Hiking to the Lost City in Colombia

Colombia was banned for tourists for many years because of its lethal combination of terrorism and drug trafficking. However, Colombia has become one of the most varied tourist destinations in the world due to peace agreements.

A journey through the lost city (Ciudad Perdida) must be at the head of all inexperienced travelers.

Santa Marta

Santa Marta, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is at the foot of the Sierra Nevada and is the starting point of the journey. The coast has long sandy beaches, perfect for relaxing before or after the trip. I can’t wait to be there, but before I leave I plant a ceiba tree in the forest. The citizens believe that all desires are given, and of course I hope to succeed in Lost City.

The Spanish conquerors of the seventh century extinguished Tairona, the people who built them, in their thirst for the gold of El Dorado. Abandoned in the early 16th century it was not completely lost, but only forgotten until it was rediscovered by grave birds in the 1970s. It is still sacred to the Kogi Indians, direct sons of Tairona, and the supply is strictly limited. .


It’s a four day tour and you have to join a group of local guides. Although the distance is only 52 km, there is some physical exercise, although everyone can do it. We start with a 4×4 trip to the beginning of the trek in El Mamey. The other vagabonds are all young, less than half, mostly Dutch, with a handful of Americans and Canadians.

The afternoon starts with a strenuous ascent, and of course I’m back with leggy Dutchman. The humidity is high and some Kogi women, in their characteristic white smocks, give me mules.

I went down to the first camp at the river’s edge and deepened myself in the deep pools to wash the day’s work. The food is simple but plentiful and we sleep in bunk beds under the mosquito net.

The second day is the hardest, as we enter the mountains and the cultivated fields provide space for the tropical jungle.

In a town in Kogi, women and children come out of circular thatched roofs to see us pass by. The pigs look in the mud, and I said the men were hunting. Later there are rivers to cross, some on a donkey, but as it is the dry season is the water surface.


It lost the city

Our nightlife is close to the lost city, and the sound of the night in the forest makes me sleep. There is an early conversation just before dawn, so a sharp climb through a series of 1200 steps covered in foam in fog. Some soldiers fold with automatic weapons, weights the entrance. British tourists were kidnapped by ELN guerrillas in 2003 and held for 103 days. The authorities take no risks.

Unlike this famous, lost city of Machu Picchu, the buildings here were of wood and straw, as the cabins I saw earlier. Therefore, only the foundation is preserved. It is a series of concentric circles on large terraces, such as impeccable gardens, linked by sinister roads. In an area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 30 hectares, 250 terraces were discovered. It is estimated that about 4000 people lived there on top.


Apparently other colonies have been lost in the jungle, and when the fog drops early in the morning and the sun goes through the depths of the intense green canopy, only the sounds of the birds and a nearby waterfall are created. When we relax on the terraces and take everything, two plans reason. My guides say that only Kogi is on a hunting expedition and that it is not necessary to be notified.

The only way to get back is to track our steps and spend a night in the woods. It’s not that common, but I’m proud to have achieved my goal. And the gods seem to be by my side: the sky is cloudy and I do not fight against the burning sun. Although it is moist, I appreciate the choice of the dry season. When it rains, the situation is completely different: the roads are muddy, the rivers are high and everything is permanently wet. Not to mention leeches.

Of course it doesn’t end until it’s over, and I’m still struggling to run the next few days, even humiliating when other hikers reach me. Finally I come back to El Mamey, where the rest of me