FINDING THE LOST CITY!!!!
Another week has passed in this beautiful country of Columbia and another adventure has been unfolded. Having spent 6 days on a hike through the jungle to the mystical 'Lost City' and completing it I now feel that anything is possible.
The journey started on Monday 20th August not too early. Columbian time is never on time so we departed from Santa Marta about an hour or so after the time that was previously advised.
Our first part of the trip was a 2 hour journey to a village in the hills. As there were quite a few of us (about 17 of us) we were loaded into to a 4wd and a Chivas ( a Chivas is a typical Columbian bus that is now rarely used. They are beautifully painted on the outside. This Chivas however I think was a fake and just painted to look like a Chivas to keep the tourists happy). The first hour was along a highway but then the 2nd hour to the village was on a very rough road. At times the Chivas was on a 90 degree angle, driving through big mudholes, and just barely not getting stuck.
Once at the village we stopped for lunch and then it was time to start our 6 day hike through the jungle. Day one was only about a 3 hour walk but it was a shock to the system. We crossed rivers and climbed hills in the searing heat. The path was never the same. Some of it was flat and smooth, rocky and hilly but the worse parts was when it was muddy and slippery. Many a time I was on my a** over the next 6 days. The hike was also made more challenging by having to carry our own packs. Most of us however had bought minimal belongings in our day packs. I had actaully invested in a small pack as my day pack wouldn't of fitted my pj's yet alone anything else.
Completing day one we arrived at Base Camp one but only after having to make our way down a hill in ankle deep slippery mud. This camp was set in a tiny village by a river. Our sleeping arrangments as most nights was in hammocks. We had 3 local guys taking us on our hike who looked after us tremendously over the 6 days. They cooked, put up our hammocks and washed the dishes. We didn't have to lift a finger. I don't think I have ever received that good of service in a 5 star hotel.
Day two was a longer hike of about 4-5 hours. The scenery was breath-taking but only noticed when you stopped to take it all in as the rest of the time you were looking at the path and at your feet trying your best to stay upright. We passed a village that was just surreal. The buildings were mud huts and looked like they would of looked like centuries ago. The kids were cute as and you just wanted to wrap them up and take them home. The last part of the day was made difficult by rain. Although you were already soaked through by sweat, the rain made the paths a little harder to pass. Luckily we arrived at the camp just before it started to become a torrential downpour. Lunch was served soon after we arrived, a big steaming bowl of vegetable soup. Nothing more welcoming on a rainy afternoon.
Day 3 was to the Lost City itself. From here the guides and porters had to carry everything in packs on their backs as the mules could not pass over the track or the rivers (or get on the flying fox/cable car thingy). Local indigenous guys from a nearby village were also employed to help take up food and belongings. We walked this day for about 4-5 hours and it was a difficult day, passing over the river that was wide and had a reasonably fast current. The river had to be crossed by foot twice and once by flying fox. The river also needed to be crossed before it rained as it became unpassable when it swelled. The path was also at times just a rock ledge with little footings and sometimes you walked nearly under waterfalls. Oh and waterfalls were a dime a dozen on the trek. At first it was like oh cool a waterfall and by the end of the hike it was just another waterfall. They were handy though as we filled up our water bottles from these. Beautiful pure water that was free for a change.
Crossing the river for the last time that day we were met at the other side by a set of stairs. This was the passge to the Lost City itself. Yep we had made it only now to complete the trip into the city itself we had to climb a total of 1976 steps (yep that is not the year but the amount). The stairs were both narrow and wide and mystical. A great way to enter into an ancient city. It took quite a bit of time to make it to the top. I've never been good with stairs so I took it slowly, appreciating the serenity of my surroundings. The main part of the city at the top of the stairs was breathtaking. The city was not made up of buildings as these were long gone having been made of wood, mud and grass roofs, but made up of circles where their houses once stood. Some circles were completely made of stone, while others had grass and a stone border around it. These grass areas were actaully graves. They buried the dead with ceramics and gold and then a house was built on top of it. Weird I know but at least I suppose back then you couldn't get to the grave and rob it with a house on top of it. I spent the afternoon discovering the city and then also eating popcorn at Base Camp 3 as the rain came down. Fortunately though the rain cleared and I was able to wonder around the city once more and watch the clouds below moving amongst the mountains that surrounded me.
On day four we spent the morning touring around the lost city with our guide. The city has an amzing history to it and the parts I remember are as follows:
- discovered only in 1975 (or thereabouts)
- tourists started visiting only in 1999
- most of the Lost City is still covered in jungle growth and what we saw was only a small part.
- there is most likely several more cities lost in the surrounding mountains but due to the terrain and also the local indigenous not really wanting anyone to find then they still remain undiscovered.
We were told a lot more interesting stuff but you will have to look it up on the net as I have forgotten the exact details.
After our tour we packed our belongings and started making the trip back to base camp 2. It was sad to leave the Lost City as it really had an aurora about it that was spellbinding. For the next 2.5 days we made our way back along the same path that we came up on. One of these days it rained torrentially while we were still making our way to camp. I'm not sure what was in the rain but it gave me a surge of energy and I was the first female back to camp that day. Not bad for an old girl seeing that I was the oldest in our group by about 8 years.
There is so much that I could tell you about each day of the hike but it would take me another hour to go into full detail so I hope that through my photos (which most of them now have tags on them) and this blog you get an idea of the journey that I completed and for someone who has never really gone a such a hike before is quite proud of completing this journey. It was not only a physically challenging hike but a mentally challenging hike also.
Luv Fi xxx