La Ciudad Perdida
Trip Start Jan 07, 2013
39Trip End Aug 01, 2013
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The guided hiking experience was completely new to me, some pros and some con's, Because the area is controlled by the military (for protection from guerilla groups) it's not possible to go alone. There are fees that are paid to the military and local tribes to compensate for the tourist impact
Although I loved the large meals, I had a hard time adjusting to the guided hike agenda. It's strange having someone else tell you when to leave, how fast to hike, and where to take a break. I also was much more interested in experiencing the jungle than listening to our guide's constant radio planning. Not for me... Greg and I were either way ahead, way behind, or on a completely different side-trail in order to get some solitude. We tried to take some night excursions as well, but were told that we would get attacked by snakes and jaguars. A very convenient and effective excuse by the guides
After I got over feeling like a herded cattle every once in a while, I allowed myself to fully appreciate the beauty of the trail and surrounding environment. Usually on the return trip of a long hike I become preoccupied with landmarks to hep determine how long I have left, but not here. We hiked along the mountain ridges where one can see for miles into the backcountry and took breaks by swimming in the crystal clear river waters. There were a number of indigenous villages along the trail as well where we were able to talk to the kogi and other natives. The children always asked for "dulces" (sweets) but after hearing a story about how it caused rapid cavities and tooth loss in a culture that didn't use toothbrushes we had to deny them. Even if the lost city was not the final destination, I would have been completely content with just the scenery from the trail. Its about the journey, not the destination right?
The Lost City was a grueling 1,200 stairs up from the end of the hike. Here our guide gave an explanation of the site, with an entertaining english translation by Greg. A succession of over 200 terraces led up the mountainside with views of the surrounding jungle. The site dates back to 600AD and was used by 4 different native tribes. It was discovered in 1972 filled with gold. All of the treasure hunters went back to Santa Marta for a "coke and hooker binge" and died soon after. After that the area was plagued by local warfare until the government intervened
Also, note to any future lost city travelers: dont eat the small bannanas. They are filled with sap...
On the 2-day hike back we challenged ourselves both by running, and me by hiking barefoot again. The swimming pool break areas were more than enough motivation to move quickly. By the time we got back to the starting point my knees and ankles were ready to give out. For once, I'm happy to have a long bus/airport day ahead.