How to get to the Lost City? Complete Guide

Where is the lost city?

Venturing into the mysteries of Ciudad Perdida is an experience that will transport you to the ancient Tayrona indigenous civilization, nestled within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park. This archaeological gem, akin to the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, can only be visited through an exhilarating excursion or trek to the Lost City.

Connecting with Indigenous Culture

Traversing the mountainous trails and rushing rivers will immerse you in the culture entrenched within the indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The guides accompanying you on this journey are indigenous natives, direct descendants of the ancient Tayrona, who will plunge you into a universe of ancestral knowledge as they guide you along this captivating route.

Options for Adventure

Several agencies offer tours to Lost city (Ciudad Perdida). Most operate with traditional tourist guides except for us, the only agency that does so with indigenous guides. These guides possess an in-depth understanding of the Sierra Nevada and enrich the experience with their stories and ancestral wisdom.

Features of the Trek to Reach the Lost City

How to get to the Lost City?

The journey to Ciudad Perdida is carefully segmented into multiple camps strategically distributed along the trail, providing adventurers key resting points, water replenishment, and opportunities to recharge. These camps serve as essential support for those venturing towards Ciudad Perdida and offer different lodging options, from cabins to hammock areas, tailored to the needs and season.

Along the trail to Ciudad Perdida, adventurers will encounter a series of camps that provide shelter and respite amidst nature:

Vista Hermosa Hut – 500 meters above sea level: Positioned at an initial point, marking the beginning of the trek towards the lost city. Adán Hut – 450 meters above sea level: Located at a slightly lower altitude, providing a strategic spot to replenish energy after the first stretch of the journey. Wiwa Hut – 400 meters above sea level: This camp, at a somewhat lower altitude, offers an ideal resting place along the trail, with facilities adapted to the hikers’ needs. Paso Lorenzo Hut – 820 meters above sea level: At a higher altitude, this camp signifies a significant stage in the ascent towards Ciudad Perdida, providing refuge at a higher altitude. Paraíso Teyuna Hut – 830 meters above sea level: This camp marks proximity to the majestic Ciudad Perdida, offering a resting point before reaching this astounding archaeological site.

The total journey from the start of the trek to Ciudad Perdida and back to the starting point, El Mamey, spans approximately 60 km. Preparing and warming up muscles beforehand is crucial, as any injury during the journey could affect the experience and comfort during the trek.

To provide greater comfort to adventurers, there’s an optional luggage transportation service between camps, carried out by local mules. This allows hikers to walk without carrying additional weight, especially beneficial on steep trails or during more strenuous days.

How to Get to Lost City Santa Marta?

Tour Options and Duration:

There are three main trekking options to Ciudad Perdida, varying in duration:

Differences between these options include the opportunity to visit the Wiwa Indigenous Community, known as Gotsezhy, offered on the 5 and 6-day tours. These additional days allow for a deeper immersion into the culture and environment of the indigenous communities in the region, adding an enriching cultural dimension to the overall trip experience.

Route Details and Day-by-Day Experience

Route 1: Santa Marta – Machete Pelao

  • Day 1: Trek Start Departure from Santa Marta: The journey starts by car from Santa Marta, taking the main road towards Riohacha. After covering approximately 52 kilometers near the town of Guachaca, take the detour leading to Machete Pelao. Ascent towards Honduras: From Machete Pelao, the trail continues towards Honduras, ascending along the Buritaca River ridge. This initial hike takes about three hours and fifteen minutes. Finally, arrive at cabins managed by local farmers, where travelers can rest and spend the night.
  • Day 2: Heading to Ciudad Perdida Departure towards Mutany: Resume the journey towards Mutany, a Kogui village, after four hours of hiking. In Mutany, it’s possible to take photographs with appropriate authorization. Hike to “Mamo Romualdo’s” cabin: A three-hour hike begins to reach the “Mamo Romualdo’s” cabin, a resting point before reaching Ciudad Perdida.
  • Day 3: Arrival at Ciudad Perdida Arrival at Ciudad Perdida: The third day is dedicated to reaching Ciudad Perdida, exploring its ruins, and delving into its history. After half a day of exploration, photography, and soaking in the cultural grandeur, return to the “Mamo Romualdo’s” cabin for an overnight stay. Day 4: Return to Santa Marta Return to Santa Marta: Start the descent back towards Santa Marta, passing through the same resting points as the previous days. The journey concludes in Santa Marta.

Route 2: Santa Marta – La Tagua

  • Day 1: Commencement of the Journey Departure from Santa Marta: The initial journey is by vehicle from Santa Marta to Minca, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in nature. Hike from La Tagua: The trek starts from La Tagua, descending from 1,500 meters to 600 meters. During this stretch, pass by the Cardona family farm and Machosolo. At the end of the day, many opt to spend the night at this point.
  • Day 2: Progress towards Ciudad Perdida Ascent and descent towards Paraíso: Cross the Guachaca River and begin the ascent towards Filo Cartagena, then descend towards Paraíso. The day concludes at Paraíso, where overnight stay is arranged. Day 3: Final Stage Journey towards Alto de la Mira: From Paraíso, proceed towards Alto de la Mira, where overnight stay is arranged to prepare for the final day. Arrival at Ciudad Perdida: Begin the final hike towards Ciudad Perdida, dedicating a day to explore its ruins, terraces, and capture the grand culture of the area. Return to Santa Marta: Return to Santa Marta through either of the previously traveled routes.

Final Tips for the Adventure

What Should a Visitor Bring?

It’s essential to prepare adequately for a visit to Ciudad Perdida. Some indispensable items include:

Appropriate footwear: Tennis shoes or boots are recommended for the terrain. Appropriate clothing: Sweatshirt, cotton t-shirts, shorts or Bermuda shorts, swimwear, and comfortable clothing. Personal items: Flashlight with spare batteries, water bottle or canteen, insect repellent, personal hygiene items, and sunscreen. Other useful items: Sandals or resting shoes, water bottle, and personal medication. Rules and Regulations

Adherence to established regulations is important:

Allowed: Taking photographs and videos, bathing in areas recommended by the guide. Prohibited: Littering, smoking marijuana, or carrying hallucinogenic drugs or alcohol. Additionally, collecting archaeological, plant, or animal material is prohibited. Money tips: Avoid carrying large sums of money, traveler’s checks, or dollars. Ecological Units on the Routes

The journey to Ciudad Perdida is not just an archaeological trip but also a route crossing different biomes of the majestic Sierra Nevada, offering a diverse and captivating vision of nature in its purest state.

Desert Biome: Primarily found in Santa Marta and its surroundings, characterized by its distinctive landscape and particular climatic conditions experienced at the start of the journey.

Very Dry Tropical Forest: As the routes progress, there’s a progressive increase in the rainfall gradient. This biome offers a gradual transition to drier environments, presenting vegetation adapted to relatively dry conditions.

Dry Tropical Forest: Some sections of the routes, like the path to Minca, reveal this biome. It’s an area where typical dry tropical forest vegetation is present, showcasing a diversity of flora and fauna adapted to less humid climates.

Humid Tropical Forest or Equatorial Jungle: From Tayrona National Park to several points along both routes, pristine jungles exhibiting lush biodiversity can be observed. These places are natural treasures safeguarding extraordinary biological wealth.

Sub-Andean Forest: Located in the highest parts of the routes, this biome marks a transition between equatorial and lowland neotropical forests. It’s an area offering a fusion of environments and habitats, with landscapes that vary notably, revealing remarkable adaptation of flora and fauna to different altitudes.

These biomes not only provide a unique visual and sensory experience for travelers but also highlight the importance of conserving and appreciating the ecological diversity of the Sierra Nevada. This natural variety is an integral part of the fascinating journey to Ciudad Perdida, enriching the adventure with a unique connection to the natural richness of the environment.

Difficulty of the trek to Ciudad Perdida

The journey to Ciudad Perdida is demanding and presents an intermediate level of difficulty (3 out of 5), therefore recommended primarily for hikers and individuals with a regular level of physical activity.

In the 4 or 5-day itinerary of the Ciudad Perdida tour, walkers cover about 50 kilometers with their backpacks, facing the heat and the high humidity characteristic of the coastal region. Along the route, they will cross hanging bridges, ascend and descend steep slopes and stone stairways. However, there will always be opportunities to rest along the way, and at various points, there will be opportunities to hydrate and enjoy fresh fruits.

Is Cash Necessary to Carry?

Given the lack of ATMs and limited banking services coverage in the region, it’s advisable to carry cash. During the journey, you’re likely to come across artisanal products made by the indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. These communities have a rich textile tradition, cultivating cotton, fique, and raising woolly livestock. Among the items you could acquire along the way are distinctive Arhuaco backpacks, tutusomas (hats), blankets, poporos (vessels), bracelets, and other articles. The prices for these products can vary widely, ranging from 10,000 to 300,000 Colombian pesos, especially for the backpacks, which carry symbolism expressed through their intricate weaves.

Key Information about Ciudad Perdida in Santa Marta

Is Traveling to Colombia’s Lost City Safe?

Like many other destinations in Colombia, Ciudad Perdida was affected by violence and drug trafficking, particularly in the 90s and 2000s. However, it is currently a highly safe location protected by the National Army, receiving numerous international tourists.

Therefore, the only risk you might face is falling in love with one of the most fascinating experiences in Colombia, allowing you to explore ancestral cultures, marvel at the immense regional biodiversity, and travel through beautiful trails.

Important Information: Ciudad Perdida limits the number of daily visitors and cannot be accessed independently. Therefore, it’s necessary to book your trip several weeks in advance.

If you wish to learn more details about the available tours, do not hesitate to make your inquiry here.

When is the Best Time to Travel to Ciudad Perdida?

While you can plan your trip to Ciudad Perdida at any time of the year, the best time is usually during the dry season. This season generally extends from June to August, and then from January to early March. During the rainy season, trails become muddy and the physical effort required increases considerably.

The dry season offers more favorable conditions for trekking, with drier and more stable trails. However, it’s essential to be prepared for any weather changes, even during the dry season, as tropical areas can have unpredictable climates.

Keep in mind that during the dry season, although the weather conditions may be more ideal for trekking, there might be more visitor traffic. Therefore, when planning your trip, consider both the weather conditions and the influx of tourists to get the best possible experience during your visit to Ciudad Perdida.

If you wish to learn more details about the available tours, do not hesitate to make your inquiry here.

Where Did the Indigenous People Who Built Ciudad Perdida Reside?

Upon arriving at the Archaeological Park Teyuna, commonly known as Colombia’s Lost City, many travelers anticipate finding an indigenous community inhabiting the city, but the reality is different. In the park area, where the terraces, walls, steps, and stone paths are found, no indigenous community resides. This place is considered an archaeological conservation zone, a sacred site occasionally used by existing indigenous communities for meetings and rituals.

It was the Tayronas who built Ciudad Perdida Teyuna, a settlement even older than the Incas’ Machu Picchu in Peru. However, starting from the year 1500, there was an exodus due to Spanish colonization and the arrival of previously unknown diseases, leading to the death and significant reduction of the Tayronas. They were forced to leave the mountain heights.

The exodus was not solely due to diseases. Until the 16th century, the Tayronas maintained an economy based on product exchange. However, this system collapsed due to Spanish economic control, which focused on coastal and lowland areas. This forced change gradually displaced the inhabitants of these lands.

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