Many of our friends that had been to Colombia highly recommended the jungle trek in the Tayrona national park. We made our way to Santa Marta in the Northeast of the country, a city with no touristic appeal but that serves as a base to start the trek. We booked with Magic Tours and had the perfect guide, who is probably the nicest person on the planet, called Melkis.
Day 1: Departure from Santa Marta to the village of Machete in the national park. We had lunch and got to know our guides and our group. Besides us there was a Dutch couple and a Colombian mother with her son. After lunch we started our first walk for about 3.5hrs uphill to the first jungle camp. We started off with heat but a tropical storm moved in and we arrived at the camp soaking wet. As it gets dark already around 6pm we went to bed early to get some rest for the next day.
Day 2: At 5am we woke up, had breakfast, got into our wet stuff and started our 8hour trek. The way was muddy and hot but we had breaks with tropical fruit, sugary coffee and local sweets. The path leads further and further into the jungle along rivers, waterfalls and ridges of the Sierra Nevada. We passed by farms that grow cacao and coffee on land that was previously used for cocaine and marijuana production. Until the 90s this was one of Colombia’s hotspots for drug production. The government then intervened and offered compensation to local farmers for growing alternative crops. After a very exhausting day of walking we stayed at the base camp for Ciudad Perdida with very basic facilities and full of spiders and mosquitos.
Day 3: We climbed up to the Ciudad Perdica the 1200 steps of the antique stone road built by the Tayrona people 80 A.C. The city is the largest of various settlements found in the region and served as a meeting point for the surrounding villages. It was built to show that large settlements can be sustainable. While the people that inhabited the Lost City died out due to maladies brought in by Spanish conquistadores, their descendants the Kogi tribe are still living on spot guarding their ancestors heritage. The tribes believe that they are the older brothers that have to teach us, the younger brothers, how to protect nature. The reached out to the public in 2 BBC documentaries, otherwise they live far from modern civilization.
In the evening we had the possibility to meet a representative of the Wiwa tribe who shared with us insights on their culture and traditions, like usage of coca leaves, relationship with nature and roles in the society.
Day 4: After a good night’s sleep we left at 6am to head back to Machete where we had started the trek 4 days ago. At 1pm we arrived exhausted but happy at our destination. We spent the two next nights in Taganga. A little fisherman’s village that has unfortunately been overrun by mass tourism. We didn’t care much as we focused on sleeping and recovering.
The tour was really worth the efforts. In a few years the Lost City will surely become easier accessible and therefore more crowded.