Ciudad Perdida translates to The Lost City. For me to describe this 5-day trek may sound a bit like we got up, walked, ate, drank and slept. Repeat x 5. That would be a complete injustice to the trip which was simply amazing. Ciudad Perdida was only discovered in 1975, perhaps rediscovered is the better word. There are several stories of how the place was found but the one I like is the one our tour guide, Edwin, told us. There were and still are many indigenous populations buried in the jungle surrounding Ciudad Perdida. Many of them are buried with handcrafted gold decorations. In the 60s and 70s it became a popular career choice to dig up these people and sell their burial items. Although the government’s story is that archaeologist’s found the city these grave diggers, including Edwin’s father, are reported to be the real discoverer’s.
We set off early afternoon after a sumptuous chicken lunch. Once again I was pleased to see we had a good mix of nationalities with Germans, Danes, Colombians, Irish and Dutch. Within the first 2 hours we had crossed a couple of rivers, entered the jungle and we spent the majority of the first day ascending. It was hot and sticky, more so than anywhere I’ve been so far. We would soon discover everybody sweats, a lot, and nothing dries, at all. The first day was a relatively short one which was lucky as we arrived at the campsite just before dark. Despite being several hours into the jungle they still managed to offer cold beers so after a quick dip in the nearby river we tucked into another great meal and washed it down with a few cold ones. As most of the group were from Europe and from renowned drinking nations we were soon to realise the post-trekking drinking would become a common occurrence.
Day 2 and 3 were much of the same with more sensational views, swimming in fast flowing rivers and spending the evening playing ridiculous games. Some of you who know me will know that I enjoy turning anything into a game/competition. I fitted in well in this group and among others, the popular favourites were ‘Guess the time game’, ‘poker with rocks’, ‘throw rocks at other rocks’ and perhaps the most memorable was 21, the drinking game which brought about much hilarity. We walked past an indigenous village and met some of the people who have continued to live a traditional way of life. It was amazing to see young children running around the jungle on their own, what a playground!
The first three days we were only averaging about 8km each day. With the humidity, the endless ups and downs and the heat it was slow going but generally we were arriving at each campsite in time for lunch. This gave us plenty of downtime to get to know each other, play more ridiculous games and drink. It was amazing that after 4 days of walking in the jungle it was still possible to buy a (reasonably) cold beer, rum and whisky. It just goes to show that if there’s a demand, then people will find a way to supply it!
At the end of the third day we arrived at the campsite around 1km from Ciudad Perdida. The following morning we were up early and after the fastest of all of the river crossings we started to climb the thousands of steps up to the edge of the city. By mid-morning we had reached the top and we spent the next few hours exploring the place. Currently, the site is approximately 10 hectares however archaeologists have now discovered that the city stretches for up to 30 hectares. Over the next few decades the Colombian government plan to uncover this area. Unfortunately, as this happens and as Colombia continues to improve its safety and build on its growing tourism industry, the number of tourists visiting Ciudad Perdida will only grow. I feel lucky to have seen it when I did. We were one of two groups at Ciudad Perdida when we visited which meant there were no more than about 30 people there. We were able to get photos of the city without any people in so if you plan to visit Ciudad Perdida, my advice would be to do it as soon as possible.
By early afternoon we had to make our way back down from Ciudad Perdida and start our trek out of the jungle. Despite the fact we had now seen what we came to see we were still treated to amazing views, some good wildlife and seeing it in the other direction was almost like we were taking a new route. Once again, we spent some time swimming in the rivers before having our final night of fun. Of course, we had to celebrate in style and after many beers and two bottles of rum later we tucked ourselves in for the last sleep in the jungle. Sadly, my photos from that night are a little blurry and the video I have is less than suitable!
The following day was nearly twice as long as any other day and also the hottest. We started early and made it back to the local village by early afternoon. Once again we were treated to a delicious meal, throughout the whole trip we ate like kings and it definitely made the trek easier. We made the subdued 2-3 hour journey back to Santa Marta and as we were all tired the plan was just to have a few drinks and get an early night…However, after a persuasive German got her way we were off into Santa Marta to experience the local night life. It was a night I will never forget and I’m very glad I went. That’s all I’ll say!
As we said our goodbye’s and people set off in various directions I wasn’t compelled to really go anywhere. The weather was amazing, the hostel relaxing and the local Colombian’s I had met were so friendly. I settled for taking a bus an hour up the coast to Palomino. It’s a quiet beach town/village with fewer travellers and a peaceful untouched beach. I stayed at the Dreamer Hostel there which was 30metres from the beach and also had a swimming pool, bar and restaurant. As I sat on the beach my peace was temporarily disturbed when a lightning bolt hit a palm tree about 10metres from where I sat. The tree caught fire and I took that as the time to get off the beach. It was easily the closest I’ve been to a big storm and I hope it’s the closest I’ll ever come!
After a couple of nights in Palomino I headed back to Santa Marta and my favourite hostel so far. At the moment I have the luxury of taking my time so I decided to spend a bit longer in Santa Marta. I took the opportunity to take some Spanish classes there so I wasn’t spending all of my time in hammocks and the pool. I had a few trips to the beach and got to know Santa Marta a little better. Eventually though, it was time to leave. I repacked my bags and left for Cartagena.