When most think of hiking to ruins in South America, the majority look no farther than Peru and its Machu Picchu. However, Peru is not alone with impressive hiking trails to amazingly preserved ruins. That’s why I chose to go to the Caribbean coast of Colombia and into the Sierra Nevada near Santa Marta. I had heard of a hike to the Lost City or Ciudad Perdida, which was built six hundred years before Machu Picchu around 800 AD. As it isn’t accessible via road, the only way to arrive is via your own feet or mule. The 44 km, multi-day hike is through dense jungle with nearly twenty river crossings and very muddy conditions. All hikers must be escorted by a tour operator who has permission to guide through the preserved area. I selected Guias y Baquianos based in Santa Marta. They offer 4-day, 5-day, and 6-day treks to Ciudad Perdida. As my PIC and I are fit and we wanted some beach time as a finale, we decided on the 4-day trek in a small group of hikers from all over the world.
This adventure was not only a vacation but also a celebration. Upon arrival at Ciudad Perdida, I turned the BIG four zero. I could think of no better way that challenging my body and going somewhere new to welcome a new decade. That celebration was a while ago now, but I had yet to share my Ciudad Perdida story. However, you have to give me some slack as I have had the opportunity to do many incredible hikes since, including Camino de Santiago, Spain and El Yunque in Baracoa, Cuba.
Summary of Hiking the Lost City in Colombia
Although I could write the story, I prefer to show you the Ciudad Perdida experience via video.
What to bring for the Lost City hike?
Hiking boots (waterproof or resistant)
1 pair of socks a day
Long pants that dry quickly
Shorts that dry quickly
Flip flops or sandals for night time/swimming/showers
Comfortable clothes for at night (light coat/long pants)
Dry sacks for your technology
Backpack with rainfly
Towel or sarong
Swimming suits (2)
OTC drugs for common ailments
Please note that all food and shelter (hammocks/bunkhouse) are provided by the tour operator
Bring additional cash for alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, or the muling service for your backpack
When to go to the Lost City?
I would suggest that you plan your trip in the driest of seasons: December through March. With multiple river crossings along the hike, you will encounter better and more shallow conditions in the dry season. We went in the shoulder season of late November, which was great, but a little wetter than later in the year. Also, keep in mind that the month of September Ciudad Perdida is closed for spiritual/religious ceremonies and celebrations.
If you have any questions about our experience to the Lost City, please leave them in the comments section below.
As always, here’s to looking up!
Until our paths cross on another adventure…