For those who like dates and history, we bring you the Lost City from a chronological view. Enjoy how this civilization developed step by step while leaving us many tangible cultural expressions.

The first human settlements in the region and the development of culture

100 AD The first settlements belong to this period. The first inhabitants of the northern coast of Santa Marta were skilled craftsmen, potters, goldsmiths, fishermen, and hunters. They cultivated corn and cassava.

Lost City stone terraces and staircases

6th to 7th century As they spread along the beaches, valleys, and mountains, they develop the stone-based architecture, with which they build roads, terraces, canals, and small bridges.

10th century By the 10th century there is a large population settled in many parts of the region, their social structure is more organized. They develop their own style in pottery and goldsmithing. From this century to the 16th century it is called the Tairona period. It is during this period that civilization reached its apogee and structures like those of Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) reached their greatest splendor.

Apogee and disappearance of the Tayrona culture

1501 The first Europeans arrive to explore the coast of what is now Santa Marta. They are amazed when they see the Tayronas. Unlike other indigenous tribes, the Taironas cover themselves with cotton fabrics and wear ornaments of semi-precious stones and gold.

1525 – 1526 The city of Santa Marta is founded and the period of conquest begins. The Tayrona Indians, like all the indigenous tribes that inhabited the area would be called over time, made a strong resistance to colonization. The struggles would last 75 years.

1600 It is the final war between the indigenous tribes and the colonizers, from then on many indigenous people take refuge in the parts of the Sierra Nevada that are difficult to access. Others are executed, taken as slaves, and/or placed in encomiendas, settlements where the Indians could continue their lives as long as they pay tribute to the colony and the crown.

17th century During the 17th century while the city was facing pirate attacks. It is believed that in faraway places like the Lost City, the Tayrona continued their life. However, diseases brought by the Europeans unleashed epidemics among the Native Americans that decimated their population and ended their culture and social order. Tayrona culture disappears completely. The Lost City is abandoned.

The Archaeology and the Lost City in modern times

1965 – 1975 There is an increase in the number of looted archaeological sites in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Looters destroy many remains and trade archaeological pieces on the black market.

Human figure of clay, probably depicting a chief
Human figure of clay, probably depicting a chief

1973 An anthropological station is established in the Sierra Nevada to protect and investigate the archaeological legacy of the cultures that inhabited it. Two of the researchers identified 211 archaeological sites, of which Buritaca 200, what is now called the Lost City, is the largest.

1976 Due to the magnitude of this archaeological site, a project for its investigation and restoration is created. The project involves experts from different disciplines, archaeology, architecture, engineering, paleo-botany, and soils study.

1980 The Lost City is declared an Archaeological Park, along with two other sites in Colombia: San Agustín and Tierradentro.

1981 By this date, the restoration makes the stability of the ruins allow it to open to the public, since then begins the history of Ciudad Perdida as a tourist destination until today.

From this moment on, this place became a tourist destination par excellence waiting for you to visit. Book and live this experience with us!

The Lost City is a single site, yet it has many ways of perceiving itself depending on what eyes it is seen through. We want to show you how this beautiful place has been conceived depending on the observer through time. We hope that this article will increase the value that this archaeological site, the Lost City, has for you.

The Lost City according to its builders

As the first inhabitants of this area spread to different parts of the Sierra Nevada their culture also developed. For example, the architecture of the Tayrona people is the result of centuries of adaptation to the different environments they inhabited, such as plains, valleys, and mountains.

Spiritual indigenous leader home Lost City

The first constructions in this area date back to the 6th or 7th century BC so we can imagine the first builders raising the stone and earth platforms and building roads to connect each new village with another. For them, this site became their place of dwelling and doing their daily activities such as growing corn, avocado, cocoa, cotton, among others. Commercial exchanges with people who lived in other areas, pottery, goldwork, and hunting in the surroundings. The Lost City is a place with enough water, either from rain or from nearby rivers, and it is also very rich in biodiversity, surely for the inhabitants, it was a very suitable place to live.

Over time, it may also have been seen as a refuge from colonization during the 16th and 17th centuries, to which unfortunately came diseases brought from the new world and for which the natives had no natural defenses. Epidemics could cause social instability in many villages and hence abandoned and the survivors spread to other areas. Although the latter is only a hypothesis that can be taken into account since the abandonment of indigenous villages was common during the conquest due to epidemics.

From this moment the site remained uninhabited until its discovery in the 70s of the 20th century.

The Lost City according to its discoverers

Broken clay pot
Methods of looting archaeological artifacts involve the destruction of their containers, such as this clay pot

Unfortunately, those who discovered the site were ‘guaqueros’ (grave robbers and traders in archaeological objects). For them, it was the equivalent of discovering a gold mine.

Soon, those who had discovered the Lost City began to attract the attention of other guaqueros, who also found the place. By then, a dispute broke out to control the area, so, many saw Ciudad Perdida as the originator of a bitter confrontation, which gave it the name Infierno Verde or “Green Hell”.

Many archaeological pieces began to flood the market and the looting that was taking place became noticeable. Besides, one of the original discoverers of the Lost City informed the authorities in Bogotá about the site and what was happening. From then on, there were efforts to protect the site and make it an object of study.

The Lost City according to archaeologists

To discover this archaeological site officially, a commission was created to study it. The Buritaca river valley also had other sites that were numbered as they were located, so for the archaeological record, what is now popularly known as the Lost City, was called Buritaca 200. For the archaeologists, Buritaca 200 was a great opportunity to learn more about the culture that had inhabited the area. However, even though the ruins had resisted the passage of time, they required restoration. These works, both the arrival of the first commission to the site and its study and restoration were done with the help of guaqueros and locals who knew the area and the ruins very well.

The Lost City according to actual indigenous tribes

Frog carved on stone
For the indigenous tribes, objects as this frog of stone are offerings Tayrona made many years ago and must be kept where they buried them. They help to keep the balance of the earth.

The indigenous people claim that they have always known about the existence of the Lost City, they say that in their oral tradition there is a story about the site. From a scientific point of view, the archaeological evidence shows that the site was unknown to anyone for approximately 400 years.

In any case, today Ciudad Perdida is a sacred place for the indigenous tribes that inhabit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, it is a point where they make offerings to the gods or guardian spirits to maintain the balance of the Sierra Nevada and therefore of the cosmos. For them, Ciudad Perdida is called Teyuna in honor of a mythical hero who gave birth to the fathers of the natural elements.

The Lost City according to the rest of the world

The restoration and study works were from 1976 to 1986 when it opened its doors to the public. Since then it began to position itself as a tourist destination of worldwide interest. So the famous trek to Ciudad Perdida became for many another item on their bucket list or a challenge to face.

After doing the trek for many it becomes the highlight of their trip to Colombia, a lifechanging experience or a dream come true.

So now the question is…

What will the experience of the trek to Ciudad Perdida be like for you?

We cannot write for you what the trek to Ciudad Perdida will mean to you, so connect with a place that has been conceived in so many ways through time and discover the treasures it has for you! Write your own story!

Santa Marta has a fairly varied offer of places to stay, do you want a place with a view of the sea or the mountains? do you want to save money on accommodation or is that not your main concern? do you want to be close to everything or in the middle of nowhere? As you can see, it all depends on your tastes and budget. In this article we will talk about the different tourist sectors in Santa Marta and see the advantages and disadvantages of staying in each one (We will not recommend any hotel or hostel). Just in case, we have an article for those who are doing the Lost City trek and want to know how is the pickup or the dropoff depending on the place you are staying.

Historic Center of Santa Marta

Parque de los Novios at twilight time
Parque de los Novios at twilight time

The historical center of Santa Marta has options for any budget, in this area you can get from backpacker hostels to boutique hotels. As you might expect, many of the accommodations are buildings from many years ago. Most of them have the style that prevailed in the first decades of the 20th century, are in excellent condition and have plenty of services and amenities.

The city’s commercial, financial and administrative activities are concentrated in the historical centre, so you will have everything close by if you stay in this area: ATMs, restaurants, travel agencies and/or airline offices, discos, bars, exchange houses and tourist attractions such as the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), the Cathedral or the Parque de los Novios, among others.

On the other hand, as you are within the urban area you will not have limitations with the mobile coverage and depending on where you stay, you could even count on quite fast internet connections, something very important if you are a digital nomad or simply cannot be offline for any other reason. The disadvantage of staying in the historic center is that the city is still barely developing the offer of tours and activities that can be done in the same area.

El Rodadero

El Rodadero developed as a result of tourism, which is why it has a wide range of hotels, restaurants and other things to do, but bear in mind that the offer has revolved around Colombian tourism. For this reason, if you ask a Colombian where he could stay in Santa Marta, he will surely recommend El Rodadero, but if you ask a foreigner, he will most likely not even mention this part of the city. This is because there are other more attractive places for a foreign tourist like the historical center, Taganga or Minca.

If you have any interest in the resort of El Rodadero, Playa Blanca or others further south in the city, staying in El Rodadero will be an obvious advantage. On the other hand, in El Rodadero you will find everything you need to enjoy your stay in Santa Marta, similar to what happens in the Historical Center. As a disadvantage we could cite the congestions that are so common especially in the high season of tourism in Colombia.

Taganga

View of the Taganga bay
View of the Taganga bay

Taganga is a small fishing village surrounded by hills and with a horseshoe-shaped bay, only 15 minutes from Santa Marta. It is well known for its relaxed atmosphere that attracts backpackers from all over the world. You may be surprised to see the occasional advertisement written in Spanish, English and Hebrew, as Israeli tourists have preferred this destination for several years.

Taganga is a diving resort, offering low cost and excellent quality places for this activity. It is also the point of departure and arrival of boats from and to different parts of the Tayrona Park, in this regard it is worth clarifying that although taking a boat for example to Cabo San Juan del Guía is faster by this means, remember that going by boat on the high seas is not for everyone.

Although this destination is quite popular, it has a limited infrastructure and although its bay offers a beautiful view, perfect for enjoying the sunset while relaxing, it is not very attractive for swimming in it. Fortunately, there are better beaches nearby that can be reached by boat in a very short time.

Minca

View of the mountains from a hostel in Minca
View of the mountains from a hostel in Minca

The town of Minca is located in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is known as the gateway to the Sierra, because it is a starting point to different tourist destinations such as Cuchilla San Lorenzo, Cerro Kennedy and others. While the urban area of Santa Marta is surrounded by dry tropical forest, Minca is in a more humid area of forest and mountainous landscapes 45 minutes from the center of the city. It ranges from the 600 meters high and will take you away from the heat of the city as you go up the mountain. Near the town you have birdwatching hotspots, waterfalls, hiking trails, coffee and cacao plantations and interesting food alternatives.

In Minca and its surroundings you can find Among the cons of staying in Minca, depending on you are staying you could have some connectivity limitations or none at all. Get informed very well if being offline is not an option for you.

Tayrona Park and surroundings

With the exception of the camping zones and the ecohabs, inside the Tayrona Park there are no accommodations such as hotels or hostels (although there are some private properties, which offer accommodation services).

The Tayrona Park is quite extensive, so when we talk about the surroundings of the Park we mean the area that is on the opposite side of the reserve zone around the Zaino entrance. Here, most of the hotels are located near the road that goes from Santa Marta to La Guajira, and have a lodge-style in view of the fact that they are not on the coast but in an area of tropical forest in the lower part of the Sierra Nevada, where there are also several rivers and streams. You can find from simple accommodations to cabins and hotels with all the amenities.

Outside the reserve, the strip of land that goes from one side of the road to the other until Palomino has an excellent offer of hotels, especially on the beach, where you can enjoy surroundings like those of the Tayrona Park. A beautiful beach line, full of coconut trees and vegetation.

Even if the beach is not suitable for swimming and you are in the middle of nowhere, there are many things you can do nearby such as surfing, horseback riding, hiking, paddle surfing, or just relaxing. As they are far away from the city, you can enjoy starry nights while listening to the sea waves and the breeze passing by, or have a good time with friends at the bar or the restaurant of your accommodation.

As in Minca and other areas on the outskirts of the city, there are limitations to mobile coverage.

As you can see, Santa Marta is full of options for all tastes and budgets. We hope that we have helped you to choose the sector or sectors of the city where you are going to stay on your next trip to our city.

 

*The accommodation services in the ecohabs are suspended while there is the process of change of administration of the Tayrona National Natural Park.

 

We have said ours is a community-based tourism company, but what do we mean when we use these words? Aren’t there other companies that also do community tourism in Santa Marta? In fact, what is community tourism? In this article we will answer these three questions.

What is community-based tourism?

In the community-based tourism concept there are some key factors that we take into account: firstly the participation of local residents in tourism activity, by inviting tourists to stay in their homes, eat local food, provide a cultural exchange, among others. And secondly, the way the tourism activities improve their economy and quality of life. In many cases the community can partner with the private sector, which provides logistic, clientele, marketing and other expertise.

Community-based tourism makes it possible for visitors to discover things that would otherwise be impossible or difficult to see or experience, such as get to exclusive places to see wildlife, or other off the beaten track tourist attractions and/or know the traditions of very reserved communities. On the community side, however, it opens up to commercial and cultural exchange that also allows it to gain visibility locally and even internationally.

Community tourism in Santa Marta

Today Santa Marta has a growing portfolio of activities that belong to the community tourism category, some of them in the urban area where there is a social work in the background and approach with some popular neighborhoods of the city, in the rural areas, with peasant communities, where you can do some activities of the agrotourism and ecotourism, and of course, with the indigenous communities Arhuaca, Kogi and Wiwa, to know their vision of the world, their crafts and culture.

Is safe the community tourism in Santa Marta?

Fortunately we can say yes to that question. Perhaps what could concern you a little more about this type of tourism in Santa Marta is the issue of infrastructure. Some places are quite far from the city, have limited or no mobile coverage, and also have limited some services or amenities. However, as we mentioned earlier, the fact that the options of community-based tourism in Santa Marta continues to grow, is also a guarantee that efforts are being made to continually improve. For example, in Ciudad Perdida there is already an internet connection in every campsite, two years ago the communication was much more limited.

Tourism companies in Santa Marta that do community-based tourism

If you are a tourist, you will have seen that the most important tourist destinations in the city are right… on the outskirts of the city. And it is on the outskirts of the city, in the rural area, in the mountains, where we find the peasant and indigenous communities that move most of the community tourism in the region.

Many times these initiatives require the support of already established companies, as we saw, this partnertship benefits both parties. Although this is true in the majority of cases there are businesses created by the communities themselves, in this way they get even more resources. Mega Sierra Tour is in this category, we are a company created by the community and for the community.

The communities are Mega Sierra Tour

Rural school at El Mamey
El Mamey one of the communities represented by Mega Sierra Tour

At this point you can see the difference between those businesses that support community tourism and those whose very roots are in the community. For this reason we take pride in the work we do and the impact we generate. In total, Mega Sierra Tour represents 6 communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, two of them are La Aguacatera, and El Mamey, the community of the village where the Lost City trek starts. The others are: Honduras, Casa ‘e tabla, San Martín and Quebrada del Sol.

All of them, have a great potential for ecotourism, that is why Mega Sierra Tour and Asojuntar G.B.D are working on the “Colibrí Trochilinas de mi Sierra” initiative, to bring more development to these communities. We know, both, our beloved customers and all the people that work with us, will be supporting this great project called Mega Sierra Tour, a company that takes care of the people and the environment.

History, beauty and tourist importance, are words that help us define the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta. The Quinta is an ancient big farm (hacienda) where the liberator Simón Bolívar died. Today the surroundings are also a large botanical garden, with its art museum that exhibits the works of artists from ‘bolivarian’ nations, those liberated by Simón Bolívar. The Quinta is an oasis within the city of Santa Marta and it is worth visiting every corner. You can visit it accompanied by a tour guide who are hired (by a voluntary donation), in the same place.

How to get to the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Taxi. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi. The taxi fare will depend on where you are, it could be from $6,000 to about $10,000 COP or more if you are in a very remote part of the city.

Bus. If you decide to take a bus to get to the Quinta de San Pedro, what you need to know is the route that take you there is any that goes to Mamatoco. No problem if you are in Taganga, the Historical Center or El Rodadero, just ask at the front desk where you can take the bus. The bus fare is $2,000 COP or $2,050 on sundays and holidays for the regular buses. For the new ones the fare is $2,100 COP and $2,150 on sundays and holidays. The time from El Rodadero to Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is about 45 minutes, from the Historical Center or Taganga it will take about 30 minutes.

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino entrance fees

The entrance fees for the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino depend on the origin and age of the visitor. They keep the same fees all year round. The admission tickets are sold at the ticket office at the entrance of the Quinta. All prices here are in colombian pesos (COP).

  • Colombian adult: $17,000
  • Foreigner adult: $23,000
  • Children: $15,000
  • Colombian adult older than 65 years old: $15,000
  • Foreigner adult older than 65 years old: $21,000

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino hours

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino opens at 9:00 am and allows entrance until 4:30 pm in low season, in high season they allow entrance until 5:30 pm. It closes at 5:30 pm in low season and at 6:00 pm in high season.

The cafeteria and souvenir shop is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The only days in which there are important changes in the time schedule at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino are December 24th and 31st, in both cases they open at 9:00 am and close at 1:00 pm. The only day of the year when they do not open is January 1st.

1. Santa Marta is the first city founded in Colombia

In 1521, the Spanish crown authorized the foundation and colonization of the province of Santa Marta, that had been discovered in 1502. Officially, it is known that the city was founded in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas. Although in 1510 an attempt had already been made to establish a city in territory that is currently Colombian, the city was abandoned over time. Santa Marta was the first city founded in Colombia that is still standing. And the first one founded in continental South America under the order of the Spanish crown.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Sierra Nevada peaks as seen from Valledupar

2. The two highest peaks in Colombia are located in Santa Marta

Santa Marta area includes part of the mountainous range called Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and its highest peaks Bolivar and Colon, both have an altitude of 5,775 m.a.s.l. (18,946 f.a.s.l), which make them the two highest peaks in Colombia, and take us to the next fact.

3. Santa Marta has all the thermal floors

Although the city is at sea level, Santa Marta has all the thermal floors, ranging from sea level to the perpetual snows of the Bolivar and Colon peaks.

4. Pirates attacked the city for more than 200 years

The first attack to the city was officially registered in 1543 and the last one in 1779. One of this attacks, in 1655 by William Goodson left the city in ruins and it even changed the original layout of the streets of what is now the historical center.

5. The Cathedral of Santa Marta was built thanks to the consumption of aguardiente

Santa Marta Cathedral in 1844 Watercolor
Square of the Cathedral in 1844, Watercolor

The resources given for the construction fell short. Because of that it was necessary to create a tax on each bottle of aguardiente (an alcoholic beverage). This initiative had support of Spain, and worked, thanks to this tax on aguardiente the Cathedral could be finished in 1794 after almost 30 years of construction.

6. One of the two most developed civilizations in Colombia, was in our region

In Colombia, the civilizations that achieved the greatest social and cultural development were the Muiscas and the Tayronas. Of these, the Tayronas inhabited the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and many of their most important archaeological remains are found here, such as Ciudad Perdida (Teyuna) or Pueblito Chairama.

7. You can find the same Bolivar’s equestrian statue in 4 different cities

The equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar that you can see in Bolivar Park in Santa Marta was a gift from Venezuela and is a replica of the one in the Park of the same name in Caracas. The curious thing is that the original one is in Lima, Peru, which was the inspiration to that in Caracas, so there are three of them in South America. But the story does not end here, there is another statue in San Francisco, for a total of 4.

Santa Marta is known locally as the “Pearl of America” for its beaches, mountains, forests and others. This attracts many visitors from all over the world, and a destination they cannot miss is the Tayrona National Natural Park. Nonetheless, from some months ago the management of the National Park is passing through a transition that has changed the way you can get the entrance tickets. We bring you an article about where to buy your entrance tickets for Tayrona Park and the entrance fees, so you can save time while planning your visit to this destination.

Tayrona Park Entrance Fee

For buying your tickets you have to take into account two things, age, nationality and tourist season. According to age: children up to 5 years old, older than 5 up to 25 years old, older than 25 years old up to 65, and older than 65 years old. According to nationality: colombians, foreigners that live in Colombia, and foreigners that come from any country that belongs to the CAN (Comunidad Andina de Naciones, those are: Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru) are all in the same category, that we will call here colombians. Foreigners that do not live in Colombia or do not come from Bolivia, Peru or Ecuador are in another category, that we will call here foreigners, for simplicity.

  • Any children (colombian or foreigner) younger than 5 years old does not pay entrance fee.
  • Any adult (colombian or foreigner) older than 65 years old does not pay entrance fee.

Tayrona Park Low Season Entrance fees

  • Colombian (6 – 25 years old): $ 18,500 COP
  • Colombian (25+ years old): $ 25,000 COP
  • Foreigner (6 – 65 years old): $ 55,500 COP

Tayrona Park High Season Entrance fees (1 december to 31 january, 1 june to 1 july, Holy Week, long weekends and from 3 to 12 october)

  • Colombian (6 – 25 years old): $ 21,500 COP
  • Colombian (25+ years old): $ 29,500 COP
  • Foreigner (6 – 65 years old): $ 66,500 COP

A mandatory insurance is required for you to visit the Tayrona National Natural Park

Everybody before entering the National Park needs an insurance policy that covers any accident within the Natural Reserve, and it is mandatory. If you are taking the tour to the Tayrona Park with us, this insurance policy is included. If you buy the entrance tickets by yourself you get the insurance policy right there, but remember it is an extra charge.

Where can you buy entrance tickets for Tayrona National Natural Park?

Up to this date, the only way to buy tickets is at the entrance ticket offices located in each sector of the Tayrona Park open to the public: Zaino, which is the entrance to visit Cabo San Juan del Guía beach and Palangana, the entrance to Neguanje beach and Playa Cristal.

What about to buy the entrance tickets for Tayrona Park online?

From March the 1st on there is no way to buy the tickets online, as it was done a couple of months ago. We will update this information as soon as you can do the purchase online.

Operating hours of the Tayrona Park and closures in 2020

The Tayrona Park operates 9 hours, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, everyday. Which means the ticket office is accepting people entering or leaving the park between this span of time. When you return from Cabo San Juan del Guía, we recommend you to do it before 2:30 pm, that way you have enough time to leave the park before they close. Remember the hiking takes 2 hours approximately, from one point to another.

The Tayrona Park has three closures in 2020: 1st – 29th February, 1st – 15th June, 19th October – 2nd November. If you are doing the Lost City trek in those days remember the closure of the Tayrona Park does not affect the operation of the Lost City.

The beaches of the Tayrona Park are great destinations to see in Colombia do not miss the opportunity to enjoy them. We hope this information can help you to set a budget and plan your trip to the Tayrona Park. In case you want to visit these beaches in a hassle-free plan, Mega Sierra Tour can be in charge of all the logistics, tours to Playa Cristal and the Tayrona beach of Cabo San Juan del Guía are waiting for you!

 

The Tayrona people lived between sea level and an altitude of approximately 2,000 meters, mainly in the area of Santa Marta and near some rivers of the Sierra Nevada.

The Tayrona took advantage of the benefits of the Sierra Nevada and the sea. But they did it too with the limitations the mountains have. Over time, they used both things (benefits and restrictions) to develop into one of the most advanced pre-Columbian civilizations in our country.

The Tayrona house

Spiritual indigenous leader home Lost City
Tayrona houses were similar to those built by the actual indigenous that inhabit the region.

The Tayrona built their houses using wood or bahareque (wood and mud). They built huts with thatched and palm roofs, generally conical in shape, and which from their workmanship we can deduce they were excellent carpenters.

Housing and construction

The great population centers and the lithic architecture are the most outstanding characteristics of the Tayrona culture, since no other reached such a development in terms of material achievements in Colombia.

Tayrona houses were on artificial terraces that they reached by paths or stone stairs. They constructed circular-shaped terraces that were a feature of its lithic architecture (made of stones). These terraces had different levels of complexity. For example, those found in places somewhat far from the centre of the village, where it was relatively unfavourable for building, were more simple. The most elaborated ones could be found in villages more densely inhabited. Nonetheless, the structural characteristics of the Lost City terraces and other similar sites like Ciudad Antigua differs from others in the perfection of its work and are only frequent in the biggest settlements.

Stone stairs Lost City

Stone based architecture

Tayrona people used stone to shape retaining walls, bridge and road crossings and to form stairs, bridges and canals. Stone in blocks of various types was the key to building the retaining walls with which terraces were constructed.

Polished slabs were used to pave squares. Probably, the rocks, carved and sometimes inscribed, were also used to indicate important sites (such as the so-called “map stone” in Teyuna). They evoke the use of the stones among the current peoples of the sierra, with which they point out the sites of astronomical observation, those of meditation and “divination” or those that visually connect the places of daily life with the peaks and ridges that form the sacred landmarks of the territory.

What we can learn today

The way in which we are occupying the Sierra Nevada today shows a lack of respect for the environment, today we have forest cutting, burning, erosion, garbage and drought. Maybe it is time to learn something from the people that have inhabited this region for so many centuries.

Santa Marta is a great spot to do several things that cover a wide range of activities. It has a response for those who love beaches, history, culture or nature. What can you do before or after the Lost City trek? Let’s see what most tourists do and where they stay.

Taganga

In Taganga, a village of fishermen just 15 minutes from the center of Santa Marta, you can find many dive schools that will provide you a combination of high quality service and affordable prices. From the village you can hike to nearby beaches too, or just relax. If you will stay in Taganga before and/or after the trek we will arrange the pickup and drop off with you.

Tayrona Park

Tayrona Park

The National Natural Park is named after the Tayrona indians who inhabited this region. It is now a well-known park by its white bays, coconuts palms and the tropical forest. The most iconic beach of the park is Cabo San Juan del Guía.

Tayrona Park before the Lost City trek: Wait for the car at the entrance (Zaino), we are picking you up by 10:00 AM, anyway, we will confirm you the time of the pick-up.

Tayrona Park after the Lost City trek: We can drop you off at the entrance (Zaino), by 2:30 to 3:00 PM.

Minca

Located in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, it is perfect for relaxation, hiking, birdwatching or visiting coffee and cacao farms. Recently, Minca has become a great place to enjoy organic food and innovative preparations. If you will stay in Minca before and/or after the trek we will arrange the pickup and drop off with you.

Palomino

It is located in La Guajira department. Nonetheless, this town is so related to Santa Marta because Palomino is a hub from where many tourists come to Santa Marta to do different activities, what includes the Lost City trek. Palomino is the right beach resort. It has a relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy long walks on the beach or enjoy the sunsets. Palomino has great options for relaxation and partying.

Palomino before the Lost City trek: Wait for the car in La Aguacatera, we are picking you up by 10:30 AM, anyway, we will confirm you the time of the pick-up. To get to La Aguacatera from Palomino you can take a bus that goes to Santa Marta and in less than 20 minutes you are arriving at there. Click here to see the location of La Aguacatera on Google Maps.

Palomino after the Lost City trek: We can drop you off at La Aguacatera from where you can take a bus that goes to Palomino or Riohacha.

The Lost City trek is a must-do while traveling Colombia. Nonetheless, it is possible that due to accesibility, affordability or time reasons, you can not have the chance to do it. And during September, when the site is closed to the public.

In that case knowing that there are ‘sister’ ruins of the Lost City can be very helpful. Here are three alternatives to the Lost City you should know.

Alternative to the Lost City number 1: Ciudad Antigua

With the same architectural structure to the Lost City, Ciudad Antigua (‘Ancient city’) is the most similar site to Ciudad Perdida that you can find open to the public. The site is located on the western face of the Sierra Nevada, in the rural area of Ciénaga, a city near Santa Marta. Pros: Visiting the ruins takes only 2 days, you will arrive there the same day of the departure. There are different activities to those done in the Lost City. Private tours with small sized groups. Cons: As a private tour, the fewer the people the more expensive the tour per person. Recommended if you want to see the archaelogical ruins and do some farm activities.

Alternative to the Lost City number 2: Taykú (A settlement similar to Pueblito Chairama)

Tayku
Tayku

Within the boundaries of the Tayrona Park you can find an indigenous settlement called Taykú. Just a couple of years ago, the most famous ruins in the Tayrona Park were those belonging to the Pueblito – Chairama sacred site. Now, Pueblito is closed to the public and Taykú took its place. While the structures of the lost city were designed to create flat terraces in a steep terrain, those of Pueblito or Taykú are not so impressive since they are on a flatter area. Pros: Full-day tour. Visit a Kogi indigenous community, Cabo San Juan Beach and a do a less challenging trek. Cons: The remains of the Lost City site are quite bigger than those in Taykú. Recommended if you want to have an approach to the indigenous community and visit the most famous beach of the Tayrona Park the same day.

Alternative to the Lost City number 3: “Teyunita”, Mini Ciudad Perdida

The Mini Ciudad Perdida is a group of terraces and stonepaths located on a hill in Paso del Mango. There is no any tour taking people to the site, but if you are going to stay in Paso del Mango you can ask if the Mini Ciudad Perdida is close and the way to go there. This site is perfect for a hike and maybe imagine a little how the ancient inhabitants of this region could live. When you reach the top of the hill you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surroundings. This small archaelogical site is an authentic Tayrona settlement that has not been restored. Pros & Cons: It is not a tourist attraction, what can be considered an advantage and disadvantage at the same time.