We went to go trekking 👣 in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta again. We were on the way to the Ciudad Perdida (also known as “Lost City” or Teyuna). A 5-days hiking tour in the tropical rain-forest. It was sunny 🌞, it was rainy 🌧, and it was also a bit tough at times. Still, it was a great adventure you don’t want to miss!
The Ciudad Perdida is (was) an indigenous city (Tairona culture) in the Sierra Nevada. It was founded about 1100 AC and disbanded about 1650 AC. The Spanish discoverers never made it to the city, but the communicable diseases they brought from Europe made it there and killed most of the inhabitants. The surviving inhabitants escaped to the mountains around and lived as farmers. Many of the elaborated skills of the city culture were lost.
Some archaeologists estimate that in the 16th century about 1500 to 2000 inhabitants lived in this city (in the area around were probably about 10000 people). Nowadays, there are only 2 families in the city and a few hundred indigenous people live in the wider area around.
Rediscovery of the Ciudad Perdida
The city was rediscovered in 1973 by “Guaqueros” (tomb raiders) and plundered. Since 1976 various archaeological projects have tried to restore the place. In 1979 it was declared by the UNESCO “Biosphere Reserve of Man and Humanity”. It is also on the “tentative list” to become a classification as UNESCO heritage classification. We think there are good reasons that it should get the classification!
The stone-built infrastructure of the “Lost City” (ways, terraces, rings, retaining walls) is in good condition despite being almost completely covered by vegetation, thanks to the excellent design of the network of storm drains by the Tayuna people, which has helped to prevent the emergence of erosion on the ground. However, there are threats through disease, poverty or armed conflict. It was not so long ago that this area was a scene of violent conflicts were FARC, paramilitary groups and drug barons controlled parts of that area.
Trekking tours to the “Lost City”
At the moment it is reasonably safe to travel there. There are organized tours with a guide that help you to reach the city. Even though they provide the basic infrastructure and guidance, it is still some adventure and some effort to get there. Once you reached the “Lost City” you will be rewarded not only with amazing views but also with an unforgettable insight into the pre-Hispanic societies. Furthermore is the hike to get there a wonderful path through the marvellous rich nature of the Sierra Nevada. You’ll see waterfalls, jungle and (if you are lucky) exotic animals in the wild. You can do this tour in 4 to 6 days. Probably most do it in 4 days, but we would recommend 6 days (travel slow!) so you can enjoy more of the fantastic nature 🍃🐦🦇🌴.
Now we are ready to prepare for leaving Colombia. We enjoyed this country a lot. It has a lot to offer and we could get just a few insights into all the rich nature and culture. Still, we are now looking forward to heading for Panama soon ⛵. Almost 2 months in a marina (and overland travelling without the boat) makes us missing the sound of the waves 🌊 and sunrise at sea 🌅.
Additional information / references:
- Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History | Teyuna-Ciudad Perdida Archaeological Park: https://www.icanh.gov.co/nuestra_entidad/grupos_investigacion/arqueologia/parques_asociados/1237
- Visitors guides (in Spanish and English): https://www.icanh.gov.co/nuestra_entidad/grupos_investigacion/arqueologia/parques_asociados/7756
- Links to the 5 tour operators: wiwatour.com, expotur-eco.com, www.baquianos.co, magictourcolombia.com/ and turcol.co/.