Ciudad Perdida, translated to English as „Lost City“ is located in the world highest coastal mountain of Sierra Nevada Santa Marta in northern part of Colombia. I, personally, consider Ciudad Perdida to be “Machu Picchu of Colombia”. And why?!
Ciudad Perdida is a sacred place of indigenous tribes of Colombia such as Wiwa, Kogui or Arguacos. This place is surrounded by breathtaking nature, clean rivers, green mountains and incredible peace. It is an immemorial place, also called “Teyuna”, which was discovered after more than 1100 years of its existence, hidden in rainforest of Colombia. On the other hand, Peruvian Machu Picchu, translated as “old mountain”, is considered to be the modern wonder of the world located in breathtaking Peruvian Andes.
The main difference between The Lost City – Ciudad Perdida and Machu Picchu resides in fact that while Machu Picchu is visited by thousands of tourists on daily basis, The Lost City still remains almost unknown and untouched by tourism.
However, I had the opportunity to explore its beauty and mystery and I would like to share it with all of you.
WHAT IS NEEDED FOR EXPLORATION OF THE LOST CITY IN SIERRA NEVADA:
- Firstly, enthusiasm and excitement – all of us passionate travellers must have that once we want to explore unexplored
- Secondly, some financial savings. At time when I took the tour (July 2015), all agencies in Santa Marta charged tourists the same price – COP 700,000 (around 180 euro) for 4 to 5 day trip. It is actually not that much, taking into account that this price includes transport, accommodation, food and guide. I, personally, went through WIWA agency, the only agency offering the indigenous guides. Btw, you can´t do the trip to The Lost City by yourself as it is part of protected area of national park of Sierra Nevada. Moreover, the route is not marked properly so you could get lost easily.
- Lastly, be in good physical shape! Hiking is pretty harsh. It takes 3 days to get to The Lost City. Terrain is not easy to walk and there are many hills to climb. Moreover, you must cross rivers with your bare feet and walk between 7 and 15 km a day. Not mentioning crazy hot weather, humidity, strong Caribbean sun and frequent storms and thunders.
THE LOST CITY TREK DAY BY DAY:
DAY n. 1 – The first day of the tour I met our multicultural group of travellers and our indigenous Wiwa guide Lunke already in the town of Santa Marta. From there we were taken by car to place called “Mamey” where we set off for the first part of the trek. Strong sun, steep hills, rocky terrain. Hours of walking up and down. Tough. But nature was incredibly beautiful and rivers were crystal clear. The first night we got comfortable beds at camping place called “Adan” and Lunke explained us a lot about local customs and traditions.
Interesting FACTS about local indigenous tribes:
–— official language of WIWA tribe is called “DUMUNA” (example: “zunwi” means hello and “shamunuku” means how are you)
–— “poporo” is a very interesting, weirdly looking object which represents symbol of adulthood. Every boy receives it once he reaches the age of 18, like we do our ID card. Poporo is a hollow case of round shape which is filled in with mixture made of dried coca leaves, saliva and calcium from seashells. This mixture is then carried on the outer part of poporo by a wooden stick which is most of the time inside of it. Weird, right?!
–— “hojas de coca – leaves of coca” have very specific meaning for indigenous people. Firstly, they keep it in their mouth most of the time of day in order not to feel hunger, thirst, or pain. Secondly, they always carry coca leaves in their hand-made bags (made from the plant called “fike”) and once they meet another indigenous person, they greet each other in very special way. They don´t shake hands like we do, they don´t kiss each other like we do. They simply exchange coca leaves from each other´s bags and this is the way how they greet others. It is very nice and at the same time very different tradition. Thirdly, indigenous people use coca leaves for spiritual purposes. Spiritual soul cleaning, positive energy receiving and much more …
DAY n. 2 – After first couple of hours of steep hiking, we got to the camp of wiwa tribe in order to have lunch and rest. Once we got there, most of my group went for swimming to natural pools while I stayed in that small “village” and started to get to know culture of local people. Although some of them tried to keep distance, at the end all were very friendly and tried to explain me as much as possible about their way of life. Simple, humble way of life. They don´t need a lot to be happy. Watching small kids playing with machetes, barely dressed just made me think of our European spoilt kids. I saw small 5 year old girl taking care of her small 6 months old brother. Their parents had no time for that. Parents had other things to do. They had other things on their mind. Interesting, right?! At the end of the day we got the opportunity to sleep in hammocks in camping place called “paraiso”. Only few kilometres from our long-wished Lost City …
DAY n. 3 – After two tough days of trekking, crossing rivers, getting completely wet by frequent storms we finally reached the day D. Day when we woke up already at 5am in order to be the first on the land of The Lost City. The day when we walked 1 800 sacred stairs covered by moss in order to reach main terrace of sacred place of Colombian indigenous tribes.
The Lost City, Ciudad Perdida, is place which consists of 169 ancient terraces surrounded by mother nature – high waterfalls, palm trees, and pure green mountains. It is place where shamans and local indigenous people still meet and carry on their traditional rituals. It is place of eternal peace covered by mystery. It is place into which you can fall in love easily…
DAY n. 4 and 5 – Surely, the fact we finally reached The Lost City was not the end of our trekking. Only the middle. We still had to return back to Santa Marta the same way from where we came. And that was the difficult part. Leaving such an incredible place in order to come back to chaos of cities and spoilt human beings. However, to make the end of our trekking trip memorable, we decided to carry some excitement into it. And how? We managed to call famous Colombian mototaxi which gave us ride to our final stop. Not only they made our last part of trekking easier, but at the same time more adventurous and exciting. Those mototaxi drivers were barely 15 years old, terrain over there was definitely NOT suitable for riding motorbike but this didn´t scare us off. The opposite, it gave us adrenaline we needed.
To sum up, the main idea of this trekking is to reach The Lost City, but for me this trekking was about something different. This trekking gave me the opportunity to discover and admire the beauty of the nature in Sierra Nevada, to find out and learn more about indigenous tribes living in Sierra Nevada, their way of life and last but not the least how to overcome myself. The trekking was tough, really difficult, mainly because of my painful knees and ankles which made my hiking even more strenuous, however, the trekking to CIUDAD PERDIDA was completely WORTH IT!!! 🙂
What about you fellow travellers, have you been to Ciudad Perdida?! Did you enjoy it as much as I did?!