Getting a little bit lost in the magic of Colombia on the way to the Lost City…
The hike to The Lost City, also known as Ciudad Perdida in Spanish and Teyuna or Butitaca-200 to the indigenous people, is four days long. The only way to reach The Lost City is by foot or by mule. On the first day, we set out on our hike after lunch and hiked about seven kilometers for four hours. We ate dinner and slept at one of the camps along the trail before beginning day two at 5 a.m.. The second day we were on the trail for nine hours, making it the longest of the four days. However, we made stops along the way to meet indigenous people and learn about their cultures. There are four main indigenous tribes in the Sierra Nevada of Colombia, and we spent most of our time interacting with the Koguis people. During lunch we were able to swim in the river in some of the clearest and cleanest water I had ever seen.
Day four was another long day in which we set out early in order to make it back to our starting point by lunchtime. In total, the hike was 42 kilometers in four days.
Ciudad Perdida, or the Lost City, gets its name because it wasn’t discovered until 1972. However, construction is believed to have begun around the year 700 CE, hundreds of years before Machu Picchu in Peru. When the Spanish came to South America they never found the city because of how difficult it is to reach. With their carriages and armor they never made it. The city was actually abandoned around 1560 after the Spanish arrived and people began contracting diseases. The indigenous people did not understand what was happening and believed the city may be cursed.
Until 1972 locals claimed to have known about the city, but they kept it a secret. It was eventually discovered by looters which incited violence in the area because of the gold and other treasures in The Lost City. Now, the area has heavy military protection, and only a few tour companies are allowed to bring groups to the city on the promise that they will teach visitors about the history and culture of the place and it’s indigenous people.
Going on this trek was an extraordinary experience in so many ways. Leaving the bigger cities of Colombia and experiencing such a preserved indigenous culture helped expand my view of the world. Bathing in the river, seeing stars without the light pollution, and being completely disconnected from cellphone service was something I didn’t know how much I needed until I experienced it. However, the food poisoning I got on the first night that had me throwing up from 1 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. and stuck with me until the last day was probably something I could have gone without experiencing. Although, all in all, the experience was a maturing and strengthening one to say the least.