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.

The Lost City trek in Colombia is not all about the archaelogical ruins. They are the finish line, and the arrival provide you a sense of accomplishment, but the journey itself, seen as an exploration, can surprise you. Let us show you 7 highlights of the Lost City Trek.

1 – Stunning plants and flowers

Tagua palm and exotic flower Lost City

Plant of purple leaves Lost City Trail
One plant that caught my attention was this one that looks like to be a fern. The leaves have a purple hue when the leaves are tender and turn green over time. It is pretty common there.

This region has a rich variety of plants, and the trek to Ciudad Perdida is the opportunity to see them for the first time. For those who live in the area, these plants are just “part of their world” and they do not see anything surprising in them. Yet, there they are, waiting to be admired.

Some examples are: the sensitive plant, a creeping plant that closes its foliage when you touch it. Heliconias, ferns, tagua palms, bromelias. The plants used by indigenous people are fascinating too, the coca plant, fique, and those used in dying their handicrafts. It is possible to see some fruit trees or plants like those of pineapple, avocado, mango, banana, tobacco, among others.

2 – Splendid views and scenery

Sunrise view from the Lost City trail

The Lost City Trail have really spectacular natural landscapes. Due to the combination of mountains and jungle leave a beautiful mark everywhere you see, from the stop places you can glimpse splendid valleys while you recharge your energy. This will be a constant, even from the Lost City, the views are amazing.

3 – The all-in-one cultural, historical, ecological and spiritual background of the tour

Spiritual indigenous leader home Lost City

The information discussed about the history of the place, the ecological and spiritual way in which the actual indigenous people live, can be very appealing. Teyuna is a sacred place for the natives and there are travelers and peasants that believe it is an energetic spot of the planet. For the traveler, these new points of view of the world are a remarkable thing of the tour, too.

4 – Refreshing waters near you all the time

River Lost City trail

The trail follows the valley of the Buritaca River and crosses several streams and springs. Close to each camp there is a section of a stream suitable for taking a dip. We can not deny that the weather here is hot, but we have near us these refreshing waters to make us forget about it and have a good time too.

5 – The challenge itself

Tourists doing the Lost City trek on a muddy terrain

Many find the challenge of the Lost City Trek itself appealing. In many cases, it is the first time that our visitors go into a jungle. In fact, we have seen that for some it is the first time that they are physically demanding in a tour like this, they go through muddy sections that test their balance and in some cases it is even the first time that they cross a suspension bridge!

It is possible that after finishing this experience, you know yourself better about what you are capable of doing and you could wish to repeat an experience like this.

6 –  What you feel when you get to the finish line: The Lost City

Lost City Archaelogical Site

The third day, before your arrival to the Lost City, you have to cross a river and then start climbing the famous 1,200 steps that take you to the Teyuna archaelogical site. It only takes 1 hour, but you could feel the sacred place is trying to see if you really deserve to get there. In this part you have to be focused on the tiny steps and to be patient, because the final stage of the challenge can not be done in a hurry. At your arrival, a sense of accomplishment can be felt and seen on all faces.

7 – Honorary mentions

Before leaving we want to add two more things. We have put them as they are one ‘extra’ highlight as we consider each of them does not make this trek unique, but are worth mentioning.

  • New friends: After being 4 days sharing this experience, any new person you know can become a new friend, a travel partner or at least someone that can give you great travel recommendations and direct reviews.
  • Food: We have to be honest, the food can be repetitive. But the rations will satisfy you, they are plentiful and tasty. For this reason, many find the meals of the Lost City trek a highlight of the tour, too.

Ready for discover these highlights of the Lost City trek in Colombia by your own. Mega Sierra Tour is glad to accompany you in this four or five days journey of exploration, and help you find surprises along the trail!

The best time to do the Lost City trek is the dry season. In this region this season runs from January to July with a minimum increase of the precipitations in April and May. The most popular periods for doing the Lost City trek are August, the last week of December and the first week of January. In this article we want to show you what you can expect each month of the year. We take into account the weather and the flow of people. (The weather station in Santa Marta collects data from some points of the territory, the data we analyze here corresponds to those of the Tayrona Park in view of the fact that they are the closest to Ciudad Perdida and with the most similar climate).*

Precipitation and weather Tayrona Park
Annual Precipitation and temperature.

The Lost City Trek month by month

January – February

By January, the rainy season has ended totally. December, January and sometimes February are windy months. The nights are cooler than others during these days. In January continues the holiday season in Colombia, so the first days of the month could be very crowded.

February is similar to January. The windy period known as “La Loca” ends. Other info: In February the Tayrona Park is closed but it does not affect the Lost City Trek.

March, April, May, June

By March, the previous dry days are so evident in the level of water of the rivers and the mountains around the urban area. The flow of people goes down until its lowest peak in May – June. This is the best moment to do the trek if you care about crowds. Just remember when is the Holy Week, this short period of time has an increase of local tourism, but even that, the campsites are not going to be so busy. From April on you will have some rainfalls, in some cases there will be a refreshing drizzle or the clouds will just cover the sun.

July – August

So similar to April and May, during July and August there is an increase in the flow of people and rainfalls. In recent years, August has been really wet.

September (The Lost City is closed)

Remember, September is the month when they close the Archaelogical Park. The companies restart operations by 29th September (This date cannot be guaranteed. Please contact us to get more info about it).

October – November

The rainiest month of the year is October. If you do the trek during this month, or November, be ready for the toughest and most challenging version of the Lost City trek.

December – January

By December, the rainfalls stop gradually as the breezes increase. The last week of the month can have days really crowded as so the first week of January.

Flow of People 2018 - 2019 - Lost City trek
Flow of People 2018 – 2019 – Lost City trek

Extra things to take into account

  • This article is intended as a guide, not a weather forecast.
  • The humidity in the mountainous region is high all year round (higher than 80%).
  • Whenever you do the trek be prepared for surprising rainfalls or drizzles. But do not bring thick raincoats or you will cook yourself wrapped in it. Check our Lost City Packing List out for more information.
  • No matter what season it is, when it rains it is almost always in the afternoon. This offers a double advantage: first, you will be arriving at each campsite by the time it starts raining, and second, the Lost City is visited in the morning, so the weather will not be a problem.

* Notes: Other points such as San Lorenzo (2,200 m.a.s.l.) have a totally different climate and those located in the urban area record higher temperatures, less humidity and less precipitations. For that reason we consider the Tayrona Park or Guachaca as the most accurate references.

natural soap Mega Sierra Tour
The package of the natural soaps are made of renewable materials.

Mega Sierra Tour takes pride in providing tours with the goal of improving the lives of the communities of the region. But we have a commitment with our customers and the environment too. Talking about this should not be limited to simple words written somewhere, but actions, whether they are small or big ones.

We make some improvements that continually show to our customers, our commitment with them and the land we are preserving. In this article, we will mention our recent changes that will enhance your appreciation for what happens behind the Lost City trek by Mega Sierra Tour.

Our contribution to the health of our rivers and streams

Any human activity impacts in any way the environment, and tourism is not the exception. For example, all the personal care stuff we use have chemicals that unavoidably end in our streams. We are so conscious of this, for that reason, Mega Sierra Tour is including natural soaps in the tour as a gift for our customers. They are made of coca leaves or organic coffee, in a way they will not pollute our streams. These soaps not only are made of natural products connected with the Sierra Nevada and our native communities they are our contribution to the health of our rivers and a ecological present to whom is choosing us.

Our contribution to the farmers of the region and the improvements of the food you eat

The area where the tour happens is a fertile area where most farmers cultivate mainly for their own. Nonetheless, many of them produce enough to sell to others. As they are not producing food on a large scale, many of these products are organic.

We saw many of these products could be used as ingredients in the kitchens of the Lost City trail. That way we would provide more organic food to the tourists while we do our contribution to the communities as well. In january 2020, we started changing some ingredients and providing new recipes to the tourists. So, now we have a healthier and more varied offer. This change has been progressive and slow, but we are happy with the results obtained: the food continues to be as delicious as always, but less repetitive. Variety is the spice of life!

Our contribution to a well informed tourist

The latest efforts of Mega Sierra Tour include to provide better information to the tourists and our commercial allies. In our blog you will not only find updated information but also the most accurate it could be. For example, our announcement about the cancellation of the 3-day Lost City Trek was one of the most read articles, and believe it or not, up to this date, there are Lost City tour operators still offering a tour they cannot sell anymore! On the other hand, outdated blog articles claim things like: You will be totally offline while doing the trek, give you a wrong price, the transportation used is a “chiva” bus (a typical colorful bus in Colombia), or the tour is not provided in English. The truth is: Most campsites have internet connection (you need to pay a small fee to have access), the price in 2020 is $ 1,150,000 COP, the car used is an air-conditioned 4×4 one, and all the companies provide Spanish/English translators.

Stream Lost City trail
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”

In our article about why you should do the Lost City trek with Mega Sierra we provide you reasons about why we are a different company and the experience we provide is quite better than others. We hope you can see what makes our company reliable, quality of service focused, and of course, our commitment to the environment and you.

 

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!

Insects !? Who wants to talk about mosquitoes and sandflies? I feel itchy just thinking about it! Please, do not be so quick to think the only insects along the trail are those annoying blood-sucking bugs. (Here you can read the first part of this article about birds in the Lost City trail)

Without any doubt the animals you will see most often will be butterflies

The “Yellow butterflies”, Tailed sulphur (Phoebis neocypris)

This butterfly that you could also find in other regions of Central and South America is characterized by being found in parts of the road near a river or stream. Because they suck up minerals from the wet soil and their courtship dances are performed in large groups, you will most likely find them doing a humble and delicate aerial show somewhere along the trail.

88 Butterfly88 Butterfly (Diaethria clymena)

This zebra-like butterfly has a black and white pattern in the shape of the numbers 8 or 9 on their underwings and a red “stain” over the stripes as they were painted to make that monochromatic pattern more appealing.

Seen from above their upperwings are black crossed by a thick iridescent stripe and a fine line of the same color on the distal margin. Doing the math, you have an 88% of probabilities to see it at rest and admire its particular pattern.

Blue Morpho (Morpho helenor)

It is a large butterfly easily distinguished by its bright blue wings. Although it makes its appearances by flapping its wings in some corner of the forest, it disappears quickly which makes it difficult to capture in a photo.

Owl Butterfly (Caligo telamonius)

Owl butterfly at Paraíso camp near Lost City
This owl butterfly was “looking at us” at Paraíso Camp.

This butterfly takes its name from the particular fake eyes that can be seen in its wings. These eyes are surrounded by textures in brown shades. Curiously when seen from above, their wings have a beautiful striking blue. In spite of this, you will most likely find it at rest, letting you see the patterns on her wings that give it its curious name. These eyes serve to confuse its predators by making them believe that a larger animal is watching them.

Ants, many ants

Leafcutter ants

The leafcutter ants belong to the genus Atta and are widespread throughout America, that means a visitor to our continent can find this workaholic bugs very interesting.

The first time you see these tiny leafcutting machines you can think immediately they eat leaves (it looks obvious), but the real thing is, they depend mostly on a kind of fungus that thrives on a substrate of the leaves the are cutting all day long. So, they have cultivated even before humans learned how to do it.

These ants are strong biters but fortunately they inject no venom nor toxins and as we can expect, based on the forementioned info, they are not going to eat anybody alive, nor are any other species of ants of the trail… We hope this does not ruin your expectations of living an Indiana Jones experience to the Lost City of the Tayronas.

Leafcutter ants

For a good reason these bugs can catch your attention during the tour to the Lost City, so remember not all the insects you find along the trail are undesirable vermins. Nonetheless, bring a powerful mosquito repellent to keep the unpleasant ones far from you.

The tropical rainforest of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is inhabited by an interesting variety of animal species. However, since so many people pass through the trail daily (which scares off the local fauna) wildlife sightings will be scarce. Even so, we will leave you with a list of the animals you might encounter on the trail, we hope this information will help make your trip to Ciudad Perdida even more fascinating. In the first part of this article we will talk about the species of birds you can see during the Lost City tour.*

Most common birds in the Lost City trail

The sunrise on the trail will be accompanied by a musical concert performed by the infinite species of birds found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, despite the variety, at the beginning of this article we mentioned that little can be seen, remember that to increase the probability of a sighting someone in the group must know how to identify the bird by its vocalization (sounds).

Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus)

It is member of the orioles and grackles’ family. It’s a big bird, easy to identify, its body is mainly black, has a long pointed yellow bill and a yellow tail. Whether you can see this bird or not you surely will see its hanging nests high in the trees, which are woven meticulously reaching up to one meter long.

Hummingbirds

At least 16 species of hummingbirds can be seen in this area but the most common is the Rufous-tailed hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl), as its name suggests it has a rufous (reddish brick-like color) tail and a red bill, what makes it easier to identify. It is more abundant along the lower part of the trail.

Other species of hummingbirds: White-chinned Sapphire (Hylocharis cyanus), Long-billed Hermit (Phaetornis longirostris), Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri).

White-bearded manakin (Manacus manacus)

Even if you cannot see them on the road, perhaps you can hear them in the distance, they emit a sound similar to the clash of several stones, hence they call it “Pistolero” (gunman) locally. In the video you can listen this “inorganic” sound and see one of the birds performing its courtship dance into the bushes (unfortunately it was taken using a smartphone so, the zoom was very limited).

Toucans

You can find them high up in the trees, or flying over the forest. The most colorful of the species mentioned here is the keel-billed toucan.

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

If the most interesting approach to a toucan in your life has been the mascot appearing on a cereal box (as it is my case, sadly) we really hope the stars aligned to give you the chance to have a glance of this beautiful bird. Even when its body is not colorful, “who needs it when your bill has such a dazzling combination of red, green, blue, yellow, orange…” a keel-billed toucan would say us.

Other species of toucans and toucanets: Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus).

We will continue our wildlife adventure talking about the amazing insects you can find in the Lost City trail. See you later!

Note: This article is not intended to provide information for experts birdwatchers, we know they need more details than the forementioned.