Mon 3rd Feb
Headed off to Heathrow at 6pm, had a small dinner and G&T to start the trip the right way, and caught the 9:40pm Avianca flight to Bogota. 10hr 40 flight, so watched a film, had some food, took a sleeping pill and woke up 7 hours later ! Thats the way to do it :)
Tues 4th Feb
Arrived into Bogota on time (3:30am), got our 90 day visa stamp, collected bags, then checked in for the next Avianca flight to Santa Marta. Spent the next few hours wandering around, trying some amazing "puffies" - mini donuts, some empanadas, then boarded at 8:30. Slept through that whole flight as well, and landed at 10am. Tiny airport, no passport control, one conveyor belt with our bags straight there, so we got in one of the yellow taxis and were off by 10:15am !
Luckily were able to check into our hostel at 11am, so had a nap til 1pm, then headed off into town. Paid the balance for our Lost City tour for tomorrow, had a great veggie lunch at a "gringo" Ikaro cafe, and just walked what seemed like miles up and down all the streets, along the beach promenade, and finally, wearily back home at 6:30.
Had such a big and late lunch, decided to just have a light dinner of cereal and fruit from the supermarket !
Packed as light as possible for our 4-day trek tomorrow but still weighed 6kg without 1.5ltrs of water so going to be a struggle !
22,000 steps today.
Wed 5th Feb
Walked into town to meet Expotur at 9am, met our group of 12 and headed off in the 4x4s for 2 hrs to El Mamey. Had lunch then headed off on the longest, hottest, steepest uphill road ever and both real struggled in the heat and having only arrived yesterday ! Arrived into camp at 4pm, pretty basic with open sided dining area with lots of benches for meals, and row after row of bunk beds (64 of them!) each with its own mosquito net, and only 2 toilets for ladies, and 2 for men !
All dashed off to have showers - ice cold but refreshing, sorted our stuff for bed and following day, then chilled out with a beer until dinner at 6.
Boiling during the day, but nicely cool in the evenings luckily so we can wear long trousers and top with all our mosquito repellent !
Nice dinner, had a briefing about tomorrow, then all shattered so went to bed at 7:30 !!
Thurs 6th Feb
Up in the dark at 5am, getting ready and packing by torchlight until they turned the lights on, had breakfast and headed off at 6:20.
Nice to trek in the cool morning and much better trail, less uphill for the morning. Arrived into a camp at 9:30 and had an hour to swim in the river, cool off, relax, then a very early lunch at 10:15 !
Off again at 11:30, then faced the "Happy Hour" they kept referring to - basically a killer hill in the midday sun, sweat pouring off us ! Beautiful jungle with occasional glimpses of the river but really hard work. Carried on until 3pm with a few stops for fruit along the way. Camp 2 had a beautiful river right next to it so all jumped in again to cool off for an hour or so and enjoyed being swept along by the current for a while.
Snacks of popcorn, beer and hot chocolate after our swim, dinner at 5:30, then bed at 8:30.
Bunks similar to last night, all cosy with their mosquito nets, and being so close to the river, we could drift off to the loud soothing sounds of the water and jungle noises all night.
Fri 7th Feb
Lost city day !
Up again at 5am and off at 6:30. Walked for 20mins by the river, took off shoes & socks to cross the river at knee level, then up the 1200 small slippery steps to the Lost City. Spent a wonderful 3 hours wandering around the 4 levels, listening to our guide about the history, taking in the amazing views, sights, jungle sounds, and really enjoying it. Really magical place, stunning location, very hidden in the mountain jungle, and much bigger and better than we expected, and made all the hard work and sweat worthwhile. There were a few other groups up there, but they managed it really well and all went different ways around so we could enjoy the main parts by ourselves.
Headed back down the steep steps, across the river and back to camp at 11:30. Lunch, then off again at 12:45 to start the long trek all the way back to the beginning. Got to camp at 3:30, grabbed a beer each and headed down to the river. So peaceful, tranquil and stunning, listening to the river, birds, enjoying the refreshing river, green jungle, and blue skies.
Popcorn and hot chocolates again, then dinner at 6:20, and final night in our cosy bunks at 8:30. Loudest night yet, constant calls from frogs at all different pitches, intervals, loudness, but I was so tired that managed to pass out straight away !
Sat 8th Feb
Final day of our trek :(
Up at usual 5am and off at 6am.
Very long and hard day, 2 big hills to get over. Arrived back at camp 1 at 8:45 for a break for 15mins, then up the final hill by 10. 2 long hours back down to El Mamey again for lunch at 12. All really tired, dirty and worn out, but was amusing seeing some new groups arrive all fresh and excited - not knowing what they have in store ! Our group agreed that there was no way we could start all that again this afternoon. As amazing as it was and the scenery, jungle, river swims, and of course the Lost City were wonderful, but with the intense 35C+ heat, humidity and steep steep hills, its one of the hardest things we've ever done !
Transfer back to Santa Marta, arrived into hostel at 3. Put everything in for laundry (wow it stank !), grabbed a beer and chilled out in the little pool for an hour.
Headed into town at 6, nice Indian dinner, and soaked up the crazy loud street scenes all around. Loud music everywhere, street performers, vendors selling everything, bright Caribbean colours and really lively place.
Pretty shattered so headed back and in bed 9:30