If you are travelling to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, you will get the chance to visit some incredible places and embark on some astonishing adventures in and around the Santa Marta area. Santa Marta especially is the perfect base to visit Tayrona National Parque or travel to Minca or Palomino.
But if there is one activity in the area that you should be including in your Colombia itinerary, then that is a hike to the breathtaking Lost City.
The Lost City Trek is a 4, 5 or 6 day trek to the ancient Ciudad Perdida (Lost City, also known as “Teyuna”) located within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
The place is even older than Machu Picchu in Peru and can only be reached by foot. Meaning, that the only way to get to see the lost city is by going on a multiple day hike. The hike has a total of around 42 kilometres.
How long does the tour take to hike to the Lost City?
You will be picked up early in the morning from Santa Marta/Palomino or wherever you are starting and taken to the main office. There you will have to wait for a bit as well as pay for the tour, before being taken to the starting point of the lost city trek. From Santa Marta that will take around 2 hours.
After lunch at the starting point you will start walking the trail at around 1pm. Depending on how many days you will want to do the tour, the returning day will differ.
If you opt for the three night tour then you will get back to the place where you had lunch at around noon. If you are going back to Santa Marta after, you will probably arrive there around 4pm/5pm.
How does the Lost City Trek work?
There are three camps in total in which you will stay at. I did the 4-day hike so I can only speak for that one but everyone I met on the tour was also doing four days as well. That seems to be the most famous one.
There are three camps: Camp 1, Camp 2 and Camp 3. On the first day you will only hike half a day until Camp 1 and then spent the night there. On the second day, you will spend the first half of the day hiking to Camp 2 where you will have lunch and then continue afterwards to Camp 3 where you will spend the second night.
Camp 3 is only about an hour away from the Lost City so on day three you will spend the morning at the Lost City before returning to Camp 3 for lunch. In the afternoon you will hike back to Camp 2 where you will spend the night.
On the last day then you will basically go straight back to the starting point from Camp 2, only passing Camp 1 for a little snack and break.
17 Things to know before Hiking to the Lost City
1. All your clothes will be wet for most of the time
Even if you don’t end up walking in the rain, due to the humanity and the exercise your clothes will be wet within minutes of starting to walk. Therefore, most people just have one outfit which they wear every day of hiking.
2. There are actual beds
While I was expecting to sleep in a hammock, there were actual beds at all the camps. Only the guides were sleeping in hammocks. I belive, only in the third camp there were not enough beds and a few people ended up having to sleep in hammocks.
3. You’ll get plenty of food
If you are worried about not getting enough food don’t be. You’ll get meals three times a day and the portions are huge.
4. The cooks had to hike the whole way as well
What I found most shocking was the fact that instead of having different cooks and each camp you had the same cook for each group/company.
That meant that the cooks had to wake up earlier than everyone else to make breakfast and then hike up super fast and pass the groups on the way to be back at the next camp to make lunch. Just so they will hike up to the next place to make dinner. That must be exhausting!
5. Some guides have to start the next tour minutes after arriving back at the starting point
On the last day we finally arrived back at the lunch destination, exhausted and hungry, around noon. Our guide who had walked down all the way with us for the past 5 hours or so had to start walking up again with a new group just a few minutes after we got back.
We also saw new groups leaving with other guides who had also just completed a four-day hike and had to go straight back up.
6. There are 1200 steps to the Lost City
There are about 1200 steps in the end that you have to complete in order to actually arrive at the Lost City. While the distance from the last camp to the Lost City is only about an hour, it is quite exhausting just because of the amount of stairs.
7. Going 4, 5 or 6 days is all the same price
It doesn’t really matter if you end up going for four or five days as the price will be the same. Also the price will most likely be the same across all the companies that offer tours to the Lost city. (As of August 2019 around 1100000 Colombian Pesos).
8. Some camps are bigger than others
At times you will be with all random companies or you might just be with one or two other groups from your own company.
9. Day 2 and 4 are the hardest
At least for me they were. The second day mostly because it was quite steep at times and the last day because at that time everything was hurting and we had to walk quite a bit in one go.
The first day was pretty chill as it was only for a few hours and then on the third one you spent quite a bit of time just hanging out at the Lost City.
10. All foods and drinks need to be brought up by mules
Since the Lost City and the camps are only accessible by foot, all the food that you are eating has to be brought up by mules. They will most likely pass you a couple of times during the hike.
11. You’ll get plenty of fruits on the way
In addition to the three meals you get in a day, there are also several fruit stops along the way, where you will have a break and get some watermelon or pineapple.
12. There are plenty of stops to buy water along the way
Along the way there are several stops where you will be able to buy cold drinks. Mostly, Water, Coca Cola or Gatorode.
13. You’ll have to get up at 5am every morning
Every day you will have to wake up by 5am. Breakfast is at 5:30am and then you’ll leave the camp around 6am.
14. There is still a family living in the Lost City
There are several local tribes living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and you also get to meet some on the way and they will explain to you some of their rituals and way of life. According to the guide, one family actually lives in the lost city.
15. You are not allowed to bring your big backpacks into the Lost City
You can not bring your big backpacks into the Lost City itself and should leave them at Camp 3 instead. The reason for that being that it is a spiritual place and you shouldn’t bring bad energy into it. Smaller backpacks and bags are allowed though.
16. You will have to leave and start the hike from the same place
The way to and back from the Lost City will also be the exact same as it is not permitted to go a different route.
17. Along the way you will have to cross two rivers
Nothing to worry about though. The first one is pretty tame and the maximum depth will be like up to your knee. The second one is a bit more difficult but there is a rope to hold on to.
The only reason why I was terrified was the fact that I had my passport with me and I didn’t want it to get wet.
And here were 17 things you should know before hiking to the Lost City! Did you hike to the Lost City or are you planning on? What are some of the things you wish you would have known beforehand?
Talk to you soon x
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Nice Guide. I like how the only way to make to Lost City is by hiking. May have to add it to the bucket list.
Glad to hear that, it really is worth it!