Colombia – reunited to the Lost City

Written by Sebastian on April 6th, 2012. Posted in Allgemein

p1140916-1Martin: The day has come! More than two weeks have passed, now Sebas joins me again. After waiting in the hostel all day long because I didn’t know what time he arrives, we fall with tears into our arms as he finally shows up after midnight. Well, almost 🙂 Eva and I are super tired from walking around in the city and after waiting until 10 we decide to go to sleep and meet Sebas the next day for breakfast. Me not being a morning person at all, our first encounter is a sleepy ‘hey, great to see you` on my way to the coffee machine. Which is actually quite impressive; the two weeks had absolutely no effect on us, it’s as if we had never been separated… 🙂

p1140910-1I´m happy to see Sebas again and after my two obligatory coffees, we qickly exchange our experiences. Later  Eugenie joins us and we spend the day walking around in La Calendaria, visit once again the Botero Museum and Montserrate, a church on one of the hills surrounding Bogota with a superb view over the city, and, to Eva’s suprise, with a statue of a black virgin (Maria), the same like the world famous statue at Montserat close to Barcelona.


In the afternoon we meet Eva’s friends who explain us a lot about life in Colombia and give us tips on what not to miss exploring the country. The day is rounded up by a very nice dinner with more friends of her and, to show Eugenie and Sebas Bogotas night life, a short pub visit, where Sebas´s experiences the chilly Bogota nights, shivering his ass off 🙂 Since Bogota is more than 2500m asl. and surrounded by mountains, days are pretty warm but nights can get really cold.


Heading up north – San Gil

Next day it’s time to say good bye to Eva again, even though short, I’m very glad that she managed to visit me again. Eugenie, Sebas and I decide to leave the same day as well, first destination: San Gil, famous for all kinds of outdoor activities and beautiful, tranquil villages. Here we visit the picturesque traditional village of Barichara from where we take a great two hour hike to another Guane, another very nice village. The people are yet again incredibly friendly, with a smile on their face when passing by. In San Gil we walk through Colombias only Natural Park which is located within a city. If we had more time (and money) we would definitely go for some river rafting, said to the the best in Colombia. The three of us get along very well and have more or less the same ideas on what we want to do and see.

p1150347-1After two nice days in San Gil we continue our trip to Santa Marta at the north coast. Here we meet Camilo, the brother of the husband of a friend of Eugenie and Sebas (to put it simple :-)). We can stay with his mother and Camilo shows us around the city. The whole family is great and once again we get  the pleasure of experiencing the incredible Colombian hospitality… and the heaviest food we have had so far on the whole trip. We are fed continuously and are not surprised as walking downtown Santa Marta and observing the people, we find out where Botero got his inspiration. If I ate that much, I would also look like one of his paintings 🙂

p1150373-1The area is blessed with some beautiful beaches close to the city and Camilo takes us to the beautiful Bahia Concha, a virgin paradise beach with enough facilities for a relaxing beach day. On top of it, Santa Marta hosts the mystic Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City, situated right in the middle of the jungle and believed to be founded in 800 AD, thus being older than Machu Picchu. It was so hidden, that it had been discovered only in 1972.



The Lost City

Even though not very cheap, it’s clear that we can’t miss exploring the 5 day hike to this ancient city. The first pick up gives us reason for anticipation, as we are the only ones in the car…. only to find out shortly after that we are just brought to two picks ups full with tourists. Here we meet Gudrun and Carola, two nice Austrian ladies, who had reserved themselves the two more spacious front seats of the car but, because Sebas is too tall for the back seats, have to change to the back. With Viennese friendlyness they show right away sympathy and with a friendly „Na oida“ they clear the seats :-). Typical for Austrians, they have the gift of the gab, and it’s clear that the next 5 days will be dominated by Viennese humor. We are taken to the town Machete, from there it goes right away into the jungle, where we follow a narrow path through seemingly untouched nature.

dsc_0056_965 I get the impression that the whole hike will be very easy, as after one hour we already make a break at a river to take a swim. Well, far away 🙂 Right afterwards it goes steep uphill for more than an hour where Eugenie almost collapses and I stop feeling my legs. The landscape is fascinating, green mountains all around with some fincas now and then. Alejandro, our guide, tells me that a couple of years ago all this used to be cocaine fields, with the help of the government the former coca farmers now raise cattle and grow cocoa. Many of them also work additionally as guides to lead tourists to the Ciudad Perdida, like him.

p1150557After we have survived the climb, the rest of the hike is fairly easy, with superb views over the landscape. We pass by villages of Kogui Inidians, who claim to be descendants of the Taironas, who built the ciudad. One feels a bit like Indiana Jones, on the search of a saga, and walking by villages right in the middle of the jungle gives one the impression, that nothing had changed for the last hundreds of years. Such places still exist. Alejandro explains me that there are areas more up in the jungle where the tribe living there doesn’t permit anyone to enter their area and they still live like before the Spanyards conquered the country

p1150471There are nicely made wooden guest houses with either hammocks or bunk beds at the end of each daily etap. It’s not only a great feeling sleeping somewhere in the middle of the jungle but also the stars at night are simply incredible, it’s as if the sky had been lightened up by a uncountable number of brightly shining spotlights. After 3 days we reach the last guest house before the Lost City. Even though we arrive early afternoon we decide to wait until next day in the morning, as the ciudad, located on top of a mountain, is covered in clouds and Alejandro doesn’t want us to miss the spectacular view from up there.

p1150634Early in the morning we start hiking along side a river which we have to cross to reach the more than 2000 stairs leading up to the city. Hiking up the stairs is a real pain in the ass but the effort sweetened by knowing, that these very stairs I’m walking on, had been built more than 1200 years ago. Then, finally, we are there, the Lost City! Because it was built on a mountain, it consisted of different levels, the top level used for religious feasts.


p1150683It was so big, that a map of the city had been carved into stone at the entrance. More than 8.000 Indians used to live here, and more than 20.000 in the nearby area. Even though there’s not much left from the city and the numerous golden statues and artfeacts had been plundered, one can still imagine how it looked like… and the view from the top is simply incredible. Seeing only jungle around it’s not surprising that the Spanyards hadn’t found it.

Back in Santa Marta we say goodbye to Gudrun and Carola, with whom we had a great time and after one more day to give a rest to our legs, we head off to Baranquilla, not only Shakiras birthplace but also Colombia’s biggest and, besides Rio de Janeiro, the most famous carnival destination… which is by chance taking place just now 🙂

How it is getting lost in one of Barranquillas poorest neighborhoods at carnival, why we will never forget this experience and how we continue our journey, that’s another story. Stay tuned 🙂