Nestled in the height of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, the highest coastal range in the world, lies the Lost City, or La Ciudad Perdida, as it is known in Spanish.
The Lost City, also called ‘Teyuna’ by indigenous people, is a settlement that was built by ancient Colombian civilians, the Tayrona people, over 1,000 years ago in approximately 800 AD. It was only recently ‘rediscovered’, in 1972, when a group of grave robbers came across a series of steps deep into the mountains, which led them to the ruins. It is the largest Tayrona settlement to be discovered so far and is thought to have been the center of their civilization at one point.
The Tyrona people were wiped out by the Spanish conquest, leaving their cities abandoned and to become buried in the jungle. After the Lost City’s discovery, a period of violence broke out when rival groups of treasure looters would fight over the site and its treasures. This prompted the government to step in and send archaeologists to find and save any ancient relics that remained. Many Tayrona objects that have been uncovered at the site are now on display in museums across Colombia, such as pottery, unique jewelry and gold pieces – which can be found in el Museo del Oro in Santa Marta.
The remote, mysterious ruins are only accessible by foot. An exhilarating 44km trek into the magical Sierra Nevada leads you through stunning jungle terrain, natural waterfalls and lush green valleys to the bottom of the Lost City`s stair case. 1200 stone steps to be precise. Although the hike is a long and challenging one, the end destination is well worth the effort. The abandoned city itself is made up of 170 terraces, layered atop each other – upon magnificent platforms protruding from the mountain face. Although the wooden huts built for dwellings are long gone these stone foundations remain well intact. The site is unlike anything you have ever experienced before, as the abandoned stones high above the treetops in the depths of the unknown, create a somewhat unearthly atmosphere.
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Many tours offer indigenous guides who are members of the local Wiwa community. They will offer you a personal insight into the history of the City and the culture of the indigenous people, offering compelling tales about the many myths and legends that surround the area.They also know the trails, like the back of their hand, so even though you are miles away from any sign of modern civilization – you will feel safe and well taken care of. These guides can show you great spots along the way, such as fresh swimming holes to cool off in and great viewpoints where you can take a break and capture the awesome scenery.
The Lost City is now protected by the Global Heritage Fund, a non-profit organization which works to preserve and protect the area against human and natural degradation, including further looting, vegetation overgrowth, and un-sustainable tourism.
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