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Thursday 11 Feb 2010
Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

Day 3 Lost in the Lost City

Day 3   Our hut in the...
Our hut in the city

We setup camp in the only purpose-built tourist hut in the Lost City. I wondered later on if this is the place where, in 2003, 6 tourists were kidnapped by a guerilla group in the middle of the night. I certainly felt safe enough having the army presence, although you can never be too sure... money talks!

We were quite fortunate to be able to camp right in the middle of the Lost City, as it turns out that after the 20th February they are closing the hut down and forcing people to camp about an hour away from the city. This means that all future tour groups will need to climb up AND down the 1,200 steps in ONE DAY as they won't be allowed to stay the night at the top as we were. Undecided Apparently it's because the camp is causing damage to the ruins, although I'm guessing the real reason is because there is still a risk of kidnappings taking place...

While I was getting my camera stuff ready, the rest of the group decided to head off with the guide for a tour and I said I'd catch up with them later. In actuality I wanted to really tour the city on my own, partly to get a break from the American accents, but also so that I could (literally) get lost in the Lost City to get a real sense of the place and let it "speak" to me with it's other-worldliness. I like to think I can learn more about a place just sitting down and observing the structures, sensing how people must have lived, rather than be told by a guide what I could read in a book later on.

Day 3   Me and the kids!
Day 3 Me and the kids!

First there was some merchandising afoot. I'd heard that it was possible to buy some military gear from the underpaid troops that patrol the Lost City, but even I was surprised at the reception I got when I hiked up the staircase to the top terrace overlooking the central plaza of the city where the troops are stationed. After getting cheers and smiles (and obligatory photo op!) from all the soldiers who couldn't have been more than 17 or 18, I was bombarded with gear for sale, anything from army-issue bandanas, to backpacks, even to the coats on their back! I was interested in a bandana as it would be easy to carry, but the asking price was CP$ 20,000 so I said I'd think about it. All the gear seemed to be at a "fixed" price and I imagine the lads all agreed on prices beforehand. At one point the colonel appeared and I thought the game was up and he was going to put an end to this haggling nonsense, but instead, after asking me where I was from and shaking my hand, he offered me a pair of boots for sale! Laughing

Day 3   My buddy
Day 3 My buddy

I later on met one of the younger soldiers who was inexperienced at haggling and managed to get his bandana for only 10,000 Tongue out.... although I told his mates I bought it for the "right" price so he wouldn't get slagged.

Day 3   I'm lost
Day 3 I'm lost

Next mission was to wander the winding pathways and interconnected terraces that stretch for some 5km around the central area in a bid to get... well.. "Lost in the Lost City". And with this I had little trouble. In fact after an hour wandering through various moss-strewn staircases, clearly going places that few others had trekked (85% of the city has yet to be explored due to the violent history of the place!), sometimes going up, sometimes going down, I decided I'd better head back and retrace my steps. It was with the latter that I had serious trouble as I had no idea which way I'd come!

Many of the clearings looked identical, and there were no landmarks to speak of, so I just started following staircases leading into dense jungle. My logic was that if a staircase had less moss on it, then it was more likely to be on a frequently used path. But after coming to around 6 dead ends of thick unexplored forest, plus a section where the stairs kept going down when they should clearly be going up, I started to get a little freaked. I'd run out of water at this point too.

About an hour later, by complete chance I took one small stairs up, and from here I could suddenly hear voices coming toward me. Thank God it was the Dutchies! I could almost hug them, but I played it cool and pretended I didn't need the guide at all Sealed

Day 3   Shaman's seat
Day 3 Shaman's seat

Day 3   Drunken night!
Day 3 Drunken night!

I happened to bump into the guided group just as they were discussing the Shaman's Chair, which is in fact the only remaining item of furniture in the city. All the other structures were made from wood so that they city could be dismantled quickly if the Spanish were to get wind of the place. It turned out the guided tour hadn't covered much ground, so I was happy that I had managed to squeeze in my mini adventure!

We headed back to the hut soon after, just as a tropical rainstorm hit. Much celebratory drinking was had including 6 bottles of rum! Good times!

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South America Twenty Ten

Travel blog by peterforan



After previously dipping my toes in Latin America via trips to Cuba and Central America, it's time to go for the big splash! 3 1/2 months to take in as much as I can, armed with little more than my camera, laptop and a few dodgy Spanish phrases.

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Dublin, Ireland

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  • Day 1 Early...

    Ciudad Perdida


    Day 1   Early river crossing
  • Day 1 Our...

    Ciudad Perdida


    Day 1   Our first water hole!
  • Day 1 Kuss...

    Ciudad Perdida


    Day 1   Kuss and I
  • Day 1 What...

    Ciudad Perdida


    Day 1   What a view