Ciudad Perdida Trek: Is the Lost City Hike Worth Your Time?

My honest review of the Ciudad Perdida Trek (or Lost City) in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

🛑 Imagine struggling through the rain, your feet in the mud, in a humid jungle. And then you think: –why the hell did I come? Relax. The Lost City hike is much more than that (in a good way). But it’s useful to know the pros and cons.

The Ciudad Perdida trek is one of Colombia’s best-known treks and one of the most booked experiences on the Caribbean coast.

What’s all the hype about this Lost City trek? Is it really worth it? And if so, how should you organize it?

To get the best answers, I decided to do it myself, thanks to Fanny’s agency—there are only 5 agencies authorized to do this trek, and the price is fixed.

Here’s what you’ll get if you read my guide c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y:

  • What’s the official price for 2024?
  • What is the length and level of difficulty of this trek? Can you manage it?
  • The rainiest months and the one when it’s impossible to do this hike.
  • The 3 things you should add to your packing list.
  • Which travelers are likely to dislike it?
  • And more!

Note: the park will be closed in September 2024.

Let’s go, my little Indiana Jones.

Special information: -20% discount on the trek!
The Ciudad Perdida’s official price will be 1,775,000COP instead of 2,150,000COP for all those wishing to do the trek between May 20 and August 31, 2024.
Valid only for the 4-day option.


Who are we 👋

Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Here, you will find everything you need to fall in love with this beautiful country easily.


My favorite Local agency

Our mission at Tomplanmytrip is to put you in touch directly with the best local agencies in Colombia (tested and approved by us). It’s a no-cost, no-hassle, no-risk service.

Book with locals
The Best Agency To Hike To The Lost City
4.7

Over 80 of our readers book their trek to the Ciudad Perdida with Fanny monthly. Enjoy a well-organized 4-day jungle adventure, with bilingual local guides, to discover an ancient civilization.

Pros:
  • One of the 5 official agencies for this trek.
  • Pay local prices at no extra cost.
See her profle
Easy, quick and risk-free (Talk first. Book later)

Is The Ciudad Perdida Trek Worth it?

The terraces Lost City

The Lost City Trek in Colombia is an exhilarating 4 to 5-day adventure through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, leading you to the ancient ruins of an indigenous city—called Teyuna.

It’s all about cultural immersion, breathtaking scenery, and a real physical challenge. You’ll need to be prepared for a demanding environment (humid climate, insects), long hiking hours, and shared accommodation.

From what I’ve noticed, this is an excellent option for travelers who have always wanted to do a multi-day trek (you have a bed each night, and you only carry your personal bag).

On the downside, you can expect to share this adventure with many people, and there won’t be a lot of beautiful vistas (you won’t be going high, and the jungle is dense).

And if you’re really interested in the Sierra Nevada’s indigenous culture, I’d advise you to book an experience dedicated solely to that.

More than 10,000 travelers have already used our Colombia travel guide

I’ve been exploring Colombia since 2015 and put all my knowledge into one E-book. It’s free and accessible now. 👇

Lost City Trek: What to expect

Use this section to decide if you should book the Ciudad Perdida Trek

My Field Report

Our group Ciudad Perdida Colombia (1)

How did I survive this adventure?

Day 1

Our group of eight travelers and two guides began this experience with a jeep ride. 2.5 hours later, with a huge lunch in our bellies, we began our journey on foot.

The trail traversed a varied landscape, the wide dirt road gradually giving way to narrow, muddy paths as we went deeper into the heart of the Sierra Nevada. A sudden downpour turned our path into a slippery slide, but that only added to the adventure.

4 hours later, arriving at Casa Alfredo, we felt a mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion, sharing stories and laughter over a hearty meal, before retiring to our bunk beds, wrapped in mosquito netting.

Day 2

River Ciudad Perdida Colombia (1)

Early morning revealed a misty jungle, filled with the sights and sounds of the wilderness. Our clothes, still damp from the previous day’s rain, were the price we had to pay for the experience.

We set off at 6 a.m. to take advantage of the cool morning air. 3h later, we made our way to Casa Mumake, where a refreshing dip in the river revitalized our spirits.

Interacting with a member of the Kogi tribe, who gave us an insight into their rich culture, was a highlight of the day.

The day ended at 2.30pm at Casa Paraiso, on the banks of an idyllic river – the perfect scene for meditating on the day’s journey.

Day 3

Terraces Ciudad Perdida Colombia (2) (1)

The anticipation was at its peak as we set off to reach the highlight of our hike: the Lost City. Climbing the 1,200 steps was an invigorating challenge, culminating in our arrival at the ancient terraces of Ciudad Perdida.

As we explored these ruins, we became immersed in the mystical aura of the site. We had 3 hours to explore the site, listening to the guide’s explanations and pondering the mysteries of this ancient city. Then, it was time to start heading home!

Day 4

Kogi Ciudad Perdida Colombia (1)

Our last day was a test of endurance, as we covered 19 km to get back to El Mamey.

The camaraderie of our group was evident, motivating each other on the final stretch.

Once we reached our destination, we celebrated our achievement with cold beers and plans for a well-deserved evening in Santa Marta.

Is the lost city trek hard?

Mountains-Ciudad-Perdida-Lost-City

The answer will depend on your physical condition.

Personally, I found the Ciudad Perdida trek to be of moderate difficulty. I don’t consider myself a great hiker, but I’d already done treks lasting several days.

I imagine that the most difficult part for travelers who aren’t used to trekking in the jungle will be the humidity and slippery paths.

  • Be ready to get wet all the time (sweat or rain).
  • Travelers with weak ankles and knees might find this trek difficult. The path is made of dirt and pebbles. It turns into a slippery trail when it rains.

Let’s see the characteristics of the Lost City trek.

Distances & elevation covered on this trek

Trek Ciudad Perdida Colombia (3) (1)

The total distance of the Ciudad Perdida trek is 60 km, or 15 km per day, which I find reasonable, especially because you’ll only carry a small bag with your personal items (about 6kg).

Unfortunately, it’s not a loop—you’ll go hike back once you’ve reached the lost city.

The days are divided as follows:

  • Day 1: Distance: 9 km | Duration: 4 hours | Difficulty: 6/10 | Campsite: Casa Alfredo
  • Day 2: Distance: 18 km | Duration: 6 hours | Difficulty: 5/10 | Campsite Casa Paraiso
  • Day 3: Distance: 13 km | Duration: 5 hours | Difficulty: 5/10 | Campsite: Casa Mumake
  • Day 4: Distance: 19 km | Duration: 6 hours | Difficulty: 6.5/10

As far as elevation is concerned, this is not a major concern. You’ll be close to the sea, and the Ciudad Perdida isn’t at a very high altitude—1200m.

  • The elevation gain is less than 600 m/day — check out the Lost City map above.

River crossing

River crossing Lost city (1)

There’s now just one river to cross on foot (just before you start climbing the 1200 steps to the Lost City). When I passed through in October (which is supposed to be the rainy season), I was knee-deep in water. The crossing was pretty easy to manage.

However, I’ve seen videos online where the river flow is impressive, and you have to wait for it to calm down.

The weather

Guide Stairs in the Lost city

Every morning, you’ll start hiking with your shirt still wet from the previous day and the sound of your shoes doing Squitch Squitch because of the rain.

You can’t take too much stuff with you because of the weight, so I recommend you take one pair of clothes for the evening and one pair of clothes for the day.

Between you and me, you quickly get used to everything being sweaty and sticky. And rain is always welcome, as long as it’s brief.

On the other hand, humidity can be a challenge when you’re not used to it. You always feel heavy and tired.

Where will you sleep

Lost City Trek Camp site Fanny

The campsites during the trek of Ciudad Perdida are correct, with beds, water and electricity! Everything comes by mule. It’s impressive what they managed to build.

But don’t expect a 5-star hotel.

  • There are 4-6 flush toilets and showers.
  • You share them with the other travelers of the camp.
  • Cold showers.
  • There are beds with mosquito nets.
  • The bed sheets are clean.

You might want to bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper.

The Lost City Trek is safe

The view in the Lost city (

I met a few soldiers along the way, which may come as a surprise to some travelers. Here, it’s more to send the message: everything’s ok, no need to worry. In the past, there was a story of kidnapping. But that was many years ago.

About snakes, the trek is so popular that you shouldn’t see any.

Malaria pills and Yellow Fewer vaccination

None of them is obligatory, and I don’t think the malaria pills are worth it for a 4-day trek in the Sierra Nevada. However, I recommend you do the yellow fever vaccination before coming. You’ll have it for life 😉

The lost city trek with kids

Children must be at least 7 years old to do the Ciudad Perdida trek. If your kids are used to walking, why not bring them along? However, remember that they will have to carry their backpack like the adults unless you take care of it for them. Think carefully before making this decision, because once the trek starts, the whole group has to go all the way!

Indigenous communities

Lost City Trek Fanny Kogi

The indigenous communities living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta have been able to preserve their cultures and traditions by staying away from the conquistadors and then the Modern Man. They venerate Aluna, our Mother Nature, whose heart is represented by the highest peak of the Sierra Nevada: Mount Pico Cristobal Colón.

They see themselves as our Big Brothers and wish to educate us so that we stop destroying the planet. We can’t say they’re wrong about that.

To spread their message, the Kogis have invited twice the BBC to report on the subject.

For your Lost City trek:

  • This expedition does not focus on discovering indigenous cultures. However, you will still have the opportunity to chat with a Mamo (leader) and learn more about the history of the Lost City.
  • You’ll pass near indigenous villages during the trek.
  • Your guide is a local who grew up in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Don’t hesitate to ask him many questions

How popular is the Lost City trek?

Trek Ciudad Perdida Colombia (1)

The Lost City is no longer a secret, and many travelers add it to their itinerary in Colombia.

The local agencies are well organized. Groups depart at regular intervals so that hikers do not concentrate in the same places.

During the high season, the group sizes are around 20 people, and it is not uncommon to be about 100 in the camp.

First, you must find the right local agency.

Best lost City Trek companies

Lost City Trek houses indigenous

You must go through an agency to do the Ciudad Perdida Trek.

Only 5 are authorized to do so, all of them based in Santa Marta. Fanny, the expert we recommend, is the manager of one of these agencies.

The others are resellers, and there’s a good chance you’ll pay more than the official price.

Why do I recommend this expert?

Guide Lost city
The Lost City Trek is very well organized.

The agency staff and the tour guides speak perfect English and can answer quickly to all your questions.

  • You pay a deposit online and the balance on the day of your departure.
  • They ask for your dietary restrictions.
  • A car can pick you up at your hotel in Santa Marta.

During the trek, there are regular rest stops to wait for everyone. There is a guide in front and one behind. Once you arrive at the camp, you settle down to play cards, feet under the table while waiting for your dinner. You take care of nothing.

You’ll eat a lot

We were well-fed all the time! The food is simple but good—lots of carbs. In general, it is chicken, beans, patacón, rice, or pasta. You don’t need to bring extra food.

In each camp, there is a small shop where you can buy cold beer (2 USD) or other drinks. I guarantee that you will appreciate it at the end of the day.

The agency uses water cans that are purified with tablets. This is included in the price.

Some travelers are more stomach-sensitive than others. Take a water filter if this is the case. And some Imodium. I didn’t have any issues.

Great certifications
  • Quality certification NTS standards AV01, NTS AV02, and NTS TS 003. These are standards imposed by the Colombian government to ensure that the agency does a good job.
  • Respect for the environment and sustainable tourism.
  • Member of the association CorpoTeyuna to help the natives of the Sierra Nevada.

Tours & Prices for the Ciudad Perdida

The Sierra Nevada - On the way to the Lost City

The classic option is the 4-day trek. There are departures every day, and it’s easy to organize. This is the one I did.

If you think the 4-day trek is a bit too tough for you, you can do the 5-day one. The only difference is that the last day will be split in two. So you’ll walk just 3h30 on the last two days. Between you and me, I don’t see much point in that.

And if you don’t have much time but absolutely want to do this trek, you can try the 3-day option (2 people minimum). But you’d better be a good hiker! It’s the first day that’s difficult, as you’ll have to do the 2 days in 1 (compared to the 4-day option), i.e. 27 km.

And what about the prices?

Every year, they increase drastically, and I think that’s a bit exaggerated. From 700,000 COP in 2015, it’s now 2,150,000 COP for 2024.

  • The price for the 4-day and 5-day treks is the same, i.e. 2,150,000 COP per person.
  • The price of the 3-day trek is higher, i.e. 3,050,000 COP per person.

If the price is different, it means you’re speaking with a reseller. Check carefully to estimate the added value of this supplement, if any.

How Can you book your Ciudad Perdida Trek?

Book with locals
The Best Agency To Hike To The Lost City
4.7

Over 80 of our readers book their trek to the Ciudad Perdida with Fanny monthly. Enjoy a well-organized 4-day jungle adventure, with bilingual local guides, to discover an ancient civilization.

Pros:
  • One of the 5 official agencies for this trek.
  • Pay local prices at no extra cost.
See her profle
Easy, quick and risk-free (Talk first. Book later)

You can easily contact this expert directly by using our online form. This won’t cost you extra – we simply connect you with him, and then he’ll reach out to you through WhatsApp.

We do this to help travelers get in touch with reliable local agencies and ensure you get the best prices. It’s our way of supporting our favorite local agencies and ensuring you have direct access to top-notch services.

If, after discussion with your expert, you decide to book the Ciudad Perdida trek, he will send you a link to pay a 10% deposit. You’ll pay the rest on-site.

Best time to do the Lost City trek

Lost City Trek trail Fanny

First, let’s speak about the season.

I guess you don’t like hiking in the rain. Neither do I—although it will probably happen.

  • The main dry season is from December to March. It almost never rains.
  • In July and August, there is another short dry season

You must also consider the high season:

  • From Christmas to January 15, and for Holy Week, it will be packed with people. I advise you to book well in advance. The best thing to do is avoid going at this time of year.

And every year, the Ciudad Perdida trek closes in September. This is at the request of the indigenous communities, to give nature and the energies of these sacred sites a break from our presence. Yes, we are the stuffy, noisy type.

YOUR PACKING LIST FOR THE LOST CITY

When hiking over several days, every kilo counts. You must only carry what’s necessary for a minimum of comfort.

Let’s start with the size of your bag.

A 30 L bag is ideal for this trek. You can take it smaller, but it’s annoying to have to play Tetris to close it.

Inside your day bag:

  • 4 pairs of socks and 4 pairs of underwear. It is important to put on dry socks to keep your spirits up and avoid blisters.
  • 1 spare T-shirt.
  • 1 long-sleeved t-shirt for the evening (protects against mosquitoes).
  • 1 pair of light pants for the evening (protects against mosquitoes).
  • 1 pair of flip-flops. Yes, you’ll have to assume the flip-flop+sock style. You’ll befriend with Germans.
  • 1 Bathing suit.
  • 1 Towel. Take one that dries quickly.
  • 1 toilet bag with the minimum.
  • 1 roll of toilet paper.
  • Passport to enter the park on the 3rd day.
  • 1 waterproof plastic pouch to protect passport and phone.
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen.
  • Immodium (you never know).
  • Dressings and bandages for possible blisters.
  • Headlamp.
  • 1 rain cover for your bag.
  • 2 thick plastic bags (1 to put your dirty laundry, the other to protect your clean things).
  • 1.5 L gourd for water.
  • Money to buy beers/snacks.
  • 1 portable battery charger for recharging your phone and camera equipment at the camps.

Now, let’s talk about your equipment.

Your outfit for the Lost City Trek:

  • A good and comfortable pair of hiking boots. Don’t take them new to avoid blisters. Look to see if the soles still have studs so you don’t slip on the mud.
  • Lightweight hiking long pants that dry quickly. If you don’t care about mosquito bites, you can take a pair of shorts.
  • A merino wool T-shirt. This textile dries quickly and does not retain the smell of perspiration.
  • Trekking poles. If you have them, don’t hesitate to take them. They’ll be very useful.
  • Hat
  • The raincoat is not useful. It’s too hot to wear it when it rains.
  • A 30-35 L hiking bag with a strap to attach it at the waist. This will relieve the weight on your shoulders. No more than 5-6 kg.

Lost city history

It is an ancient city built by the Tayronas people in the VIII century. Therefore, it is an archaeological site much older than Machu Picchu.

Some thousands of people lived in this city, hidden in the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Then, because of the colonization, the Ciudad Perdida was abandoned.

It was not until 1972 that it was discovered again (although the indigenous descendants were already aware of its existence and location). These so-called explorers were treasure looters. They damaged the site for 3 years before the Colombian government intervened.

Even if the terraces have been rebuilt, the site of the Lost City is not as impressive as Machu Picchu.

How to get to the Ciudad Perdida

You must meet your local agency in Santa Marta in the morning.

Personally, I recommend arriving the day before so you can have a good night’s sleep at your hotel in Santa Marta.

At the agency, you’ll have to pay the outstanding balance and listen to the recommendations. You can also leave your big bag there.

My advice: you can ask the agency to drop you near Tayrona on your way back from the trek. If that’s the case, you’ll have to leave your bags at Camp Mamey.

  • Coming from Minca? You’ll have to take the bus very early in the morning (40 min) then a taxi to the agency (10 min more, in the historic center)
  • Coming from Palomino? It’s a bit tight time-wise, as it takes 2 hours to get to Santa Marta, and then you must get to the agency.
  • Coming from Cartagena? You’ll have to arrive the night before. Learn where to stay in Santa Marta.

Q&A: Lost City Trek

Lost City Trek terrasse kogi Fanny
Credit: Fanny

We’ve gathered some questions (and answers) you might have about the Lost City Trek. They are sorted by category.

Also, take the time to read the previous sections, and don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any doubts.

  1. Should you get snacks?

    I was never hungry during the trek. The portions of the meals are huge, and the guides regularly give you snacks. Bring some energy bars if you are afraid of having low blood sugar.

  2. Do you have to take water?

    The guides take the water directly from the river and then sterilize it with tablets. Just take a bottle that you can refill during meals.

  3. Do you have to take a mosquito net?

    No, there are in every camp.

  4. Take your massive camera?

    There is little chance you will be able to observe birds, and you will not have much time to take it out during the hike (except at the campsites and the Lost City). Besides, you have to put it away when it rains. In short, it’s possible, but I don’t recommend it.

  5. Get a sleeping bag?

    No, it’s not cold, and there are bedsheets. Take a “sleep bag sheet” if you don’t want to use the sheets.

  6. Yellow fever vaccine?

    It is not obligatory but I advise you to do it!

  7. Malaria pills?

    Nobody took any during our tour, and the local agencies say it’s not necessary. There are many unpleasant side effects of these drugs, including diarrhea. It’s not great when you go on a 4-day jungle trek.

  8. What are the sunniest months?

    The sunniest months are from mid-December to March and from July to August. These are also the most humid months.

  9. When is the rainy season?

    The rainiest months are April, May, October, and November.

  10. Is it raining a lot?

    Yes, it usually rains in the afternoon and evening.

  11. When’s the high season?

    The trek is less fun when there are 150 people in the camp. Avoid trekking between mid-December and mid-January and during Holy Week (Easter).

  12. Is it cold at night?

    No.

  13. Do you have to go with a local agency?

    Yes, it’s mandatory. There are located in Santa Marta.

  14. How many days?

    You can do it in 3, 4, 5, or 6 days.

  15. Can you make a reservation on-site?

    There are departures every day, in fact, you shouldn’t have any problems booking for the following day. It will be the same price if you make use of our online form (smoother and faster).

  16. Payment by credit card?

    Yes, but there’s a 3% Fee.

  17. Is there a minimum and maximum age?

    The minimum age is 7. As for the maximum age, that depends on your physical condition. Some people over 65 do very well.

  18. Do you sleep in hammocks?

    All the camps used by Fanny’s agency now have beds. During the high season, there may not be enough beds for everyone. The last ones will have to sleep in hammocks.

  19. Do you recommend the 5-day trek?

    No. You’ll be spending as much time in the Lost City. The last section of the trek is divided into two parts: 9km on day 4 and 9km on day 5.

  20. How fast are we walking?

    You walk at your own pace but there are regular breaks to wait for the last of the group. It’s an average of 3 km/h.

  21. Is it a difficult trek?

    No, but you still have to be in good physical and mental shape to enjoy it.

  22. Is it slippery?

    Yes, there are many muddy sections that turn into an ice rink when it rains.

  23. Are there mosquitoes?

    Yeah, but it’s manageable if you’re well-equipped. Don’t forget your insect repellent.

  24. Is it comparable to the Amazon?

    No. Experience in the Amazon jungle will be more savage and more adventurous. You have more opportunities to observe animals, and the groups are smaller.

  25. Is it comparable to Tayrona National Park?

    No. Tayrona National Park can be visited without a guide, and there are many beaches. Remember to rest one day between these two excursions.

  26. Is that a round trip?

    Yes, you’ll come back the same way.

  27. Do you have to carry your bag?

    Yeah. Maybe this trek isn’t for you if you’re considering it. You can also pay extra to use a mule if you get tired on the way.

  28. Is the Lost City Trek safe?

    Yes. There are many militaries on the way.

  29. Is vertigo a problem?

    No. There are no dizzying areas to cross. Just be careful going down those 1,200 steps.

  30. Is there Internet access on the Lost City trek?

    There may be Internet access in the campsites, but I don’t recommend using it, as the signal is likely to be weak, and you’re there to disconnect from your routine.

Alternatives to the Ciudad Perdida Trek

Colombia is a vast country that offers many trekking opportunities. If you think that the Ciudad Perdida trek is not for you, I have other choices for you:

There are also 2 other multi-day treks in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

  • A trek to Cerro Kenedy (2 or 3 days). Perfect for visiting a coffee farm and watching the sunrise over the snow-capped peaks.
  • A trek to Bunkuany (3 days). A more economical version than Ciudad Perdida, with a stronger focus on sharing indigenous culture.

Lost City Trek: The Bottom line

Lost City Trek terrasses

The Ciudad Perdida trek is great for getting out of your comfort zone. You will hike for several days in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada to discover a city buried between the trees. It’s not something you’ll do every day. Travelers who want to know what a multi-day hike through lush vegetation is like will love this experience.

Fanny’s agency is a well-established local agency with many years of experience in this field. The teams take care of you from the beginning. This makes it an easy trek to organize.

Although I found the Ciudad Perdida trek technically easy, you have to be in good physical shape to do it. It is a 4-day trek, in a humid and hot environment.

Book with locals
The Best Agency To Hike To The Lost City
4.7

Over 80 of our readers book their trek to the Ciudad Perdida with Fanny monthly. Enjoy a well-organized 4-day jungle adventure, with bilingual local guides, to discover an ancient civilization.

Pros:
  • One of the 5 official agencies for this trek.
  • Pay local prices at no extra cost.
See her profle
Easy, quick and risk-free (Talk first. Book later)

INFORMATION: PLEASE NOTE THAT SOME LINKS ARE AFFILIATE S AND AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU, I EARN A SMALL COMMISSION IF YOU MAKE A BOOKING. IT’S A NICE GESTURE TO THANK US FOR THE MANY HOURS WE DEDICATE TO TOMPLANMYTRIP 🙂

I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.

3 comments

  1. Marina says:

    To tell the truth, I think that Ciudad Perdida is a truly incredible and special place which has many unique distinctive features, attracting people with its special charm. Of course, this city has a rich and multifaceted history, making you feel that you are in another world. From my point of view, doing the trek in 4 days is the most optimal and comfortable option because you smartly manage the time in this way and can observe everything you need. I really like how you sort out your tasks because it is such an interesting and original idea. Of course, it is really important to be physically and psychologically prepared for not such an easy trek, taking all nuances into account, especially if you have never hiked for at least 8 hours. You always need to make your comfort and health a priority. I think that if you don’t have a good mindset, it will be very difficult for you to navigate and find flexible solutions, but, from my point of view, they are necessary in the jungle.

  2. Muskoka says:

    It sounds like the Ciudad Perdida trek is an amazing adventure, but definitely not for the faint of heart. I love that you give honest pros and cons, like the lack of scenic views and the challenge of the humid climate. I’m not sure if I’m tough enough for this trek, but it’s definitely on my bucket list now! Thanks for sharing!

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