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Published: January 25th 2011
"This story needs to be read with deep and dramatic voice" 😊
It all started with roumours we heard about an archaeological site of an ancient city in Sierra Nevada called Ciudad Perdida (spanish for "Lost City") which is believed to have been founded about 800 AD. It was probably the region's political and manufacturing center of the people of Tairona which was apparently abandoned during the Spanish conquest. The people of Tairona have vanished from the surface of the world so till today the city was still a mystery. We did some research on the topic and came across an ancient map which seemed to be describing the way to the city.
We arrived in Santa Marta in Colombia an contacted local experts for helping us find the "lost city". Our exhibition team was international from all over the world (Slovenia, Denmark, France, Colombia, Canada, England, Netherlands, USA and Australia). At first we gathered in Santa Marta where our four-wheel drives picked us up. After a short drive on paved road we soon turned on a more isolated road used only by local indigenous people. It was a hard ride, but it supposed to lead us
Mud, mud and lots of MUD
closer to the lost city. Nobody was completely sure where we are heading but the local guides insisted that this is the right way. It was raining a lot the week before so we had some problems crossing mud pools, but in the end we made to the point where no 4-wheel vehicle can go further. We packed our backpacks, hired some local mules to carry our equipment and food and continued on foot. We were walking for about 3 hours the first day - it was not a hard trek, but considering the unknown terrain it was an adventure. We had to cross rivers many times, some with strong current others just small streams. At the end of the day we were lucky to find a deserted camp (probably from other exhibition terms trying to find the lost city) in the middle of the jungle where we spent our first night in hammocks.
Second day we woke up around 6 am. It was great - the morning light, the sound of nearby river, the silence or the noise of the jungle waking up. We had a quick breakfast and then we continued our search for the "ciudad perdida". We
walked for about 5 hours, stopped many times for crossing the rivers and even took some breaks in natural swimming pools with waterfall back massages. The path was steep at some points, but nothing that we couldn't manage to climb - the will to find the city was too strong. We established our second camp on one jungle glade next to a river. We spent our evening and night entertaining ourselves with some sugar poker.
Third day was the most important...we were getting closer. We started from the camp at 5 in the morning. The trail was getting smaller and smaller, even unrecognizable at some points, but we continued anyway. We had to walk on narrow paths, crossing some more rivers, descended on a Tarzan vine at some point but we were getting close...we could feel it...it was in the air. We made our camp for lunch and then continued without the extra weight.
At this point we had to start walking in the river...trails were useless. We were walking in the river upstreams for about 500 meters...everything was quiet with anticipation..."it must be really close by now" was in everybody´s minds...and then we saw something!! There were some unusually
Lost City trek
We found the stairs leading somewhere...
looking stones next to the river channel...but they were not stones...they were steps!! We all knew that steps need to lead somewhere and most probably this was to the lost city. After about 1200 steps we saw it...the beginning of the city...everything covered with moss, really hard to see, but there were some shapes of man made terraces. We continued ascending, and after about 800 more steps we arrived to an opening where we finally could say - WE FOUND IT!!!!! It was magnificent...the feeling, the site, the nature around - mission accomplished - we were the first to find the lost city!!!
But then all of a sudden we heard some voices...how can this be..we are not alone. When we finally recognized the people talking we discovered that the Colombian army had discovered the lost city before us. They made a camp in the city to protect it from scavengers. They soon recognized that we are a friendly team and it was not long after we were all taking pictures together. It was getting dark so we had to head back to our camp. At the camp it was fiesta long into the night..even if we weren't the
first to find it we were still happy that we did! We also decided that the site needs some more exploration so we headed back there the next morning.
The most courageous started at 4.30am when it was still dark. We walked in complete darkness and arrived at the city with stars still on the sky. The feeling was even better than the first time, the raising light, the prayer from our priest that was with us, all alone - magical!! We stayed there for about 2 hours and then headed back. It was a hard day as we needed to walk all the way back to our first camp. We poped the champagne we left there to celebrate the successful mission and celebrated a team member' birthday long into the night. Last day it was all about getting back to Santa Marta - a short walk (3 hours) and then a 2 hours jeep ride and we were back - full of memories and new friends.
After Ciudad perdida trek we decided to spent a few relaxing days in Cartagena before heading to last part of our 100 day trip - San Andres island. But all about
that in the next blog.
Ciudad Perdida facts:
Price: 500.000 pesos = 250US for 5 days
Difficulty: quite easy, maybe just the 4th day was a bit harder. First and second really easy. You can also choose to do it in 4 or 6 days.
Agency: Guias y Baquianos tour ltd., Santa Marta
Food: Good, with A LOT of day snacks! Even Uros was never hungry and he eats a lot.
Group size: we were 16 people but it wasn't too big, because you never walk together. In the evenings it's even better to have some more people.
Other: send a msg 😊
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