After four days of trekking (44km) in the jungle, I was exhausted. The last day was especially difficult as it was the longest and most tiring one. The temperatures were high and so was the humidity. My feet were covered in blisters and my knees in pain. So, why all the effort? To discover The Lost City. Was it worth it? YES!
They say it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. I say it’s both. At least for the Lost City. The scenery, as you start your walk early each morning is undeniably beautiful and although it’s physically demanding, you can’t help but being impressed and often stopping to admire it. OK, I also stopped a few times to catch my breath :).
Day one: Welcome to the jungle
We left the agency in Santa Marta past 10am, arrived in Machete (the starting point of the trek) for lunch, and soon after we started the hike. The first hour of the first day is extremely hard. The way up is really steep and you are climbing it at midday when the sun is at its strongest. I was more than thankful for the cold watermelon that was waiting for us as we arrived at the first stop, one hour later. We walked for about 4h until reaching the campsite located near a lake which allowed for a cooling night swim. Soon it was dinner time and then off to bed for a well-deserved night rest.
Day two: One long and hard day
Early start at around 5:30am, then breakfast and the start of a 6h trek. The views on day two were probably the best especially the sunrise ones. We arrived at the campsite – the biggest we had seen – had an early (candlelight) dinner and called it a day. The next day was the big day.
Day three: Finding the Lost City
We woke up at around 5am with departure time just after breakfast at around 6am. The trek to the Lost City was short, about 1h, but so damn hard. The rock steps were difficult to climb and when you looked up you could see they were never ending. Advice, don’t look up :).
After climbing the 1260 rock steps we reached the Lost City. I had read that the site itself was not as impressive as the trek, but I disagree. I think the site is spectacular, and what I loved the most was the quietness. It seemed like everybody understood and respected the Lost City. Ok, maybe they were also tired from the grueling 1260 steps :).
The time spent at the site was about 1-2h. This allowed us to rest and take in the beauty of the surroundings.
We then made our way down on the rocky steps. I can’t say which part was more difficult, the way up or the way down :).
After lunch which took place at the same camp where we spend the night, we started going back following the same path as when we came.
Day 4: Early start and the toughest day
The last day was the toughest day because I was already really tired, my feet were covered in blisters, so walking the whole day was not my idea of fun. But hey, no one forced me to do this. Well, actually, Bertrand sort of did :).
I was happy to finish the trek and until the last painful step, I told myself that I was not going to do this kind of trek again, only to change my mind a few minutes later. After all, the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu was waiting for me :).
In conclusion, the Lost City trek was the hardest trek I have ever done, and in the same time one of the best experiences. I would not do it again, but I am pretty happy and proud to have done it.
Tips and tricks:
How to get there: You need to get to Santa Marta first where all the tour agencies are located. We took a flight from Bogota and then a taxi from the airport (there are no buses).
Where to stay: We booked Media Luna hostel in Santa Marta for one one night before the trek and one after. The best part about staying there was that they kept our luggage for four days (during the trek) without charging us.
Choosing your tour agency: Once you are in Santa Marta, you can choose your agency (we went with Magic Tour) and most of them offer similar services. In the end, it will be the people (guides) that make the difference. We were lucky to have a great guide, Saul, who took great care of us throughout the trek. I warmly recommend him.
What the package should include: Transportation from Santa Marta to the village of Machete where the trek starts; lunch and dinner on the first day, all three meals on day two and three, breakfast and lunch on day 4 (we also had fresh fruit at every stop along the way, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to eat a cold slice of watermelon after walking in the sun for hours); accommodation each night in single beds covered by mosquito nets (no hammocks); guide briefing and information each day and a thorough description of the Lost City; transportation back to Santa Marta. *Our tour also included an English translator.
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When researching the trek we found a European agency who gave us more than twice the price we got in Colombia. The Santa Marta agencies should all have the same price, so be aware of international ones that will overcharge you. We were there in March 2016 and paid COP 700000 per person.
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