I went on The Lost City Trek with Expotur and it was 4 days jam packed with adventure. Expotur promises adventure, and adventure you shall receive! From intense jungle trekking in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, raging rapid river crossings, and 1,200 steep stone steps to get to Cuidad Perdida, it’s exhilarating, challenging and full of excitement. You’ll be dirtier than you ever thought possible, and will be faced with some things that will make your skin crawl (think creepy, crawly critters), but it will all be worth it in the end. In this post, I’ll give you all the information you need to know in order to properly prepare for the epic 4 day Lost City Trek with Expotur.
What are the highlights?
The Lost City:
Day 3 is when you finally get to see the star of the show, but not without a bit more work! After an hour trek, crossing a river with water at chest level, and scaling 1,200 stone steps, you will finally make it to the Lost City!
The Lost City known more commonly as Ciudad Perdida, is mysterious and absolutely stunning, with 170 terraces which were once the foundation for houses. It is said that this civilization was founded almost 650 years earlier than Machu Picchu!
The majority of this archeological site has not even been excavated, leaving much to the imagination, and allows you to further understand the sacred nature of this place.
The amazing scenery:
Aside from The Lost City itself, there is so much beautiful nature to appreciate along the way. You start the trek surrounded by rolling green hills spotted with cows and farms which eventually turns into dense jungle.
Our guide informed us that not long ago this area was extremely dangerous, as many of the coca plantations were created out here. So unfortunately, most of the clearings you see in the photos were made for the plantations.
Farmers were either forced our or made to work on the coca plantations. A few hours in, the rolling hills turn into rainforest, and there are so many beautiful trees, flowers and butterflies everywhere, that I basically had my camera on at all times so I didn’t miss anything!
You also hike next to beautiful rivers, waterfalls, and through green pastures. It really is a gorgeous setting that will have you feeling extra connected to nature.
Seeing the indigenous villages:
The other special part about this trek was passing so many indigenous villages and people along the way. The main group of this area, the Kogi people, are an indigenous ethnic group that still carry on the traditions of their ancestors from pre-Columbian times.
They wear customary white clothing, live in traditional clay huts, and have tribal leaders called Mamus that spiritually guide their communities. We learned about their traditions and cultural customs like the “poporo” (a customary instrument made out of a gourd used to connect with the natural world) and then saw men using them in real life!
It was really special to be in the presence of such an interesting culture that still carries its ancient customs until this day.
Why should I choose Expotur?
First off, I found the company to be very organized, extremely timely and they delivered exactly what was promised. Their timing was next to perfect, as we always seemed to arrive to the next destination on schedule, and meals were always prepared on time as well.
Secondly, the guides were AMAZING! Antonio was our lead guide and he not only made the trip interesting by providing all sorts of information about the area and about the indigenous communities, he was also a whole lot of fun.
He constantly had us laughing and was always playing pranks on someone or making jokes. Mari was our other guide as well as our translator (as Antonio didn’t speak English and half of our group didn’t speak Spanish) and was so sweet and kindhearted.
At one point in the trek one of our fellow hikers was feeling very ill and she carried her backpack for the next few hours of the hike. You could tell that they were willing to go out of their way to make sure that all of their trekkers were safe and happy, and that was very appreciated. There were also three cooks on the trip and they too were so friendly and helpful.
How much does it cost?
The cost of this trek is COP 850,000 ($290 USD) and includes roundtrip transfers to and from your hotel in Santa Marta (or nearby area), all meals over the 4 days as well as snacks and drinking water, 4 nights accommodation in the camps, trained guides, travel insurance, contributions to local communities, and entrance fee to the National Park. Basically everything you could possibly need during this trek is included!
Should I choose the 4 or 5 day option?
Okay, even if you are not in that good of shape, trust me opt for the 4 day. The only thing that differs from the 4 day to the 5 day trek, is that on the 4th day, you either finish the trek or break up in half and spend an extra night at a campsite. I did not find it necessary to split up the last day, as it is the same amount of trekking as the other days and one less night sleeping with bugs!
How difficult is the hike?
Difficult! It’s doable, and you don’t need to be an expert hiker to do this trek, but you do need to be somewhat fit and prepared for some pretty tricky terrain. At some points it was hours and hours of steep incline, and because it rains a lot in the jungle, it was extremely muddy and pretty difficult to navigate at times. I’ve never been muddier in my whole life.
There were two main river crossings (4 altogether if you think there and back); one which required quite a bit of physical strength as it was through a rapid, and one that required mental strength, as you need to climb into a rusty cable car suspended 50 feet over a river and have someone manually pull you over. Be prepared to be submerged in water up to your chest!
If you are afraid of heights, the second could be a little difficult for you, but it’s a great way to face your fears! This trek is 4 days of 7 hour hiking, totaling about 30 miles altogether. Mainly you need to have a good positive attitude and prepare for the fact that this is going to be a very challenging but very rewarding 4 days.
What is the lodging like?
As this trek is 4 days long, you spend 3 nights sleeping at camps placed along the main trail. These are well established campsites with concrete floors, kitchens, and bathrooms with flushable toilets and running water (yes, you can take a shower with freezing cold mountain water if you so please).
There are open dorm style rooms with wooden bunkbeds, complete with mosquito net, mattress, sheets, blanket, and if you’re lucky even a pillow. For those afraid to sleep in the beds (as they are known to have bed bugs), there are hammocks available for sleeping as well.
What’s the food & water situation?
Well one thing is for sure, you will not go hungry on this trek! The cooks chef up massive portions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so much food in fact, that many of us couldn’t come close to finishing it all! Breakfast typically consisted of coffee, eggs, fruit and bread or arepa, lunch and dinner was mainly rice, salad and some sort of meat, and they usually gave us a little sweet treat to finish off our meal. (They have vegetarian options for our veggie friends!)
Although there isn’t a ton of variety, they do a great job of providing tasty meals that give trekkers enough energy to continue on with the hike. On the last night, the chefs prepared a big pasta meal for everyone, which was a nice surprise. In addition, there was fresh fruit (mainly pineapple and oranges) provided at almost every break spot along the hike each day which was a nice jolt of energy in between meals. There is drinking water provided at each campsite, as they use iodine tablets for water purification. I drank the water every day and had no problems, but a few people are on our trip got terribly ill. Who knows what from, though! There are also vendors at each campsite that sell water, gatorade, beer, and all sorts of snacks if you’re not willing to risk it, or just want a refreshment other than what Expotur is providing!
Are the bugs that bad?
Yes, yes they are. I have never had so many bug bites in my life, and it seemed that everyone was basically in the same boat as me. Not only are the mosquitos relentless, but I’m pretty sure the cats and dogs living at the campsites had fleas, because I got eaten alive! Expotur also warned us that there have been cases of bedbugs at the campsites in the past, so it’s possible that could have been the culprit as well. They wash all of the bedding, but they aren’t able to wash the clothes on high temperatures, and they also aren’t allowed to fumigate the area because it’s federally protected nature. Basically, they do the best they can, but you’re in the middle of the jungle…there’s only so much you can do to avoid bugs. Just be super diligent about applying insect repellent.
What should I pack?
My biggest advice for this section is the fewer items you pack, the better. Keep in mind that you will be carrying your pack, so the heavier it is, the more difficult your hike is going to be. Also, it’s bound to rain, and a backpack full of heavy, wet clothes is no bueno.
Here’s a list of essential items to bring with you: (written for ladies but can be adjusted)
So overall, is it worth it?
You’ll finish this trip broken, blistered, burned, and so incredibly smelly. By day four, you’ll be mentally and physically exhausted. However, it was an adventure of a lifetime that I will never, ever forget, so yeah, I’d say it’s worth it!
For more information regarding The Lost City Trek with Expotur, please visit their website.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary trek with Expotur in exchange for my opinions, but all opinions are my own. I recommend them based on my excellent experience with them!
Do you have any further questions about this trek? Did I miss something? Ask me/tell me in the comments below!