I consider myself a pretty experienced hiker. I’ve been hiking regularly since I was just a child, and it was love of hiking that motivated me to get in shape in the first place. I’ve done the Annapurna Circuit and been on several backpacking trips. I’m also in great cardiovascular conditioning due to all the long distance running I do.
La Ciudad Perdida (“The Lost City”) is not an easy hike. It is missing the technical skills required to be an advanced hike – it is impossible to get lost, and you don’t need to carry the weight of your own food as the mule train take care of that, and there’s no need to cook for yourself, as the camps take care of that.
But it is straight fucking up and straight fucking down for the vast majority of the four day out and back trip. I never thought I’d long for switchbacks. There were people on the trail where this was their first hike. Don’t do that to yourself. This is not a beginner hike.
Furthermore, it’s hot as shit. The oppressive humidity means you’re soaked through an hour in and unless you have a couple of hours during the day to dry your clothes in the sun, everything that gets wet will stay wet. And then weigh twice as much in your pack.
But along the way, there are several swimming holes where you can swim in a river tucked among hanging vines and with waterfalls in the distance. There are great vistas (which, to be honest, you notice more on the way back when you’re going more down than up), and at the end there is a hidden city of stone circles where at one point over 300 houses of the native people stood on the top of a mountain. The circles are initially unimpressive until you go even further up (of course) and into the city, when you can really get a feel for the scale of it all.
I enjoyed the hike immensely, even with getting food poisioning. And I did, I think during my last celebratory lunch. I made it the two hour jeep drive back feeling just nauseous. In the office, I came out one end and thought maybe that was it. But in the three block walk back to my hostel I threw up on the street twice. Which I’ve never done. And then spent the evening and night alterately sleeping and hugging either the sink or the toilet or both. I seem to be keeping water down and am experimenting with toast and juice. Fingers crossed, food poisioning is pretty miserable.
Today, I’m sticking close to my hostel and figuring out what my next step is and operating under the opitimistic assumption that I’ll be ready to travel tomorrow. Initially, I was going to go to Tayrona National Park during these two days but the park is closed for a month, something I didn’t learn until I got to Colombia (and is a bit of a bummer as I was looking forward to it).
It’s kind of the best sort of question: do I want beaches or mountains?