Ever since I first arrived in Colombia I had always wanted to visit and explore The Lost City, I had been fascinated by the stories I had heard of the ruins of a city, deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains and the traditions and history which went along with it.
Thanks to Impulse Travel I finally got the chance to take on the challenge and discover what I had been missing. The Lost City was first discovered in 1976 by two Spanish explorers who accidentally stumbled upon the steps leading up to the Lost City, proceeded to climb them and discovered the ruins. The Lost City was built by indigenous communities in around 700 A.D but was only lived in for a short period of time, before it was abandoned, when the tribes moved and set up their community in a different location.
To take part in a Lost City trek you have to go with an organized group complete with a guide. Over the years the tour has adapted and developed but to keep visitor numbers down and tours controlled, there is only a very limited number of local operators organizing and leading the treks. These local tour companies all have their own guides, translators (upon request), chefs and camps along the trek. While all these local tour operators essentially offer the same service there can be big differences between overall tour experiences.
Impulse Travel has strong partnerships with the best companies that offer tours to The Lost City, these partnerships have been formed over time and ensure that all Impulse Travel’s customers have the best experience possible with the best tour guides on offer. These partnerships allow Impulse Travel to offer clients tours, on their chosen dates, with fully certified hand-picked tour companies and guides. Impulse Travel helps to arrange all of the tour details in advance allowing for requests to be made by the customer for special food options, pick ups and drop offs, luggage storage or bilingual tour guides or translators, which gives the customers the best tour they can possibly receive. Before embarking on my trek I felt completely reassured that everything had been taken care of as I received clear information about the tour in advance as well as tips on what I needed to bring; the only thing I had to worry about was whether I’d packed enough bug spray!
Many of the local tour operators have indigenous chefs, guides and even translators, who have an extensive knowledge of the area, its history and, of course, lots of stories to tell. These guides really make or break the experience: with an experienced tour guide the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains and the Lost City really come to life! The guides and translators are passionate about the area, its people and importantly the necessity of respecting and sharing this part of Colombian culture with the world. As they are local to the area, they have an unrivaled depth of knowledge and were able to give a real insight into the area’s varied history, much of which came from their personal experiences.
As you are walking the guides make you feel very safe and secure, with one at the front and another at the back of the group. In the evenings our guides explained and told us different things about the indigenous tribes, how they live, and showed and explained some of their traditions and customs. It really was a culturally immersive experience and the guides couldn’t have been more helpful or hospitable.
Everything in the tour is organized well with plenty of traditional and delicious Colombian food at every meal – you certainly won’t go hungry. Plenty of water was provided and in all three camps we slept on either bunk beds or hammocks, both of which were fitted with much-needed mosquito nets and were clean and comfortable. Everything was explained in detail and we always knew what was happening for the next day in advance.
The Lost City trek itself is challenging, rewarding, (sweaty!) and just incredible. Each day we would walk for between three and four hours. The scenery is just breathtaking: there are endless mountain views, rivers, waterfalls and the stunning landscapes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The terrain varied immensely but even the uphill battles were made easier by our supportive guides and regular fresh watermelon breaks! On the second night we stopped at the El Paraiso Camp just 1 kilometer from the Lost City. The next morning at 4:30am we awoke and I’ll never forget seeing the beautiful sunrise between ancient trees as we clambered over rocks and waded through a river, before climbing the 1,200 steps to the Lost City. We spent two hours walking around the City, discovering and exploring the different parts, and we even visited a Shaman who gave us an incredible insight into the history of the Lost City and the communities who use it today. The endless mountains which surround the Lost City, the unique spiritual feeling in the air and the sense of history and sanctity all made looking out over the City an awe-inspiring experience. All these things made the four day trek well and truly worth it.
I believe that the knowledge, passion and hospitality of the guides really make this trip and by booking with Impulse Travel you know that you will be taken on the best tours with the best guides available no matter when you go or what requirements you have.