While the title for this entry is a blogger’s cliché, it truly emphasises the off-the-beaten-track discovery of this remote, ancient city in the jungle. It also highlights the importance of the journey itself as part of this unforgettable experience. Unlike many sites of South American ruins (most notably Machu Picchu), La Ciudad Perdida can only be accessed by a 2-day trek along a tricky jungle track. This culminates in a (physically) breathtaking climb up 1,200 steps – and of course there’s the return hike. Like so many multi-day adventures, I was blessed with the presence of some fantastic companions, making the experience that bit more rewarding and memorable.
Overall, I spent ten days in the region around Santa Marta, including excursions to ‘la ciudad peridida’ and Tayrona National Park. Five nights were spent at the fantastic ‘The Dreamer’ hostel just outside of town – not bothering to venture into Santa Marta itself – which culminated in four happy hours (8 hours to be precise)! Days were spent relaxing at the nearby beaches or by the pool, watching films, attempting to blog and recovering from restless nights camping, days trekking and the occasional hangover!
My visit to the beautiful city of Cartagena de Indias, the main spanish port on the caribbean coast, took in the colonial architecture within the fortified walls of the historic old town, the impregnable Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and a boat trip to a beautiful yet crowded beach in the nearby Islas del Rosario. I was eager for my first taste of Columbian nightlife and the excellent courtyard hostel bar proved to be a great place to meet fellow travellers as i left the World Cup wagon and joined the South American backpacker trail.
After five and a half days cruising along the Amazon River, our journey to the edge of Brazil was complete but it was a somewhat unsettling transition into Colombia. My Colombian friend, Fernando, assured me that this was not the real Colombia but simply another Amazonian town with the subtle changes in currency, flag, language and food. Indeed the presence of jungle lingered with the daily spectacle of screeching parrots (or perricos) and nearby Via Tarapacá, a road lined with botanical gardens, swimming holes and canopy adventures.