The Lost City: Descent

Last night was a bit rough.  There were two snorers right next to me, meaning no sleep for several of us; there was loud music playing until 21:30 (which wouldn’t be bad if we didn’t all have to get up at 5am); and Anouk and one of the other Dutchies became ill.

I’m not not tired, that’s for sure.

Getting ready to leave, Anouk switched to 4 days rather than 5 for the trip, given how ill she was.  Upon reflection, that seemed like the better choice anyway: the only difference between the two is that with the five day trip, you have almost all of day 4 resting at one of the huts, before finishing the final couple of hours on day 5.  Given I was planning on getting a motorbike down the last stretch, because as if you freaking wouldn’t, it seemed silly to stay an extra night just for an hour’s journey.  Plus, I’m pretty tired, my back is sore from bad mattresses, and I could really use a proper wash.  Living the glamorous life, that’s for sure!  On the way down today, we commented on how clean and healthy the people on day two looked; meanwhile, a German guy behind me pointed out that everybody on the descent looked like they were dead exhausted and completely over it.  Which wasn’t entirely inaccurate.

I spent most of the trip walking at my own pace, which was super: our group was extremely spread out (to the point that the staff at huts started recognising as as Miguel’s group, and feeding us even prior to his arrival), and I ended up in the middle, where I often got the chance to walk completely by myself, just listening to the jungle.  Though yesterday I did end up being adopted by a Bavarian/American group and their guide, which was lovely.  He wasn’t even my guide and he was helping me across rivers?  Total winner.

A lot of the group is out-of-sorts by now.  It consisted of the older Colombian couple, three Italians, two Austrians, two Dutchies, a Korean, and myself and Anouk–plus of course our guide Miguel and translator Hugo, who demanded a shout-out.  Anouk and one of the other Dutchies is ill; the second (third?!) Dutchie has an apparently severe allergy to mosquito bites, and her knees are done.  So are those of the three Italians.  The Austrians have been virtually running the trail, like completely insane people, while myself and the Korean are all out of energy.  The translator’s boots have fallen apart, for the second week in a row; and the only one completely unscathed appears to be our guide to hell, Miguel.  On the last walking stretch, we demanded that he tell us stories of tourists that have died on this trek, and he knows of at least two–one person, 49 or 59 years old, who had a heart attack on the first day; another who was swept away by the river I mentioned two days ago, and split their head open on a rock.  So we’ve survived a deadly tour.  (And the bodies are taken down on mules–creepy, right?  I can only imagine the faces of people still on the ascent when they saw literal non-survivors being carted down.)

Our walk today was straight-forward, if difficult because of exhaustion.  There was also a lot more uphill than I remember descending on the way there.  I completely understand a northerner girl I saw a few days ago, who stopped in the middle of the hill, declaring “no! I’m over it! I’m just not doing this anymore!”.  Though I don’t think that’s likely to have worked out for her.  It was pretty arduous.  Meanwhile, Anouk was too ill–after she turned up around 20 minutes late to a rest stop, we called a mule for her, which took her the whole way to the motorbikes.

SPEAKING of the motorbikes, omg, if you ever do this trip, TAKE THE MOTORBIKE DOWN.  It cost 25000COP, so around 7 EUR, and was pretty much my favourite part.  We were screaming down these riven muddy roads, fording rivers, admiring the view, and all SO FAST.  What on earth could beat being on the back of a bike in the Sierra Nevada jungle?  I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire ride!  (Which admittedly my driver noticed, and he took the opportunity to start hitting on me in Spanish.). For real, 110% amazing.

We’re now at El Mamey, where our trek started, waiting to have lunch before taking the 4WD back to Santa Marta.  I can’t wait for shampoo, and a bed, and to be wearing dry clothes.

Other than recommending you take the bike down, there’s not much I can suggest.  I took quite a heavy pack, at around 10kg, while most people had 5-6.  That 10kg included the pack itself (which is ergonomically okay for my back), a small toiletries and first aid kid (which I think 5-6 of us ended up using: a stand-out winner was the nappy rash cream I bought, which was incredible for mosquito bites, as well as Vaseline), my Kindle and foldable bluetooth keyboard as luxuries (hence being able to type up blog posts while in the middle of the jungle), a solar-powered phone charger, a now-broken camera, a microfibre towel, my sarong (which goes everywhere with me while travelling), 3 tops, a pair of shorts, hiking pants, flip-flops, token pyjamas, a poncho, and plenty of socks and underwear.  Plus my passport and wallet, of course, and a garbage bag (provided) which I put my valuables into.  One thing I wish I’d brought from the start was toilet paper–I didn’t have any until the morning of day 3 when I could buy some, which was a little devastating.

It’s worth noting that all that–barring my valuables–is damp.  Hanging things out overnight resulted in them getting wetter than when we started: even my microfibre towel and sports tops couldn’t dry out.  Putting on wet clothes all the time, especially before bed, was rank.

The tour company we went with is called Guias y Baqueanos, and it cost around 850,000COP, all bar extra water, mules and bikes included.  Overall, a tough but great trip, and I’m glad I came back to Colombia to do it.

Our la Ciudad Perdida trip in numbers:

  • 11 baqueanos
  • 6 nationalities
  • 2 guides
  • 4 days
  • 63.6km walked (plus ~5km on motorbike)
  • 2 mules
  • 2 motorbikes
  • 12 oreos
  • 86902 steps
  • 0 blisters for me (Vaseline is a life-saver!)
  • 61 mosquito bites on my right calf alone (Colombian mosquitoes do not give a flying about repellent)
  • too many hills
  • 3 camps
  • 1 lost city
  • unanimous smiling faces
Quiet leavings
The Lost City: Green Hell

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