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Trek Colombia’s Mountains and Lost City

Journey through spectacularly diverse terrain, hiking amongst sacred jungles, ancient volcanoes and misty cloud forest

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Trip Ref #9949

Trek Colombia’s Mountains and Lost City

Journey through spectacularly diverse terrain, hiking amongst sacred jungles, ancient volcanoes and misty cloud forest

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
Classic

Hotel · Homestay · Campsite

OVERALL RATING

4.9

Based on 19 reviews
DIFFICULTY
Challenging

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

Trek one of South America’s most mysterious routes to discover La Ciudad Perdida, a pre-Hispanic lost city hidden deep in the jungle

Hike through verdant coffee zones, past the otherworldly Valle de Cocora, along high-altitude páramos and to secluded Caribbean beaches

Explore the unique ecosystem of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a hushed cloud forest which harbours rare species and is home to the Tayrona people

Day 1

Welcome to Colombia

Check into your hotel in Medellin and choose between relaxing or joining your guide on an optional short walk around the neighbourhood. 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 approximately seven hours by a 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

Trekking Los Nevados Colombia Kagumu

Hiking

5-6hrs · 10.6km · 1415m up · 300m 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 destination at La Argentina Farm, grab a quick tinto or aromatica then settle in for the evening, taking in the stunning views of La Tolima volcano.

Day 4

Los Nevados

Trekking Los Nevados Colombia Kagumu

Hiking

3-4hrs · 6.7km · 530m up · 300m down

Continue trekking through the beautiful mountains of Los Nevados from La Argentina Farm to La Playa Farm. Be sure to look up during the day to see condors circling above the trail and at night for the blanket of stars above. Should conditions permit, then it may be possible to trek an alternative route today and tackle the summit of Paramillo Del Quindio (4750m summit, approx. 10 hrs, 18km, +1350m -1000m). Note that this summit was closed to trekkers in 2023 and remains closed until further notice in 2024.

Day 5

The Cloud Forest

Trek Colombia’s Mountains and Lost City

Hiking

6-8hrs · 22.6km · 600m up · 1900m down

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

Day 6

Heart of the World

Lost City Trek

After a traditional Colombian breakfast of arepas (cornbread) with cheese and fruit, you’ll head to Pereira Airport to fly up to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a richly biodiverse and unique ecosystem, home to several indigenous communities. Spend the night in Santa Marta.

Day 7

Into the Jungle

Trekking Lost City Colombia Kagumu

Hiking

6hrs · 7.6km · 500m up · 150m down

Begin your trek to the Lost City, once the heart of the ancient Tayrona civilisation. 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

Trekking Lost City Colombia Kagumu

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

Trekking Lost City Colombia Kagumu

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

Palomino, Colombia

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 Parque Tayrona and enjoy your final evening together. 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

Trekking Lost City Colombia Kagumu

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.

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 at rural farms

Meals

Munch on tasty food throughout

Transfers

To and from the airport and internal flight to Santa Marta

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

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin or triple share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3 – Day 4

Homestay · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Hotel · Twin or triple share

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

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.

For example for breakfast, you may be served soups, arepa (cornbread), rice and beans, fresh coffee and a variety of fruit. For lunch, there may be potatoes, rice, plantain, chicken and vegetables wrapped in a banana leaf. At dinner, typical dishes include wholesome vegetable soups, rice, salad and 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 SITES Hotel in Poblado, a safe and vibrant part of town.

Salento

In the small town of Salento you'll stay in traditional small hotel accommodation. Each departure can vary as to which specific accommodation is chosen by your host, however the typical locations used are Terrazas de Salento, Tia Emiss or Salento Real. This will be in either a twin or triple room, depending on availability.

Los Nevados
Los Nevados (Finca La Argentina & Finca La Playa)

You'll experience the life of a traditional Colombian farmer by staying in their rustic and humble farm lodges, 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 an eco-hotel, located in the jungle close to the Caribbean coast. Your host typically uses Villa Margarita or La Mar del Bien. Rooms are twin-share, with private bathrooms.

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 (this is subject to availability). Please request this at the time of booking.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Medellin Airport

Afternoon 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. Note that hotel check in times are typically early afternoon - if you require access in the morning then you'll have to request this in advance with the host.

Travel options

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

You may wish to arrive early and spend an extra day or two independently exploring the wonderful city of Medellin. Your host can assist with arranging additional nights and hotel stays - see Optional Extras.

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 $75-$100. We recommend LATAM or Avianca: take a look at despegar.com for booking flights.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount 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)
  • Gaiters
  • 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
  • Ear plugs
  • Head torch
  • Suncream
  • Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • 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
  • Water purification tablets
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Camera (optional)
  • Walking poles (optional)
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Single/Double/Twin Room in Medellin from

Payable Before Departure

Single/Double/Twin Room in Medellin from

Per Night

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Private Airport Transfer Medellin from

Payable Before Departure

Private Airport Transfer Medellin from

Private Airport Transfer Santa Marta from

Payable Before Departure

Private Airport Transfer Santa Marta from

Martin L.
Fantastic hiking adventure in this

Fantastic hiking adventure in this biodiverse area. Laura and the guides looked after us all really well and I would very much recommend a trip to Colombia. I would suggest definitely arrive a day or two early to explore Medellín.

Kirsty M.
A unique and unforgettable experience

We had a true once in a lifetime experience in Colombia. It enabled us to see so much in a short space of time but in a way that never felt rushed. The hiking is intense, but very well paced, allowing time to enjoy nature and learn about the unique indigenous communities (directly from one of their members). The guides on both treks and Laura (who accompanied us throughout) were just incredible. So knowledgeable, passionate, patient and good fun. They absolutely made the trip.

Los Nevados is the most beautiful and interesting ecosystem I’ve ever experienced and the Tejuna (lost city) is fascinating. Be prepared to be sweaty but exhilarated! We would recommend extending your trip at either side of you can to adjust to the time zone/climate/altitude beforehand, rest a little afterwards, and have time to explore some of Colombia’s amazing cities too.

One tip is that you need to bring everything you’ll need for the humid, hot Tejuna (lost city) trek, but you can rent walking poles there and some of our list (waterproofs, walking poles etc) is available to borrow for the Los Nevados trek.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to see these incredible landscapes and learn about Colombian culture from insiders.

Alexandra N.
Absolutely brilliant

This was an amazing trip all round. Definitely challenging, with the contrast between the Andes and the jungle, but oh so worth it. Some of the most beautiful scenery I've seen, amazing people and places. The altitude and accommodation in the mountains, not going to lie, are a challenge, as are the heat and humidity in the jungle. But the group leader Dani was absolutely fantastic as were all the local guides, and I wouldn't have changed a single thing! The Lost City is truly magical and getting to learn about the indigenous culture was so special. If you're looking at this trip, honestly, just do it, you won't regret it!

Norman O.
A very memorable trip. Well

A very memorable trip. Well orgainsed and great to visit some of the more unusual parts of Colombia. All the guides were excellent, so knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. Especially Dani, who looked after us from start to finish and encouraged me through some of the tougher parts.

Anthony C.
Trek Colombia's Mountains and Lost City

Fantastic trip. Superb Guides who were professional, friendly and their knowledge of the areas were excellent. Particular thanks to Dani who went out of his way to make the trip memorable and that nothing was too much trouble for him. The different regions visited were varied and very interesting. The trekking was challenging but well worth the effort and very rewarding with a sense of achievement. Colombia definitely worth visiting and will recommend to friends.

Nikki B.
Excellent

An excellent trip with the most amazing scenery throughout. Our host (guide) Dani was beyond amazing and solved any problems we encountered along the way, all he wanted was for us to have a great time as a group and we did. An extra day in Medellin before the trip and a few days after the lost city would be worth adding on to the trip is my personal opinion. The hiking was tough at times but manageable for all and correctly categorised. The accommodation in the Cocora valley was not the best but as there were no other options it did the job. Overall an amazing trip that I would thoroughly recommend to anyone. (I best add we had wall to wall sunshine for the duration of the trip which probably helped).

Kelley I.
Excellent trip that introduces 2 very different parts of Columbia!

Fabulous trip that shows you 2 very different parts of this gorgeous country! Challenging hikes, great food and lots of interesting things to learn about the history & the people. I highly recommend this trip! It’s hard to pick a favorite part, but I would have to say seeing the lost city was a real thrill!

I’m glad I arrived in Medellin 2 days early as it gave me a chance to explore that city and its rich history before settling off to the 2nd day of the trip to a new location.

Nora

I would recommend this trip to anyone who is fit & resilient to enjoy the two challenging treks. The trip was absolutely incredible, with so many different environments and experiences. I want to go back to Colombia immediately!

Ray

Good trip

Marie A.

Fantastic trip

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

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 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. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

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. You will reach some high altitudes in the Los Nevados portion of the trip, sleeping at an altitude of 3490m on Day 3 and 3720m on Day 4. The highest point reached whilst trekking is 4040m on Day 5.

Should you decide to return down the mountain from Los Nevados because of the trekking difficulty, then any extra accommodation bookings in Salento are at your own expense.

Sure can! Over 70% 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 year-round, thanks to its location at a high elevation and near the equator.

Los Nevados has a dry season from December to March and July to August. During the dry season, the Andes enjoy sunny days with temperatures reaching up to 20°C. At night, temperatures drop drastically (as low as 0°C). While there is a lower chance of rain during the dry season, there will be days (in the evenings especially) with potentially heavy rain.

Santa Marta is usually warm during the day, with temperatures of around 40°C and cooler at night (around 20°C) with a fresh breeze. During the wet season (from June to November) short, sharp rain showers 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 3000m. 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 or evacuation 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 for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

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.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

March 2024

Saturday • 2nd March 2024

to Tuesday • 12th March 2024
7 Booked • 7 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 17th August 2024

to Tuesday • 27th August 2024
3 Booked • 11 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 23rd November 2024

to Tuesday • 3rd December 2024
Days 3-5 will differ from the trip page itinerary on this departure date
6 Booked • 8 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 8th December 2024

to Wednesday • 18th December 2024
2 Booked • 12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 25th January 2025

to Tuesday • 4th February 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 8th February 2025

to Tuesday • 18th February 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 22nd February 2025

to Tuesday • 4th March 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 8th March 2025

to Tuesday • 18th March 2025
1 Booked • 13 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 7th June 2025

to Tuesday • 17th June 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 5th July 2025

to Tuesday • 15th July 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 20th July 2025

to Wednesday • 30th July 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 16th August 2025

to Tuesday • 26th August 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 22nd November 2025

to Tuesday • 2nd December 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 6th December 2025

to Tuesday • 16th December 2025
14 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

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