Hiking through the Colombian Sierra Nevada lands for 4 days, falling asleep underneath the stars in the middle of the jungle, creating new friendships with complete strangers. The Lost City Trek is one of the most epic adventures to go on in Colombia and for many a highlight of their trip.
If you’re still wondering if the Lost City Trek is worth it? Keep on reading, because I will tell you everything you need to know about the trek, including a packing list and lots of tips so you’re all set to explore this unique site!
What is the Lost City?
Located deep hidden in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada lies the Lost City (aka Ciudad Perdida). A long lost city build by the Tairona people more than 1000 years ago, who called it Teyuna, and thought to be 650 years older than Peru’s Machu Picchu. Only since the discovery in the early 1970’s the city became a tourist attraction in northern Colombia.
Unlike other similar sites in South America, the only way to reach the Lost City is by foot. This 4-day trek will bring you through indigenous lands, jungle, mountains, rivers and of course to the city itself!
Until this day, there are still indigenous tribes living on the lands of the Sierra Nevada. During the Lost City Trek you’ll walk through the lands of the Kogui, Wiwa, Arhuaco and Kankuamo tribes, who are descendants of the original Tairona people.
Explore this hidden gem deep in the Colombian jungle!
Where to book the Lost City Trek?
There are multiple companies to choose from and most of them are pretty similar. You’re doing the same route and sleep in the same camps. Before visiting myself, I’ve heard great stories about the guides from MagicTour, so I choose to hike the Lost City Trek with them. Our guides Pedro & Jose, together with the translator Valentina, were absolutely amazing with such big knowledge of the area and the communities living there.
Book your trek with them online or at their office in the centre of Santa Marta.
How difficult is the trek?
Along the way I’ve seen people from a variety of age ranges doing the trek, even families with small children. Basically everyone with basic/good level of fitness will be able to do the trek, even if you’re not really a hiker (like myself). Some days during the trek are harder than others and you can expect to hike 7/8 hours. While other days you only hike for about 4 hours.
Nothing to worry though, during the longer hiking days, there are enough stops for fruit and drinks. Also, if you’re lucky you’re able to have a quick refreshing dip in the river during a long lunch stop. MagicTour will also provide more than enough and nourishing food during the tour, to give you all the energy you need throughout the day.
Best time to hike the Lost City Trek
Although the Lost City Trek is an year round activity, it would be the most enjoyable between December and March. This is dry season in northern Colombia, which has the best hiking conditions for this multi-day trek. The months between May and September include a lot of rain and therefore mud and higher river crossings.
I’ve still have spoken to people that did the trek during rain season and still enjoyed their experience. If you decide to hike during the rain season, prepare yourself for a tougher trek and bring rain gear!
What does the Lost City Trek cost?
The government has set a standard price to do this trek. This means you’ll pay the same amount with every company. However the price can differ depending the amount of days you decide to hike the trek.
The most popular trek is the 4-day one and will costs you 1.750.000 Colombian pesos (±€345). – updated jan 2023
Important things to know
Don’t take photos of the indigenous people without their permission.
During the trek you’ll walk through indigenous ground and will therefore come across many villages and tribes. This was definitely one of the most interesting things during the trek, because sometimes you’re able to speak to them and see their way of life.
Unfortunately lots of people take photos of the indigenous people without asking and this may come across as inappropriate and disrespectful. If you ask nicely to take a picture, they’re happy to smile for you most of the time. However, not sure if the man down below was actually smiling at me (lol).
Have respect and ask for permission when taking photos of people!
Don’t underestimate it!
Every person experiences the hike differently, so it depends on your level of fitness but don’t underestimate what the humidity, mosquitoes and sleeping conditions can change to the difficulty of this hike. Towards the end of the trek your legs will feel sore and your feet may be covered in blisters, what doesn’t really make the 20km on the last day more enjoyable.
Check your shoes for creepy crawlers.. 🦂
During the hike you’ll sleep in the deep jungle of Colombia which comes together with a lot of creepy crawlers. Spiders and scorpions, to name a few, are looking for a warm spot during the night. Therefore, make sure to check your shoes before putting them on every morning. This one may not be very convincing for the people still deciding whether or not to do this hike 😉
Be very careful with the 1200 steps at the Lost City
Right before entering the Lost City, they’re 1200 steps bringing you to the beautiful site. However these are known to be very slippery and steep especially with rainy weather. Make sure to take it slow going down.
There are mosquitoes everywhere(!)
One of the most annoying things during the hike are the mosquitoes. They truly are everywhere, so make sure to bring a good bug repellent. If you use a chemical one or one with a high DEET percentage, first spray it on your hands and then spread it on your body. Even though we don’t like these little insects, the plants in the jungle need them.
Prepare for the sweat.
The humidity kicks in pretty soon and before you know it you’ll be covered in sweat, more than you can imagine. Basically everyone will become a stinky mess during the hike, try to accept it 😉
Enjoy the disconnection!
Not having the ability to check your friends’ instagram stories or chat all night with people back at home gives you an opportunity to truly immerse yourself into this experience. Try to enjoy it and focus on connecting with other people and being present!
- 30lt backpack + raincover
- 4 t-shirts
- 1 long sleeve shirt for at night
- 1 long leggings for at night
- 2 shorts (or long leggings if you prefer hiking in those)
- 5 pair of socks (1 for every day + 1 extra)
- Underwear for every day
- Hiking shoes
- Waterproof sandals
- Sunscreen 50spf
- Bug repellent
- Basic toiletries
- Microfiber towel
- Plastic bags for dirty clothes
- Reusable water bottle
- Flashlight (preferably headlight)
- Portable charger
- Camera (optional)
Everything you bring, you need to carry so only bring the necessities!
So, is the Lost City Trek worth it?
As many people will tell you, it’s not about the end destination, it’s about the experience. That’s exactly how it felt for me and many of my group. You’ll be with the same people every hour for 4 days straight, so I’m sure you’ll bond with your group.
If you’re asking me if the Lost City Trek is worth it, there are 2 questions.
1. How much time do you have?
Your time in Colombia is important if you’re debating to hike the Lost City Trek. I would say if you’re planning a trip for 2 weeks or less, ask yourself how many places you want to see during your trip. Hiking to the Ciudad Perdida will take you 4 days + 2 days recovering and resting. There are so many amazing things to do in Colombia, I recommend having some diversity in your trip and choosing other activities.
However, if you’re backpacking for some months or having 3+ weeks in Colombia, I highly recommend adding the Lost City Trek to your itinerary. You’ll still have enough time to explore a variety of different places in the rest of Colombia.
2. What is your budget?
Hiking the Lost City Trek gained a lot of populairity in the last few years, which means the price has gone up quite a bit over the years. Currently (2023) you’ll pay 1.750.000 for the trek, so it’s a chunk of money for the budget backpackers among us. Therefore, you may ask yourself if this pricetag is worth the trek.
Keep in mind that the tour is all–inclusive, which means it includes all the accommodation, food, entrance fees. Meaning you’re not spending any extra money besides on souvenirs/snacks. Personally, I would recommend this trek to anyone if you can spare the money, because it was one of the most epic things I’ve done in Colombia.
If the price is too high, you can still spend that money on other activities throughout Colombia, like paragliding in Medellín, white water rafting in San Gil or mountain biking in Salento.
Either way, you’re going to have an amazing time in Colombia, no matter which activities you decide to do! 🙂
The Lost City Trek is worth splurging for!