The city was built between the eighth and the fourteenth centuries by the Tayrona Indians. Nowadays only circular stone terraces covered by jungle remain, but the views and the location of the site are extraordinary. Local name for Ciudad Perdida is Teyuna.
Treks to Ciudad Perdida are arranged by only a few different authorized companies and it is not possible to visit the site on your own :
At the moment, all the tour companies have made an agreement such that every tour costs 600,000 COP, regardless of whether it lasts six or five (or only four) days (see below). Some hostels may also be able to assist you. Depending on the season, tours may leave every day or every few days - if you have one or two traveling companions, you are almost assured to be able to leave on the day of your choice. Here you can find more information about the Ciudad Perdida Tour and book online for 600.000 pesos . You can also book your tour ahead while you are in Cartagena in a travel agency (see listing of "Aventure Colombia" above).
Make sure to bring appropriate gear for trekking, including good walking boots, mosquito repellent, a sleeping bag, appropriate clothing for hiking and for nights, and a water bottle. You will also want to take a pack of cards, a small amount of cash, a torch, toilet roll, hand sanitizer or soap, snacks and a book.
Note that Helicopter tours were outlawed in 2010 after studies demonstrated that the helicopter landings were causing site deterioration, and will not be returning.
The whole trek is 46.6 km round trip and starts in a small village of Macheté. Six days/five nights: The first day is a three-hour walk to the first camp. The second day is another four hours' hiking, and the third day is six hours to the third camp. The fourth day you walk 1km to the start of Cuidad Perdida and walk up ~1400 steps and spend about 2 hours exploring the site. The fifth day is a eight hour walk back to the first camp and the sixth day is only three hours back to civilization. (An alternative is to spend only the third night at the site and the fourth night in the same camp as the second night, meaning you avoid the eight-hour fifth day.)
Five days/four nights:
Four days/three nights: If you are in a rush, the trek is definitely doable in four days - it usually means that you start at dawn on the second, third and fourth day, walking about 6 hours each day. Quite a hike, but for fit persons nevertheless a healthy option to escape extensive playing games and reading books in the camp. You will still have down time, just not as long as the other options.
In addition to the occasional beer, bottled water or Gatorade purchasing possibility listed below there is no good reason to bring money.
However, if you do get hurt there is an exit option to take a mule (or horse - depending on availability) back from the camp "Mumake". There is no earlier return point (except a military helicopter, with which they can fly out severe cases from the top of the Ciudad Perdida). If you need this exit option let your guide know in advance because they will bring that poor animal up the mountain just for you. The price for the return should be between COP 80.000 and COP 100.000. Try to avoid this "service" for the animals sake; choose the tour package (6 or 5 days) according to your personal level of fitness.
Meals are included in the price of the tour. The food is basic and scrumptious after intense activity, with plenty of beans, rice , and meat, plus a bit of salad. Dinner and lunch are accompanied with... Tang? Don't worry, you'll be tired enough where everything tastes fantastic. Expect a break or two during the day's hike to stop and refuel with a sugar kick from some fresh fruit.
Bottled water, gatorade, Coca Cola and beer are sold on most of the campsites for 2000-3000 COP each. Prices go up the further you go and reach 5,000 COP at the last camp. Bring extra cash! Better yet, pack a full bottle of something stiff to uncork and share with your new friends after reaching the city.
Sleeping space is either in hammocks strung out under a communal shelter, or in small bunkbeds under netting. Some cabañas even have tents so you can snuggle with another trekker. Blankets are provided if you ask; it's worth asking for one even if the evening is warm as it can get very cold at the higher altitudes. Bringing an inlay may be a wise choice since you can never be sure when those blankets have been washed the last time.
Showers are available at the camps along the way (but lingering in the rivers during crossings makes for a good rinse in the meantime). Just be aware that remaining dripping wet for extended periods in an already humid environment can lead to fungal infections and just generally smelling bad, so it is good to dry off completely after swimming, showering, etc.
Bring at least one full bottle of bug spray and at least one pair of long pants and one long-sleeved shirt to protect yourself from the swarms during rest periods and breaks. Mosquitoes and biting flies are a constant nuisance, especially when you are resting or stopped at camp - when you are actually hiking and moving the problem is much less severe. Bring more bugspray than sunscreen, as often you will be hiking with substantial tree cover.
For each piece of electronic equipment you choose to bring (cell phone, camera, ipod, etc.), purchase a waterproof, crushproof, drybox.
Footwear: The actual hiking should be done with hiking boots. Tennis shoes or sneakers may also work but bear the risk of injury (due to extremely challenging terrain). Remember that you will be walking for a couple of days without getting the chance to seriously cure any achings. For most people hiking boots are advisable as the terrain can be extremely rocky, muddy, and most important - slippery. Probably the most important consideration is to bring a pair of shoes that have a strong grip and are well broken in to avoid blisters. The trail is also often done in hiking sandals (Chaco, Teva, ect) but this can lead to disaster if your feet are not used to the sandals.
It is convenient to bring a pair of sandals for river crossings or to hang out at night at the camp at the camp. But it is possible to cross the rivers barefooted or in your hiking shoes.