It takes a grueling four days and a lot of blood sweat and tears to get to The Lost City of Tayrona, Colombia. For me, it would be an understatement to say that I was less than impressed at the prospect of a 4 day hike through the Colombian jungle. It would be an even bigger understatement to say I was a little over dramatic about the whole ordeal during the first few hours of The Lost City Trek in Northern Colombia. And yes, I am slightly embarrassed of my stick-throwing-rock-kicking tantrum.
THE LOST CITY TREK TO THE LOST CITY OF TAYRONA, COLOMBIA
|Welcome to the jungle – The journey to the Lost City|
Thinking of doing The Lost City Trek in Colombia? Here’s my guide to a Colombian jungle trek to The Lost City of Tayrona with Magic Tour
WHAT IS THE LOST CITY TREK?
So what really is The Lost City Trek and what does it involve?
The Lost City Trek is a 4-7 day hike through the stunning Tayrona National Park in the Magdalena province of Northern Colombia. If you’re in Santa Marta or Taganga, Colombia get used to hearing about The Lost City a lot! The length of time and difficulty of the trek vary and you can take part in a 4, 5 or 6 day trek. 4 days being the most difficult as it takes the least time to reach The Lost City of Tayrona.
We somehow managed to sign ourselves up for the 4 day trek, the shortest time scale and the most physically demanding. What were we thinking? I don’t know. If you are up for a challenge then this one is for you.
I won’t sugar coat this, The Lost City Trek is tough. It’s very tough. In fact it’s actually the single toughest thing I’ve ever done! All of the guides that lead the expeditions are genuine members of the Tayrona indigenous community most of them know the area like the back of their hands.
Most of the guides you meet have lived and worked within the national park all of their lives, even the ones who no longer live here still have connections through relatives and often through sentiment for the area. This may not sound like a big deal right now but it’s pretty impressive when you realise how remote some of these communities are.
THE LOST PEOPLE OF TAYRONA – THE LOST CITY TREK
Nowadays, through tourism efforts these peoples are able to promote a sustainable way of living and education across the indigenous population of Tayrona. After years of friction between the indigenous communities of Tayrona and the infamous Colombian Paramilitaries and drug cartels the people of Tayrona now have full rights to the land in the national park.
The people of Tayrona have full access to something they have believed is rightfully theirs for thousands of years. And now, perhaps these people have an alternative and hopefully brighter future to what was before. Thanks to tourism. It then leads to an important question of sustainability I hope these people are prepared to answer and deal with over the years to come.
I couldn’t help feeling a level of contempt for these people knowing that their families were free from the grip of cartels and paramilitaries. Knowing their lives are no longer bound to the Coca plant and knowing that their children won’t have to face the hardships that their ancestors did. It’s slightly off topic but I think it’s worth mentioning.
WHAT IS THE DARIEN GAP? – THE LOST CITY TREK
The main reason there is no land travel between Panama and Colombia is because a large number of guerrillas operating in that part of Colombia and an area known as the Darien Gap. We always joked that if we ran out of money we would risk a quick trip through the Darien but in reality it’s no joking matter. It’s an extremely dangerous place and people have been known to disappear and worse in this area. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that although stories like that about backpackers disappearing in the jungle sound far fetched they are very true.
REACHING THE LOST CITY – CIUDAD PERDIDA, COLOMBIA
The city itself was built and used by an ancient civilisation who lived deep in the Tayrona National Park. There are many similar civilisations spread across the Northern area of Colombia and, if I’m honest most of Central and South America.
There’s still a lot to be learnt about the people who lived at The Lost City and why they lived so far from other communities. The general consensus is that they were able to live here and thrive because of the river that runs through the park.
Our night spent at The Lost City differs slightly from the norm, I really can’t believe our luck but we were fortunate enough to spend a night at The Lost City actually on the Lost City site. Without exaggerating is extremely rare and only a tiny fraction of tourists ever get to do. I’m very grateful for this and feel like we were really in the right place at the right time when we met our guide and selected our tour office.
At The Lost City camp there are only enough beds for 14 and somehow the stars aligned and things worked out that our small group would be that 14. I highly doubt this will be an option for other groups much longer once conservation and sustainability factors are in full force in the park.
Our night spent at The Lost City was one filled with icy showers, so much pasta, ghost stories and deep sleep.
THE LOST CITY TREK TOURS – MAGIC TOUR
We chose to go with Magic Tour who are based in Santa Marta. Most of the trek organisations are based here so it’s usually best to spend the night and start early early. The four day trek costs $250 USD but all food and most provisions are included including camping at the several camps and mosquito nets which are a must.
THE LOST CITY TREK – FOOD AND VEGGIE OPTIONS
The food is some of the best we’ve had on this trip, even the vegetarian option which I fully did not expect. It’s pretty remarkable considering the facilities that are available but they somehow make it work. 3 meals a day plus juices, fruit, cakes and snacks.
But The Lost City Trek isn’t all fun and beautiful nature, expect blisters, countless blisters. You are expected to climb lots of steps to get to the summit of The Lost City and this usually falls on the last day when you’re almost ready to give up. Be prepared there’s a whole load of carbs waiting for you at the top – well there was for us.
|Cute dreamcatcher at The Lost City|
A REVIEW OF THE LOST CITY TREK, COLOMBIA
Finally, and much more importantly by taking part in The Lost City Trek you get to learn about the present and past day people of The Tayrona National Park and why they live so close to nature and the river. It’s fascinating how they are able to keep ancient practices alive in modern times. What makes this better is you get to experience everything with your guide, who as I’ve mentioned is a native from Tayrona. The passion of these people is quite mind blowing. Each person you meet, guides and locals alike all have a profound sense of pride towards Tayrona, it’s very inspiring!
I think what I’m trying to say here is if you plan on doing The Lost City Trek don’t take this tour lightly. There’s definitely no room for underestimation as I learnt. It’s difficult, that goes without saying. But it’s worth every aching step and I think you’d struggle to find someone who who tell you any different. For me, I was able to achieve something I genuinely didn’t think I’d be capable of doing. If that’s good enough for you along with everything else you discover and learn on this trek then bloody go for it, The Lost City awaits you.