Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) : Essentials

  • Best Agencies to do the Lost City Trek: Aventure Colombia, Magic Tour, Turcol, Wiwatour, Sierraventur
  • Lost City Trek Cost? The Lost City Trek 4 and 5 Days cost 1.150.000 Cop, and the price is the same with all agencies. The rates for the Ciudad Perdida are regulated
  • How to book the Lost City Trek: You can book online and just need to pay a deposit of 15% before the departure to secure your place. Better to book 2 or 3 days in advance.
  • The Lost City Trek In 4 Days or 5 Days what is the difference?  Generally, tourists opt for the 4-day option (7 hours of walking per day) but nature lovers would rather enjoy a slower hike in 5 days.
  • Lost City Trek Closed 2021: Ciudad Perdida is annually closed during September, by request of the indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada.
  • Best Time to do the Lost City Trek : Best month for sun january & February, High season from December 15th to January 15th
  • Weather at the Lost City : It is very hot and humid all year round during the trek to the lost city. It rains almost everyday from may to November
  • Best Treks in Colombia : Lost City Trek, Cocuy Trek , Los Nevados
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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

The Lost City Trek at a glance

Video by Aventure Colombia

To reach the Ciudad Perdida, you will have to travel a total of about 70 km, in the heart of the tropical forest. 

All along the way, you will discover a breathtaking landscape, between deep jungle, green mountains and a series of waterfalls. 

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Don’t hesitate to take a dip to refresh yourself a little. 

Indeed, the humidity is such that a good swim will do you the greatest good. 

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Difficulty level, the course oscillates between ascents and descents. Depending on your physical condition, you can do it between 3 and 6 days. 

Generally, tourists opt for the 4-day option, which means about 7 hours of walking per day. 

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Bivouacs and several fruit stands are scattered all over the site.

Starting the third day, you will finally find yourself facing the coveted ciudad perdida. 

And when you think you’ve reached your goal, you still have about 1200 stone steps to climb (count an hour of climbing!).

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

At the top, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking spectacle. 

A hundred or so circular terraces, connected by numerous period stone steps, all in the fabulous setting of the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

At the top, there are circular terraces with lawns, connected by stairs and served by the remains of complex water distribution systems.

The view is simply exceptional! 

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

The huts of the Tayrona people have disappeared. Nestled in the heart of an impressive virgin forest, the Lost City is surrounded by curtains of tagua palms and tree ferns.

With your guide, you will explore the Ciudad Perdida for two or three hours and discover all the secrets of this ancient civilization. 

A real leap in history …

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Itinerary

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Lost City Trek Map

Lost City Trek Map (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Where is the Lost City ?

What you need to know before  you go to the Lost City Trek

  • The Ciudad Perdida trek requires a good physical condition.
  • You’ll need to carry everything on your back : so Travel Light !!!
  • The trek is not a loop we go and come back by the same path. (Before we went out Wimake and the Tagua, but the indigenous communities decided to close the access to this valley.
  • There will be no telephone network or internet connection during the entire trek
  • It is necessary to cross many rivers, including the Buricata River, punctuated by splendid waterfalls.
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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly
  • Make sure to respect the indigenous communities, avoid taking their picture or at least ask their permission before taking pictures of them.
  • There is a lot of Zancudos (sunflies) along the trek, and the repellent can’t do anything for you.
  • But the good thing is that only bite on the ankles. So protect yourself  with socks and you’ll be fine. Don’t last long barefoot after swimming. 
  • You’re going to sweat like hell!
  • We do not encourage animal milking, but be aware that you can rent a mule to carry your belongings (with extra charge).
  • Moisture can seriously damage your electronic devices, protect them during the tour. It is very common for condensation to get into your photo lenses. 

What to Pack for the Lost City Trek

Very important :

Go LIGHT ! You should not carry more than 10% of your weight for girls and 15% for men.

The lighter you will go, the more you will appreciate the trek

Backpack

  • It’s important to bring a small and light backpack (20 – 25L of capacity).
  • If your backpack is not impermeable bring a big plastic/garbage bag in case of rain.
  • If your bag is not waterproof, bring 50L garbage bag to protect your bag from rain (you can get in any local grocery store)

Clothing

  • Appropriate hiking clothing, light and that dry fast. If you can, take only an outfit for the day that you wash every day and that dries quickly, and a clean outfit for the evening.
  • Appropriate Tennis or footwear with a good grip sole (Best shoes for hiking trail shoes like Salomon. avoid gore tex, leather shoes or heavy hiking shoes, they’ll stay wet all trip) 
  • A change of clothes because between the possible rains and perspiration, your clothes will probably get soaked
  • One pair of socks for each day of the trek. + 1 clean for the night (mostly in rainy season)
  • A small jacket for the Evening (temperature does not go under 17°C)
  • Light pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt for the evening and the mosquitoes
  • Hat, cap or scarf for sun protection
  • Bathing suit : during the tour, you will be able to enjoy rivers and natural pools.
  • Flip-flops or sandals for the night, wear it with socks, otherwise, mosquitoes will wreak havoc

Papers

Your passport (protect is in a dry bag)

Cash (What ? No ATM at the lost City ? ) You won’t need a lot as everything is included, but always useful for a drink, sweets, souvenirs or tips for the guide

hygiene products

  • Dry bags to separate your clean things from your dirty things.
  • Organic sunscreen.
  • The most efficient repellent in Colombia is called Nopikex (based on DEET). You can get some in any drugstore. But instead try to use long sleeves and pants , much more ecological
  • Shower Gel and Shampoo. You can get individual doses in drugstore so you save precious weight. More ecological option : the colombian blue Soap ( called « Jabon Rey » ) can replace Shower Gel & Shampoo and also to do your laundry.
  • Microfiber Towel : it dries faster and takes less space in your backpack.Toilet Paper !!
  • Basic medications like Aspirin, imodium can save your back. You can get buy single doses in drugstores.
  • A bag for any rubbish. You will be able to throw it at the camps

Eletronic Device

camera with enough charge, a charger (there is now electricity in the camps). It is not guaranteed that you can charge your things. So If necessary bring a power bank

Headlamp

In case you can’t carry your luggage, you may ask for a donkey for an an additional cost.

History of the Ciudad Perdida in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta

Located at an altitude of more than 1,000 meters, the lost city was probably built in 800 A.D. (650 years before Macchu Picchu), by the indigenous Tayrona people, before being abandoned during the Spanish colonization in the 16th century.

The Lost City is one of the few circular architecture reference that exists in the world.

Almost all the pre-Hispanic villages were established near the rivers, however, at the Buritaca 200 site, a completely different system of canalization can be observed.

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

An ingenious civilization

Little is known about the way of life of the Tayronas, a lost civilization.

But the topography of their territory, from the Caribbean Sea to the towering mountain peaks, allowed them to engage in all kinds of agricultural activities, as well as fishing and hunting.

Archaeological discoveries have revealed that they were highly skilled artisans, potters and goldsmiths.

Great builders, the Tayronas had dotted the massif with villages, linked to each other by stone roads.

Above all, they had shown architectural audacity: to adapt to the slopes of the terrain, they had become experts in the construction of terraces, both for housing and agriculture.

Their architecture consisted in preventing erosion caused by rain on the slopes, thanks to an efficient rainwater distribution network.

This ability to carry out large earthworks suggests that their social organization was efficient.

It is assumed that the Lost City, with at least 2,000 inhabitants, was once the political and economic center of the Buritaca River region.

Of the twenty-six archaeological sites found to date in the Buritaca River basin, Teyuna appears to have been the largest, most important, and most historic of all.

It was the seat of political power in the villages.

Discovery of the Lost City by “the Civilians”.

In the 1970s, Guaqueros – indigenous grave robbers – made an unexpected discovery after several days of trekking through the jungle.

By chance, they had just laid their hands on a priceless and unalterable treasure.

In front of their eyes, a forgotten city rose up, almost buried under the vegetation.

An incredible city in ruins, formed by a hundred limestone terraces on the mountainside.

Alerted by the unlikely discovery, the Colombian government protects the site and the first tourists eager for sensations ventured there in 1984.

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ciudad perdida colombia @tristan29photography

A secret place until its discovery?

Not exactly.

The abandoned city was in fact well known by some indigenous people living on this mountain – Kogis, Wiwas, Arhuacos… – descendants of the Tayronas (a people decimated by 80% by the colonists), but they had “hidden” its existence.

Because, for them, Teyuna – as the natives call it – is a place full of mysticism, and its terraces are considered as ceremonial sites.

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Much More to Discover

It is estimated that only 10% of The Lost City has been explored. Researchers believe there are many other sites like Pueblito in Tayrona Park that date from that civilization.

A place that is now safe

In the early 2000s, this remote and hardly accessible site was the scene of armed conflict between the Colombian army, the FARC, the ELN and the extreme right-wing paramilitaries (AUC), in particular for the control of coca plantations.

The site has been totally secure since 2005, with the regular army guarding this important archaeological site in Colombia.

How to Book for the Lost City Trek

Again, for information, it is not allowed to do the Ciudad Perdida trek by your own means, you are obliged to go through an certified company. 

Departures : Everydays at 8:00am – 9am from Santa Marta, but also from Tayrona Park & Palomino

Why Visiting the Lost City ?

The hike to Lost City is considered the best hike in South America, and the Lost City is classified as the Machu Pichu of Colombia

The tiredness of the road is rewarded with breath taking sunsets and sunrises.

Then, when you arrive in Lost City, you feel a sense of triumph, victory, satisfaction, pride, which will surely become an inspiration for life.

Traveling to Lost City is also a journey of knowledge, within each one. It is a journey that you will never forget and always remember with the same excitement.

It was declared a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

More information : Lost city Wikipedia

Encountering Indigenous Peoples

During your journey, you will have the opportunity to pass through an authentic indigenous village. 

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Mutanji Kogi Village (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

They are the Kogis, direct descendants of the Tayronas people. 

When the Spaniards arrived, the Kogis were forced to retreat into the mountains. 

Today, nearly 10,000 Kogi still live in the mountains of Sierra Nevada. 

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Kogi Children during the Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

More than a place to live, the mountain is for them a sacred land, the center of the world. 

They live there in perfect harmony with nature. 

Perhaps you will have the chance to communicate directly with the chief of the Kogi tribe.

More info : Kogis Colombia Complete Article

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Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida) – Photo © Tristan Quevilly

Lost City Trek FAQ

Food during the Lost City Trek

We eat very well during the hike.
The groups include a private cook who prepares rich and varied meals every day.
If you are vegetarian or allergic, please let the agency know in advance, they are used to it. 
The meals are designed for the hikers: generous quantities and rich in slow sugars. 
You will never go hungry: Between the camps, you will find some small stands in which you will make a small stop to rest, besides eating rich seasonal fruits to recover energy. 
In the morning, the cooks literally have to run away (after doing all the dishes) in order to arrive before the group at the next camp and make food before everyone arrives.  A real sporting challenge!!

Is the water drinkable during the trek to the lost city?

At each camp there is a large canister of purified water for each group.
Remember to take a water bottle of sufficient size (1.5L recommended).

Is it better to do the The Lost City Trek In 4 Days or 5 Days ? 

Most people choose the tour in 4 days.
The price is the same in 4 or 5 days: 1.150.000 Cop.
The Trek in 5 days is a little easier than in 4, but the biggest advantage is that you leave 1 hour after all the groups, so you will be alone on the hiking trails, and more time to enjoy nature and take pictures.

How is it going with the hosting?

Along the way to Ciudad Perdida or Lost City, The camps are fully equipped with beds, hammocks, bathrooms, kitchens, a place to wash clothes and small tents in case you need to buy some items. 
Some camps can be really crowded in high season.
The dormitories can accommodate up to 40 people. And there are often a lot of people at meal times.
It can break the myth a little bit, but it’s part of the atmosphere.
No need for sleeping bags or extra sheets, everything is provided.
There is no locker in the campsites, so if you have valuable equipment, keep it close by.

Can we go to the lost city by car?

To discover the Lost City, don’t even think about taking a vehicle! You have to walk from Machete Pelao, four to five days in the hot, humid, subtropical jungle. The hike, intense (about forty kilometers round trip), requires a good physical condition.

Where can we leave our luggage before the Trek in order to leave with a light bag?

All agencies certified for the lost city offer the possibility to leave your belongings safe while you do the trek.
If necessary the Agencies should be able to bring your belongings with the 4×4 that comes to pick you up, in case you want to go on to the Tayrona or Palomino Park.
Secondly, most of the hotels in the area will offer you to leave your belongings before the trek to the lost city. 

From which city does the Lost City trek depart?

The trek 90% of the agencies leave directly from Santa Marta and pick you up at your hotel between 8am and 9am.
However they can also pick you up at the entrance of Tayrona Park. Be on time for the appointment, because there is no phone signal in this area.
If you are staying in Costeño Beach or Palomino, the hotels all offer the possibility to register for the trek from the reception.

Can we do the trek to Ciudad Perdida in a private group?

Yes it is possible, but it costs much more, check the price directly with them.

Can we do the trek without a guide?

it is not possible to do this tour on your own. The only way is to take a tour with an approved Tour Company
In the context of years of plunder by the “Guaqueros” followed by disasters caused by the cultivation of Marijuana, production of Cocaine, and then intensive agriculture, we can appreciate the fact that the territory of Sierra Nevada today is a reserve administered by the indigenous people themselves.
It is therefore forbidden to enter without authorization from the communities. For this reason, it is not possible to reach the Lost City by one’s own means.

Is there electricity during the trek?

There are a few sockets to charge phones or batteries, but they are taken over by other trekkers in high season.
So try to save your batteries as much as possible.
You can also invest in a power bank, very practical in this kind of expeditions.
Pro tip : for cameras cut the display.

Is there any Intenet during the tour?

Unfortunately some campsites now have internet.
But this trek is a moment of reconnection with nature, so enjoy it !

Walking time for the Lost City

Day 1: Transport from Santa Marta + 3-5 hours hiking + night on trail
Day 2: 7-9 hours hiking + night on trail
Day 3: 1 h hiking + 1200 steps + Lost City site visit + 6-8 hours hiking + night on trail
Day 4: 5-7 hours hiking + transport to Santa Marta

Best time to make the trek to the lost city?

The high season is from December 15th to January 15th. This period is to be avoided absolutely.
The trek is closed during the whole month of September, every year.
The rainy season starts from May to November in this area of the Sierra Nevada.
The best time to make the trek is therefore February, March and April.

Do we have interaction with Kogis? 

Besides the interaction that you might have with El Mamo (spiritual leader) and the guides, there is no interaction with Kogis.
However, you will certainly come across some families on the way.

What is the size of each group?

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The size of the goes from 6-12 people depending on the season

It is possible to go to the Lost City with kids ?

For safety reasons, Kids under the age of 12 and people over the age of 65 are not allowed to do the trek

What if i am vegan or vegetarian?

No problem! Let the agency know when you make your booking and they will prepare all your meals with no meat and more carbs.

What is the cost if the Lost City hike ?

The price for the trek is the same for 4 or 5 days.
4 days trek = $1.150.000
5 days trek = $1.150.000

Lost City Trek Closed 2021

Ciudad Perdida will be CLOSED on the following dates:
All of September 2021
December 25, 2021
January 01, 2022

Where to stay after the Lost City Hike

Best hotels are :
If want to stay close to Tayrona Park, then go Bohemia Beach
If you want to head up to Minca, then go to Mundo Nuevo for relaxing few days. best view and best food
If you would like to go to Cartagena or Santa Marta, then have a night in Masaya

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