Trek Colombia’s Mountains and Lost City
Journey through moonscape mountains, up ancient volcanoes, through the coffee zone and dense jungle and waist deep through rivers, before discovering the secrets of a lost city and the indigenous people that still live there.
Jose Maria Córdova International Airport
This trip is an unforgettable adventure for keen hikers and trekkers in good condition and with some previous experience. While the trekking is not technically difficult, you are trekking for 7 days in total, covering good distances each day with varying terrain and conditions. You will also be trekking at altitude in Los Nevados (up to 4750m).
Discover two very different pockets of Colombia as you trek through the remote wilderness of Los Nevados National Park in the South and uncover the ancient Ciudad Perdida in the heart of the jungle in the North.
You’ll trek high altitude paramos, pass towering glacial peaks, climb an extinct volcano, negotiate thick cloud forests, and stay with local mountain dwellers, who may well challenge you to a spot of football.
Then head into the jungle to take on one of the most culturally mysterious hikes on the continent. You'll wade through rivers, wash under waterfalls, learn the traditions of the indigenous communities that still live there before discovering the pre-Hispanic Lost City and the myths and legends behind it.
Spend your last night watching the sun go down on a secluded beach on the Caribbean coast.
Want more time in Colombia? Combine this with our 100km Jungle Expedition to the Heart of Colombia for the ultimate adventure.
- Airport transfers
- 7 days of trekking
- 1 internal flight
- All meals while trekking
- 3 nights jungle camping
- 3 nights eco-hotel accommodation
- 2 nights remote mountain lodge accommodation
- 2 nights ranch accommodation
- Qualified English speaking and government-registered guides
- National Park entrance fees/permits and National Park guides
- All camping equipment and bedding
Day 1: Welcome to Colombia
Your private transfer will whisk you off to your hotel in Medellin, located in an area of the city surrounded by parkland. If you’ve got time and energy, there’s the option to join your guide on a walk up to a lookout point to take in the mountainous valley and shake some jet lag.
Join the group and your guide later for dinner at a local restaurant where you can sample local Colombian cuisine and get to know your fellow adventurers.
Day 2: Journey to the Coffee Zone
Get ready for a drastic change in landscape. You’ll travel by comfortable public bus (approx. 7 hours) to the colonial Andean town of Salento situated in the UNESCO-listed coffee zone, west of Bogotá.
Passing through rolling hills and agricultural settlements, you’ll get a real insight into rural Colombia, before arriving at your beautiful country ranch for the night, just outside of town.
Day 3: Trek to Valle de Cocora
Trekking boots at the ready as you start your ascent into one of Colombia’s crown jewels, Los Nevados National Natural Park.
Setting off at 2400m, you’ll discover snow-dipped peaks, elevated lagoons and towering volcanoes, as you emerge from the wispy cloud forests beneath. Keep your eyes out for the alien-like frailejones that sprout from the paramo, parrots and marmots. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a spectacled bear!
Whilst the way is testing, the paths are well marked, and dotted with iconic wax palms, the tallest palm trees in the world.
You’ll arrive at your overnight mountain lodge late afternoon, time to grab a quick ‘tinto’ or ‘aromatica’ before settling in for the evening and taking in the stunning views of La Tolima volcano.
Approx. 6 hours hiking / 1090m elevation gain
Day 4: Paramillo del Quindio (4750m) Ascent
Today is a tough long day as you’ll set out to bag the glacier-looking peak, Paramillo del Quindio (4750m), one of the highest mountains in the national park.
You’ll start hiking as a group until you reach a high-altitude lagoon (3980m). For those feeling the altitude, there is the option to turn around and do a much shorter loop. Peak-baggers will carry on through the different ecosystems, past endemic plants, whilst condors circle above the trail.
Once at the top of this stunning multi-coloured sand mountain, you’ll have time to enjoy the views from the top before heading down to a different mountain lodge for the evening. Be sure to look up at night to marvel at the blanket of stars above.
Approx. 10 hours hiking / 1250m elevation gain
Day 5: Cloud Forest Descent
Setting off early today, you’ll take an alternative route through the humid Cocora Valley to the one you started the trek on.
You’ll walk through misty cloud forest, listening out for woodpeckers, before you finally catch sight of the vibrant green valley ahead of you.
After making a quick stop at a hummingbird sanctuary to learn a little more about these teeny birds you’ll hop into a Willys Jeep to make your way back to the ranch via a bumpy dirt track.
Approx. 6 hours hiking. Total descent: 1,300m
Day 6: Introduction to the Heart of the World
After a traditional Colombian hearty breakfast, of arepas (cornbread) with cheese and fruit, you’ll head to Periera for a short flight to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.
Your home for the night is a super eco-friendly lodge is set in the jungle of a nature reserve. Once there you’ll receive a warm welcome from the local Arhuaco indigenous community, where you’ll learn about, and perhaps even get involved in their traditional ceremonies and customs.
Day 7: Jungle Time!
After an early start, you’ll be picked up by 4x4 and taken to the start of the trail.
You’ll begin the trek with an ascent to Camp 1, following the small winding paths that connect the farming regions to the jungle. If the weather is calm you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the river to charge your batteries.
You’ll arrive at camp mid-afternoon with time to relax before dinner, served to the jungle chorus - your soundtrack for the next few nights to come.
Approx. 7.6km. 6 hours hiking. Elevation Gain 300m
Day 8: Discover Ancient Civilisations
You’ll begin today’s challenging trek through close and sweaty jungle, alive with native bird species and wildlife, wading through waist-high rivers and washing under waterfalls before reaching stunning peaks with panoramic views over the coastal mountain range.
You’ll continue your journey towards the Lost City. Learn about the sacred traditions of the local indigenous people, listen to the myths and legends, and hear the stories of the graverobbers who once combed the land for gold and ancient artefacts, before settling in for the night at Camp 3.
Approx. 14.7km. 10 hours hiking. Elevation Gain 400m
Day 9: Enter the Lost City
Today, you’ll discover a sacred land shrouded in mystique and ancient traditions. Led by your guides, you’ll ascend the gruelling 1200 steps to Ciudad Perdida, better known as the Lost City.
As well as having time to explore, the group will take part in a ceremony to pay tribute to the surrounding natural environment. Keep your eyes peeled for snakes hanging from the vines that have taken over.
You’ll return to Camp 3 to have lunch before packing for your next leg of the journey and arriving at Camp 2 before sunset for a traditional meal as the sun goes down.
Approx. 9.6km. 6 hours hiking, Elevation Gain 350. Total descent 750m
Day 10: Jungle depart and Caribbean Coast
After another wholesome breakfast, you’ll begin the hike back to Machete. The descent includes various spots for bathing under waterfalls and in rivers, a welcome relief after days of humidity.
Heading back to the eco-hotel, located near the Don Diego River, you’ll have the choice of a final dinner here or you can head to the small beachside village of Palomino.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains are located right behind Palomino, and on a clear day you can swim in the Caribbean sea and see snow-capped mountains at the same time.
There’s nowhere on earth with higher mountains closer to the sea, and it’s a unique experience and fitting end to your adventure! There are plenty of places to stay for those who would like an extra couple of days at the end to relax, just talk to your host who can advise you.
Approx. 12.7km. 6 hours hiking. Total ascent 250m. Total descent 550m.
Day 11: Goodbye Colombia!
You’ll be picked up today and taken by private transfer to the airport for your return flight.
All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.
In Medellin, you’ll be staying in the Terra Biohotel in a safe and vibrant part of town. This eco-friendly hotel is one of a kind in the city and you’ll be sharing twin rooms.
In Salento, you’ll be staying at the Finca El Rancho Salento, located in a beautiful valley outside of town. You’ll be sharing either twin or triple rooms here, dependent on availability.
While trekking in Los Nevados, you'll experience the life of a traditional Colombian farmer, living in their house, sharing home-cooked meals in their kitchens and getting to know their family while hearing stories about these magical Andean mountains. The whole group will be sleeping in one or two rooms in the mountain lodges.
Pre and post the Lost City trek you’ll be staying in Taironaka eco-hotel, a beautiful collection of traditional bungalows and rooms set amidst a nature reserve. You’ll be sharing either twin or triple rooms here, dependent on availability.
While trekking to 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 provided. There are basic toilet-facilities but all washing will be done in waterfalls and streams en-route.
For those who would like a Single Room Upgrade, this is available for 1 x night in Medellin, 2 x nights in Salento and 2 x nights in Santa Marta (so excluding nights while trekking). This is available at a cost of £295 and is subject to availability, please enquire with your host at the time of booking.
Los Nevados National Park is situated in the Cordillera Central region of the Colombian Andes and is a real hidden treasure, rarely visited beyond the town of Salento that sits at its entrance. The park lies in Colombia’s famous coffee region, with a high-altitude tropical ecosystem that only exists in this remote pocket of Colombia. You’re unlikely to see anyone else apart from the indigenous communities that still live there.
The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is an ancient archaeological site thought to have been built around 700 AD, around 650 years before Machu Picchu. It lies deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta jungle and can only be reached on foot by native guides who know where to find it.
To get there you’ll have tackle 1,200 moss-laden steps, riddled with protruding branches and vines that guard the way. The site itself is made up of thirty or so visible grass-covered circular platforms ranging from about 5ft to 10ft high. Between them are flagstone steps, slabs and walkways that interlock perfectly to connect the terraces together. Keep an eye out for submerged jails that once housed ancient lawbreakers, and the troughs and chutes that weave their way through the city - original drainage systems that are now home to crops of sage-green lichen.
Medellin City Hotel
Your adventure begins at the hotel at Medellin. You are free to check in after 2pm. There will be a briefing at 6pm before heading out for an optional group dinner.
Airport transfers are included if you arrive on the start day so please let your host know your flight times.
Santa Marta Hotel
At the end of your adventure, you will be dropped at Santa Marta (SMR) to meet your return flight.
Airport transfers are included so please let your host know your flight times.
Please note, transfers are included if you arrive or depart on the start and end days of the trip only. If you would like to arrive early or extend your stay, your host can arrange airport transfers for an extra cost.
Dates & Prices
Bespoke trips only
There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.Request a Quote
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