A Travellerspoint blog

La Ciudad Perdida

The Lost City

sunny 32 °C

Day 1

Hell.

We left the tour office at 9am and drove two hours to the Tayrona National Park (the north-east coast of Colombia) until we reached the last village reachable by vehicle. We ate lunch and began our 4-hour hike. There was a stop at a swimming hole and that was lovely. We reached our first camp which had electricity, toilets, cold showers, and f**kin’ hammocks for beds. Screw you hammock! There was also a deep and cold swimming hole with little fish that liked to bite you.

ciudad_perdida_01.jpg
Here they are packing up the food in the jeeps.

ciudad_perdida_09.jpg
Hammock "Town"

ciudad_perdida_07.jpg
Here's the local school at the top of a steep hill that takes 15 minutes to walk up. The children go to this school only in the morning for three hours each day.

Day 2

Hell.

We did a lot of uphill walking. Screw you hills! We hiked again for about 4 hours with a stop to swim. The camp had no electricity, but had bunk beds instead! Plus the toilets and showers were much cleaner and more user-friendly. However, the showers were even colder than the night before. After dinner by candlelight, we played Paska Hosu (Shit Pants) a Finnish card game Jorge and I taught the group. It became our nightly ritual for the remaining nights.

ciudad_perdida_08.jpg
A break along the way.

ciudad_perdida_05.jpg
Our drinking water came from hoses bringing water in from the river. It was the best water we've had in South America, but there were lots of floaty things in it!?

Day 3

Hell’s Hell.

We were up an hour earlier than usual to start our 6-7 hour day hike that included 8 river-crossings. River crossings entailed either crossing the river with the sporty sandals you brought (i.e., K) or crossing in bare feet and killing your feet on the rocky bottom (i.e., Jorge). After the crossing you could either continue hiking in your wet sandals that would slip on the rocks (i.e., K) or you could attempt to continue hiking in bare feet OR take the time to dry your feet and put your socks and shoes back on (i.e. Jorge). River crossings were painful and tiring, but never really dangerous.

ciudad_perdida_02.jpg
Walking along the river.

After 8 river crossings, we had 1200 stairs to climb (the entrance to the Lost City). We’re talking steep stupid stairs that aren’t even big enough for our feet because they were made by tiny indigenous people who RAN these stairs in bare feet. K’s legs were jell-o at this point and she was doing her share of cursing while ascending.

ciudad_perdida_10.jpg
Here are just SOME of the stairs within the city.

As we arrived to the city and our camp, it started raining. This was unfortunate as we were unable to go out and explore the city. This camp provided toilets, (freezing cold) showers, and mattresses on the floor. Unfortunately, there was a reject group (a bunch of immature university guys that you just wanted to punch, punch, punch) who didn’t quite understand how to crap IN the toilet and how to tell the guides that the toilets weren’t flushing. This meant that within minutes after finishing dinner, the toilets were unusable until the guides thankfully and graciously cleaned them for us.

Day 4

Hell.

We were guided through parts of the city for about 2 hours. It was absolutely incredible. The Lost City was actually built 650 years before Machu Picchu and was home to somewhere between 2000 and 4000 people at any one time. What remains are all the steps and terraces of this city. Check out wikipedia for a little bit more information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciudad_Perdida).

Here are a couple pictures of the city. These only give you a slight idea of the magnitude of this place.

ciudad_perdida_11.jpg

ciudad_perdida_12.jpg

After seeing the city, we began our trek back home. This meant another 8 river crossings. Luckily, the return hike was definitely faster, however K’s legs were completely shot and she was slipping more often and actually fell twice (without hurting herself).

Day 5

Hell.

The hiking was actually O.K. at this point and we were able to reach camp quite quickly. However, this was the “hammock” camp. After attempting to sleep in the hammock for a second time, we were ready to make a sacrificial offering of the damned thing in the morning. We’ve never been so happy to get up in the morning!

Day 6

Not so bad Hell.

We had a relatively easy trek back to our starting point. We were even able to jog some of the trail – this was often easier to do going downhill than trying to control your muscles with every step.

We then had lunch and waited a long time before the jeep came to pick us up for the return journey to Santa Marta. Our driver decided to drive like a maniac through the curvy dirt roads and we all had to close our eyes in order to avoid getting car sick. However, our journey would not be complete without a blown out tire that was luckily repaired within minutes.

Here's some of the wildlife we saw along the way:

ciudad_perdida_03.jpg
ciudad_perdida_04.jpg
ciudad_perdida_06.jpg
ciudad_perdida_13.jpg

Conclusion

We had an absolutely amazing time. This was by far the most physically demanding thing K has ever done (Jorge experienced worse in his military training), but she loved every minute of it. We hiked 52 kilometers from about 100 meters above sea level to 1300 meters (so we were told). We had an incredible group of 10 with an Irish couple, a Colombian man (living the past 12 years in California), a lovely Swiss couple, a French couple, and one Irish guy. We got along so well and really enjoyed hanging out together and playing cards.

We enjoyed hot sunny weather every day that was followed by afternoon rain. The rain was kind enough to only come down after we reached camp each day. Unfortunately, the humid weather and daily rain meant our clothes never dried properly. We stunk so badly by the end of the trek we couldn't stand the smell of ourselves.

We were accompanied the whole time by a guide, a guide/chef, and a chef. We were fed incredibly well. In fact, it’s basically the best meals we’ve had this whole time in South America. We were fed three huge meals a day, plus snacks, and coffee at breakfast and upon reaching our camp each day.

We also ran into paramilitary often and they made us feel even safer... considering this was the location where 8 tourists were kidnapped by guerilla groups in 2003. Plus no drivers were killed on our tour since we took the tour that pays off the guerilla groups (a driver was supposedly killed just a few months ago as an example to the tour companies who do not pay their dures). All good!

This will definitely be one of the highlights of our year in South America.

Posted by moveimove 07:54 Archived in Colombia Tagged events Comments (0)

Ooops

Gotta Blog More!

sunny 33 °C

In ten hours we'll be flying to Bogota, Columbia from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil yet we've been to a couple places since Saquarema. The blogging mood hasn't hit so we've been lazy about writing. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to tell. We'll give you a quick rundown with the promise that we'll send a more detailed post shortly with pictures attached.

From Saquarema, as we quickly mentioned, we went to another beach town called Arraial do Cabo (pronounced something like "a-hi-ow dew ca-bo".... not sure where the "l" sound disappears!). It was a quiet town with lovely beaches and fewer mosquitoes.

From there we planned to head further north along the coast, but the bus system (made up of multiple private companies) somehow didn't go where we wanted to go from that point. In fact, we would have to go back south to Rio in order to go back north!? Are we the only ones confused by this? That obviously caused us to change our plans and we did head back to Rio, but we immediately caught a bus going inland (North-West). We went to the simple town of Teresopolis with the intention of doing a bit of trekking. Let's just say plans fell through, but we thoroughly enjoyed the city nonetheless.

From there we took a city bus, a long-distance bus, and another city bus to get to the beautiful and wonderful town of Tiradentes ("Teeth Puller"). This was a beautiful colonial town set in the mountains and it was absolutely gorgeous.

After three nights there, we took the city bus to Sao Joao del Rei (pronounced - in French - something like "son jon del hey") where we had to wait six hours for our bus to Ouro Preto. That gave us time to find out just how beautiful the old part of SJDR was (another beautiful colonial city). Our six hour wait turned into another 11 hour wait (yes, it was hell) in the VERY cold bus station. Finally, when the bus came at 4am, it smelled like... ummm... a busload of women's used menstrual pads (gag). K was able to fall asleep for the four hour ride and block out the smell during that time. Jorge wasn't so lucky.

We arrived at Ouro Preto at 6am to a gorgeous, sunny day and went about seeing the town right away. This was one of the most beautiful places we've seen. It's been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and it is just crazy beautiful. It's a colonial mining town and Ouro Preto actually means "Black Gold". The steep cobblestone streets that go into the hills are all lined with brightly coloured buildings.

We spent only two nights there although it would have been three nights had the bus come on time. On our third day there, we took a seven hour night bus (the only option) to Rio where we've spent the past four nights. We've been enjoying the company of hostel pets (Jorge is starting to call K "Ace Ventura") and relaxing in the hostel. Today we finally made it to see Christ the Redeemer and the view of the city from up there was absolutely incredible. We left the cameras at the hostel to be safe and only managed to come away with some lovely mental pictures.

We've been enjoying the hot day AND nights in Rio - being inland meant we had to endure cold nights. Yes, cold! The cold sucks ;) We've also really enjoyed "sucos" - the fresh fruit and ice/water blended drinks. The passion fruit one is especially delicious despite the nasty canker it has given K.

Hopefully we'll have a completely uneventful trip all the way from our hostel here in Rio to our hostel in Bogota. We fly to Lima, Peru and connect to a flight there to Bogota. Wish us luck.

Posted by moveimove 15:07 Archived in Brazil Tagged events Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 12 of 42) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »