Last month, I finally did one of the trekking adventures I’ve always wanted to experience in Colombia: the hike to Ciudad Perdida (meaning the Lost City) in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, an archeological site that’s estimated to be about 650 years older than Machu Picchu.
The trip started with a ride from Santa Marta to the village of El Mamey, the entry point to the trail. On the way there, we faced some unexpected difficulties when our ride suddenly stopped on the middle of the road due to an empty gas tank! Apparently, there was some problem with the tank sensor and it wasn’t possible to know that we were running low on fuel. However, we weren’t delayed for too long; plus, it was a good opportunity for our multicultural group to bond while making jokes about our predicament.
The hike itself is challenging enough when the weather is dry, because there are many steep highs and lows on the way and some of them last for long stretches. During our trip, we had some rain during the first couple of days; which turned the trail into a muddy and slippery mess. The ascent became harder as our feet would slide on the mud under our weight, and descending was also difficult because there was little on the way to stop us from sliding down on some of the steeper sectors.
Thankfully, it wasn’t all pain, sweat and mud; there was plenty of beautiful scenes that made the whole experience worth the effort. We saw strange-looking butterflies and exotic flowers. At some point, I met a little cat sitting by the road that reminded me of my lovely Makita; the little thing fell in love with me as well and wouldn’t stop rubbing itself against my head. There were also the super cute Kogi children who ambushed our group demanding that we empty our bags of any sweets we were carrying. We also found plenty of breathtaking waterfalls to take rest stops, they were so perfect that they looked they came out of a fairy tale.
By the end of each day, we were all exhausted; we just wanted to take a shower, eat some warm food and rest. The different campgrounds were all well organised and comfortable enough considering that we were in the middle of nowhere. We also met a few interesting characters there, like our friend ‘Lawrence’ the Kogi guy who told us a bit about their way of life and who let us taste some coca leaves from his poporo. There was also the ginger three-legged cat who ruled over the other cats of its campground with a kind but authoritative stance.
While we were admiring the ruins at the top of Ciudad Perdida, we heard that the helicopter which brings monthly supplies for the military base that guards the archeological site was arriving soon; so we decided to stick around to watch it land. It turned out to be quite an impressive sight to see this massive machine standing on top of the ruins, I had no idea it’d be so big and wondered if its weight would cause any damage to the terraces of the Lost City. It did make for a kind of cool photo-op, though!
In the end, the trek to Ciudad Perdida was all I was expecting and more; it was an unforgettable experience to spend a few days deep into the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, one of my favorite places in Colombia. Yet, I have to admit that the trek was a bit more physically demanding than I was expecting; and after almost 5 days of intense walking I was pretty much exhausted! But the landscape, the people I met, and learning more about the indigenous cultures of Colombia made it all worth it. In fact, I’d do it again :)
The trip to Ciudad Perdida was sponsored by viventura, as part of our ongoing collaboration; however, all opinions are strictly my own. To see my post in Viventura’s blog, go here. You can also check all of my photos from Ciudad Perdida at my gallery.
Have you done the trekking to Ciudad Perdida? How did you like it? What’s your favorite trekking experience in South America? Let me know in the comments below!