The Lost City
Many Indian tribes were living along the coast and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta when the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century; they were Bondas, Tairos, Pocegüeica, Durcinos, etc., all later called generically "Tayronas" by the Spaniards. They tried to resist the invasion but after hundred years of fight ended up being overcome and their villages destroyed and burnt. Nowadays there remain four indigenous groups which resisted the extermination while taking refuge in the Sierra Nevada, the Koguis, Wiwas, Arhuacos and Kankuamos and who, in spite of the pressures of colonization, missionaries etc, continue to maintain many of their beliefs and ancestral customs.
There are more than 300 prehistoric Tayronas villages inventoried on the coast and in the Sierra Nevada. These villages were originally connected by a network of stone paths. The most important centers were Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City), also known by its indigenous name Teyuna, in the Sierra Nevada, and Pueblito - Charaima, located on the coast, in the Tayrona National Park. According to the archaeological studies, Teyuna was built approximately in year 700 and counted at its apogee between 1500 and 3000 inhabitants.
Download here the ICANH Tourist Guide to Teyuna Arqueological guide.
The Lost City was discovered in the Seventies by “guaqueros”, treasure hunters, plunderers of tombs and is also known under the name Buritaca 200 by the archaeologists, who are investigating the site since 1976.
As the entrance from La Tagua has been temporarily closed by the National Parls authorities, we are being forced to modify this itinerary.
The trek to the Lost City
There are two ways to get to Teyuna, located at 1100 m of altitude on the Northern side of the Nevada Sierra. We will follow the most difficult one, but also the most interesting: by doing a loop instead of a return-by-the same-way trek as do the majority of agencies in Santa Marta. That will allow us to observe varius ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada, including three days in the tropical forest without meeting tourists before arriving at Ciudad Perdida. In total we will roughly hike 70 km of mountain trails, in forest, which can be very muddy, wet and slippery in the rainy season, with multiple crossings of brooks and rivers.
To reach the trailhead at the small village of La Tagua, at 2000 m of altitude, we must go through a rough dirt road up Cerro Kennedy in a 4WD vehicle. We will cross various coffee haciendas, as the freshness of the weather between 800 and 1500 meters is favourable to that crop. After 3 hours of driving we will arrive finally at La Tagua and have a fast sandwich because we have at least 5 hours of hiking in front of us before reaching our first campsite. We meet our indigenous guides, load the mules and begin our hike, fortunately it is mostly descending if not for two steep climbs, and we will finally arrive at our lodging at Filo Cartagena at the end of the afternoon. Night in bed.
We have 7 hours of hiking today in order to reach Alto de Mira, our lodging for the second night. We will thus have breakfast early and will continue our hike in the forest; with a bit of luck we will be able to see typical animals and birds of this area, monkeys, maybe a deer, quantity of birds, parrots, macaws, hummingbirds, butterflies, etc. Night in bed.
Our objective today is to arrive at the house of Mamo Rumaldo, a Kogui sprirituel chief. His house is actually at the foot of the entrance to Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City). We will need 6 hours of hiking. At the house of mamo Rumaldo he will tell us about the Kogui culture and the interested ones will be able to take part in some typical ritual. Night in hammocks.
Today after an hour of a steep ascent we will finally enter the Ciudad Perdida Arqueological Park (Teyuna) and we will spend the day to visit the various stone structures built by the Tayronas. We will be filled with wonder by their Engineering talents, to build under such environmental and climatic conditions structures such as terraces, staircases, contention walls, bridges, stone paths and irrigation channels. We will return to the house of mamo Rumaldo to spend the night.
After breakfast we will undertake our return, stopping for the night at the village of Mutaynzhi, an important Kogui village, and we will cross multiple times the Buritaca river. We will install our hammock in the churuata reserved to the travellers, and we will be able to benefit from the Kogui culture, music, artisanal production, etc Nuit in hammocks.
Last day of hiking before our return to civilization. After 3 hours we will pass by the creole village of Honduras and two hours more to arrive at Machete Pelao where we will board our 4WD to return to Santa Marta.