Santa Marta, Lost City experience

Kogui boy stares at the tourists that pass by
A Kogui boy stares at the tourists that pass by everyday

The Lost City is one of the most magical experiences I’ve had. This place is full with culture, nature, history, and an energy I can’t describe. It is a trip that I recommend to everyone, because it is a truly enriching experience.

Everyday has something new to it, something to fill you with peace, strength and energy. You are surrounded by a jungle filled with birds, all types of animals, and beautiful trees. This place is magical. During your walks you will encounter Kogis, the local tribe, their houses, the military, other tourists, bugs, beautiful crystal streams, birds, and many other things that will make your experience unique. This trip is truly enriching in every way. One of my favourite things was that I got to disconnect from the internet and cellphone world for a week. Today, very few people get that privilege. With no signal and little to no electricity access you have no option but to look at your surrounding and enjoy the moment you are in. You get to see amazing sunrises, meet a completely different culture, and appreciate an ancient civilisation and what it left behind. Always keep in mind that you are entering a sacred place for the locals. They are opening their doors for you to be filled with the energy the mountain has. You are only allowed to walk on the pathways and get to the Lost City (1200 m above sea level). Above that it is exclusive for the Kogis so you won’t be allowed to reach the peak of the mountain. Please respect their rules because the Sierra Nevada is their home and they are opening their doors to complete strangers. It will be totally worth it.

On the day you’ll get to the Lost City I would recommend that you wake up before the sun so you can appreciate the marvellous sunrise from the ancient city. This city is not so amazing in its architectural aspect such as Machu Picchu, instead, the view and peace you find there is like any other I’ve encountered in my life. This place is believed to have been constructed in the year 650 a.c. When you get there you will understand the power and value it has not only to the Kogis but to Colombia and the whole world.

The average amount of days taken to go up and back down is 7 days (4 up, 3 down) although everyone can choose their own pace. Everyday you wake up early and begin your daily walk (4-6 hours). Each afternoon you get to a rustic camping site which has a kitchen, bathrooms and showers (they can get really dirty), hammocks, and tables to hang out in. Some of them also have streams passing through were you can relax and have some fun. I recommend that you take a deck of cards to play with other people so you can have a good time every afternoon. Everyday when I got to the camping site I showered and changed into my pyjamas, washed my clothes, and started playing cards or Uno with my friends. You will enjoy this time and get to meet new people and know your own friends better.

Sunrise in the Sierra Nevada
Sunrise in the Sierra Nevada

Tips

Packing: take a good hiking bag (no wheels and easy to carry). You can either carry your own bag or, pay for mules to carry your bags, either way it should be light and comfortable for you to carry. I carried my own bag so I tried to make it as light as possible (7 kg). This had exactly what I needed, no more, no less. You really don’t need much more. I packed three shorts, two pants, light fleece for sleeping, poncho or rain jacket, a clean outfit for every afternoon that also served as my pyjamas, crocs or sandals, comfortable walking tennis shoes, personal hygiene items, swimsuit, flashlight, repellent and sunblock, hat, a toilet roll, and a water bottle. The flashlight is very important for getting around the camping site at night. Everyday when I got to the camping site I would change into my clean outfit so I wouldn’t be sweaty and smelly, and I would wash my dirty clothes. Because of the humidity they won’t dry overnight but I wouldn’t mind and just put them on wet again. I didn’t take hiking boots because they are heavy, don’t dry fast, and my feet get really hot in them in such a climate. I do recommend you take normal tennis Nike-type shoes because if it rains, they get muddy, or you have to walk through a stream with them on, they will dry much faster than professional hiking boots. If you get grossed out easily I would also recommend that you take a bed sheet for the hammocks because they are not the cleanest.

Daypack: normal bag is being taken by a mule, have a small backpack to carry with you during the hikes. Make sure it is comfortable. It is also preferable that it has straps that tie around your waste so the weight is equally distributes. Here you will take your water bottle, insect repellent and sunblock, hat, rain jacket, and camera if you wish.

Sleeping: all the camp sites have hammocks and some of them have beds. Personally I prefer the hammock because they are more hygienic. To sleep in the hammocks never lie down parallel to the hammock. Instead, extend it and lie down diagonally this way it will be extended and you won’t get back pains. At night it can get chilly and they do have blankets but take a light fleece just in case.

Money: the tour costs 700,000 COP per person (about 230 US dollars). You should reserve it beforehand. During the hike you should also have some pocket money if you want extra snacks or you want o tip the guide. The tour includes camping site, food, guide, transportation, entrance to the park. I would recommend 100,000 COP although you probably won’t need that much.

Extra:

  • Take book and cards for resting periods
  • Swim in streams during your walks and in camping sites. it is very refreshing and fun. Always ask the guide if it is safe first, but if they approve take every opportunity you get to jump into the water.
  • Take your time. Stop your hike once in a while to observe and appreciate your surroundings. You are in a very special place so take advantage of it.
  • Be careful with ticks. They won’t cause any health issued but their bite can hurt. You can remove them with care using tweezers.
  • Take band aids just in case you get blisters. Try covering sensitive spots before you get the actual blister.
  • Interact with the locals. There are military men protecting the area, local tour guides, Kogis, and other foreigners. Take advantage of all these people and talk to them. Get to know them and their stories.

I am sure you will enjoy this trip, I know I did. It is a once in a lifetime experience. I also love that it is still not very known so it is not full of tourists. The ruins are beautiful but what is more special is the energy the mountain has.

If you have any questions, doubts, comments, etc. comment down below. I hope this travel guide was helpful! 

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