Ok, so this blog post will be mainly written by me, Lina. Mostly because it was a very personal challenge for me. I have done many hikes in my life, but never for more than two days. So you can imagine that I was rather nervous about this one. 5 days of trekking up and down mountains in Colombia’s jungle. You have to carry your own luggage (except for the food) and sleep in camps, maybe even in hammocks. A blog I read to prepare for this hike described it as “one of the most challenging…”.
Nevertheless, here we stood, all dressed up for a long hike. Sebo with our backpack full off clothes, and I carrying the one with water, snacks, and insect repellent (probably the single most important item of the whole trip). Ready to face the jungle, off we went. The first day started off easy: 4 1/2 hours hiking, most of it uphill. Yes, this was the easy part. It sure as hell did not feel easy to me. But everytime I reached another exhaustion high, we were rewarded with watermelon and a beautiful breathtaking (or rather breathgiving) view. Just have a look at this:
By times the track was slippery, steep, and we had to cross knee high rivers 4 times. It is hot, very humid, it rains by times, and you will constantly feel wet – a magical mixture of your own sweat and the humid air.
It was so much fun!!
Our amazing guide and our translator fed us valuable information about the vegetation and the culture of the Wiwa and Kogui (the indigenous people whose land we were walking through). The views are incredible and a major part of the hike takes you straight through the rainforest. You can see fascinating plants, colourful birds, and butterflies. While parts of the track are slippery, others are rocky and you never know what awaits you around the next courner. At one of the river crossings, one of our canine travel companions did not dare to jump across the rocks. With a clear ‘no man, woman, or dog left behind mentality’ Sebo carried her across the river – sadly enough he was also carrying everyones phone and camera in his bag, so no-one could take a picture.
The whole experience felt like a wonderfully exciting adventure. Of which each day ended with the ultimate reward: a swim in a natural pool or river in the middel of the rainforest, followed by a huge amount of food.
The highlight was reached on day 3. We climbed the 1200 steps up to the Ciudad Perdida. These historical steps led to the re-discovery of the city in 1972. A rather bloody discovery. This might be a good moment to throw in some facts about Ciudad Perdida (as learned from our amazing guide).
The city itself was founded by the Tayrona around 800AD which is 650 years before the Incas built Machu Pichu. Teyuna, now known as Ciudad Perdida, was the heart of numerous settlements alongside the coast and mountains. It was used for trading with a population of about 4.000- 10.000 people and an area of 12.000 square meters. Sadly, the Spanish colonists invaded Colombian shores and the people fled Teyuna. The conquerors brought more dangers than just their weapons and – even though they never discovered Teyuna – the introduction of foreign sicknesses such as smallpox and syphilis played a mayor role in killing big parts of the population.
Hearing the history of the city, it comes to no surprise that most indigenous people do not wish to have any contact with us tourists. The Kogis, for example, see nature as ‘the great mother, whose balance we have greatly upset. As we learned, this is one of the reasons why they send off their most talented children to become doctors and lawyers. Lawyers, so they have highly educated advocates fighting for their rights. Doctors, so that they can take care of their sick.
We were listening to our guide while walking through the ruins. It is a spectacular site, see for yourself:
Having spent 3 hours at the city, including another refreshing bath in the river, we start walking back to the camp. Most of the people will walk the entire way back the next day, Sebo and I had an extra day in the jungle and could take our time walking back. The perfect idea, by now I am el Pato and everything is tranquilo. We are both enjoying the living hell out of our last days in this beautiful environment and our cook spikes the experience with hot chocolate and pop corn.
What we learned:
- Insect repellent is your best friend
- Ask the guide if you have any problems (blisters, rashes, pains, etc.). Literally everything. They have a first aid kit and have guided so many tourists that they have seen it all. No need to feel embarassed, you are not the first and they will not just send you home.
- Bring more socks than you think you need and pack everything in small ziplocks or waterproof bags
- Everything your wear will be wet and nothing will truly dry for the entire trip
- We went with “Magic Tours” in off season and don’t think we would enjoy the track in season (simply too many people, we heard there can be 200 people in a single camp)
- Do the track even if you are not the fittest! So beautiful!
- Get a walking buddy who sings. You know, for motivation.
- Colonialism kills (well, we did know this one before, but this was yet another example)