Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ascending the Mountain To the Lost City in the Colombian Jungle (Part II)

the jungle surrounds the river below
thick forests upon the hills
The river remains our constant companion, murmuring below, as we trudge the hills surrounding. While the emerald green vistas of the rainforest are awe-inspiring, the one thing thicker than the forest are the swarms of mosquitoes. Stop for more than a few seconds and you'll be besieged, and these miscreants move like Russian Mig fighter jets, somehow eluding the barrage of heat-seeking missiles I continually fire in their direction, signified by a thunderous mid-air clap ... of my hands.
hiking the dark jungle path
The less I stop the safer I am; yellow fever, dengue, and malaria all exist in this region. I do my best to take in the beauty around me, for no more than a few seconds at time. 
We cross rivers of waste-deep water in bare-feet, the rocky bottoms and strong currents adding greatly to the level of difficulty. Considering my cell phone, which I brought to use as a torch at night, is in my backpack, I tread very very carefully. 
banana flower
the cacoa fruit (where chocolate is derived from)
We arrive at Camp 2 before nightfall. My group hangs shirts, pants, and filthy, soaked socks over a clothes line that had to be a placed there as a practical joke- nothing dries in the jungle.
Here there are bunks with mattresses encircled by mosquito nets. After a strenuous all day hike, you'd imagine we'd all fall right to sleep, but one whiff of the strong mildew and mold is enough to send one's senses reeling.

I move to the hammocks, where the nausea inducing smell of decay is far less. Unfortunately, my neighbor snores thunderously through the night, which, in fairness, does scare off all predatory animals.
Driven away by the sputtering and angry snores, I rise, shining my torch upon the ground, scanning for scorpions and poisonous snakes, mindful of avoiding the fate of a hiker last year who was bit on his way to the bathroom; he barely survived. I wander back to the bunk-beds testing whether I can cope with the mildew- no dice.
rickety old bridge
path through the forest
Sunrise doesn't arrive quickly enough on this tortured evening. We wolf down some food, and begin our final assault on the Lost City. The sun slowly spreads its morning light over the hills, just in time, as it enables our guide to catch glimpse of a venomous serpent on the trail. The expedition comes to a momentary halt as the snake slithers back into the bush.
Today I'm using a walking stick, and while it helps me maintain balance on the steep and slippery terrain, each time I intentionally strike the ground with force, as snakes can sense vibrations of the earth. Call me Dr. Doolittle, it's my way of letting them know I'm coming so we're less likely to have a quarrel.
green, jungle waterfall- beautiful, me
one of our Indian guides
steps up to the Lost City- steeper than they look
the start of the Lost City
After hiking several hours in the crisp morning air we arrive at an ancient jungle stair case, the now moss covered irregular stones placed there by Indians centuries ago. And there are 1200 of them to climb to the top the mountain, to the Lost City. 
One step at a time (as with any goal) we literally inch closer, finally reaching the base of La Ciudada Perdida.
Honestly, it's not terribly impressive. There are no ancient dwellings, and the stones have been reset to mirror the structures of ancient times. 
Our guides theorize in Spanish as to the significance of various circles of stone, while I literally dance to their words, the area being especially mosquito intensive.  
the Lost City
We hike around the Lost City, taking photos, relaxing, eventually departing down the staircase and beginning the laborious, overnight hike back to the starting point of our trek. 
As in life, the ultimate destination pales to the journey, and while every one of us is bitten up, grimy, wet, and likely sleepless, I don't think a single one of us regrets taking this trip. 

You can see photos below, as well as a highlight video at the bottom of the post.
me with my snake stick climbing
atop the Lost City- its in the background behind me 
looking up to the Lost City steps, surrounded by jungle
you can see the large waterfall far away- must be huge (that's what she said)

highlights of the Los City Trek

Click here for Part I of the trek

If you are interested in buying a tour while in the town of Santa Marta to The Lost City, Minca, or Tayrona National Park, I highly recommend my tour operator Mega Sierra. Their service and dedication to intrepid explorers is amazing. 

Mega Sierra Tour
Calle 19 No. 3-74 Centro
Santa Marta Colombia 47001
+57 318 8910741
+57 5 4307729


  1. Very well written, thanks for sharing!

    1. So glad that you enjoyed it, and thanks for your nice comment! Feel free to follow my blog. Where are you from also?

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