Adventures / Wild Hikes

Trek Colombia’s Mountains and Lost City

Journey through moonscape mountains, climb ancient volcanoes and discover the secrets of the Lost City

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Trip Ref #9949

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Trek Colombia’s Mountains and Lost City

Journey through moonscape mountains, climb ancient volcanoes and discover the secrets of the Lost City

DURATION

10 nights

LOCATION

Colombia

ANNUAL LEAVE

1.5 weeks off work

SEASON

Feb-Mar, Jul-Aug, Oct-Nov

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Jose Maria Córdova International Airport, Colombia

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Guesthouse · Homestay · Campsite

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

Whilst the trekking is not technically difficult, it takes place over a week and across varying terrain, conditions and altitude

Travel deep into the jungle on one of the most culturally mysterious hikes on the continent and discover a pre-Hispanic Lost City built 650 years before Machu Picchu

Hike through coffee zones, dense jungle and wade across wild, waist-deep rivers

Trek high altitude paramos, climb an extinct volcano and watch the sun go down on a secluded beach on the Caribbean coast

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    Katherine, February 2022

    Simon and his team were fantastic and made for an exceptional trip. From stunning sceneries to heritage and culture, I would absolutely go on this trip again. High recommend.

    Matthew, February 2020

    A life-time experience. So good that my girlfriend and I got engaged whilst we were out there! Far from just a beautiful hike; a chance to explore and really delve deep into a gorgeously rich and diverse country through cities, peoples, ecosystems and history, culminating in the discovery of a magnificent ancient city and civilization as fascinating as the Incas and the Mayas. Your hosts and guides are extremely knowledgeable, some of them scientists and experts in their fields, and even a couple of indigenous guides no less! They are genuinely lovely and supportive as are the people we met on the trip. The whole trip is very well thought through and executed.

    Laura, February 2020

    Thank you to Simon, Laura and everyone at Kagumu for a brilliant trip. We were so well looked after from start to finish and packed in loads of walking and adventure. The local guides were excellent and taught us loads about the local cultures. Hosts took care of everything and I love their sustainable ethos. The two different treks showed off how beautiful and diverse Colombia is. I highly recommend this trip!

    Julia, February 2020

    Colombia is a beautiful country with different landscapes, which this trek is united. Amazing experience. Great host. Simon and Laura were very supportive and helpful, were always there for us. Local guides on both treks helped to get the maximum of a great experience. It was a bit surprise for me, that Lost City trek was also very educatable, and not just a walk till the point. You can easily do it in 3 days, but 4 days trek was enjoyable, with breaks such as saving and refreshing swims in the river. Mountains trek was pretty challenging due to attitude and plenty of distance to cover, but it was great even with rain and mud. In the rain forest trekking was slightly easier.

    Mark, February 2020

    Two fantastic trekking tours and great experience of Colombian culture. A great organisation from start to finish.

    Kristen, February 2020

    I loved every minute of this adventure! I very much appreciated the emphasis on responsible and sustainable travel and the inclusion of native guides from whom we had the chance to learn about the country’s history and culture. Every detail was handled, leaving us nothing to worry about, including plenty of vegan options at every meal. We packed so much into our time together...this is definitely a trip I’ll never forget!

    Hamish, February 2020

    Incredible from start to finish. Brilliantly organised, with very knowledgeable local guides. Trekking through amazing surroundings with stunning vistas while also learning about indigenous cultures as well as the local flora and fauna. Could not recommend this trip more highly - huge thanks to Simon and Laura for organising and looking after us all!

    Belinda, February 2020

    Brilliant trip. First half quite tough as getting to a high altitude quite quickly so you have to be fit but definitely worth doing. Columbia is amazing and never felt unsafe. Lost City trek the highlight. Highly recommend.

    Included

    Internal flights

    1 flight to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast

    Guides

    Professional, English speaking guides

    Accommodation

    3 nights jungle camping, 3 nights in an eco-hotel, 2 nights in a mountain lodge and 2 nights on a ranch

    Meals

    Munch on tasty food throughout

    Transfers

    To and from the airport and everything in-between

    Equipment

    All your camping equipment and bedding

    Permits

    All National Park entrance fees and permits

    Not Included

    Flights to and from the meeting point

    Some meals as described

    Tips for your guides

    Travel insurance

    The Area

    map

    Logistics

    Starts

    Medellin Airport

    Anytime on Day 1

    Ends

    Santa Marta Airport

    Anytime on Day 11

    Transfers

    Transfers are included if you arrive or depart on the start and end days of the trip only. If you would like your host to arrange transfers outside of these days, they can do for an extra charge. Please see Optional Extras.

    Travel options

    There are regular flights to Medellin from major airports across the UK, Europe and US.

    Please note that the trip finishes at Santa Marta Airport so if you are returning home from Medellin then you will need to book an internal flight from Santa Marta to Medellin. There are many flight options available and they usually cost around $50. We recommend VivaAir or Avianca: take a look at (despegar.com)[https://www.us.despegar.com/] for booking flights.

    Day 1

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 2

    Guesthouse · Twin or triple share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 3

    Homestay · Mixed dorm

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 4

    Hotel · Twin or triple share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 5

    Homestay · Mixed dorm

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 6

    Hotel · Twin or triple share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 7 – Day 9

    Campsite · Hammock

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 10

    Hotel · Twin or triple share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 11

    Departure day

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    What is the food like?

    You will get a true taste of Colombian cuisine through home-cooked meals, traditional mountain lunches and hearty breakfasts.

    Some Examples: Breakfast: Soups, arepa (cornbread), rice and beans, fresh coffee and fruits. Lunch: Potatoes, rice, plantain, chicken and vegetables wrapped in a banana leaf. Dinner: Wholesome vegetable soups, rice, salad, grilled meat

    Vegan, vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for, just let your host know when booking.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Medellin

    You'll stay in a twin-room at the one-of-a-kind Terra Biohotel in a safe and vibrant part of town.

    Salento

    You’ll stay at the Finca El Rancho Salento, located in a beautiful valley just outside of town in either a twin or triple room, dependent on availability.

    Los Nevados

    You'll experience the life of a traditional Colombian farmer, staying in their lodge, sharing home-cooked meals and getting to know the family while hearing stories about the magical Andean mountains.

    Nature Reserve Santa Marta

    You’ll stay in the Taironaka Eco-Hotel, a beautiful collection of traditional bungalows and rooms set amidst the trees. Rooms will be either twin or triple share, depending on availability.

    The Lost City

    You’ll spend 3 nights in basic campsites. There will usually be a choice of hammocks or beds and all come with mosquito nets. There are basic toilet-facilities but any washing can be done in waterfalls and streams en-route.

    Upgrades

    For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. This is available for 1 x night in Medellin, 2 x nights in Salento and 2 x nights in Santa Marta only. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability)

    Day 1

    Welcome to Colombia

    Check into your hotel in Medellin and choose between relaxing or joining your guide on a walk to a lookout point with views over the surrounding, mountainous valley. Join the rest of your group for dinner at a local restaurant and sample some local Colombian cuisine as you get to know your fellow adventurers.

    Day 2

    Coffee Country

    Get ready for a dramatic change of landscape as you travel to the colonial Andean town of Salento in the UNESCO-listed coffee zone, west of Bogotá. This road trip will take approx 7 hours by a very comfortable public coach. As you pass through rolling hills and agricultural settlements, you’ll get a real insight into rural Colombia, before arriving at a beautiful country ranch where you’ll spend the night.

    Day 3

    Valle De Cocora

    Hiking

    6hrs · 10km · 1000m up · 80m down

    Begin the day ascending into one of Colombia’s crown jewels - Los Nevados National Natural Park. Discover snow-dipped peaks, wax palms (the tallest palm trees in the world), elevated lagoons and towering volcanoes as you emerge from the wispy cloud forest below.

    Keep your eyes open for the alien-like frailejones that sprout from the paramo, as well as parrots and marmots. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a spectacled bear! Arrive at your overnight mountain lodge, grab a quick ‘tinto’ or ‘aromatica’ then settle in for the evening and take in the stunning views of La Tolima volcano.

    Day 4

    Paramillo Del Quindio (4750m)

    Hiking

    10hrs · 18km · 1350m up · 1000m down

    Stop at a high-altitude lagoon (3980m). For those feeling the altitude, there is the option for a shorter loop hike, or you can carry on through the different ecosystems and tackle the summit of Paramillo del Quindio (4750m), one of the highest mountains in the national park. Be sure to look up during the day to see condors circling above the trail and at night for the blanket of stars above.

    Day 5

    The Cloud Forest

    Hiking

    5hrs · 16km · 400m up · 1800m down

    Set off early through the humid Cocora Valley and into the misty and mysterious cloud forest. Descend into the vibrant green valley ahead, making a quick stop at a hummingbird sanctuary, before returning to the ranch by jeep along a bumpy dirt track.

    Day 6

    Heart of the World

    After a traditional Colombian breakfast of arepas (cornbread) with cheese and fruit, you’ll head to Periera for a short flight to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. Spend the night in an eco-friendly jungle lodge within a protected nature reserve and receive a warm welcome from the local Arhuaco indigenous community and perhaps even get involved in their ceremonies and customs.

    Day 7

    Into the Jungle

    Hiking

    6hrs · 7.6km · 500m up · 150m down

    Follow the small and winding path that connects the farming region to the jungle and take a refreshing dip in the river to recharge your batteries. Arrive at your camp in the mid-afternoon and relax before a dinner served to the sound of a jungle chorus - your soundtrack for the next few nights.

    Day 8

    Ancient Civilisations

    Hiking

    10hrs · 14.7km · 550m up · 220m down

    Trek through a humid jungle alive with native birds and wildlife, wading at times through waist-deep rivers. Wash under a waterfall and get a panoramic view over the coastal mountain range. Continue your journey towards the Lost City and learn about the sacred traditions, myths and legends of the local indigenous people and hear stories about the tomb raiders and grave robbers that once combed the land looking for gold and ancient artefacts.

    Day 9

    The Lost City

    Hiking

    6hrs · 9.6km · 400m up · 740m down

    Enter a sacred land shrouded in mystery and ancient traditions. Led by your guides, you’ll ascend the gruelling 1200 steps to the lost city of Ciudad Perdida built 650 years before Machu Picchu. As well as having time to explore, the group will also take part in a ceremony to pay tribute to the natural environment. Keep your eyes peeled for snakes hanging from the vines that have taken over this once-thriving city.

    Day 10

    The Caribbean Coast

    Hiking

    6hrs · 12.7km · 20m up · 340m down

    Hike to Machete, stopping to bathe under waterfalls and swim in rivers - a welcome relief after days of humidity. Head back to an eco-hotel located near the Don Diego River and choose between dinner there or in the small beachside village of Palomino. There’s nowhere on earth with higher mountains as close to the sea, and on a clear day you can swim in the Caribbean and see snow-capped mountains at the same time.

    Day 11

    Goodbye Colombia

    Wake one last time in Colombia and then head back to the airport in time for your flight home. Remember if you are flying home from Medellin rather than directly from Santa Marta, you will need to book your own internal flight back to Medellin - see our getting there section for details.

    15% Off Outdoor Gear

    In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

    What do I need to bring?

    Bags

    • Small backpack (25-30 litres)

    Clothes

    • A light poncho-type of waterproof
    • Good quality, worn-in waterproof hiking boots (you could be hiking in shallow water, mud, grassy and rocky terrain)
    • Thermal under-clothing
    • Long-sleeved t-shirts or shirts
    • Warm fleece or similar
    • Waterproof jacket with Gore Tex or similar
    • Quick-dry trekking trousers
    • T-shirts
    • Thick walking socks
    • Comfortable quick-dry shorts
    • Thin walking socks
    • Swimwear
    • T-shirts or vests
    • Shorts
    • Sturdy waterproof sandals for river swimming
    • Gloves
    • Hat
    • Buff

    Other

    • Sunglasses
    • Sun-protection hat
    • Reusable water bottle
    • Head torch
    • Suncream
    • Lip balm
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Quick-drying towel
    • Personal wash kit including toothpaste, toothbrush and toilet paper
    • Personal medical kit including painkillers, blister treatment etc
    • Biodegradable bags for toilet paper waste
    • Biodegradable soap for washing in the jungle
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Camera (optional)
    • Walking poles (optional)

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    Private Airport Transfer Medellin

    Payable Before Departure

    Private Airport Transfer Medellin

    Private Airport Transfer Santa Marta

    Payable Before Departure

    Private Airport Transfer Santa Marta

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 413kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    The trekking, while not technically difficult, requires that you be in good physical shape as the days are long and the conditions are challenging.

    Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

    In Los Nevados you will have a team of mules who will carry your overnight kit so you will just need a small day pack with essentials (extra layer, water, snacks etc). While trekking to the Lost City you will need to carry everything you need for the trek (2 days) - as it is very hot this will generally just mean a spare set of clothes. Water will be topped up as you go. You can store your main luggage with your host at the start of the trek.

    Modern-day Colombia is not 1980's Narcos. For decades the country was in the international press for all the wrong reasons – drugs, kidnappings and civil war. Now with a peace agreement in place between the FARC and the Colombian government, Colombia is much safer and tourism has bloomed.

    Medellín is known as “La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera”, the city of eternal spring. The city has a comfortable climate that is consistent all-year-round thanks to its location at high elevation and near the equator.

    Los Nevados (Dry season - December to March and July and August)

    Daytime: The Andes enjoys sunny days during the dry season with temperatures reaching up to 20°C. Nighttime: Temperatures drop drastically (as low as 0°C) during the night and early morning. Rain: While there is a lower chance of rain during the dry season, there will be days (evenings especially) with potentially heavy rain. Santa Marta

    Santa Marta is usually warm during the day, with temperatures of around 40°C and cool at night (around 20°C) with a fresh breeze. During the wet season from June to November short sharp rains are not uncommon.

    When you trek in the mountains, there's always the risk of getting altitude sickness, regardless of how old, young, fit or unfit you are. We would expect most trekkers to feel some mild symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, sleeplessness, heavy breathing) when over 3500m. Our guides are trained to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness so if any more serious symptoms are noted, there is a strict procedure regarding extra care or a rapid descent if needed. All of our trips have been designed with altitude best practice in mind so acclimatisation days have been built in and our experienced guides follow advice to ‘walk high and sleep low’.

    Water in most major cities is safe to drink, however, in towns and villages in the Andes water shouldn’t be drunk from the tap. We advise bringing purification tablets. While trekking you will be provided with clean drinking water to top your bottles up with.

    We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

    Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however, we suggest the following as a guideline per person:

    $3-$5USD per person per day, however, if you would like to bring a gift from the UK as a thank you, this will also go a long way!

    Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

    For current advice about travelling in Colombia, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

    If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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