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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Colombia: Walking Tips for Ciudad Perdida

The start of the 1200-step stone staircase to the Lost City
The start of the 1200-step stone staircase to the Lost City

If you're thinking of doing the trek to Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City, there are lots of things you can do to make it an enjoyable experience, rather than a nightmare. We saw people break down in tears because they'd underestimated the challenge, and we saw three injured people being carried out of the jungle on mules. You can avoid this happening to you by doing some research, and by being realistic; if you bite off more than you can chew, the jungle will break you, but if you pitch it right, you'll love it.

Choose the Right Number of Days

Not everyone understands how challenging it is to walk through the searing humidity of the tropical rainforest, so the trek to Ciudad Perdida has gained a fearsome reputation among travellers. You have to book the walk through one of five companies in the area – we went through Expotur – and when you book, they offer you three options: a four-day hike, a five-day hike, or a six-day hike.

Choose the Right Time of Year

We'd heard stories of ravenous mosquitoes, endless mud and dangerous river crossings, but none of these turned out to be true for our walk. This is because it was dry when we did the walk, and had been for some time, so it's important to pick the right time of year for your walk.

Take As Little As Possible

You have to carry everything yourself, and you really don't want to make the mistake of taking too much. This is what I took, and it felt it was about right, even though I didn't use a lot of it (you only need muscle sprain cream if you sprain a muscle, for example, but if you do it's a life saver).

Drink Lots of Water

Seriously, drink as much as you can. I poured water down my throat and it simply flowed straight out me. You know when Jerry slams Tom in the iron maiden, and he gets out, drinks and leaks like a sieve? That was me. If you get dehydrated, you will suffer, and there is so much free drinking water available along the trek that you don't need to worry, you just need a good-sized water bottle. Look for the blue barrels with agua potable on them and get stuck in; this is boiled and cooled water, so it's perfectly safe to drink and tastes good.

Walk Slowly

Some people like to walk fast – I do, sometimes – but there is so much to see on this walk that rushing is not only going to tire you out, it's practically a crime. Most people seem to agree that while the Lost City is interesting, it's actually the trek that they enjoy the most, so you should take the time to look around you when you're walking. It's not a race.