We could answer inmediately with a resounding yes, but we are a company that offers the tour so, you would think we only want to sell you something. That is why we want you to show the answers of travel bloggers that have done the trek in the last 3 years. What we did is simple: We have collected their answers and put them on the same place, so you can compare them and conclude by yourself if the Lost City trek is worth the money. As we want to be as fair and transparent as possible, these blogger have done the trek with different companies. We are focusing on the destination itself. So, let’s start!

What travel bloggers tell you about the Lost City trek

“… when I found out about the Lost City trek & the journey involved, my heart leapt at the prospect of such a mysterious escapade. It’s been on my radar for years, and after finally doing it the other week, I can say it’s even better than I thought it would be.”

Ford, Where’s the gringo

 

“It’s a tough but rewarding journey. After all, like all great treks, it’s not just about the end destination. The entire trip has a lot to offer and you’ll be in awe of your surroundings from start to finish. It’s definitely something to add to your bucket list.”

Juan Martínez, Traveler’s buddy

 

“If being hot, fatigued, sweaty, dirty, and bug-bitten is a suitable trade-off for you in exchange for incredible landscapes and ancient ruins, then you’ll find this hike well worth it (we certainly did!).”

Jen Avery, Thrifty Nomads

 

“Overall, the Lost City Trek was a tough hike, but it was definitely worth it to see more of the Colombian jungle and the remnants of the Ciudad Perdida.”

Claire, Tales of a backpacker

 

“Most hikers are not that experienced, they just see this as a cool challenge. So you don’t have to be experienced at all. If you like to hike, just do it! You won’t regret it, I promise you.”

Maaike Lut, Travel a lut

 

“You might be asking yourself, ‘Is the Lost City trek worth it?’ and our answer is “YES!” It’s a unique hike that allows you to experience the natural beauty of the region as well as immerse yourself in the history of the area.”

Oksana and Max, Drink tea and travel

 

And your conclusion is…

Whether you are deciding to start this adventure or you just booked it and need an extra confirmation you have made a good decision, we are sure the experience of these travelers will be very helpful. As shown, what you have to consider the most is the effort required by the trek and the toughness of the jungle. We have dedicated an article to see all the factors that can help you to determine the level of hardness of the Lost City trek and show you if the trek is for you, do not hesitate to check it out. Now it’s time to live the Lost City Trek experience by yourself and write your own review! It will not be much different from those seen here!

The Tayrona citadel of Teyuna

The Lost City, called Teyuna by the actual indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, are the remains of an ancient city that sits between 900 – 1,200 m (2,952 – 3,937 ft) above the sea level. The oldest structures date back to the 6th century CE, but lay under the visible ones, that date back to a more recent time (11th or 12th century)1. The Tayrona people, who constructed this citadel, demised after the Spanish conquest, leaving this site uninhabited. As a result, the public did not know it until its discovery in the second half of the 20th century.

Lost City Teyuna
The Lost City “Teyuna” was covered by vegetation during its 400 years of abandonment.

By the 16th century, what we know as the Lost City, was part of an urban complex very well connected to other villages and towns throughout the Sierra Nevada. The different sectors of the Lost City were gathering places, residential areas, quarries, and the surroundings, croplands. Due to the wars and diseases brought by the colonisers, this civilization dissappeared. All what we know about the Tayrona people is from some conquistadors’ chronicles and modern archaelogical studies.

The “Teyuna” Lost City, a sacred place for the local indigenous communities

The native people do not apply the concept of “Lost” to these ruins. Their oral tradition states that they have known this site from time immemorial. They claim the place is key in their worldview and is mentioned by the spiritual leaders during some rituals.

According to the oral tradition, the city takes its name after a mythical hero, Teyuna. He crafted some human figures of mud and gold. After that, he buried them in Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) to create the fathers of the nature elements. Now the places where he buried these figures are sacred, and consequently, places where to do offerings to their gods and guardian spirits. The intention of the offerings is to keep the balance of the Sierra Nevada and so, the balance of the whole world.

The “heart of the world”

For the indigenous tribes, the Sierra Nevada is like the heart of the world (the concept is quite more complex, but this idea helps us understand it in a simple way). Therefore, it is so important to keep the balance of the natural forces and elements of the Sierra Nevada or it will affect the balance of the entire planet. They consider the extraction of their ancestors’ objects, the destruction of their sacred places and the lack of offering rituals as factors that contribute to the loss of balance of the environment.2

Indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

There are four native tribes in the Sierra Nevada: Kogi, Arhuaco, Wiwa and Kankuamo. Each community has its own language and traditions but they share a common point of view about the Sierra Nevada. All of them consider the Sierra Nevada is a sacred territory and they have to take care of it, by respecting it and doing the required spiritual work.

The indigenous groups you can find doing the Lost City trek

Kogui indigenous getting fique (raw fiber) from maguey leaves
The traditional way of getting fique, the raw fibers for their bags (mochilas). Demonstration during the tour.

The Teyuna – Lost City trail has two sections depending on who owns the land: Peasants and indigenous. When you are doing the Lost City trek you enter into an indigenous reserve the second day. In this area the campsites belongs to natives: Wiwa (Wiwa), Mumake (Kogi) both used for accommodation the third night. Paraíso (Kogi) where you will stay the second night. Finally, the house you will find in the Lost City belongs to Romualdo, the mamo (spiritual leader) of the Kogi of the region.

Kogi village of Mutanyi
Mutanyi is a Kogi village that can be seen from the trail.

As you can see, there are two local native tribes in the Lost City area: Wiwa and Kogi. The Ciudad Perdida tour will let you know more about the Wiwa or the Kogi people, it all depends on the campsite you will stay the third night (Your tour guide chooses where to stay). Generally, there is an activity during that evening, where you can listen about their lifestyle, traditions and craftmanships, told by a native. Knowing a totally different point of view from the one you already have will expand your mind to new ways of seeing life and understanding other human beings. So, what are you waiting for having a new and unique experience!

References:

  1. Los secretos arqueológicos que revela Ciudad Perdida – El Heraldo
  2. Santiago Castro Gómez, Eduardo Restrepo. Genealogías de la colombianidad: formaciones discursivas y tecnologías de gobierno en el siglo XIX y XX. Pag. 88.

 

The difficulty level of the Lost City trek ranges from moderate to difficult. Factors as weather (rainy vs dry season) and your condition of fitness, vary the perception of difficulty. Basically the tour is suitable for most people provided that they do not have any health issue. Let us explain you how we can rate this trek considering different factors, so, you can be prepared for it.

Wet clay-like soil
You will be literally walking on clay.

The Lost City Trek, for everyone?

As we have pointed out in our article about safety in the Lost City Trek, there are health issues you have to take into account while deciding taking the trek. But in general, even people with a sedentary lifestyle can finish the trek satisfactorily. In these cases we recommend to take the 5 days trek. The difference between the 4 day and 5 day tour to the Lost City is not so significant (for a trekker) and can take you one more day of your holidays, but enough to let you finish it without being extremely tired.

Of course, there are other reasons that can help you determine if this trek is for you or not: if you do not want to be surrounded by the lushness of a rainforest, be exposed to annoying bugs or other small discomforts, you have 2 options: Take the trek to overcome these challenges 💪 or stay in a safer place 👎. In this article we will focus on the physical effort required by this trek and the factors that make it more or less difficult.

The terrain of the Ciudad Perdida – Teyuna Trail

The terrain varies across the trail from a clay-like to a rocky soil. The tight clay when wet can be slippery but the muddy ground can be heavy instead. Fortunately, as you can see, most of the trail can be walked with confidence… as long as it is dry.

Altitude and distances of the 4-day Lost City tour
The distances may vary depending on the camp selected by the guide for each day.

How long is the Lost City trek?

In total, the round-trip Lost City trek is about 48 km (29.8 mi) long. Which means to arrive to the Lost City Archaeological Site from the starting point, it is about 24 km (14.9 mi) long. For the common 4-day Lost City trek the distances are: the first day, 8 km; the second day, 14 km; the third day, 13 km, and the fourth day 13 km, (The distances here are rounded approximations, the distance for each day depends on the campsite choosen by the guide).

Does the Ciudad Perdida trail passes through rivers you will have to cross?

Yes, you will have to cross some rivers using bridges. But there is one exception, the third day you will have to cross a river by foot twice (once, going to the Lost City and the other when returning). Most people just take off their shoes and cross it barefoot. Be careful because the river bed is pebbly. Tie your shoes to your backpack and cross the river with both hands free, this will help to keep your balance better. A good option is to bring water shoes and wear them here, or if you prefer, wear hiking sandals (we recommend to keep your foot totally covered, but it is up to you).

Lost City trail elevation

The starting point (El Mamey) is at 140 m (459 ft) above sea level. The highest point is in Lost City, at 1,200 m (3,937 mi) above sea level. Forget about any altitude sickness issue or freezing cold, on the contrary, there is a lot of humidity and the weather is hot.

If you see the elevation profile map, you will see the steeper sections: The first day, the first 5 km (3 mi) have an elevation gain of 500 m (1,640 ft). From the first day on, none of these parts exceed an elevation gain of 370 m (1,213 mi) in a 2 km (1.2 mi) long section each.

Section of the Lost City TrailFitness level

If you have a sedentary lifestyle or work out rarely, the Lost City trek will be really challenging. But do not worry if you find yourself there walking slowly, your tour guide will keep an eye on you and will help you if you need it, that is one of the advantages of the Lost City tour small groups of Mega Sierra Tour. On the other hand, if this is not the first trek you take, you work out frequently or by no known reasons you enjoy an enviable health despite doing nothing, the Lost City trek will be an adventure in the jungle where you will have the chance to work out and breath pure air at the same time. If you are a high performance athlete, it will be a walk in the park.

Despite your fitness level, you know everything worthwhile requires effort, so even tired, you will feel the joy of having lived this amazing experience, the Colombian Lost City adventure.

 

Mega Sierra Tour is proud to tell the world it belongs to 6 rural communities (veredas) of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta: Honduras, El Mamey, La Aguacatera, Casa ‘e tabla, San Martín and Quebrada del Sol. As any community tourism based company, Mega Sierra Tour is committed to the economic development  and preservation of the region.

Despite these six communities cover a much wider area than the Ciudad Perdida – Teyuna Trail, this was practically the only tourist route being exploited for tourism. Based on that, Mega Sierra Tour and Asojuntar G.B.D. created an initiative to involve all the communities more actively. That is where the project “Colibrí Trochilinas de mi Sierra” came from. Originally, the initiative intended to create birdwatching routes, hence the name of it, Colibrí (Hummingbird) and Trochilinas, from Trochilinae, a subfamily of humingbirds.

Liliana Torres one of the pioneers of the project, on the left of the picture, receiving the certificate of the “Misión Pymes” at FITUR.

The project is supported by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism and Procolombia trough a strategy that help similar projects nationwide. It goes without saying, there was a national call to review the initiatives and ours was one of 52 community tourism projects selected that together form the Red Nacional de Turismo Comunitario (National Network of Community Tourism). Now, Mega Sierra Tour envisions the expansion of the project to cover not only birdwatching routes but ethnotourism, adventure and others, due to the almost infinite potential of this area.

Recently, Mega Sierra Tour and Asojuntar G.B.D. were at FITUR. With the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism and Procolombia support there was a great opportunity to show the initiative to more people and learn so much more about the development of such projects.

Although Colombia’s country image has got better in recent years, you could have this concern. And the answer is, the Lost City tour is a pretty safe trek to take. You should not worry about someone jeopardising your physical integrity or causing the loss of your belongings. But as with any adventure of this kind, there are some risks you need to know. This information will allow you to have a safer trek.

Some items in the Paraiso Camp
Most common claimings are related with items left behind in the campsites.

3 Tips for staying safe on your Lost City trek

1. Be aware of any possible limitation for taking the trek to the Lost City

Anyone in good physical condition can take the tour, a preparation before taking it is recommended but not required, after all you do not need to have a high level of fitness to complete the Lost City trek satisfactorily. Even though there are some limitations you have to take into account: Pregnancy, injuries, breathing, heart or gastric problems, among others. You will see, most of them are common sense. You have to be reasonable, remember you could put yourself or others at risk.

2. Leave the valuables in a safe place and keep an eye on your belongings

As we stated before, unsafe issues in the Ciudad Perdida – Teyuna Trail are near to zero. But that does not mean you can not lose an object of value along the way. It is very rare for it to happen, our experience has shown us the main reason of loss is neglect: Items such as clothing, sunglasses, shoes left at some campsite, a cell phone that dropped in the river, just one case of theft within 3 years, and so on. We are all humans and forgetting something is natural. That is why we recommend you to look after your stuff. We have seen people claiming a lost item up to 2 days after the tour is over! Our Lost City trek packing list includes the things you do not need to bring, do not hesitate to check it out.

3. Other simple tips to improve your safety

Taking a picture Lost City trail views
Simple safety tips will help you make the Lost City trek experience more enjoyable.
  • Do not take pictures while walking. Stop, stand in a firm position and shoot.
  • Avoid monkeying around: climbing trees, jumping from high places, doing silly and risky things to show off on social media, etc.
  • Do not stray from the path and follow your tour guide’s instructions.
  • Bring your prescription medicines and take them on time.
  • Let Mega Sierra Tour know about any allergy, health condition, injury or others. So, we can do what is necessary to take care of you.
  • Be specially careful during the rainy season, some parts of the trail can be so slippery.

In conclusion, the Lost City trail is not a dangerous place but following some basic recommendations can improve your experience by keeping you safer.

For this or other concerns please feel free to contact us.

The Ciudad Perdida tour is under the Adventure tourism category. Despite this, it is the only way to get to the archaeological site. So, the difficulty level of the Lost City trek should be as low as possible. Not all the tourists visiting the Lost City are trekkers or athletes. But as some did not have enough time they looked for an alternative that took less time, that is why there was a 3-day Lost City tour. But from now on, no company can offer this alternative.

The 3 day Lost City Tour

This option merged the first two days of the common tour (the 4-day Tour to the Lost City) into one. This tour started earlier and part of the trail of the first day was covered by taking a motorbike. It was a very challenging tour that required an optimal physical condition.

Lost City Archaelogical Site
The 4-day Lost City tour is such an enjoyable experience. It should recharge your spirit not tire yourself out.

Reason for suspending the 3-day option

This tour could be too tiring for the average tourist, which could increase the risk of accident by not being in the best condition to walk. Based on that, the Lost City Trekking Committee decided to forbid the operation of the 3 day tour. So, in short, the reason is to improve the safety of the tourists.

What this means to you

It means, we are not accepting more booking requests for the 3-day Lost City tour. But, if you have booked it yet, it will not be canceled nor changed. Of course, about the 4 day and the 5 day Lost City tours we remark, they continue unchanged.

We hope this decision can help to the continous improvements of this wonderful destination.

Booking the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) tour can be overwhelming if you do not know which company you should choose.

First of all, there are only 7 tour operators of the Lost City trek, that is to say, companies that provide you the tour without any middleman. They coordinate the logistics locally (guides, acommodation, food and transportation). These companies are based in Santa Marta, Colombia and even when they offer the “same recipe”, each company has its own “flavor”. So, why choose Mega Sierra Tour?

Lost City Trek small groups Mega Sierra Tour
Our small group tours to the Lost City let you have a more personal experience.

Enjoy the Lost City trek in a small group, it’s time to leave the crowds behind!

The size of our groups lets you feel a more personal experience, but are big enough to create a positive atmosphere of fellowship. Each tour will have a maximum of eight guests, that way, the tour guide can keep an eye on the group at any moment. At Mega Sierra, we found this makes your Lost City tour more memorable.

For private groups, the size could be smaller or bigger, just let us know your requirements to help you with the perfect tour for you.

The only company that belongs to the rural communities

For many travelers, the Lost City tour turns out to be their highlight of their travel to Colombia. We know how enriching it could be, this mountainous region has that secret power. But beyond that, when you choose Mega Sierra Tour you are contributing to the six rural communities that own this company. In other words, you are booking the Lost City trek directly with the rural communities you are visiting!

More authentic and healthier food

During the tour, the food will delight you, it is abundant and delicious. But at Mega Sierra Tour we asked ourselves how we could improve it even more. We have found there was a need to reduce food waste, use more local resources and provide more varied and healthier food, while creating an approach to our local gastrononomy. We are committed in accomplishing these goals in the first 5 months of 2020. Nonetheless, since we started the process of change in January, you can enjoy more authentic and healthier meals right now, let us surprise you!

More Eco-friendly

Mega Sierra Tour heads and participates actively in reforestation programs for the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which combined with a better management of resources, helps to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

Mega Sierra Tour is the company for you to do the Lost City trek

We pride ourselves of being a different Lost City tour operator, we do not only make sure you will get the best possible experience. But we are focused on the development of our communities and environment, too. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information, we are looking forward to hearing from you soon.

For 2020, the 4 indigenous tribes that inhabits the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta have requested three breaks for the Tayrona Park. As the indigenous communities also have control over the trail to the Lost City and the archaeological site itself, does it affect the Lost City tour operation in any way?

Tayrona, Sierra Nevada and Teyuna Ciudad Perdida: Three different things

In Santa Marta area, we have access to both National Natural Parks: Tayrona and part of the Sierra Nevada too. In the case of the Tayrona Park, it has some of its beaches open to the public, but the tourist carrying capacity is controlled by National Natural Parks of Colombia, that is why they require an entry ticket. On the other hand, Sierra Nevada is just a protected zone that has no box office, so you can find yourself anywhere there, without paying any entry ticket.

Finally, Teyuna Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) is an archaelogical site within the boundaries of the Sierra Nevada Park area, but, as it is an Archaeological Park, it is administered by ICANH (Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History, from its Spanish initials), and an entry ticket is required too.

As you can see, there are different administrations for each park, but in all of them the indigenous community has decision-making powers. The closure of the Tayrona Park has a cultural and spiritual reason. Ecologically, we understand that these breaks let the environment to recover, and every year, while there is a spiritual cleaning a physical occurs as well.

When is Tayrona Park closed in 2020?

1st – 29th February

1st – 15th June

19th October – 2nd November

A closure of one park does not affect others

Here goes the answer. The Lost City continues in fully normal operation during the closure of the Tayrona Park. In addition, up to the moment of writing this article, the dates of the Tayrona Park closure do not coincide with the closure of the Lost City, which is closed throughout the month of September (unless there is a change. We will be announcing the exact dates of the last tour before its closure and the start of operations).

All in all, pack for your adventure in the Lost City, we are always ready to go!

The Lost City tour can be a lifechanging experience, we all agree that is a great mix of nature, adventure and culture, but we also know it is a challenging trekking. That is why we want you to know the most precise information about it. In this article, we provide you the Lost City map and other resources to make it as simply as possible.

Note: This article is focused on the 4 day option (the most popular one). If you want to know details about the 5 day tour, we have compared these two options in this post: The difference between the 4 and 5 day tours to the Lost City

Location, altitude and other basic details about the Lost City

The Lost City archaelogical site is located on the north coast of Colombia, South America. It was one of the most important settlements of the ancient Tairona tribe, who built it on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It ranges from 900 m.a.s.l. to 1,200 m.a.s.l., and it is the highest point you will reach during the tour, meaning you will find yourself surrounded by the lushness of a tropical mountainous rainforest all the way long.

Tip: You can see the exact location on Google Maps and also virtual tour the site if you drag and drop the yellow man on it!

Lost City tour itinerary

4 Day trek to Lost City map
4 Day trek to the Lost City. See it takes you 3 days to get there, that very day you go back, and the fourth day is the end of the adventure.

Day 1 (Santa Marta – El Mamey – Campsite 1)

  • Departure from Santa Marta (at 9:30 AM approx. The time can vary, we will let you know any change).
  • 2 to 3 Hours in a 4×4 vehicle. The car takes the road to La Guajira and makes a detour passing through La Aguacatera up to El Mamey village.
  • Arrival in the village of El Mamey. Lunch
  • 4 hours trek to the the first camp. (First camp options: Vista hermosa, Adán or Alfredo).
  • Dinner.

Day 2 (Campsite 1 – Mutanyi – Campsite 3)

  • Departure from camp 1.
  • 3 and a half hours trek to the second camp. Lunch at the camp.
  • This day you will pass near Mutanyi. A village that belongs to the Kogui community.
  • 4 hour trek to camp 3 (Third camp options: Lorenzo or Paraíso).
  • Dinner.

Day 3 (Campsite 3 – Lost City – Campsite 2)

One of the views from the Lost City Archaeological park
One of the views from the Lost City Archaeological Park
  • Departure from camp 3.
  • 1 hour trek to Lost City.
  • 3 to 4 hours tour to explore archaelogical, ethnological and historical zone of Lost City.
  • Return to camp 3. Lunch.
  • Departure from camp 3 to camp 2 (Second camp options: Mumake or Wiwa).
  • Dinner.

Day 4 (Campsite 2 – El Mamey – Santa Marta)

  • Departure from camp 2.
  • 7 to 8 hours walk to El Mamey.
  • Lunch in El Mamey.
  • 2 to 3 hours in a 4×4 vehicle to return to Santa Marta.

5 Things you must know

  1. Sleeping in bed or hammock is subject to availability.
  2. Departure everyday from each campsite is around 6:00 AM.
  3. Near most camps you can find a river where you can take a dip.
  4. You can drink water, eat some fruit and take time to enjoy the views at the rest-stops along the trail.
  5. The food provided takes into account your preferences or restrictions.

Altitude and distances covered during the tour

The graphic below let you see a cross section of the trail, the location of the campsites and others reference points.

Altitude and distances of the 4-day Lost City tour
The distances may vary depending on the camp selected by the guide each day.

Do not forget to read our Ultimate Packing List for the Lost City trek so you do not miss anything you can need there.

Ready for the adventure? If so, what are you waiting for booking the Lost City tour!

 

Surely, you will agree with us, that you cannot photograph whatever you would want while traveling, there are privacy, copyright and/or security issues. But talking about the lost city, are there any limitations on the pictures you can take there?

The answer is yes, but it is a matter of the native’s privacy. Here we tell you all you need to know before shooting your camera.

1. Do not take any photos of the natives without their authorization

This is a basic rule, before taking any photo of the indigenous, please ask your guide if it is possible to do it, he can talk to them and get their permission, in most cases they will accept.

2. Photos of children are totally forbidden

The reason is you need permission from their parents, but in most cases the kids are playing outdoor and their parents are not right there. It happened tourists did not have the chance to get their permission and just photographed them freely. Now to avoid any inconveniences they have prohibited taking pictures of children.

3. Aerial footage by drones are limited just to some areas

Specifically, the area that belongs to the peasant community and the Lost City Archaeological Park Area, in other words, you cannot fly a drone over the indigenous reserve area, which means you cannot get any footage of the Mutanyi village, nor any house that belongs to the indigenous community. If you bring a drone, the guide will let you know where you can fly it or not, but just to remark, the Lost City and its surroundings can be recorded using drones and/or other devices, the only points where it is not allowed to do it, are any within the indigenous reserve area.

Respectfully…

The main thing to keep in mind is these communities are sharing their space with us, and we can enjoy this adventure and respect their privacy at a time. An analogy that can help you understand this point of view, is imagining somebody in your neighborhood flying a drone over your yard, or even worst, in your living room! (As it happened in a native’s home) or just taking photos of your children without you even knowing it! In Mega Sierra Tour we are commited to the development of the communities, that is why we believe the first step is having a deep respect for them while working hand in hand.

Even when we are sharing these rules with everyone, you can find online footage that do not comply with them since they started recently, or see some tourists breaking them (because they ignore them or just do not care). The point is you can commit too with the essence of responsible and community tourism while having a lifechanging experience!