gold. Many Tayronas committed suicided, instead of being tortured to tell the Spanards where their loved ones was burried with the gold. The city was soon forgotten and lost in the dense jungle for centuries after and only discovered by wondering hippie nomads that floated through the Sierra Navada region, trading with indigenous people. Then it wasnt long until tomb raiders heard about this and robbed the majority of artifacts that was here. However there is a few in the Santa Marta museum if anyone wants to look. Here there are lots of coca plants and some tobacco plants that the indigenous people use for not smoking, but trade with other communities..

After the mini tour a bunch of us just relaxed on the ruins and took it all in. When we got there, there was a bunch of local Indians with their kids, obviously teaching them about their ancestory history. Then 14 of them walked passed, we were all just amazed. It was like I was zapped back 700 years!! - they look at me with the same curiosity as I look back at them. They are only about 4ft (max 5ft) tall, and all have long jet black hair and dress in white cloth in which they have died from jungle material.

A few of us took in the scenery before leaving back to camp as it was getting later. I stayed behind so I could have the ruins all to myself and take it all in, in solitude. It was the most surreal feeling, being the only person here amongst the ruins in dead silence! The mist moved along the mountains, fading the ruins as I looked up at the ascending stone structures into the mountains. I was completely mesmorised and found it very difficult to pull myself away, as the beauty of the ruins and environment made me feel as if I was in another world. An experience like this surely has to effect me in some way!!

At night our usual shenannigans took place, as we ate copious amounts of food, then laughed ourselves to sleep by 8pm.

In the morning we were leaving the campsite, so we were up and ready a little earlier than normal. I put on my blue shirt again, that is still saturated in sweat! I have another shirt thats dry that i wear at night to keep me warm. We headed of walking back to the way we came for a while, except this time we diverted off to another track for different scenery. A sectino of this track we had to walk steeply up was a muddy hill, and lasted for 45 minutes!! I made myself hike up the entire thing without stopping, an only just managed to pull it off before nearly collapsing with exhaustion. I was hurting so much after. The trek continued until we reached a little village with about 20 people living here. They had some electricity, from a hydrogenerator that gave fluctuating power to the village depending on the flow of the water. In this town they also had a huge rock pool and waterfall that we were jumping off. Stupidly I decided to do a flip off the bloody high rock, which I only just pulled off. They also had beers here which we all kinda went wild on, because we had been busting our guts the last few days, and the sight of a beer was too good to resist! haha.

Sleeping in a hammock was fantastic that night. I swang myself to sleep with the biggest gring on my face, as Im doing what most people only dream about, and I am making this a reality for myself!

Breakfast, and off we went! Some of this journey was extremely difficult as the ascents that we have to climb test your fitness to an extreme extent, while the downhills test your knee joints and ability to balance on unstable ground. We reached a larger town where we had refreshments, chatted with the local military that seemed over eager to let us know they have very powerful automatics slung over their shoulders. Here we met our jeep ride back to Santa Marta.

Hasta Luego to a very memorable 6 day treck through the jungle. I had the time of my life!!
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andyc on

So good.....
Your story sounds sooo fantastic. I'm so jealous of you guys (although I don't think I'd be up to some of the treks you're doing). Continue to have a great time guys. Go for it! Stay safe.

aaronvdb on

You arouse me. I had lunch with your future wife yesterday. You did not come up ONCE. I'm preeeeeety sure she's forgotten about you. The photos look great. Peace.

bjw1981 on

only love
m8, you are havin a blast! i'm writing from the depths of despair of 9-5 adelaide CBD work, yes, you remember that at all? you must be loving LIFE over there champ, am pretty envious of all your pics and stories.

stay safe!!

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