After returning december 9th from Tayrona Park we made the reservations to go to “Ciudad Perdida”. We hesitated a long time if we would take the 4 or 5 day trek. The tour agency made it easy to decide as they said we only had to decide on day 3 of the trip if we would do it in 4 or 5 days, the price stays the same even if you do it in 6 days.
At 9 AM on
december 13th, a jeep from the tour agency came to pick us up at the marina and dropped us off at the hostel where our group would leave. We learned that we were 18 in our group, but with 2 guides, a spanish speaking one “Jhohan” and one that spoke english “Miller”. The group were backpackers from all over the world between 25-35 years young :-). We left with 2 jeeps to Machete (aka El Mamey) , about an hour drive from Santa Marta.
Town of Machete. All tour companies gather here to leave for the ciudad perdida. Stefan and I were impressed how well organised everything is, considering the complicated logistics.
Orange-winged amazone, one of the many parrot species living in Colombia, and this one in Machete.
Our group of 18 was made up of Belgians, Australians, Germans,Canadians, Columbians, Dutch and American. Really great to hear their stories.
Mist over the Colombian mountains.
A picture can never do justice to this mesmerizing landscape.
A Kogi family. The boys and girls both wear a dress and have long hair but the boys have a “mochilla” (bag over the shoulder) and the girls have a necklace. The Kogi all wear only pure white cloting. They say that white represents the Great Mother and therefore the purity of nature. When the boys turn 16 they get to wear a tunic.
The first day we walked about 4 hours, most of it moderate climbing. We reached the camp at about 5.30PM, time for a quick cold shower and dry clothes.
We were lucky we never had to sleep in hammocks. The hammocks were also covered by mosquito nets.
Wake-up call at 5.30AM december 14th, time for breakfast with eggs, toast and fruit ! The second day is apparently the hardest, so we need to eat well !
The views are incredible. The pictures do not do them justice.
Our 2 guides. Miller at the left and Jhohan at the right. They both did a wonderful job. You could tell they were proud of their country.
Those who arrive first have a spot to dry their clothes, the others have to be more inventive.
Flower of the malanga (Elephant’s ear) plant. When the flower dies the indigenous people know the root is ready to eat.
Kitchen at one of the campsites. The food we got over the 4 days was really good considering they have to bring up everything by mule or horseback..
The area is now completely safe but was at one time affected by the Colombian armed conflict between the Colombian National Army, right-wing paramilitary groups and left-wing guerrilla groups like National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). On September 15, 2003, ELN kidnapped 8 foreign tourists that were visiting Ciudad Perdida, demanding government investigation of human rights abuses in exchange for their hostages. ELN released the last of the hostages three months later. It is only since 2005 that visits are allowed to the Lost City.
Two young Wiwa indians. They are one of the 4 groups of the Tairona people : Arhuacos, Cancuamo, Kogi (largest) and Wiwa. Tayrona means “sons of the tiger”.
Kogi family. The little ones always ask for “dulce”. There are about 18000 Kogi Indians.
A typical Kogi hut.
One of the many orchids in the forest.
Jefton from Australia and Elizabeth from the US at one of the campsites taking a break.
Insects are everywhere, especially mosquitos (Ceci n’est pas un mosquito).
The Kogi have many characteristics that define their culture. For example, all Kogi men receive a “poporo” when they come of age. The “poporo” is a small, hollow gourd that is filled with “lima,” a type of powder that is made by heating and crushing shells to produce lime. The men also continuously chew coca leaves, a tradition followed by many indigenous tribes to connect them to the natural world. As they chew the coca leaves, they suck on the lime powder in their poporos, which they extract with a stick, and rub the mixture on the gourd with the stick to form a hardened layer or crust. The size of this layer depends on the maturity and the age of the Kogi man. Kogi men and women all carry traditional bags across their shoulders. Only women are allowed to weave the bags. Many of the things carried inside a bag are secret and known only to the owner. When two Kogi men meet, they use the customary greeting which is to exchange handfuls of cocoa leaves.
Stefan and I noticed already in Tayrona Park the particular smell, the thick smell of jungle, It’s almost like dipping your head in a compost bin and breathing in deeply: sweet and tangy and full of life.
One wingside of the 89’98 butterfly (Diaethria phlogea or Diaethria euclides phlogea).
The other wingside of the 89’98 butterfly. Stefan calls this the BP/Q8 butterfly. Some people spend days in the forest trying to take their picture. We got very lucky.
Typical Kogi girl with necklace. The Kogis believe that girls are conceived at night (moon) and boys during the day (sun).
Flora in the colombian jungle.
The Lost City. Ciudad Perdida was found in 1972, when a group of local treasure hunters found a series of stone steps (1200) rising up the mountainside and followed them to an abandoned city which they named “Green Hell”.
In the early 1970s, a local guaquero (meaning ‘grave robber’), Florentino Sepúlveda, and his two sons Julio César and Jacobo, were said to have stumbled upon an ancient city in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada after climbing a flight of over 1000 stone stairs from a riverbank. Another source states that the guaqueros were hunting for tropical bird feathers when they stumbled upon the deserted city. There was treasure to be found in the abandoned city, and Sepúlveda wasted no time in looting the site. News soon spread around, attracting other guaqueros who wanted a share of the wealth. As a result, deadly fights broke out between rival gangs for control of the site. The guaqueros would come to dub this site as the Infierno Verde (meaning ‘Green Hell’). Today, however, this site is known as Ciudad Perdida (meaning ‘Lost City’).
Ants constantly at work…
Ciudad Perdida was built 650 years before Machu Pichu.
Happy to have found the Lost City! It is not about the destination , its the journey that counts 🙂