The Lost City Jungle Trek

Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Well we made it back in one piece and now the trek is over, I can say I'm really glad that I did it. Although there were plenty of times during the 6 days that I wished I'd never started or went to sleep dreaming of a helicopter that would come and pick us up!
For those of you that don't know, Ciudad Perdida (which literally means Lost City) is a site of ruins deep in the Columbian jungle that are reached by a 3 day hike through the jungle and Indian villages. They were only discovered in 1974 and the whole site is 26 square kilometres, but a lot of that is still covered in jungle. It really is quite Indiana Jones in places and there's probably no more than 70 tourists at any one point on the 6 day trail.
We were very lucky that not only did we have an excellent group (there were 7 of us, me, Elliot, Sam from Brighton, Christian from Oz and Thomas, Bono & Klaus 3 Swiss guys), our guide (Giovanni) and cook (Hyme - sorry can't spell) were amazing and hilarious. We booked through a company called Sierra Tours and would really recommend them.
I could spend time describing each days walk but to be honest they all blur into one. After your 3 day hike to you ruins you spend the next day looking around and resting then on day 4 you do a double hike back to the place you spend the first night. The last day is (just) a 3 hours hike back to the closest town. There is a lot of uphill and a lot of downhill, but one thing we all agreed on was there wasn't enough flat!
We slept in hammocks the first night at a place that had a pet squirrel and a pregnant dog, I was very happy and so was the squirrel once he got into my hot chocolate! Check out the picture of where he sleeps at night, his own hammock in the house! We also slept in hammocks the second night at a cabana that had a great river for swimming in and relaxing ready for our hike to the Lost city, which involved 6 hours of trekking, 9 river crossings and climbing 1,800 Inca steps! We did it all and arrived at the Lost City at about 4pm.
It's a great place to see and although there aren't any of the old buildings left, just exploring the area is really interesting. There are Indians that still live there, but their chiefs tell them not talk to foreigners so they don't expose their culture and way of life to too much change. That didn't stop some girls giggling at me when I went past though (I heard them say 'chica' which means girl). I must look so different , taller, paler and with cropped blond hair! The 2 nights we spent in the Lost City were spent at a cabana which can be best described by Elliot's comment when he saw the place - ' Oh it's like living like a gypsy'. We all slept on the floor on damp mattresses with mosquito nets and because there wasn't much room on the first night (another group where already there), Elliot and I had to share a single mattress. Not the best night sleep I've had! We just did a 2 hours tour around the ruins that day so we were ready for day 5, which is basically days 2 and 3 condensed into one day. I left 20 mins early (7am) as I wasn't too keen on walking down all the slippery and uneven Inca steps and wanted to take it slowly, but we made it back to the place we spent the first night by 4pm. The squirrel was still cute, the dog still pregnant and we could watch beautiful birds at the bird table so that made me happy. That night was spent dreaming of pizza and beer.
We and really nice surprise the next day when we finished the hike, we bumped into 2 friends, Michelle and Rob, who we had last seen on Christmas Day in Rio. They were about to start the trek so we tried to give them a few hints without making it sound too scary. I also passed over my trusty stick which saw me through the 6 days and helped my balance no end.
So it was worth doing and if anyone is reading this and thinking of doing the trek here's a few hints
1. Wear hiking shoes, it doesn't matter that the leaflet the agencies have say tennis shoes are fine, they are not. You will be arse over tit in 10 mins.
2. If you have 'water shoes' or get offered a pair on the trek, take them. You cross one river 9 times in a hour and they will save you constantly taking your hiking shoes on and off
3. If you have crap balance, get a stick as soon as possible. I loved my stick and still do.
4. It may be impossible to know before you leave, but try and get a good group. I think one of the reasons I finished the trek and didn't cry myself to sleep every night was because of everyone we were with.
Anyway enough of all this trekking and exercise business. We are spending a few more days in Taganga and then it's off to Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Las Vegas!
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