I recently took a tour to Ciudad Peridida, the lost city, in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Colombia. Indians lived in this site in 800 AD. Ciudad Peridida was discovered by the western world in 1972 when grave robbers stumbled upon it. Ciudad Peridida is up at 1,500 meters above sea level, and is almost always hidden behind the clouds. There are a lot of tour company's in Santa Marta that will take you to the lost city. all of the tours are about 700,000 pesos, about 230 US dollars.
Every morning we woke up early ( 5 am ) to a breakfast of local foods and we were walking by 6 am. We walked all day with a lunch stop and a few fruit and water stops. We usually arrived at camp at 4:30 pm. We always had a big meal, swam in the river and we were in bed by 8 pm. Each camp had a place to swim, a place to hang wet clothing and places to rest. For camps we overnighted in the beds where comfortable with bug nets hung over them or you had the choice of hammocks, but all sleeping was communal.
The last camp is less then a kilometer from the lost city ( about a 1/2 mile ). The city is the highest point in the hike( 1,500 meters ) and also the turning around point. But before you can see the city you have to climb 1,200 steps. At the top of the stairs you get your first views of the lost city. What is left of the city is mainly stone terraces where the huts once stood, the wood huts have long since been reclaimed by the jungle. The city is protected from grave looters by the Colombian army, so there was a platoon of soldiers that spent three months at a time guarding the city. Looting was common because the Indians were buried with all their possessions, including an abundance of gold to get them through the four worlds of the afterlife.
The Indians we visited (Wiwa) are also very interesting and have kept their traditional culture mainly intact. A few times a day one or two Indians would pass us by ( going faster then us ). The Indians were dressed in white, the traditional colors, rubber boots and cowboy hats. When children become 18 they are allowed to wear the traditional white and the traditional hat. Before that, they have to wear brown clothes and no hat. The Indians showed us how to dry coco leaves ( they chew the leaves because it dulls their hunger and allows them to walk longer and faster in a day). They also showed us how they get the fiber out from plants to make thread for their bags. The Indians have managed to live much as they have for hundreds of years without too much influence from Westerners.
It was a long, hard, muddy hike and we were wet most of the time, but I'm very glad we did it. I very highly recommend the hike. If you like hiking and think you can do it for four days through the rain forest, you will love this hike. As some people say it is about the journey, not just the destination. If you do happen to do the hike, bring a lot of extra dry clothes!
pics to follow