Discovering the Lost City: Trekking Through Colombia’s Remote Ciudad Perdida

Discovering the Lost City Trekking Through Colombia’s Remote Ciudad Perdida

Colombia’s remote Ciudad Perdida, or “Lost City,” is a fascinating archaeological site that was only discovered in the 1970s. Today, it’s a popular destination for adventurous trekkers who want to explore the ruins and learn about the indigenous people who once inhabited the region.

The Trek

The trek to Ciudad Perdida is a challenging and rewarding experience. The trek typically takes between 4-6 days and covers approximately 44 kilometers of rough terrain. The trail includes steep inclines and descents, river crossings, and narrow paths through the dense jungle, which can be physically demanding and require a good level of fitness.

The trek is generally divided into several segments, with rest stops and campsites along the way. The stops offer a chance to catch your breath, take in the stunning natural surroundings, and interact with the local communities.

One of the highlights of the trek is crossing the Buritaca River. There are no bridges, and trekkers must navigate the river by wading or using a rope system to cross. It can be challenging, especially during the rainy season, but it’s also an exhilarating experience.

The trek to Ciudad Perdida is a unique opportunity to explore a remote and untouched part of Colombia. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from technology and immerse yourself in nature, and to challenge yourself physically and mentally. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to see a wide variety of flora and fauna, from howler monkeys and toucans to jaguars and ocelots.

While the trek is challenging, it’s not impossible, and with proper preparation and guidance from experienced tour operators, it’s an experience that can be enjoyed by anyone with a sense of adventure and a willingness to push themselves.

The Ruins

The Ciudad Perdida, also known as the “Lost City,” is a series of ruins located deep within the dense jungle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. The site was built by the Tairona civilization more than 1,000 years ago and was abandoned during the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.


The ruins themselves are spread out over a large area, with over 200 terraces and circular plazas connected by a network of stone paths and stairways. The structures are made of stone and wood and are thought to have been used for various purposes, including religious ceremonies and as a meeting place for community leaders.

One of the most striking features of the ruins is the series of stone staircases that lead up to various levels of the site. These staircases are built into the natural contours of the mountain and can be quite steep in places, adding an additional physical challenge to the trek.

Exploring the ruins is a unique and awe-inspiring experience. It’s easy to imagine the bustling city that once existed there, and to feel a sense of connection to the ancient civilization that built it. The ruins are still largely untouched by modern development, and the natural surroundings only add to the sense of wonder and mystery.

Visitors to the site are required to be accompanied by a licensed guide, who can provide insight into the history and significance of the ruins, as well as ensure that the site is preserved for future generations.

The Indigenous Communities

The area around Ciudad Perdida is home to a number of indigenous communities, including the Kogi, Wiwa, and Arhuaco peoples. These communities have a long history in the region and have maintained their traditional way of life, including their spiritual beliefs, language, and customs.

Many of the guides and staff who work on the trek to Ciudad Perdida are members of these communities, providing an opportunity for visitors to learn about their way of life and to support their local economy.

Visitors to the region can also arrange to spend time in the indigenous communities, learning about their culture and participating in traditional activities, such as weaving, cooking, and dancing. These experiences provide a unique opportunity to connect with local people and to gain a deeper understanding of their way of life.


It’s important to note that the indigenous communities in the area are still facing challenges, including pressure from outside development and environmental issues. As visitors, it’s important to be respectful of their culture and to support sustainable tourism practices that benefit the local communities and protect the natural environment.


The trek to Ciudad Perdida is a multi-day journey that requires careful planning and preparation. The logistics of the trek can be complex, but with the right information and support, it’s possible to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

One of the first logistical considerations for the trek is transportation to and from the starting point. The trek usually starts in the town of Santa Marta, which can be reached by plane or bus from major cities in Colombia. From Santa Marta, visitors must take a four-hour drive to the town of Machete Pelao, the starting point of the trek.

Another logistical consideration is the need for permits and guides. Access to the Ciudad Perdida site is limited, and visitors must obtain a permit from the Colombian government to enter. Visitors must also be accompanied by a licensed guide at all times during the trek.

In terms of accommodations, visitors typically stay in rustic campsites along the trail. These campsites offer basic amenities such as beds, showers, and toilets, but visitors should be prepared for a relatively primitive camping experience.

Finally, visitors should also be prepared for the physical challenges of the trek. The trail is steep and can be slippery in places, and the weather can be unpredictable, with heavy rain and high humidity. Visitors should ensure that they are in good physical condition and have appropriate clothing and gear for the journey.

While the logistics of the trek can be challenging, they are also an important part of the adventure. With careful planning and preparation, visitors can have a safe and rewarding experience as they journey through the Colombian jungle in search of the Lost City.


Trekking to Ciudad Perdida is a unique and rewarding experience for those who are up for the challenge. It’s an opportunity to explore an incredible archaeological site, learn about the history and culture of the region, and connect with the indigenous communities who still call the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta home. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Colombia, this is definitely one to consider.

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