The Lost City Trek Colombia (also known as the Ciudad Perdida) is an incredible journey that takes you through diverse, ever-changing landscapes and scenery. The trip allows you to connect with the indigenous people as you get to see their local cultures and way of life. Moreover, it gives you a history lesson about the extinct Teyruna people.
After four months of living in Colombia, we couldn’t wait to start the hike before we planned to leave the country three weeks later. We booked the trek with Impulse Immersive Travel Experiences
If you are traveling to Colombia and are still trying to figure out how to fit all the places of interest you want to visit, including this trek, within your timeframe, here are some sample itineraries that can help you organize your trip.
Probably, just like us, you want to prepare yourself for a hike, especially if it’s a commitment into the jungles of Colombia. When we had the opportunity to do the Ciudad Perdida trek, we needed more information to have a preview of what’s to come.
a) One might think that two hikes to an ancient lost city in South America would be similar to one another. However, they are quite different. Although these hikes are both approximately 45km in distance and you “discover” the locality during your trek, the respective journeys are very distinct.
b) The Cuidad Perdida’s highlights are the dramatic scenic views and the transforming views of nature on your way to the lost city. The ruins are fascinating, along with the stories of the Teyruna people in Colombia, but it is the entire journey that takes the spotlight. Whereas the Inca trail, although it is a beautiful hike, is less diverse yet leads to the awe-inspiring ruins of Macchu Picchu. Interestingly, the Colombian ruins were only discovered in 1970 and were believed to have been built 600 years before the Inca Trail and Macchu Picchu in Peru, which was found in 1911.
c) The Lost City Trek Colombia begins at a lower altitude, so you don’t need to acclimatize before you start nor deal with the effects of altitude sickness. Its highest point, the Teyuna ruins, is 1,200m (3937 ft). The entire trek altitude is 900 meters to 1,200 meters. On the Inca Trail, the highest point (The Dead Woman’s Pass) is 4,200 m (13,800 ft). What a big difference!
d) The Lost City Colombia requires that you carry your own pack for the entire journey. Unlike in the Inca Trail, porters carry the majority of your belongings, and you are only required to carry items that you need for the day. So, planning appropriately for the Lost City trek Colombia is essential. (See below for packing recommendations.)
This is what is most magical about this trek – the landscape will change rapidly from the point when you start out your trek in the desert of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Then, it shifts quickly from lush green mountain vistas, limestone passages, flowing rivers, and endless jungles to rocky ravines and dark caves. It’s pretty spectacular!
Throughout the Lost City Colombia Trek, you will meet many people from the indigenous tribes – descendants of the extinct Teyruna people. The Wiwa, Ika, Kogi, and Kankuamo tribes are those who live primarily in huts made of straw and dress in simple white tunics. They live so vastly different than us, or other indigenous groups around the world (especially in our home country of Canada), that it makes the trek so interesting.
Your journey even includes a special visit and talk with the spiritual leader of the Kogi, the Shaman, when you reach the ruins.
FUN HISTORICAL TIP: If you have already visited the Gold Museum in Bogotá, or you plan to get to the city before you leave Colombia, there you will appreciate the vast collection of intricate gold ceremonial pieces and jewelry. Much of these artifacts were buried in the tombs under the homes and buildings of the Lost City. We went to the Gold museum before the trek, but after seeing the Lost City, we understood the significance of the artifacts and we were even more curious about the Teyruna people and their existence.
If you are someone who gets regular cardio exercise, then this is a hike for you. We both wore our Fitbit watches, and on the display, below each day, you can see the level of terrain, inclines and walking during the trek.
Prepare yourself for heat, humidity, bugs, and mosquitos, including carrying your own backpack the entire way. This will require some mental resilience. Just be prepared, and know there is a relief during the trek as there are breaks that include cold wedges of pineapple and watermelon in every camp. There is a cold, refreshing waterhole where you can swim and wash off the sweat and bugs from the day.
You have a choice if you want to do the hike within four or five or six days, each at the same price of 700,000 COP ($233USD). Apparently, the price is set by the government, and it is consistent across all tour companies.
The standard trip length is 4 or 5 days. The only difference is a longer break on the third day. If you feel you may need some extra time, the five-day hike may be the one for you. We had some members in our group who took the five days and they discovered they just wanted to return immediately, as there are sufficient breaks already, so they came back earlier than expected.
Hiking time: 3-4 hours Distance: 7 Kms
Here’s a graphical view from Troy’s Fitbit of how the hike looks regarding elevation and terrain.
(note the distance on the Fitbit recorded all the kilometers walked before and after the hike)
Hiking time: 6-7 hours Distance: 15 Kms
Hiking time: 6-hour hike, 3-hour visit to the ruins, Distance: 13.6Kms
Hiking time: 6-7 hours Distance: 12.7 kms
Rest assured, you can leave anything locked up (and tagged with your name) at the Magic Tours office before you head out on the tour. This also gives you one last chance to bring fewer items.
-Consider this as the time to start a digital detox. There is no Internet, and there are limited and unreliable locations to plug in your batteries or charge your phone at camp.
– Plan to put your phone in airplane mode so that you can conserve your battery for pictures.
Warning: Bring as little as possible. No really! Challenge yourself with every item in your bag, as you will carry it with you the entire hike. Carrying water will also add to the weight of your pack. (Still, we wish we brought less.)
Our gear list is slightly different from what Magic tour recommends, here is our tried and true list:
Backpack – Bring your most comfortable backpack. Even if it’s big, you don’t need to fill it. Instead, choose comfort. Have something that can avoid small straps that dig into your neck.
Sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet – although the bunk beds have linens and a blanket, it’s still questionable if the blanket is cleaned as we heard about fleas and bed bugs (although we didn’t have this problem.)
Headlamp – Headlamp is best for dark campsites.
Cell Phone (for pictures), camera, extra full batteries
Battery Charger – We advise to avoid carrying this if you can, due to weight. But if battery conservation is an issue for your camera, it may be necessary.
Small clothesline pins/clothesline that clothes stay on – a clothesline is supplied at every camp but it was windy, and many of our items blew off the line. In some camps, we arrived later, and there were no empty clotheslines.
Two one-liter refillable water bottles – there are water stations at each camp where you can drink and refill your bottles. We love these ones from Kleen canteen, we carry one each and picked up an extra plastic bottle for the hike.
We will stress that you need as little as possible. You will get sweaty, wet and dirty and we wore the same clothes every day, which most of us did anyway. It was rather refreshing to put on a cool t-shirt off the line each morning.
Two men’s Tshirts / 2 ladies shirts – extra shirts in case you need it, or a clean one to wear after a shower. We love Icebreaker because they are odor resistant, you can wear them several times, and they dry quickly.
Men’s Raincoat /Ladies raincoat– if you can use this as your light jacket in the evening instead of a coat, we would recommend it. It’s far too humid and hot if it rains, unless it’s the rainy season, then bring it! We use Patagonia and Columbia brand raincoats and we’ve had them for years
Hat – to use as shade from the sun
Sunscreen – I prefer to bring in a few small bottles- easy to access when needed (as you will reapply from sweating a lot)
Bug spray – Definitely bring something with Deet – for us, the 3rd day at the ruins was the worst part of the trek
Water purifying tablets – The water comes from the rivers/natural springs in the area. Not everyone’s stomach can handle it; these are easy to use on the go too. Another option is investing in a water purifying water bottle, these work well, but we found the water tablets were easier given we had two bottles each.
Toilet paper– bring at least a roll for yourself
Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush
Small mirror – often bathrooms have no mirrors which you can use when you put on contacts, or check if you still have dirt on your face!
Wet wipes – for sticky hands (fruit breaks) and dirty bathrooms where sinks may be limited
Large plastic bags – to put your wet gear in if it doesn’t dry (bathing suit) and for your phone, or camera if it rains
Oral rehydration salts – this helps with hydration especially if you have diarrhea
Imodium, antibiotics -(in case you have terrible diarrhea, you can get these items in Cartagena or Santa Marta at a pharmacy before your trip)
Band-Aids, duct tape (the best thing for blisters) or moleskin for blisters
Small tiger balm travel size or Tylenol – for aches and pains, going down is tough on the knees!
Money – Bring a small amount of money (to buy beer if you really need a cold one – at the camps)
Extra clothes – You will not need them!
Makeup – you will just sweat it off, it’s not necessary!
Leave your valuables
If there is anything that you are 50% confident in taking, don’t take it.
If you have any more questions about the Lost City Trek Colombia, feel free to contact us.
We highly recommend Impulse travel – these guys are pros when it comes to detailed travel planning.
If you are planning your trip to Colombia and looking for more information, you can find all our Colombia posts here.
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Dorene is a marketing consultant and freelance writer. She quit her 20-year career in marketing to redesign her career and lifestyle on her own terms by living location independent. Now with her husband Troy, she helps people who want to redefine their midlife and make conscious changes at TravelLifeX. She also trains & coaches travel and hospitality clients to improve their marketing at TravelLifeMedia.com