6 Things you should know before doing the Lost City Trek
In May, I took on the famous Lost City Trek in the north of Colombia. Here’s what I wish I had known before spending 5 amazing days in the jungle!
- It’s tough, but you can do it!
I went into the trek not really knowing what to expect and was a bit nervous about whether I would be able to manage it. While the trek is tough at times, you really don’t need to be an Olympian to complete it; a good general level of fitness will do. Although it’s a good idea to fit in a few long walks before you go to get a bit of practise (and break in those walking boots!).
- You’ll love the food
It’s natural to wonder what kind of dishes you will be eating whilst in the jungle. The group’s cook made tasty, filling meals at each camp (honestly, the portions were huge!) and usually consisted of chicken, rice, plantain and vegetables.
During breaks along the trek you’ll also be given fruit to re-charge. I know this doesn’t sound that exciting but trust me, after 3 hours of solid uphill trekking it will be the best tasting watermelon of your life! The breaks are also a useful time to make sure you’re drinking enough water, a must in the heat of the jungle, even if you don’t feel thirsty – the more you drink the lighter your bag gets so it’s a win win situation! You’ll be able to re-fill your water bottles at each camp.
- Pack light, but make sure you have the essentials
You’ll have to carry everything you need for the 5 day trek. You can hire a mule to carry your bag, but they’re expensive, so it’s best to just not over-pack! During your briefing on the first night in Santa Marta your guide will break down what you need, but make sure you’re comfortable with the weight of your bag before you leave for the jungle. Here’s what I took-
- 1 set of trekking clothes – I took a lightweight running top and sports shorts, which were both really breathable. Although it might seem really disgusting this is what the guide recommends and once you start trekking you will realise that there really isn’t any point in taking more than one set of clothes for the daytime. You won’t have room for a new set for each day and the humidity means that your clothes will never fully dry. No one wants a bag of wet, smelly and heavy clothes!
- 1 set of evening clothes – I had a pair of lightweight trousers and a light, long sleeve t-shirt. The long sleeve top is really useful for covering up against insects (which are in abundance in the jungle), but you won’t need anything to stay warm. You’ll also sleep in these.
- 1 pair of walking boots and a pair of flip flops – A decent, waterproof pair of walking boots are a must for this trip, as you’ll be crossing a variety of terrains and rivers on the trek. Take a pair of flip flops or light shoes for the evening.
- 1 pair of swimming shorts/a bikini – You’ll need them for cooling off in the lakes and rivers at the camps.
- 5 pairs of socks and underwear – If you’re brave you could go with less (some people in my group did!) but it was nice to have at least something fresh to put on each day! Girls are also recommended to wear a sports bra.
- Rain jacket – I just took a cheap foldable poncho (the kind you can buy at supermarkets during festival season for a couple of pounds). It was a really useful, as rain can come quickly and very heavy in the jungle. It also helps if you do get a bit cold at night!
- A micro-fibre travel towel
- Toiletries – Don’t forget insect repellent (mosquitoes are everywhere in the jungle, so get the strongest you can find), and sunscreen (make sure you slap on high factor (50+) every morning before setting out).
- Basic medical supplies – The guide will have a medical kit, just in case there are any accidents, but it’s useful to take some plasters (in case you get any blisters or minor cuts on the trek), painkillers, and hand sanitizer.
- A waterproof cover for your bag –This will protect your belongings, and most importantly your dry evening clothes, from getting soaked when the rain eventually comes.
- Head torch – A must for navigating the camps at night.
- 2 x 1-litre water bottles – The most import thing you’ll pack! I had 2 bottles in the side pockets on my backpack, and went through them both by lunch.
Getting the right bag is important as you don’t want to be carrying something that’s uncomfortable. I took a 45-litre backpack, but really anything between 25-50 litres will be absolutely fine for the trek. Straps around the waist and chest were also really useful for distributing the weight.
- You’ll get such a high every day when you walk into the camps!
You’ll usually spend about 4-6 hours a day trekking, first thing in the morning. This means that normally you’ll be walking into the campsite you’ll be staying at around midday! The camps were surprisingly comfortable, with a mixture of beds and hammocks, all with mosquito nets. There were even small shops run by the indigenous people where you could get treats like beer and chocolate.
- It’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have!
After completing the trek, I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had while travelling. It was absolutely incredible to spend 5 days in the jungle and the moment that I arrived at the Lost City is something that will stay with me forever. I can promise you, you won’t regret doing the trek!