Written by Amelia Jardine Paterson on 16 / 09 / 2022
Gap Year Advice
You've probably heard of places such as Machu Picchu and such, but there is a little known treasure waiting for you on your gap year in the jungles of Colombia - The Lost City. Hidden away in the rainforest, traveling to the lost city is unique and here are our top 5 reasons to go on your gap year to Colombia.
Most people will associate “The Lost City” with the recent film with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. However, although it doesn’t include A list celebrities the real thing is an amazing place. The Lost City in Colombia was once the central and political hub for smaller local villages in the Sierra Navada mountain range, deep in the Colombian Jungle, and was home to the people of Teyrona until the Spanish Conquest. From then until 1972 it was left hidden and undisturbed, only known to the local tribes.
Reaching The Lost City is no walk in the park and will challenge you as you head through the hot and sweaty jungle, but it is an experience like no other. For those of you that have done DofE some of this may sound a bit familiar, but it will be a lot more exciting than hiking in the Brecon beacons and seeing a handful of sheep. Trekking to The Lost City on your gap year will give you a great feeling of accomplishment.
Away from the distractions of the world you can experience the rainforest at its full glory, which is becoming harder to do in today’s world. You'll be camping along the way for 3 nights/4 days, sleeping in bunk beds or hammocks as you drift off to the sounds of the rainforest (within the safety of a mosquito net, don’t worry we don’t want you spending the night with any strange creepy crawlies). There will be showers and loos, but it never hurts to be prepared so bring your own loo roll for the journey (its never fun being caught out).
At times it will be tough going through the rainforest and you’ll need to be fit, but there will be moments along the way which will make it all worthwhile. There will be opportunities to swim in the refreshing Buratica river pools and see waterfalls, as well as to take in all the wildlife. Just remember that some of the wildlife might also be interested in you, but as long as you are respectful and listen to the guide you will be fine.
Whilst trekking to The Lost City you will be traveling through the land of the indigenous Wiwa people who you will pass and have occasional interaction with them along the way. They are the descendants of the people of Teyrona and have lived in the area for hundreds of years, still practicing and living their traditional way of life, having been isolated until the latter part of the 20th century. Their spiritual way of life and customs will be something you won’t be able to witness elsewhere. The local tribes own the land and only allow 160 to visit the site at any one given time, and it has only been open to the public since 2005. This is all the more reason to see The Lost City now, on your gap year, as you get this exclusive experience before it becomes more popular, and the world is only getting smaller. You will also be able to help and support the indigenous people as any tourism through them goes towards preserving their lands and enhancing the rainforest.
There is one last thing before you reach the site, and that is the 1,200 stone steps that lead up to The Lost City. But don’t worry you can take these as slow or fast as you like. Who needs leg day at the gym when you can climb 1,200 steps to see beautiful views over the rainforests and walk in the footsteps of an ancient civilisation?
Although not as imposing as other historic sites such as Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, The Lost City consists of 169 terraces, where houses, streets and plazas used to be. It’s all waiting to be explored and that’s only 10% of the site. Whilst on your journey you can learn about the history, from the first people who settled in 800AD to 1972 when it was “rediscovered” and unfortunately looted. Luckily archaeologists quickly stepped in and restored the site, and it is now protected by the indigenous people and the government.
This trek, although hard at times, is well worth the work for this truly authentic experience. Not only is seeing The Lost City and the views over the rainforest amazing but the journey there and all you learn and see is pretty spectacular as well. And what better way to finish a trek like this than to relax on Colombia's Caribbean beaches and see the fun towns of Santa Marta and Cartagena. Unfortunately, I don’t think Captain Jack will be making an appearance.
on 16 / 09 / 2022