The Lost City in Colombia's Sierra Nevada | Gesine Cheung
Gillian and her partner did the Lost City Trek in Colombia and share their experiences.
Being early retirees, they like to get away every couple of months. Both are fitness fanatics and believe there’s only so much time you can spend lazing by the pool so what they do is alternate lazy holidays with more active adventures. “Plus, there is no better way to see the world than on foot, so trekking has become a real passion for us” says Gillian.
Read on for their review on what the Colombian holiday was like for them, how they experienced the Lost City of Teyuna trek and what other treasures Colombia has on offer.
What were your expectations of the Lost City Trek in Colombia?
We particularly like to trek to places where you can meet people who live in the actual communities. The fact that World Expeditions offer indigenous guides on the Lost City trek was a real driver in us choosing this trip.
We had been warned that this trek is a tough one, but reading the itinerary it was hard to understand why, so we read lots of blogs and they all said the same thing as we would say now, that it's actually really hard to understand why. The primary explanation is that it is a very hot and sweaty trek and that this really zaps your energy, making it very important to drink lots of water. We would highly recommend adding the odd sachet of rehydration salts to this. You also have the added challenge of carrying your own bag, so it's good that the hike is only 4 days long. It is definitely wise to pack only the absolute essentials.
What was your biggest concern ahead of your holiday to Colombia?
Another thing we heard in advance was lots of tales of bed bugs at the campsites – and this along with the promise of sleeping in hammocks led us to a feel fair amount of trepidation. However, we didn't meet any bed bugs and all of the campsites had a limited number of beds, which we were lucky enough to sleep in every night. Most of the other people doing this trek are young backpackers so I think people took pity on us for our great age and respectfully let us take the beds. It did feel a bit like cheating, but if you want the adventure of sleeping in a hammock, it's definitely there as an option.
There are lots of quirky elements to this trek and the lack of bridges is one of these. When you need to cross a river you simply take of your boots and wade across. As it's so hot it's actually a welcome relief to get your legs in the cold water. The combination of river crossings and all the sweating mean that you soon get used to both you, and all of your stuff being permanently wet.
On our last night, we enjoyed a fabulous evening around the campfire when our guide told us about life in his community. Though we did have a confusing lost-in-translation moment: we had misunderstood that young men lose their virginity and learn everything they need to know before they marry – by sleeping with an experienced 16-year-old. This story made a lot more sense when we eventually understood that the woman was actually 60 years old!
What point of advice would you give to other travellers that consider doing the trek to Colombia’s Lost City?
We had read endless reports about how virulent the mosquitoes would be. However, being old and sensible we were hardly bothered at all. We used Deet, citronella bands and took vitamin B tablets for a month, and so something of this definitely worked for us. Due to the heat many people opt to wear tiny shorts and we walked behind lots of people with legs entirely covered in bites. We opted to wear long trousers and tops, which as they were made from performance fabrics did not actually make us hot but did protect us from both bites and the sun.
What is your most memorable moment of this adventure in Colombia?
There were so many levels of enjoyment on this trek: the time with the guide; the Lost City of Teyuna itself; the beautiful scenery along the way; and the physical challenge and the sense of achievement that therefore follows, all combine to make this a real experience to remember.
The real highlight of the trek for us was definitely having an indigenous guide. This led to a truly magical experience in the Lost City itself as we shared in some rituals with our guide. Standing in a circle whilst we all said goodbye to our negative feelings was a moment to remember.
If you had to describe the trip in 5 words, what would they be?
In 5 words, I would say it was hot, sweaty, exhausting, stunning and magical.
We should not forget that the trek to the Lost City of Teyuna was only part of this trip. We also spent some time in other parts of Colombia. For example, we started the holiday in Bogota where we stayed in a fabulous hotel in the oldest street in the capital. We absolutely loved our walking tour which took in both the amazing street art and the beautiful historical buildings. We then ended the trip in Cartagena which has a real Caribbean vibe. Again, we enjoyed a brilliant walking tour of the historical streets, plus a beautiful sunset evening in a local fishing village.
In a trip that was only 9 nights long we certainly had a really colourful and varied experience.
Curious about the Lost City trek in Colombia and how you can travel yourself? Learn more about the 10-day walking holiday in Colombia or get in touch with our travel experts around the world for more information.