Be amazed by Ciudad Perdida in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada
Hidden in the jungle for more than a thousand years and only accessible by a 44km trek through inhospitable terrain, visiting Ciudad Perdida gives travellers the chance to live out their Indiana Jones fantasies as they battle rock scrambles, steep ascents and numerous waterfalls along the way.
The city was built between the 11th and 14th centuries, though its origins are much older, going back to perhaps the 7th century. Spread over an area of about 2 sq km, it is the largest Tayrona city found so far; it was most probably their biggest urban center and their major political and economic center. Some 2000 to 4000 people are believed to have lived here.
There, travellers will have the opportunity to rediscover the treasures of the Teyuna people, their culture and the history of the site. There are no ticket booths, no tourist buses and no WiFi to make you feel like you’re connected to the modern world. The six-day trek connects visitors with the indigenous population who still inhabit the Sierra Nevada.
If you are visiting ciudad perdida you need to find a tour group to take you up the mountain. Scope out all the tour companies in Santa Marta and Taganga and find one that's right for you. They all share campsites and the food is practically identical so it will really come down to your taste and situation.
The guides are all locals and while they're well versed in the history of the city and the civilization that built it, they don't often speak a lot of English. If you don't speak Spanish it would be a good idea to try and tag along with someone who can translate. You'll get a lot more out of the trip this way.
You should go on the dry season runs from December through to early March. The river will be lower and the track will be less muddy. Some of the river crossings may not even come up to your knees, while at other times of the year the river will be flowing faster and deeper.
Ciudad Perdida’s highest point is a secret worth keeping, clear of jungle and breathtakingly beautiful. The carved platforms are majestic and an architectural masterpiece from every angle. The stone walls and trimmed grass lawns set the stage for splendid views of the Sierra Nevada and barely a chirp or a sound is heard to disrupt the tranquility. It feels as if you’re among the clouds, sometimes surpassing them.
Finally, what trekkers experience today is probably just the tip of the iceberg. To date, less than 10 percent of Ciudad Perdida has been excavated and there is still much to discover. However, you wouldn`t want to miss the opportunity to explore green copses and stone paths through dense jungle, bath in waterfalls, sleep among ruins, and most majestic of all, watch the clouds spill across the terraces at sunset each night.