In the wet season (March to November) the trails can be more slippery and treacherous, and Buritaca River waters will rise, making the crossings a little trickier. There are ropes at some crossings, but in other parts, you may have to wade through with water at knee or waist height. There is also the possibility of late afternoon and evening torrential rainfall, although this is cathartic when you are tucked up in your camp.

Indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on the Lost City trekking trail.
Thick, tropical green on Day 2 of the Lost City Trek.
They say this mountain is the ‘heart of the world’ for them and that when the balance of this place breaks, the whole world will break. They used to close the National Park for two weeks, but since Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which also hit the area hard, they saw it as a warning and now close it for the entire month to balance the bad energies visitors bring in.
Dense Jungle track on the Lost City Ciudad Perdida trek.
Elevation: Started at 400m and walked to 800m.
Getting there was an expedition into the world’s second-largest biodiversity system and a passage through the heartland of Colombia’s oldest indigenous communities.

Indigenous Kogui village in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. You first pass a Kogui village. A community of semi-nomadic people and farmers, they don’t live in these villages and only come back to them sporadically. The structures are symbolically built, with two stumps on the top of each house representing the two sacred peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain which are the highest points and closest spiritually. The walls represent the earth.

Two avid trekkers on my trip confessed that the Lost City was more difficult than the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro and trekking to Everest Base Camp.

You must take the same steep stone stairway back down, which requires slow and precise movement. It’s time for breakfast at camp before leaving at 9 am for a four-hour trek back to the Wiwa Camp (from Day 2). You can ease those aching muscles swimming in the lake next to the Wiwa camp. River crossed on the way to Ciudad Perdida.

There are no porters, and while later on in the trek there is a chance to share the cost of a horse to carry some load for you, you will be carrying that one pack every day.
A trekker walking through the thick jungle on a trail to the Lost City of Colombia.
This is a seven-day adventure that includes accommodation in Santa Marta before and after the five days of trekking and the addition of the exclusive fifth-day trekking route not open to anyone else.
Trekking Time: 3 hours
A group of trekkers at a Lost City trek campsite dining room.

History of the Lost City of Colombia

This rich environment is also home to some of the best-preserved cultures in America, isolated and unseen until the second half of the 20th century. The Kogui, Wiwa, Arhuaco and Kankuamo communities are descendants of the Tayrona (Tairona) people of la Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), and have been living here for centuries and now maintain it. You are simply a visitor walking amongst them on their land throughout the trek days.
Day 2. Trek en route to Teyuna Paraiso Camp.
Trekking through forested hills.
It’s also the day you will tackle one of the river crossings before navigating an ‘Indiana Jones’ style patch of jungle with steep rocks to climb to get onto the trail leading to camp. It felt exciting, raw, untouched, and secret. A feeling in the run-up to what is coming.
The archaeological site of la Ciudad Perdida is said to be only 10% uncovered.
The steep start of the 1,200 stairs to the Lost City.
The slow and steady pace of the group. Getting to the Lost City is not a race.

There had always been stories of the lost cities of the Tayrona people of the Sierra Nevada – a remote region that remained unexplored for centuries – but La Ciudad Perdida is the biggest. By 1978, the Colombian government noticed an important flow of archaeological objects from this region. It quickly gained control, sending the army in first to curb the looters before sending in the archaeologists. Rough location maps were made with the help of the looters, and helicopters were sent out to find the exact location.

Why is it called the Lost City?

The introduction of tourism to this once isolated community allows both for the education of travellers about the indigenous way of life, and for these people to continue to reclaim their land that was once lost or displaced due to the illegal activity in the mountains from the growth of coca plantations for cocaine production.
A woman with a black backpack and stick on a jungle path on the Lost City Trek.
Day 1. Santa Marta. Transfer to Machete / Overnight in Wiwa Camp.
A man on a mule and a hiker on a narrow path, deep jungle trekking back from the Lost City, Colombia.
One last river crossing brings you right to the heart of the Wiwa village, made even more special for the fact that it is the home of our Wiwa guide, Gabo who helped lead our entire journey.

Wiwa man in white dress standing within the jungle stone ruins of The Lost City Ciudad Perdida in Colombia. Stretches of rugged terrain.

How Long is the Trek to the Lost City?

An indigenous guide and a trekker at a river crossing on Colombia Lost City Trek.
Basket weaving at the Wiwa Village.
A couple looking at the view of the mountain top, terraced Lost City in Colombia.

Trekking Time: 5.5 – 6 Hours (with two rest stops) Any plagiarism of this Lost City Trek blog or any of its descriptions and images used on other sites and blogs without attribution is not information authorised by myself for use. Know your source. 

Ciudad Perdida Tours – Who to Trek to the Lost City With

But while the Lost City has never truly been lost, with Tayrona descendants having always known of its existence under the covering of foliage that kept it hidden from the outside world, we should be grateful we are given the opportunity to witness it, knowing that the pain and glory of getting there on foot adds greater weight to its meaning.
At 5.30 am, we were the first to leave. It took one hour on a short jungle walk and river crossing before reaching the 1,200 narrow, steep, uneven stairs that climb up into the entrance to the Lost City.
A trekking group rests at a local orange juice stand on the Lost City hike, Colombia.
The dense jungle of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia trekking to La Ciudad Perdida
An indigenous Wiwa guide guiding a group on a Lost City tour in Colombia.
Our Wiwa guiding standing within the ruins of The Lost City.

Elevation: 1,500m at Lost City, before trekking back down to 400m at Wiwa campsite Overnight at Ricardito Camp.

Who I Trekked With – Positive Social Impact

It’s preciously this isolation and intrigue that brings in the more curious of travellers wanting to embark on the Ciudad Perdida trek. To find the Lost City.
Getting to the Lost City of Teyuna is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip, yet much of what it was and why it was there is still being unravelled.
A Wiwa mamo blessing a passenger on the Lost City Trek in Colombia.

This is their sacred land (alongside the Kogui community), and there is a risk of a loss of culture and their livelihoods being taken over by businesses running Lost City treks. Anyone not trekking in compliance with the wishes of the indigenous community is out for profit and not for good. A guide to everything you need to know to complete the Lost City Trek in Colombia and how to get to the Ciudad Perdida archaeological site.
You need to pack as little as possible for the Lost City trek since you will be carrying your backpack the entire time. This includes carrying a litre bottle or two of water, which is where the majority of the weight will come from. A dog standing on a rock outside a wooden hut at the Lost City Base Camp.

The trek to Ciudad Perdida, Colombia, takes you on a trail to an ancient civilisation.
Regardless of what company you choose, I do stress the importance of choosing a company that not only has licensed trekking guides, but that also works alongside the indigenous communities where a member of the Wiwa community is also trekking with you or where a significant portion of your money for the trek is being given to indigenous communities.

How Much Does it Cost to Do the Lost City Trek?

Some of the steeper Lost City climbs on mud paths.
A Guide to The Ciudad Perdida Lost City Trek in Colombia.
My Wiwa guide, Gabo, said it is special when groups go with an indigenous guide and that it is a real experience.
My number one rule would be that if an indigenous guide is not with you while trekking this sacred space, don’t choose that company. At the forefront of this kind of partnership is Wiwa Tours, whose work is to support the indigenous people, their rights and protection at the forefront of this trekking route.

  • At least one night of accommodation in Santa Marta on either side of the trek, with luggage storage.
  • Two-hour jeep ride to and from Santa Marta to start and endpoints of the trekking route (Machete and the Gotsezhi Wiwa indigenous community Village).
  • Accommodation for the entire trek (basic camps of bunk beds and hammocks).
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinners at the trek camps.
  • A licensed and trained trekking guide and an accompanying indigenous guide.
  • Permits /entrance for trekking in the Lost City / Sierra Nevada national park area.

Those who break the rules about what areas of the Lost City are open for exploration are fracturing the respect of the people who allow us to visit their land and eventually could get this route closed down.

  • Travel insurance, which you must arrange yourself and ensure it includes emergency rescue.
  • International flights/airfare.
  • Visa costs for Colombia and the organisation of it.
  • General trekking gear such as walking poles, although I was given a stick from the jungle
  • Snacks.
  • Medication (including altitude sickness tablets).

Best Time to Trek in the Lost City

Colombia Lost City Trekking Map

When is the Lost City Trek Trail Closed?

Stone terraces of Lost City Ciudad Perdida in Colombia.
The dense jungle of Sierra Nevada that you will pass through on the trek route.

In the words of my indigenous Wiwa guide, Gabo: “The hard things should be done, and the impossible should be tried.” A member of an indigenous Wiwa village in Sierra Nevada Colombia demonstrates how to make rope from plants.

Lost City Trekking Seasons

Long forgotten, nature covered it for centuries, but with the help of archaeologists and the blessing of local indigenous people who today protect their ancestral site, around 10% of it has been uncovered and made open for those who make the pilgrimage here on the Lost City trek.
Wiwa indigenous guide sits on the stone ruins of the Lost City Ciudad Perdida in Colombia.
Trekking Time: 5 – 6 hours

The National Park is also closed every September for preservation and maintenance when the indigenous communities perform ceremonies and offer payment to restore the balance of energy. Easing aching muscles at the lake waterfall.

Lost City Trekking Route – Snapshot

With this comes a feeling of empowerment and pride that outsiders want to visit the Wiwa people and better understand them and their culture.
Two trekkers tackle hilly, rugged terrain on the Lost City trek in Colombia.
Taking a break at a local house.
An indigenous Mamo leader at a Wiwa Village in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, Colombia.
My Lost City Trek cost around 0 for the seven-day round-trip package outlined above, including the fifth-day trekking route not open to any other trekking company.
Wiwa community buildings in Sierra Nevada Colombia.

The Wiwa community of Gotsezhi is the location of the first G Adventures Planeterra project in Colombia. It started in early 2017, with Planaterra offering funding and consultancy on a social impact project that is fully owned by the Wiwa community. In the dry season (December to March) there is less rain, making the Buritaca River crossings easier where you don’t have to take your shoes and socks off and walk over rocks with a light trickle of water flow. The dry season also sees the biggest flow of visitors, although this isn’t a trekking trail that is overrun. Groups are few and staggered, you rarely pass more than two to four people at a time, and often you feel as if you have the entire trail to yourself.

Is the Lost City Trek Difficult?

Straw cone huts of the Indigenous Kogui village on the Lost City trek Colombia.
By the time the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, the Tayrona (an estimated one million people) was suspected to be at the edge of becoming a major civilisation in the Americas. At least 60% of them died from diseases brought over by the colonisers or died defending their land.
The Lost City has been given four names over the course of its discovery. The indigenous name, Teyuna, is alleged to be the name of the lord or the spirit of the city and the most precise name known to date. The ‘The Green Hell’ (‘Inferno Verde’) was given by the looters who first stumbled upon it in 1976, which started a battle for control in a remote area with disease and poisonous animals.
The Lost City trek in Colombia was a journey that took me from the urban pockets of the Caribbean coastline to the isolated jungle basin that wraps around the highest coastal mountain in the world at 5,778 metres above sea level.

We trekked in June when the days were hot, and heavy rainfall came almost every afternoon from 4 pm. We counteracted this by always leaving at 5:30 am or 6:30 am to arrive at our next camp station before being caught in the downpour. Your trekking guide will know the weather and formulate a strategy. River crossings were deep and had to be tackled slowly to keep balance in the flowing waters, but in the end, they are fun, and you soon dry off in the heat. La Ciudad Perdida (Spanish for ‘Lost City’) is an ancient archaeological site perched within the Sierra Nevada mountain region of northern Colombia, built by the Tayrona people and dating to approximately 800 AD – older than Machu Picchu.
We started the morning with a natural cleanse in the waterfall near our camp before continuing back on the same track we took on the first day. This is the day when you effectively leave the Lost City trekking trail. It took three hours, with an additional one-hour rest and a last steep uphill 30-minute stretch to the Ricardito Camp, where we had lunch on the first day. We rested, had dinner and slept here. The mountain top vastness of the hidden city.
This consistent up and down is brutal in parts, but the scenery eases the pain, as does always reminding yourself what the end goal is. In this case, you pay a little extra for the unique experience and know your money is being put back into the community.

Do I Need to Train for Lost City Trekking?

Our indigenous Wiwa guide leads the way.
The Lost City site was officially opened to visitors in 1981, but only by helicopter. Until the indigenous government said it was not allowed because, after nearly 15 years, they were landing on the main terrace and destroying it. Now, the only way in is a days-long trek, with their approval.

This was also the chance to spend a restful few hours with our Wiwa guide, Gabo, where we could ask him questions about his culture and the rise of interest in the trek to the lost city. A site that’s more than 1,400 years old, what we know about it, as one of the most important cities in Colombia, comes from the knowledge of the indigenous communities, the archaeologists and ongoing research. 

Lost City Trek Day-by-Day

Magnificence. La Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) is one of the most important cities in Colombia.

DAY 1. Starting the Lost City Trek

A Wiwa campsite in the jungle on the Lost City trek, with basic facilities.
Despite knowing there was another trekking day ahead of us when we were already exhausted, we knew this final day was special. Leaving at 6 am, it was a two-hour steep climb into some farmland and another two hours wading through some deep, untouched jungle.
The jungle covered archaeological site of the Lost City Ciudad Perdida in Colombia.

Dense green hilltop forests in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park. The Lost City sits at an altitude of 1,200 metres (3,937 ft.) above sea level and is the highest point of the trek. No technical equipment such as ropes and harnesses are required, but this is raw, uneven jungle territory with narrow pathways, uneven surfaces, loose rocks and dense foliage in parts.

Gabo resting on the stone ruins of the Lost City site.

This is another day of arduous uphill climbs on rocky pathways, protruding tree roots, and through small parts of dense jungle and thick forest. You know you are getting more into the heart of the jungle on this day as the thick vegetation scenery is similar to the varied landscapes on the first day that changed from farmland to the tropics. Trekking Time: 7 Hours (with two rest stops)
Hiking in Colombia and the Sierra Nevada is considered one of the best treks in South America. We left Santa Marta at sunrise for a two-hour jeep journey to the trek starting point at Machete, where we had breakfast. 95 families live in this area, given the name Machete from its former era of violence from narco cartels, guerillas and paramilitary who dominated this area for coca production.
The journey to the Lost City Colombia in the heart of indigenous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Hikers resting at a local house along the Lost City Trek route.
Day 5. The exclusive extra-day trek route to reach the Gotsezhi Wiwa indigenous community Village/ Transfer back to Santa Marta. The Tayrona people were advanced in construction, engineering and military operation, with a complex hierarchy of society, a religious and political elite, and organised as a federation of towns. It’s thought the Lost City was their capital and most sacred town, connecting and trading with other groups in people in Colombia.

Last stretches of deep jungle trekking.

A small group trekking through mountain forest to Lost City Ciudad Perdida, Colombia. G Adventures and Wiwa trekking guides for the Lost City, Colombia.

We were met by a Mamo (the spiritual leader of the community who keeps the natural order), who blessed us and tied a white ribbon around each of our wrists marking a rather emotional end to these arduous days.

DAY 2. The Long Walk to Lost City Base Camp

Day one of the Lost City Trek, leaving lowland villages and working our way up into the peaks.
Map of Colombia Lost City Trek – The Route With G Adventures
Elevated farm land of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta trekking Ciudad Perdida.
However hard it is to get there.

Viewing the ancient rock map of Ciudad Perdida. Elevation: Climbing back up to 700m
My trek was five days long, with the final day being an exclusive trekking route to a Wiwa community not offered by any other company except G Adventures. Our G Adventures and Wiwa trekking guides for the Lost City Trek.

Dense Jungle tracks make up much of the Lost City trail.

If not, I suggest taking on some smaller day hikes before this trip, where uphill and downhill terrains can be trained to not only get used to four to six-hour trekking times but also to get used your body used to the tricky terrain. Lush tropical vegetation covers rolling hills in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Colombia.
A man sitting on the rocks of a waterfall on the Lost City Trek. Donkey mules between the Lost City camps. 
Map of Lost City Ciudad Perdida, Colombia Wooden bunk beds with white mosquito nets at a Lost City trek camp.

Lost City trek campsite dining room.

Jungle set Indigenous house seen on the Lost City trek, Ciudad Perdida Colombia. We start walking at 8 am, stopping after a couple of hours at a rest stop set up by a guy whose income rests on squeezing fresh orange for weary, already sweaty trekkers. This trail continues, leaving the farmland and entering the terrain of indigenous villages where around 80 families, mainly Kogui and Wiwa, reside.

DAY 3. Arriving at the Lost City.

Dense jungle covered stone terraces of Ciudad Perdida (Lost City).
Trekkers on a mountain slope trail on the Colombia Lost City Trek.
The stone pathway to the elevated view of the Lost City terraces.
The total distance of the trek to and from the Lost City site is 45km, using the same jungle path. It’s estimated that if you factor in the steep uphill and downhill climbs along this route, in both directions, the total distance is around 1.5 times this, meaning you will rack up closer to 65-70km trekking here.

It’s also good to note that many treks are offered in Spanish only, so check if the tour has an English-speaking guide or a translator who will accompany you. Otherwise, you will miss a lot of history and vital information. Jungle-covered stone terraces of Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). There’s said to be more buried within here waiting to be uncovered.

Getting off track on the extra Lost City trek day, crossing hilltop farmland.

The Wiwa community of Gotsezhi. Day 4. Trek back through the jungle, past Kogui communities en route to Ricardito Camp.
Elevation: Started at 340m – climbed to 650m. Slept at 400m at Wiwa campsite One-third of the 30,000 square kilometres of the UNESCO reserved biosphere of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a National Park open for exploration, where a path has been roughly carved through the wilderness to lead you to a hidden city and the central axis of a lost civilisation.
A steady incline jungle path through the beautiful Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Dense jungle encased stone terraces of The Lost City Ciudad Perdida in Colombia.

You can expect to pay in the region of 0 for the basic four-day trek package and from 0+ for packages up to six days, including accommodation in Santa Marta. Usually, the same price applies for four, five or six days with the same company.

Since the Paraiso Teyuna campsite is busy, and usually with around 100 people resting there at a time, groups are staggered in when they leave for the Lost City. Receiving a blessing from the Mamo after completing the Lost City Trek.
Every day is different hiking the Lost City, but here’s what you can expect to encounter and what to prepare for. Trekking to the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) is considered a high-difficulty excursion, requiring high stamina levels for steep uphill climbs and downhill navigation.
The Paraiso Teyuna campsite – The Lost City Base Camp. Passing an Indigenous house on the trekking trail.
A Wiwa woman weaving a basket at Wiwa Village in Sierra Nevada Colombia Stone pathway through jungle in the Lost City Ciudad Perdida.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to handpicked partners, including tours, gear and booking sites. If you click through or buy something via one of them, I may receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and allows this site to keep running.

DAY 4. Leaving the Lost City Trail.  

An Indigenous Wiwa guide on a forest pathway on the trek to Ciudad Perdida, Colombia.
Ciudad Perdida treks run all year round, but seasons can affect the terrain.
The standard trek is four days, although some companies offer shorter three-day options and longer options up to six days, where you rest for longer at some of the camps.

Sweat and smiles. High fitness levels are needed for Lost City Ciudad Perdida trek. A small group trekking on a forest path to Ciudad Perdida, Colombia.
The Lost City trek is one of the most brutal, treacherous and hardest treks I have ever undertaken in one of the most beautiful patches of earth. Traveller carrying a small black backpack and walking stick for the Lost City Trek.

An Indigenous guide and an English-speaking guide will accompany you the entire trip. The Lost City Trek Itinerary looks like this:

Day 5. Exclusive Trekking Excursion to Wiwa Community.

The reason this trek isn’t longer than four days there and back is that you are not having to battle with extreme altitude, unlike the set-up with other multi-day treks in mountainous regions like the Everest Base Camp trek or climbing Kilimanjaro, which have a similar distance but strategic rest days for high altitude acclimatisation.
A small group trekking through hills and farmland on the Lost City trek in Colombia

This particular Ciudad Perdida trek package ends at the Wiwa village of Gotsezhi. In this social impact project, you can visit the community and learn about the social responsibility of good tourism practices and how your money is spent on social enterprise and training. The project brings benefits and opportunities outside of the trekking corridor, which only benefits people on the trek. Women have been provided with new means of income in the fields of cooking, hospitality and weaving and the men are trained for jobs things like leading the Lost City trek.

A woman in an ornage top and green trekking pants stands on an ornage mud pathway in the middle of the thick green jungle on the Lost City Trek in Colombia

Many companies are offering Lost City treks, with many advertising in the town of Santa Marta. However, it’s important who you chose to go with. Crossing a river bridge.
Also, check that money is spread amongst the farmer communities, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park and the Colombian Institute of Archaeology. Getting into the thick of the jungle.
We wandered around small stone circles of former market and meeting places, ruins of drainage systems and agricultural structures before another stone trail took us up to the ‘Central Axis’. Here was where the main houses and temples once stood, now a site of large, stacked stone terraces that you clamber up and climb before turning around for the once-in-a-lifetime magnificent view over the Lost City. The overgrown nature that hugs the site gives you a feeling that you are the first to arrive and find the site. With our Wiwa guide, we walked silently in a circle and then stood with our eyes closed before putting a leaf in the middle of the circle. It’s a form of offering to nature and the spirits who live here, announcing a person’s presence.
Snack shop at camp. A trekker crossing a river bridge in the jungle on the way to the Lost City.

Trekking Time: 6-7 Hours
Today, it remains a permanent archaeological area with archaeologists using the knowledge from the Kogui and Wiwa people, said to be direct descendants or at least related to the Tayrona, to fill the gaps in the story. Outsiders trek to Cuidad Perdida in search of them.

Elevated view overthe large, grassy stone terraces of the mountain top Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) in Colombia. Meeting the Mamo of the Wiwa Village.
The Wiwa campsite on the Lost City trek, with basic facilities. The city was completely covered by the forest, which is how it came to be known as Ciudad Perdida / The Lost City.

You need to be in good physical fitness for this trek. If you train regularly in some fitness activity, you will have a good basis for strength and recovery.
Dense green hilltop forests in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park on Lost City Trek.

Day 3. Early climb up to the Lost City Leave / Overnight in Wiwa Camp. Two men trekking on steep, orange mud trails on the Lost City trek in Colombia.
What little was found of the Lost City in the 20th century was stolen and often sold on the black market and what was recovered is now in the gold museums in Santa Marta and Bogota. Day one is broken down into three hours of back-to-back climbing and descending before stopping for lunch (at the Ricardito Camp, where we will sleep on the night of Day 4) before continuing on another three to four-hour stretch of more downhill, even steeper uphill, before the last downhill to the Wiwa campsite.
A 6.30 am start for an overall six-hour trek to the Paraiso Teyuna campsite, with two small resting stops in between. This is the camp closest to the Lost City, a form of Base Camp where everyone rests before the ascent to the Ciudad Perdida. Trekking the Lost City with G Adventures, working in partnership with Wiwa Tours, ensures that travel to Ciudad Perdida is carried out most sustainably and responsibly. I am also a G Adventures Wanderer (official ambassador) working to highlight the positive social impact ethos of the company through adventurous travel trips.

Mountain top, green farmland hill seen on the Lost City Trek of Colombia.
The jungle is humid, so it’s important to try to keep all your belongings dry otherwise you will just is uncomfortable, miserable and chilly. Washing something at the end of the day and it being dry by the morning are slim. Even our dry clothes felt damp in the morning. We were given a black garbage/bin bag to ensure our bag stayed dry and I also have a small 10-litre dry bag with me to protect my electronics, which fit neatly into my daypack.
Pack light for the Lost City Trek.
It is here that G travellers enjoy their last lunch together at the restaurant that has been established here as part of the project before the two-hour jeep ride back to Santa Marta.

What to Pack for Lost City Trekking

Typically what is included in the trek cost of the Lost City Trek is:
A woman in an ornage top and green trekking pants stands on an ornage mud pathway in the middle of the thick green jungle on the Lost City Trek in Colombia
Wall painting of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Colombia and the Lost City trekking route.

Clothing for Lost City Trekking

  • Two trekking t-shirts, and one pair of trekking pants (quick-dry material is better). This was the advice in order to pack light and be wearing half of what you take! Often people pack two tops, one pair of long pants and a pair of shorts. If you are prone to mosquito bites, like me, ditch the shorts and keep covered.
  • A light waterproof jacket for potential late afternoon showers in the wet season. You don’t need a down jacket or a heavy Gore-Tex jacket, as you will be sweltering in jungle humidity.
  • I took a light pair of Pyjama bottoms so that I slept in something cool and clean in the evenings. A pair of leggings would also serve the same purpose.
  • A light mid-layer jacket used for the times it can get a little chilly in the evenings. I always feel the cold, so this isn’t essential for everyone.
  • Good fitting and already broken-in trekking shoes are essential, especially when you are walking on steep uphill and downhill terrain. I’ve had my trekking shoes for a couple of years now so they are well worn in.
  • Flip flops or sandals to change into at the end of the day and for use in the shower.
  • Underwear, because you want something to feel clean! Enough to last as things don’t dry very quickly overnight.
  • Bikini/swim trunks, since there are plenty of waterfalls and water spaces along the trek which makes for a relaxing cool-down after a hard day of trekking.
Wooden booth snack shop found at a camp on Colombia's Lost City trek. A woman on a steep path through the jungle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia, trekking to the Lost City.

Trekking Equipment

  • One 20 or 30-litre daypack and better if it has various compartments so you can separate your things and be able to get to more essential items like mosquito spray and water quickly.
  • Walking Sticks are a perfect means to balance and keep control on difficult parts of the trek. I don’t usually use walking poles on a long trek but I wish I had brought at least one walking pole for the Lost City Trek. I got lucky that my Wiwa guide went to the jungle and found me a solid stick that I used from beginning to end. It saved me on a couple of bumpy areas and losing my balance on the loose ground many times.
  • Bin liner or dry bag to keep all clothing and electronics dry.
  • Headlamp for use at the camps. Electricity and lighting are turning off around 8-9 pm.
  • Refillable water bottle. Each trekking group normally has its own water tank assigned at each camp.
  • Microfibre towel. You will want to shower every afternoon when arriving at camp and quick dry material is the best option, and microfiber also saves space.
The government established a National Park with archaeologists working within it and rebuilding parts of the site following its destruction by looters. During this time, it was given an archaeological code name: 200, along the Buritaca River. What’s NOT included in the trek cost:


  • Mini-sized or sachets of shampoo and shower gel. I had an anti-mosquito liquid that could be used as a hair, body and shower gel. I purchased a sachet of hair conditioner at the pharmacy in Santa Marta.
  • Toothbrush and small toothpaste tube (lucky for us we were near the end of a regular tube so was able to save space).
  • Decent mosquito spray bought locally. Most of the high deet sprays from home not only don’t work well here, but deet is bad for the environment. Get yourself some Nopikex Mosquito Repellent from a pharmacy in Santa Marta before you leave.
  • Sun cream lotion. Because you are on the Caribbean coast after all, and despite some jungle cover, there is a lot of sun exposure.
  • Do I need to bring enough toilet paper for the entire trek? It’s wise to bring a small amount and not an entire roll as all the camps are equipped, but can easily run out late into the evening.
  • Regular medications, because you can’t purchase anything on the trek. For example, I always have to carry two asthma inhalers. I always carry painkillers too for situations like dehydration headaches and muscle pain.
  • Rehydration salts or dissoluble tablets. I used these in water every day to ensure I had extra electrolytes.

Electronics and Extras

  • Camera and Phone. There’s no WiFi out here, so enjoy the digital detox. But for some their phone is their main camera, and it also serves as a good torchlight.
  • Fully charged power banks. We had two fully charged power packs between us and I took two fully charged camera batteries. Space limitations mean not being able to carry a huge bundle of individual chargers.
  • Money for buying drinks and snacks. Every camp has a mini snack store with soft drinks, well-deserved beers, chocolate, and other snacks. Expect to pay 4,000 – 5,000 (up to $2) for a drink.
Trekking tourism in Colombia is a new lifeline to a region once rendered completely off-limits. After decades of violence during the violent years of illegal cocaine trafficking and from looters who discovered the Lost City in the 1970s, the region was reclaimed and declared an indigenous reserve in 1984, where life tries to return as normal. Donkey mules on the Lost City trek, Ciudad Perdida Colombia

Wiwa man shows rock map in the Ciudad Perdida, Colombia.
That we certainly did on what is arguably one of the best treks in South America.

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The fresh orange juice rest stops along the way.
A trekker climbing the 1,200 stairs to the Lost City in Colombia.

Demonstration on how to make rope from plants.
Some of the cooks here will become cooks on the trek and one day, maybe we will even see female guides lead the way on this sacred pilgrimage.

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