Guide to Colombia’s La Ciudad Perdida Trek (Lost City)

It’s like Machu Picchu, but remote and not overrun by tourists. So definitely put La Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) near the top of your travel list!  La Ciudad Perdida is a vast, ancient city in the jungles of the Sierra Nevada mountains on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. It is believed to have been built by the Tairona culture around 800 CE, about 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu. Researchers estimate it housed between 2,000 to 8,000 people. La Ciudad Perdida can only be accessed via a two-day trek on foot into the coastal jungle of Colombia. As such, it has nowhere near the crowds, and “touristy feel” of Machu Picchu. The following is a Guide to Colombia’s La Ciudad Perdida Trek, which has all the information to plan a successful and rewarding trip to this incredible site.

Pictures with: Sony a6000 camera, Sony 10-18mm F4 OSS Lens & Sony 18-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens; iPhone 6+.

Top 5 Reasons to Go on Colombia’s La Ciudad Perdida Trek

  1. La Ciudad Perdida is on par with Machu Picchu, but without the mass of humanity. Alison and I were on the site for almost an hour before seeing another person.
  2. La Ciudad Perdida Trek is crazy cheap (only $230 USD for four days, food, accommodation, guiding and fees!) and faster/easier to access compared to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. And at only 1200 meters there are no altitude acclimatization issues.
  3. You are a guest in indigenous lands at their sacred site. You literally trek through indigenous villages and lands of the descendants who built and lived in the city. It’s far from an overrun tourist trap!
  4. The walk through the jungle is amazing— some of it is virgin jungle. We know of few multi-day treks in the jungle. Swimming in the cool jungle rivers was one of the trip highlights.
  5. A culturally sensitive eco tour. Our guiding company, Wiwa Tour is owned and operated by the Wiwa indigenous group, descendants of the Tairona who built the city. The Wiwa fought to protect the Ciudad Perdida historic site from mining and other commercial atrocities. In other words, your tourists dollars go to indigenous guides who contribute to preserving and protecting the Ciudad Perdida historic site and its indigenous communities against climate impacts, vegetation loss, neglect, looting, and unsustainable tourism.
Guide to Colombia's La Ciudad Perdida Trek

This is what a section of La Ciudad Perdida looks like in full sunlight. It’s perched at 1150 meters elevation on a ridge in the Sierra Nevada Mountains above the Buritaca River. (The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the highest coastal mountain range in the world.)

Note that the “Lost” City of the Teyuna was never actually lost. Local indigenous groups, descendants of the Tairona who built the city knew of the city and traveled through it. It was only “lost” to the outside/non-native world. It was “found” in the early 1970s by local treasure hunters/looters and artifacts started showing up on the black market. Since then, there have been great efforts to preserve and protect the site. La Ciudad Perdida consists of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads and several small circular plazas. Archaeological work is still ongoing.

Table of Quick Links to Plan Your Lost City Trek

Quick Links to: A Step by Step Planner for Your La Ciudad Perdida Trek
Basic Trek Info (below) Top 5 Things to Know Packing List, Gear for the Trek
Clothing for Insects & Disease What Camps Are Like (sleeping) Food and Water
Quick Links to General Information: Maps, Guides, and Transportation
Map, Daily Itineraries, Distances
(and Elevation Profiles)
Transportation, Getting to Trip Start Guiding Companies

Basic Trek Info

  • Time to go: Colombia is equatorial so you can do this trek year-round. The best time is December to March which is the dry season and a few degrees cooler. Even so, afternoon rain is common in the mountains and should be expected. People from northern climates may appreciate taking a warm weather trip in the middle of winter.
  • Guiding: You can only do the trek with a guiding company (remember: you are an invited guest into sacred tribal lands).
  • Climate: This is a hot and humid trek through tropical jungle, with all that it entails.
  • Difficulty: Moderate intensity hiking with some up and down on sometimes muddy/slippery jungle trails.
  • Distance: About 44 km (28 miles) out and back, with 2,700 m (9,000 ft) of elevation gain and loss.
  • Duration: The Trek is usually done in 4 days (a half-day, two full days, and a final half-day).
  • Altitude: Maximum elevation is at La Ciudad Perdida itself at 1,150 meters, around 3,800 feet. So you will have no altitude issues.
  • Safety: The area has been safe for over 10 years. The Colombian army actively patrols the area and you will be on a guided trip. In 2016, Colombia’s president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering a peace agreement with leftist rebel groups.
La Ciudad Perdida is about 30 km from Columbia’s Caribbean Coast. Treks start in Santa Marta at your guiding companies offices. Most people will fly into Cartagena. From there it is 4 hour bus ride to Santa Marta. CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE.

La Ciudad Perdida is about 30 km from Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. Treks start in Santa Marta at your guiding companies offices. Most people will fly into Cartagena. From there it is 4 hour bus ride to Santa Marta. CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE.

Top 5 things to know

  1. Climate and terrain: This is the jungle. It is hot much of the time and humid all the time. It will likely rain. You will get wet and muddy either from the rain and/or your own sweat. Your clothes will not dry overnight. You need to dress and pack appropriately. See our Gear and Packing List…
  2. Accommodations: This is far from a luxury trip. Camps are minimal with open walled shelters–many with dirt floors. They have netted sleeping bunks (or hammocks), cold showers and flush toilets. Some camps have very limited electricity (lighting and a few outlets for the whole camp), while other camps have no electricity.
  3. Food: Simple, local food is served on the trek. You get breakfast, lunch and dinner in camps and there are two fruit/snack stops during the day. Portion sizes are about right. Food is prepared in a very basic, outdoor cooking area. We ate and drank what they gave us and did fine with no problems.
  4. Water: We did not need to treat water. There is free purified water in the camps. And between camps, if you run out of water there were stands at a few places along the route with snacks, beverages, and bottled water for sale. Even fresh squeezed orange juice if you are lucky!
  5. Insects and disease: This is third world, tropical trekking in the jungle. The US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends visiting your travel doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines and/or medicines you may need. More on Disease Prevention, Insects & Clothing…
xx

You are a guest in indigenous lands at their sacred site. On your trek, you walk through indigenous villages and lands of the decedents of the people that built and lived in La Ciudad Perdida.

Crossing the the Buritaca River with the help of a steel cable.

Crossing the the Buritaca River with the help of a steel cable.

Guide to Colombia's La Ciudad Perdida Trek

After crossing the the Buritaca River you immediately ascend over 1350 stone stairs to La Ciudad Perdida. They can be quite slippery when wet. It’s a steep climb — about 300 meters vertical in 0.9 km (1000 ft in just 1/2 mile).

Guide to Colombia's La Ciudad Perdida Trek

Touring La Ciudad Perdida with our Wiwa guides in traditional white clothing. Our group had almost two hours on site without seeing another group. (There were 4 groups of around 12 people each, the day we went. But the guides coordinated visits so that groups did not overlap. Fantastic!)

Morning mist clearing in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. This isolated mountain range separated from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 m (18,700 ft) just 42 km (26 mi) from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is the world's highest coastal range.

Morning mist clearing in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 m (18,700 ft) just 42 km (26 mi) from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is the world’s highest coastal range. (La Ciudad Perdida is nestled in its foothills at 1,150 meters.)

A boulder with carved markings, believed to be a map of the Tairona world.

A refreshing swim in a jungle river after a hot and humid hike.

A refreshing swim in a jungle river after a hot and humid hike was one of the trip highlights.

Drying laundry on the suspension bridge at Adan Camp and nativle commuinty looks like prayer flags.

Drying clothing on the suspension bridge at Adan Camp looks more like prayer flags than laundry.

.

Our Wiwa guide, Celso, with his poporo, a gourd used for carrying crushed seashells (lime).

Abel, our Wiwa guide in traditional all-white, Wiwa clothing, including a white shoulder bag. He’s holding his poporo, a sacred gourd used for carrying lime which activates the cocoa leaves they chew.

Packing List for La Ciudad Perdida

  • A heavy pack will make uphill hiking hot and unpleasant. We recommend a small pack with minimal gear — less than 4 kilos (8 pounds) per person — under 3 kilos is even better.  See our gear packing list below for ideas to save weight.
  • It’s not advertised, but you can have gear carried between camps by mule. [All food and supplies go in and out on mule. So the mule is going anyway and you are supporting the local economy!] It’s around 20,000 Colombia peso (COP) per bag for each leg (about $7 USD). Our strategy was to put most our gear (for the two of us) into a single pack to be carried on the mule. We then shared a single 20-liter pack between us to carry our minimal gear while trekking during the day.
  • A simple and inexpensive 10-20 liter daypack works just fine — you probably own one. A mesh/vented back panel is desirable as you’ll be sweating tons hiking uphill in the heat. While not cheap, we found our Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20, with its breathable mesh back and numerous pockets ideal.
  • We strongly recommend a few light dry bags to keep gear in your pack dry — especially, cameras, electronics and important documents like your passport, etc. And these dry bags should have a valve-free air expelling design for compact packing.
  • Trekking poles make it much easier to negotiate sections of muddy/slippery trail and river crossings. They are far lighter and more functional than the single wooden staff most trekkers use. We took these inexpensive but excellent carbon fiber trekking poles. They are ideal for travel as they compact to fit into carry-on luggage.
  • You’ll want a good headlamp. It gets dark at 18:00 and most areas of camp are unlit.

Finally, this is a trip to take pictures!

  • If you are serious about photography, you’ll want to bring a very good camera, and have a strategy that allows you to shoot in light or intermittent rain.
Guide to Colombia's La Ciudad Perdida Trek

Hiking up the main road/path to the highest point in La Ciudad Perdida.

Gear for La Ciudad Perdida Trek

Item Description Oz Comments
Clothing  and insect repellents See Disease Prevention, Insects and Clothing below for our clothing list and strategy for avoiding mosquito and other bug bites
Day Pack Just about any 10-20 liter pack If you are sending most of your gear on a mule: We shared an Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20
Backpack for all your gear 30 to 40+ liter backpack If you are carrying ALL your gear (NO mule): See Recommended Lightweight Backpacks. Since food and bed are provided you can get by with a smaller/lighter pack.
Dry bags  These inexpensive dry bags to keep gear in your pack dry — especially, cameras, electronics and important documents like your passport, etc. and these dry bags have a valve-free air expelling design for compact packing
Trek poles Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon 15.2 Help on muddy/slippery trails. Pers favorites. 1/3 price but equal to the best poles
Water bottle SoftBottle Water Bottle One liter is fine. Can use standard commercial bottle. Or  collapsable ones like these
Camera Camera Equipment  You’ll want a good one. See Best Lightweight Backpacking Cameras
Earplugs Foam Earplugs NRR 33 If sensitive to noise. Tight sleeping quarters.
Charging EasyAcc USB Battery (5.4) Charge iPhone 6s ~3x, iPhone 6s Plus or Samsung Galaxy s6 ~2x (5,500 mAh, actual!)
Electronics An excellent kit for travel See “Best Lightweight Travel/Backpacking Electronics Gear” for both on and off trail use
Headlamp Black Diamond Ion (54g) 1.9 Light and bright. Use around camp and in unlit sleeping areas. It gets dark at 18:00.
Headlamp Black Diamond Iota Weather sealed. Bright 150 lumens. Can be recharged in the field! E.g the EasyAcc battery pack. Reduce battery waste, and see better!
Toilet paper In waterproof Ziplock bag TP not always at toilets in camp.
Sanitizer Travel size alcohol sanitizer For use when water/soap not available
Soap Dr. Bronners 0.5 Dr. Bronner’s – repackaged into small bottle
Towel PackTowl Personal Towel Fast drying. Get one less than 100g (3 oz)
Sunscreen small plastic tube about 1/2 full 0.5 for face & hands: most of body covered—large hat
Sunglasses mostly not needed in shaded jungle
Lip balm Bert’s Bees or similar 0.2 Minimal wt for dedicated lip balm
First Aid Kit Meds, wound/injury, foot care 3.0 A small personal kit
Headnet Sea to Summit Head Net (1.2) Mosquito netting – don’t take on most trips
Insect repell. Sawyer Picaridin or DEET for skin 0.5 oz pump is airline OK, small, pocketable, and easily applied in field. Picardin also in lotion
Knife/scissors Wescott blunt tip school scissors 0.9 More useful than knife – OK for plane carryon
Knife Gerber L.S.T. Drop Point (1.2 oz) Can cut bread and salami – very light for 2.6″ blade
Repair Tenacious patch, duct tape, glue  0.2 Also consider Aquaseal and a NeoAir patch kit
All food and supplies go in and out on mule. There is an inexpensive option to have all your non-dayhiking gear transpoted to the next camp on a mule. The mule is going anyway and you are supporting the local economy!

All food and supplies go in and out on mule. There is an inexpensive option to have all your non-day-hiking gear transported to the next camp on a mule. The mule is going anyway and you are supporting the local economy!

Disease Prevention, Insects and Clothing

This is third world trekking in the tropical jungle with possible exposure to a number of diseases.  The CDC recommends visiting your travel doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. As of this writing the CDC was recommending for the La Ciudad Perdida area, vaccinations/medicines for Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, Typhoid and Malaria, in addition to “routine travel vaccines.” (Zika is also present in Colombia. As of 2016, it cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines.)

xxx

Our strategy for insect/disease protection: Long sleeve shirt and full-length pants (going down over shoes), both are factory-treated with insect repellent. Then insect repellent applied to the unprotected areas of hands, neck and face. Note that all the natives of the area always wear long sleeve shirt and full-length pants! [I removed my hat for the photo]

And this is the back of a group member that insisted on hiking uphill with his shirt off.

And this is the back of a group member that insisted on hiking uphill with his shirt off.

Your first and best strategy for not contracting insect transmitted diseases is not to get bitten in the first place

Per the CDC’s section for travelers onMaximizing protection from mosquitoes and ticks:”

  • We chose to wear long sleeve shirts and full-length pants factory-treated with insect repellent (permethrin). Pre treated clothing has near-permanent effectiveness (clothing  treated before purchase is labeled for efficacy through 70 launderings). You can also treat your own clothing with a Permethrin spray (Sawyer)  which lasts up to 6 weeks (or 6 washings).
  • You’ll want a change of dry clothing reserved for camp use only*. We recommend long sleeve shirts and full-leg insect treated pants as insects are active in camp.
  • Some may also choose to wear insect repellent treated socks, altho in our case our pants draped sufficiently over our shoes.
  • To complete the insect repellent treatment for 100% of our body, we applied insect repellent to the unprotected areas of our hands, neck and face; DEET (or the newer  Picaridin which doesn’t degrade clothing or plastics).  We prefer airline friendly 0.5 pump sprays, which are small, pocketable and easily applied in the field. And as always, follow the product’s directions!
  • Per the CDC apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • Washing clothes: There’s a great swimming hole at camp Wiwah. You don’t really need a swimsuit. Alan swam in his hiking shorts commando. Alison swam in her running bra and underwear (very close to matching). It was a great way to rise out/wash hiking clothes. It’s a great way to rinse sweat and salt off your body and out of your hiking clothes. Otherwise you can wash clothes in the camp in the evening.

* Note: We took two set of insect repellent pants and shirts — one pair exclusively for hiking, and one pair reserved for dry/camp use only. The reason is that hiking clothes will get wet with rain and/or sweat during the day and will not dry completely overnight. In the morning we just put on our damp hiking clothes (they will be dry in 30-60 minutes from your body heat), and put our dry camp clothes back in our packs. That way we always had dry camp clothes to change into. Bliss!

Clothing and Insect Protection (a light set that won’t weigh you down)

Item Description Oz Comments
Shirt hiking RailRiders Men’s Journeyman Shirt w Insect Shield & Women’s Oasis 10.0 Our favorite: Light, cool, sun protection AND continuous insect repellent. Nice pockets.
Shirt (camp) Exofficio Bugs Away Halo Long Sleeve Shirt Men’s and Women’s Also good, widely available via Amazon and other retailers like REI Continuous insect repellent.
Pants (hiking or camp) RailRiders Men’s Eco-Mesh Pant with Insect Shield  10.0 RailRiders pants have huge side vent on legs for cooling. Continuous insect repellent.
Pants hiking ExOfficio BugsAway Ziwa Pants Men’s and Women’s 16.0 Avail in both M’s and W’s. Light, cool, sun protection. Continuous insect repellent.
Insect repellent Sawyer Picaridin or DEET for skin 0.5 oz pump is airline OK, small, pocketable, and easily applied in field. Picardin also in lotion
Insect repellent Sawyer Permethrin, treat clothing Allows you to treat your current clothing. Lasts up to 6 weeks (or 6 washings).
 Rain Jacket* Outdoor Research Helium II
or inexpensive REI Coop
 6.4 Great for staying dry when in camp.  Likely too hot to wear hiking except downhill.
 Fleece shirt North Face TKA 100 1/4-Zip  7.9  Light and compact travel garment. For warmth in camp at night and sleeping. Good pillow!
Underwear Patagonia briefs Mens
Patagonia briefs Women’s
2.0 Dry fast, will rinse/wash most days
Bra Patagonia Active spots bra Alison’s favorite
Hat insect Exofficio Bugsaway Hat Sun and additional insect protection for head
Hat regular Outdoor Research Sun Runner Hat 2.5 Removable sun cape. Adaptable to most situations
Shoes hiking  Lightweight trail running shoes Boots not desirable! Most non-Goretex trail running shoes that fit. You probably own a pair.
Shoes sugg.  Altra Superior Trail-Running
(or Lone Peaks)
 18.0  Light. Huge toe room. Super comfortable!
Shoes sugg. Inov-8 ROCLITE 295 (20oz) Another favorite. Light, sticky rubber, durable.
Shoessugg. Brooks Cascadia (25 oz) Popular trail shoe, available many stores
camp footwear  Sandals for showering/camp Put insect repellent on your feet after showering or use with socks to wear around camp
Socks Inexpensive cotton M’s and W’s
(bring 3 to 4 pairs)
Socks get dirty & stinky fast in the muddy jungle. Best to wear cheap ones & use as rags after the trip. [Can treat with Permethrin if you want.]
Gaiters Dirty Girl gaiters (1.2 oz)  1.2 Optional, but does seal ankles against tick entry. Tucking pants into socks also works.
Swimsuit If you don’t want to swim in your clothes. See washing clothes above.

*Note: You don’t absolutely need a rain jacket. But it’s nice for getting around camp when it’s raining. Or when you are hiking long downhills in torrential rain. Otherwise it’s too hot and the rain is refreshing.

View of the Sierra Nevada. The Lost City is perched on top of a ridge somewhere up “there.”

Guiding Options

As noted earlier we chose to go with an indigenous tour company. Our guiding company, Wiwa Tour is owned and operated by the Wiwa indigenous group, descendants of the Tairona who built the city. Other tour companies are below. All tour companies operate out of Santa Marta.

  1. Wiwa Tour
  2. Expotur-Eco
  3. Magic Tours
  4. Guias y Baquianos
  5. Turcol

Note that many of these tours will be in Spanish. You may need to make arrangement for an English language tour or an interpreter

Transportation, Getting to Trip Start

xxxx

La Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) is about 30 km from Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. Treks start in Santa Marta at your guiding companies offices. Most people will fly into Cartagena. From there it is 4-hour bus ride to Santa Marta. CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE.

  • From the US, it’s easiest to fly into Cartagena.
  • At the airport (as long as it is before about 8:00pm), you can take a taxi to one of several buses that will take you to Santa Marta. The information desk at the airport can assist in getting a taxi to bus services. (Alternatively, stay a few days in Cartagena and get used to the hot weather.)
  • It’s about a 4-hour drive to Santa Marta and the roads can be busy at any time of day. You’ll go through the city of Barranquilla (Colombia’s 4th largest) and will experience heavy traffic there unless it’s off-peak.
  • The most attractive options we found were buses leaving from near the airport: Marsol for COP 30,000/pp and has a set schedule leaving about 5-6 times per day. Last bus at 4pm. Berlinas, which has good WiFi on-board (COP 40,000/pp) and seems to leave about every 30 minutes from 5am ish to 8pm ish–the Marbella Office is 10 minutes from the Airport.
  • If you go to the Main Bus Terminal in Cartagena, you will find the cheapest buses to Santa Marta. But it will take a lot more time to get to Santa Marta.  It’s a long way from the airport to the Main Terminal and the cheapest buses make more stops.
  • The trek starts in Santa Marta. Most treks start between 8-9am from the trekking company’s office.
  • At that point, any unpaid balance is paid and then trekkers are loaded up in the back of a jeep for a 3-hour drive. The jeep’s not very comfortable and packs go on top of the car (our driver covered packs with garbage bags when it started to rain).
  • The jeep then leaves the main road and begins an hour long ascent to El Mamey on a narrow and bumpy dirt road. At El Mamey, after lunch, the hike begins.
  • As noted, at this point if you’d like to use the mules to carry your gear, let the guides know and they can help to organize that for you (it was about $20,000 COP/day).
A typical 4wd vehicle used to transport up to 10 clients and their gear to the trip start.

A typical 4wd vehicle used to transport up to 10 clients and their gear to the trip start.

What Camps Are Like (sleeping)

This far from a luxury trip. Camps are minimal. Open walled shelters–many with dirt floors. Netted sleeping bunks (or hammocks). Cold showers and flush toilets. Some camps have very limited electricity (lighting and a few outlets for the whole camp), and other camps have no electricity. See Best Backpacking and Travel electronics Gear to keep your electronics charged and running whether there is electricity or not. Sleeping quarters are tight and you may want to wear earplugs at night.

Note: Although we did not have problems, we did hear a report of insect bites (fleas? bedbugs?) in the bunks at Camp 2 (Wiwa).

xxx

Evening at Adán camp (first night on trek), which is also a small native community. Note the suspension bridge across the river.

Basic accommodations: bunks covered with mosquito netting.

Basic accommodations: bunks covered with mosquito netting. An open air shelter with dirt floors is common at most camps.

.

Some camps have an option of sleeping in a hammock covered with mosquito netting. An open air shelter with dirt floors is common.

Some camps have an option of sleeping in a hammock covered with mosquito netting.

Food and Water

Simple, local food is served on the trek. You get breakfast, lunch and dinner in camps and there are two fruit/snack stops during the day. Portion sizes are about right. Food is prepared in a very basic, outdoor cooking area. We ate and drank what they gave us and did fine with no problems.

Typical outdoor eating area. And forget the bare skinned crazies posing as mosquito feeding stations!

Typical outdoor eating area. And please forget the bare skinned crazies posing as mosquito feeding stations! That is certainly not us.

food-1200

A typical plate of food [lunch on day 3].

We did not need to treat water. There is free purified water in all the camps housed in large containers (but ask before just to make sure it has been purified!).

cp-food-drink-stand-1200

Between camps, if you run out of water there were stands at a few places along the route with snacks, beverages, and bottled water for sale. Even fresh squeezed orange juice if you are lucky!

Detailed Daily Itinerary and Map (4 Day Tour)

The trail can be steep and deeply rutted in sections

The trail can be steep and deeply rutted in sections

The Trail

While daily hiking distances are modest, this is not a flat trek with easy trails. The tropical heat and humidity make the days seem longer and harder. Most folks in our group managed fine, but some sections of the trail are steeply up and down. Some sections are deeply eroded, rutted, and wet. There are more than a few muddy, slippery or rocky sections. There are a number of river crossings. And note that wet rocks (and stairs) can be insane slippery!

Note: Guides set the schedule of when you arrive and leave rest stops and camps. As such, your personal hiking speeds/times are likely not relevant. However, we did not hike as one group. The faster hikers arrived at the rest stops earlier, and left the rest stops before the slower hikers were ready to leave.

The Map

Overall of Ciudad Perdida Trek. CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE AS A PDF.

Daily Itinerary for 4 Day Tour

Note 1: most days we woke before dawn, breakfasted and start hiking around daylight (about 6 am). This was to avoid hiking in the heat of the day and to hopefully arrive in camp before the afternoon/evening rain.

Note 2: Guides set the schedule of when you arrive and leave rest stops and camps. As such, your personal hiking speeds/times are likely not relevant. However, we did not hike as one group. The faster hikers arrived at the rest stops earlier, and left the rest stops before the slower hikers were ready to leave.

waterfall-1200

Waterfall on Day 2

Day 1 – ½ day hiking to Adán – 7.6 km (4.7 mi) 1,900 ft ascent, 900 ft descent

day1-profile

Text descriptions below are adapted from Wiwa Tour and we’ve left some obvious grammatical errors. Our notes/corrections are in [] brackets.

We start from the oldest city in Colombia, Santa Marta at 8:30 am in a heated [I think they mean air conditioned] van to the sector Aguacatera, there perform transshipment to a 4 × 4 vehicle [No transfer. We took a single 4×4 vehicle all the way from Santa Marta to El Mamey. No A/C in the vehicle but not really needed.] that will lead us towards the sector mamey (Machete Pelao) in there we will have lunch. After lunch we start a walk of 7.6 km to the first camp (Adan hut, peasant community) where we spend the night. We will also make a stop in a crystal clear river for a refreshing bath. Some people complete the walk in 3 hours, others in 5, all depends on your physical condition. During the night, the Indian guide will talk about the history and customs of their community and the region.

[It is full sun and can be very hot hiking steeply uphill in the first afternoon. But there is strong sun is only the first ½ day and last ½ day (Mamey to Adan section). Otherwise you are in the jungle and could get by without a hat or sunglasses depending on your preference.]

It can rain very hard at times flooding the trail and making for slow/slippery going.

It can rain very hard at times flooding the trail and making for slow/slippery going.

Day 2 – to Paradise Camp – 4.7 km (9.1 mi)  3500 ft ascent, 2000 ft descent

day2-profile-copy

Begin a walk of about 8 hours, halfway visit the indigenous community of Mutanzhi and we interact with them, then get to the cabin 3. (Paradise cabin Teyuna, indigenous community). Located at an altitude of 830 meters above sea level, here we are at the foot of Teizhuna (Teyuna), the holy city of the Tayrona. On this tour we will appreciate much of the fauna and flora of our Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. In the afternoon we can relax and take a bath in the river. At night the guide will tell you more about Lost City and its sacred meaning for the natives of the Sierra.

Some sections of the trail are quite muddy, although you can usually find a path around to miss most of it.

Some sections of the trail are quite muddy, although you can usually find a path around to miss most of it.

Day 3 – to the Lost City, then return to Wiwa camp – 12 km (7.5 miles) 1800 ft ascent, 3500 ft descent

day3-profile

After breakfast we depart at 7 a.m. to Lost City. To reach the holy city will go up by 1200 steps built by the ancient Tayrona. After about an hour we reach the city and take a journey through the different sacred sites of this. There, the Mamo (Indian spiritual leader) sacred stories tell us and give us advice for life. At 11 a.m. back to the cabin 3 for lunch. After lunch we start down 5 to 6 hours to camp 2 (cabin Mumake, indigenous community [actually Camp Wiwa]) where we spend the night.

Day 4 – ½ day hiking to El Mamey, Return to Santa Marta – 12.7 km (7.9 mi) 2200 ft ascent, 3000 ft descent

day4-profile

In hours of the morning to the Mamey (Machete Pelao), in the way we visit a small natural waterfall to freshen up and take a bath. Arriving at the mamey take lunch, then we collect the vehicle that will take us to the avocado industry [no avocado tour], we will take a heated van that will take us back to Santa Marta. arrival at approximately 4:00 pm.

La Ciudad Perdida site consists of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads and several small circular plazas. CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE.

La Ciudad Perdida site consists of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads and several small circular plazas. CLICK ON SITE MAP TO ENLARGE

cp-003-1200

By | 2017-01-13T12:21:47+00:00 January 11th, 2017|Trip Guides, Trip Reports|2 Comments

About the Author:

2 Comments

  1. Manuel Espejo January 13, 2017 at 12:20 am - Reply

    did you visit los nevados? also you miss the chingaza to san juanito, san juanito to villavicencio hike 😉

    • Alan Dixon January 13, 2017 at 12:44 am - Reply

      Sorry, but a very short trip over the holiday. Time just for the CP Trek, a day of snorkeling in Tayrona, and a few days in wonderful Cartagena!

      Vamos a volver a Colombia. Me gusta mucho. Tu amigo, -alan

Leave A Comment