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Traveling to the lost city and questionable installations

Driving from Barranquilla to Santa Marta

I was already looking forward arriving in Santa Marta when I left Cartagena. It was not my first trip to Santa Marta though. My first holiday there was in 2009. Equipped with a backpack I was on holidays in Colombia. In the meantime, I had visited Santa Marta several times, the last time in October of last year, during a holiday with my dad.

The old town of Santa Marta is small but pretty. There are many restaurants, street musicians, artists and also in terms of hotels, the place has developed in recent years. As always, I got off at my favorite hotel, run by an Italian and her daughter. I always feel at home there. In addition, the hotel has no frills and the price is absolutely fair.

At that time I had taken a trip to Tayrona Park with my father. It is really beautiful and has incredible beaches where you cannot find a soul. Due to the intense sunshine, however, you have to be very careful that you do not burn yourself. Tayrona Park is a perfect destination to enjoy nature. However, if you do not have the necessary constitution for a long walk, you can also ride horses through the park. Various beaches of Tayrona Park are also accessible by boat from Santa Marta.

This time, however, I had no time for Tayrona Park. I was here to visit Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City. This is repeatedly compared with Machu Pichu in Peru. I can now say that a comparison is quite permissible, although the dimensions of Machu Pichu are a lot more generous. I checked with the local travel agency and learned that there are packages for four, five or six days. I decided to visit the Lost City in four days, and the next morning the trip should begin.

There are more comfortable ways to get from A to B than to stay in the back of a jeep, held together for 2-3 hours. There was no highway but a road up the hill, which can be described as holes with some parts of street around them. Finally arrived, we were all glad to get out and stretch our limbs. However, before we started the march, lunch was our first pleasure. Most members of the group were on Colombia vacation.

After dry fish with rice, we were strengthened to tackle the route. At the travel agency they had warned me to use synthetic clothing over wool, because of the humidity. They had told me that I would get wet either by sweating, by rain, or by crossing a river. And they should be right. The first day we survived without rains and arrived reasonably dry in the camp. There we grabbed our swimming wear and descended a short distance to the river. All participants were given the choice of either jumping from a good height into the river or going further down into the river. Our guide made it right and jumped with a sailor’s jump, a head first dive, including shoes, from about 5 m high in the river. I, as the oldest participant, started at once, but left it on a normal jump. The water was pleasantly cool and refreshed us in a wonderful way. The second attraction was a rope suspended from a tree above the river. This pleasure lasted only briefly. On my second attempt, over motivated to make the largest possible circular swing and thus to completely exhaust the centrifugal forces, I almost tore the whole tree with me. The toy was then unfortunately broken. It seems that the Colombians did not expect a Swiss infantryman using their toys.

Back at the camp, there were two ways to stay overnight. Cabin beds or hammocks. Despite the additional weight, I had brought my own hammock and the necessary materials. When I took a closer look at the existing infrastructure, I was not unhappy with this decision. The next morning, however, it seemed that all participants had slept very well. After a sumptuous breakfast, we made our way to the second stage at early hour. The way is the goal, so you can describe this adventure well. The hike was really nice and due to the altitude difference, the fauna changed constantly. At some points, the sea was still visible at a distance. However, some stretches uphill were very exhausting and the clothes were sweaty. However, we did not lack food. There was always something to eat and drink and our guide provided us with some interesting information during stops. He told of the history of the area and the cultivation of coca and marijuana and their destruction by the state, which still has effects today due to the chemistry used at that time. We also had a translator who translated everything from Spanish to English, as most of the participants in our group did not master Spanish. The day was also rounded off again by a dip in the cool water and a dinner served afterwards.

On the third day we got up early. It was going to be particularly exciting as a river crossing and visiting the Lost City were on the program. To cross the river, the leaders of the various groups harnessed a rope. This served to allow the participants to hold on so they would not be swept away despite the strong current. Immediately thereafter, it went up a steep staircase to Ciudad Perdida. Uphill was not a problem, but I worried about going down the stairs again. The steps were sometimes very high, a bit slippery and partly designed for very small women’s feet.

At the top, members of the Colombian armed forces greeted us. These are stationed in the Lost City, since at the beginning of the 2000s a tour group was kidnapped by guerrillas. Furthermore, we were lucky and could also welcome the spiritual leader of the local Indians, who also sold lucky bracelets. The lost city was very impressive and I really liked it. We were told what the different zones served and what functions they had, how live was there and what made this culture. Of course, all visitors shot millions of selfies. After a few hours in the lost city, we made our way back. Shortly after the descent, the rain greeted us again, which should accompany us until the return to Santa Marta. From this point on we were constantly wet, but that did not matter because the climate was pleasantly warm. The rain was a welcome relief during the march, only the feet suffered.

On the evening of the third day we were all happy to arrive at the camp. A shower and dry clothes were a blessing. Everyone slept very deeply that night. On the fourth day we started as usual early in the morning and everybody was very motivated, because we had three wonderful days behind us. In addition, the sun was shining in the lost city, which made our stay very pleasant. However, the distance to be covered on the fourth day was long and we were on the road for 6 hours. However, some participants did not do well healthily. Some regularly had to jump in the bushes and one had to be transported back even on a mule. After several discussions, I learned that these were not isolated cases. Due to the sanitary installations and the general hygiene, some of the participants seem to have health problems again and again. Fortunately, however, I was not affected. I ignited the turbo and was the first to get back to the starting point, where the vehicles should pick us up. The last of the group arrived 2 hours later. Everyone was more than happy to arrive in Santa Marta a short time later.

On a travel to colombia and a stay in Santa Marta, a visit to the lost city is certainly a worthwhile option. However, due to the limited infrastructure and the distance to be covered, one should have sufficient constitution.

Pelecanus Travel Colombia

May 2017

Blog Frank Spitzer


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