Being pretty unenthused by the overrated backpacker area of Taganga, we booked ourselves up to head straight out on the next lost city trek. After much running around and debating we decided to go with Sierra Tours (who we were ultra happy with and would recommend to anyone over the bigger tour companies).
We spent our five day trek with an Irish couple, who made the trek great fun and it was one of the most enjoyable 5 day trips of the whole year. At first we thought we would make Emma and Kev really mad because they are pro-trekkers, and we thought we would be slowing them down, but by all accounts they seemed to think we were ok!
Our guides were two young brothers - Miguel and Diego, who made the trek fantastic. The first night we spent at their house with their parents and Miguel showed us around the family´s coffee plantation and showed/explained the coffee making process.
Expecting the worst, we were pleasantly surprised that the trekking wasn´t actually very difficult and we were ultra lucky with the weather as we didn´t get rained on once for the 5 days (the paths are super muddy and so with rain they would´ve been a nightmare).
The first day trekking lasted about 6 hours, but this was because the road was broken so we had to walk an extra 3 hours before getting to the village where we actually started the trek. The 2nd and 3rd days were quite pleasant (except for the unrelenting heat) and we were finished by 2ish each day - in time to escape the rain. During the 3rd day we had to cross the river about 8 times - with the exception of the first crossing which was by a funky cable car thing (doesn´t really look the safest of contraptions!), we had to plunge in and the guides had to hold onto us to make sure the current didnt sweep us down (it was quite strong and deep in some places in the river). Once we finished the final river crossing the steps to the lost city were right in front of us on the river bank. The steps up were treacherous, covered in slippery moss and all different shapes and sizes, but climbing them was about a thousand times easier than the steps up to Macchu Picchu.
Our 3rd night we actually slept at the lost city which was cool except for the mossies. We didn´t find the mossies as bad as our jungle trek in Peru though, especially as we seemed to have super special insect repellent (Pug didn´t get biten once on his legs and he was wearing shorts almost all the time!).
The actual ruins at the lost city were alot more impressive than I expected. The city is very beautiful and massive. Once we got to the top of the steps we met lots of the military men who are based at the city - 5 years ago some tourists were taken hostage so they have a tonne of military based at the city to prevent it from happening again. They were in very good spirits (most of them anyway) and enjoyed seeing the tourists and chatting. Check out the photo of me with two of the guys - one looks really unhappy and I look like a kid at Disney World! I really enjoyed being in the lost city and meeting the military men and some of the indigineous people (who weren´t so impressed with our being there).
After a quick tour around some of the sacred areas in the city (and a search for a military man´s hat, as I had heard you could get them but the serious sergeant had a clamp down and wouldn´t let me have one - boo! Good news is I did manage to get one somewhere else though and I love it! heehee!) on the 4th day, we headed back down the stairs and into the rivers. The stairs were much more dangerous on the way back down and I was glad of my makeshift walking stick (featuring in many of the photos) which stopped me from slipping down on my arse the whole way. The 4th day was the longest trekking day, as we covered almost 2 days worth, but still no aching legs is a sign that the actual walking wasn´t terribly difficult. The worst part of this day was walking in soaking wet smelly boots up a muddy hill for about an hour. And our 4th night was our last in hammocks - boo.
Our last day was very relaxed. We had a very interesting and educational morning (which we will have to tell you about on our return) before starting to head back to the village at about 10ish. Easy walking for a few hours with a nice swimming stop on the way down and we were back at the village for lunch (the road was fixed which meant our jeep was waiting for us at the village and we didn´t have to walk an extra few hours).
One bonus of the whole trek was that I didn´t have to carry my bag very much! The mule and guides carried it the majority of the time - think they thought I was a real unfit weakling. This feeling was enforced when Miguel hugged me at the top of the lost city and was saying "congratualtions congratulations" as if I´d run a marathon! haha!
We were sad to leave the jungle and finish the trek as it one of our favourite trips that we´ve done. Miguel returned to Taganga with us, so we were lucky to spend a bit more time with him before he went back to the jungle. He´s so sweet, and so determined to learn english. He spent a long time in Taganga one evening writing down words he needs for the tours so he can learn them. Miss him and Diego (and their cheeky laughing) alot!
After the trek Emma and Kev said their goodbyes and headed to Cartagena the next day (we can´t really miss them coz we´re seeing them later today for dinner!). And we spent a few days in Taganga relaxing and soaking up the sun. I also went diving for a day, and managed to get great conditions for 2 dives in the nicest places in Taganga - lucky for me and meant I managed to get to see things! I was also pretty lucky that it was just me and a divemaster again! Got some pretty awful underwater pics too!
Before leaving Taganga, we visited the beautiful national park called Tyrona - which is a 2 hour boat ride from Taganga. The boat ride to the park was a nightmare, going against the waves and sitting at the front of the boat meant we now have bruised arses. But the park of Tyrona was very beautiful - long stretches of beach and blue blue sea, and very quiet. We had a chilled day burning ourselves on the beach and jumping in the sea and headed back to Taganga (the return boat journey was much better and enjoyable!).
Now we have moved on to the charming and boiling boiling hot city of Cartagena. We are going to spend the next few days here seeing the sights and sweating our guts out before heading south and stopping in the city of Medellin (the only place left we are going which will be ´new´ for us) on the way back down to Bogota.