Is Colombia on your bucket list? Our Trek to the Lost City in the heart of the Colombian rainforest captures the hearts of many, with its vast and tropical landscape, fascinating culture and remote communities. We spoke to Katie, one of our brilliant participants to take on this wild challenge. Katie, take it away!
'It’s been nearly three months since I returned from the Lost City in Colombia, and almost daily I am reminded of the epic adventure I had. From the Colombian coffee beans at breakfast to wishing my fenced-garden-view was of mist-enshrouded mountains, lush jungle trees, raging torrents of water and the sound of tropical birds. I would happily go back tomorrow given a fraction of a chance!
What appealed to me about this trip was the unique chance to trek a route that is relatively newly-accessible, along with a purpose - to reach The Lost City. I love physical challenges, however this was also a story of a hidden city, in an indescribably-stunning location with a whole civilisation steeped in history. I’ve always had a passion and love for the outdoors, but this was my first big adventure. It was a dilemma where to start travelling for my first ever trek abroad, but there was nothing that disappointed about this trip. I'm still wondering if such an incredible trip of natural beauty, amazing, friendly and welcoming people, and the achievement of such a challenge, was indeed a reality.
TREKKING TO THE LOST CITY
Walking in the heat was a little tough initially, but became less intense the higher and cooler it became and as the jungle surrounded us. However, I was not prepared for the 6 am trekking starts - especially as I have never been a morning person. Thank goodness for the blast of Colombian coffee served by the amazing camp crew!
It's hard to choose a favourite moment as there was so many, but up there has got to be arriving sweating, muddy, quiet and tired at the first camp in the jungle, to all bathe at twilight in a natural pool encased by high rocks, fed by a rushing waterfall. Even the warm, torrential rain that came down as we hiked alongside the river, after eleven hours of walking, was a magical memory.
A definite goose bump moment was standing on a hairpin curve of a mountain, staring far in the distance through the mist at a distant peak, being informed that it was the location of The Lost City. We took in the identical view on the way back which gave us a chance to really comprehend what we had achieved.
We crossed a rapidly-flowing river, waist-deep, to reach the ancient steps that rose steeply through the jungle and up to the Lost City. The stunning views at the City itself were breathtaking. We had time to explore the ancient site and learn about the history and extent of the City, as told by the extremely knowledgeable guides. I was truly in awe of where I was and felt so blessed and fortunate to be standing there.
For every difficult step and every challenge, there were amazing highs. Too many to count, but ones that will stay with me forever. Hiking for 5 days was a completely new challenge – but I honestly loved every single minute of it.
I could describe meeting the leader of the indigenous tribes or swimming in the turquoise-blue Caribbean sea on the final trekking day, or watching the sun set from Café Del Mar whilst eating huge ants (yes really) and washed down with Mojitos in Cartagena. Although, I feel that any more details would be spoilers! Go discover it for yourself!
JUNGLE LIFE IN COLOMBIA
Considering you’re in the middle of the jungle, we all slumbered remarkably well and comfortably on cosy mattresses encased by mosquito nets.
In regard to food, we dined like royalty, three-course meals were devoured with absolute pleasure by us ravenous trekkers. Something that DA seem to do very well on their trips! A standout memory is snacking on watermelon chunks at a mountain-top rest station, watching the watermelons being chopped up with the local guides’ machetes.
I would say the best items I took into the jungle were my DEET and zinc oxide tape. The DEET kept the mozzies at bay, although this was not actually a huge problem for any of us until the last day when we were trekking by the coast through the mangrove swamp. Feet strapping-up became a daily ritual for me and I happily clutched my Colombian Coffee every morning whilst I stood in line for the ‘blister clinic’. Poor Greg. Alongside constantly being prepared for every eventuality, perpetual cheeriness, attentiveness and thoughtfulness, it must be a requirement for all Discover Adventure leaders to be strong–stomached enough to deal with mouldy feet at 5.30 am!
TRAVELLING WITH DISCOVER ADVENTURE
Colombia was my second big challenge – the first being the London to Paris Bike ride. Throughout both events I’ve been struck at the sheer scale of the organisation of Discover Adventure. Some of my fellow jungle trekkers had over ten years of experience with different challenges and different companies, and the overwhelming feedback was how seamless and effortless DA events seem to be. It’s very much a question of turning up to experience these incredible adventures, and all the rest is looked after.
I was a little apprehensive about meeting the group at the airport. The only thing that helped was that everyone seemed the same: nervously excited! It quickly dawn on me that the type of people who sign up to adventures like this share a common trait of determination, no matter what the skill, experience, walk of life or age. We supported one another along the way, all with our own personal challenges and individual stories, as well as being part of the team.
Greg and the local team were confident, reassuring, funny and motivating. I and all the group felt 100% safe at all times in every way. I’m sure every trek company and guides are capable, but it was stand – out notable how incredibly well organised and seamless the whole trip was, with flexibility to alter plans if needed. Other trekkers in the team who had been part of ventures with other companies were stunned about how much energy, passion and organisation went into ensuring we had the most fantastic time possible.
If I had any advice or tips for future travellers considering Colombia, it would just be this: DO IT! I can’t think of a single negative. If you have a lust for life, stunning scenery welcomed by people who can’t wait to share their country with you, (and can embrace the mountains and mud) then this is for you!'
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Katie. We can't wait to see where you explore next. Watch this space!