All You Need To Prepare For The Lost City Trek In Colombia
Doing the Lost City trek challenge in Colombia was top 3 things on my list of things to do in Colombia. I’ve been wanting to do it for over 2 years now. (check out the video of my Ciudad Perdida experience down below!)
Choosing my Lost City trek tour agency
When the time finally came, I had a hard time deciding when and which tour company of the 4 or 5 that do tours to Ciudad Perdida. They all seemed to have the same value proposition at the same price. Except for Wiwa Tour. They offered the trek with an indigenous Wiwa guide, a native indigenous group of Ciudad Perdida. I figured I’d get deeper insights and a more spiritual outlook, so Wiwa Tour it was 🙂
Preparing for the Ciudad Perdida trek
I didn’t know what to expect, and didn’t do much reading beforehand. I preferred the surprise of it all. The only thing I knew is that it was hard, but it was worth it. That’s about it.
OK. So perhaps I should be honest about my physical abilities and my hiking experience. I don’t consider myself a sporty person, I might hit the gym once a week. Might. And ciclovía twice a month.
I always tell people I love hiking, but in reality I get out and hike less than 4 times a year. And despite this, I still think my physical abilities are above average for some reason.
Oh yes, and let’s not mention that I’ve never shared a common bathroom or slept in a hostel with several people in the same room… I know what you’re thinking.
So back to Ciudad Perdida. When I received my confirmation email, I was sent a list of things to pack. The email said: the lighter, the better. So I packed the few things on the list they gave me which is listed below. In bold you’ll find things I feel should have been added.
It also goes to show how naive I am about things that were not mentioned, maybe they weren’t even on the list because they were so obvious (slap on forehead).
- A small backpack
- 1 liter bottle of water (They give you water to refill during the trip)
- Comfortable clothes (I packed 3 shirts, 2 bottoms, undies, waterproof wind jacket, PJs and long pants)
- Waterproof sandals
- Walking shoes (I could not insist more on waterproof hiking boots! NOT your comfortable gym sneakers)
- Repellent (MUST! Bring the strongest repellent you have)
- Adhoc medicine (bandaids for blisters, antihistamine in case you have any type of inflammation, aspirin for headaches against the heat, alka seltzer for the indigestion you’ll be having)
- 4 pairs of socks (bring more, everything will get wet)
- Bathing suit
- Bed lining (to protect from bed bugs)
- Shampoo, soap and conditioner
- Money for beer!
- Several plastic bags (to try and keep some of your clothes dry)
Silly me, I thought I was staying at some kind of hotel! I didn’t bring a towel nor the bed lining, and had to dry off au naturel and got bit by bed bugs. I also found myself a bit short on shampoo and the works.
Departing to Ciudad Perdida
Poorly packed, I left the Wiwa Tour office in Santa Marta with a group of about 10 other people.
We packed our backpacks on top of the van that’d take us to Ciudad Perdida and all crammed in uncomfortably. 2.5 hours later we had arrived at the beginning of where we would begin our hike.
Our guide, Gabo, an indigenous Wiwa, told us we’d hike 23km there and 23 back. 46km total. As I have no notion of distance, I didn’t know if this was a little or a lot. I’m such a bad backpacker. I know…
One hour in, the English trekkers were tomato red. The rest of us are all soaking wet from sweat. 3 days 23hrs left to go!!!
Day 1 + 2 of my Lost City trek experience
Everyone says the Ciudad Perdida trek is hard, but ours was particularly challenging. You’d think rain would be refreshing. WRONG! It rained during the second half of our daily trek on Day 1 and Day 2. Uphill and downhill slopes turn into muddy slip and slides that transformed our hike into a frustrating experience and added hours to our trek.
Some guys in our group brought what they considered to be comfortable walking shoes, Nike, Converse and the sorts. Couldn’t be worse for slippery conditions. Even my trekking sandals were more fit for the mud.
We’d arrive at basecamp soaked and exhausted and hang our wet clothes on the laundry lines but morning come, everything would still be as wet as the night before. Nothing dries in the humid conditions of the Lost City trek.
Lucky me, I had landed myself an awesome group that kept the energy high and the beers flowing in the evening. You definitely need one of those when morale goes low.
Mentally or physically challenging?
As for soreness, I was OK, but a bigger challenge was the mental aspect of hiking for 4 days. It’s incredibly mentally challenging! When you’re told you’ll hike 7-8 hours a day and it’s actually 10-11 hours and you don’t exactly know the finish line, it becomes tough. When you’re told you have 1-hour steep, uphill hiking followed by muddy and slippery slopes for 1-hour downhill, it gets to you. As a non-hippie, I started involuntarily meditating. You’ll know what I mean when you go. I think it’s something you can only relate to if you’ve hiked for several days before.
Day 3: Discovering Ciudad Perdida
This was the big day. We walked up 1,200 steep and uneven steps, some 3/4 the size of your feet, up to Ciudad Perdida. The discovery was a real treat. Our guide Gabo, shared some of his knowledge and rituals that are performed on site and walked us through the grounds. It was much bigger than what I expected, truly mesmerizing.
I won’t ruin it for you with a ton of pictures but I will throw a couple out there.
Day 4: Going home
Walking back was a breeze. We knew exactly the distance we’d be walking and it didn’t rain! Plus I got super lucky offered a motorcycle ride at the last hour of the hike.
We all wanted to go home and walked back super fast. We got back to Santa Marta at 2:30pm instead of 5:00pm.
It felt like saying goodbye to good friends. We all hugged and parted ways. You get to know people really well when you trek with them for 4 days.
Is the Ciudad Perdida trek worth it?
I feel like saying that during the first 2 days I was unsure. I’m not a big hiker, the wet and rainy conditions made it that much more difficult, and we didn’t know how beautiful Ciudad Perdida would really be. But looking back and speaking with the others in the group who felt the same on the spot, it was definitely worth it. I don’t know if I’d ever do it again, but I can now check it off my list of top things to do in Colombia!
This is for people who:
- REALLY enjoy hiking
- Are looking for a challenge
- Are not afraid of hostel conditions
- Are spending more than 2 weeks in Colombia
Check out my experience of the Ciudad Perdida trek in my awesome video 😀 Definitely made with <3
If you’re getting ready to take on the Ciudad Perdida trek and want a more spiritual experience with local indigenous guides, I’d definitely recommend Wiwa tours 😃
Have you already done the Lost City trek? How did you find it? Share your thoughts and comments with me in the comment box below!