The Ciudad Perdida Lost City Trek is an amazing experience, which I highly recommend doing to all of you who are planning to visit Colombia. You have to know it’s a demanding trail though. Expect steep muddy lands, river crossing, humid climate and fierce mosquitoes. Packing light is key, so here I leave you with a quick guide of what I packed for my 4 day trek to the Ciudad Perdida in north Colombia.
What to pack
- Daypack: pack light, is my first and main advice. You’ll be carrying all your gear up and down a hill for hours, so the lighter you pack, the more your legs and back will appreciate it. You can leave your big suitcase/backpack at the hostel or at the tour company offices and just bring the necessary stuff in a daypack. I took a Quechua Arpenaz 30 litres capacity daypack and it was more than enough.
- A set of comfy sports/hiking clothes (easy dry) for each day: if you do the 4 day trek, then pack:
Try to pack light sports or hiking clothes to avoid taking much space on your bag. I prefered wearing just shorts every day, to avoid getting wet crossing rivers. And in the end I didn’t even use all of them. I would only recommed long trousers to avoid mosquito bites, but it wasn’t that hard.
- Plastic bags: it was the best idea we had, packing each set of clothes separetely in airtight plastic bags. First, because packing was very easy and organized and second, because since the weather is so humid and it can rain at any time, it’s nice to have dry pyjamas for the night and dry clothes for next morning.
- Long pyjamas: don’t let the hot weather trick you, in the early morning it gets cold in bed. So a long pyjamas is a must.
Raincoat: the weather in Sierra Nevada is unpredictable, it can rain at any time during your trek, although it usually rains in the late afternoon. I don’t even know if a raincoat is useful, because when it rains in Sierra Nevada, it pours. And with the heavy rain and the river crossing you’ll get completely wet. We were extremely lucky and didn’t walk a single mile under the rain in the 4 day trek. So I would say, if you don’t have space in your bag, you can spare this item.
Hiking shoes: needles to say, but you never know! Don’t forget your hiking shoes on a 4 day hike! We saw a girl with street Aasics Tiger, which I think it was worthy of merit but, call me crazy, I took my North Face Hedgehog Fastpack GoreTex.
Sandals: during the climb to the Lost City you’re going to cross the Buritaca river a few times. If you cross with your hiking shoes, forget about them drying anytime soon. If you try to cross in flip flops, you might lose one. So the best option is to pack a pair of sandals. I wore a pair of Merrell’s.
Swimsuit: one of the best moments you’ll experience during the City Lost trek are the natural pools created along the Buritaca river. Every afternoon when we arrived at the camp and before dinner was served, we had a few minutes to relax in those cold waters, which were actually renewing.
Microfiber towel: to try and dry after showering or swimming into the river.
Toiletries: I took the basics: shampoo, deodorant, hair comb, toothpaste and toothbrush.
Sunscreen: when it’s not raining it’s sunny. When it’s sunny you get burnt. So don’t forget to pack some sunscreen and apply it before the insect repellent.
Insect repellent: it’s impossible to go to the Lost City and not get bitten by mosquitoes. They are fierce up there! Bring an insect repellent with DEET higher than 20%. I bought Nopikex in Colombia, it’s a national brand of insect repellent which I was told works even better than the international ones like Relec. I have to confess, I couldn’t escape from them.
- Flashlight or headlight: I’m a headlamp person, I find it much more useful than a flashlight since you have both hands free whenever you need them.
- Water bottle: I brought 1 litre of bottled water with me for the first day. For the rest of the days I bought bottled water at the camp, the night before leaving. Even though the tour organizers have their own water tanks treated with tablets, I know my stomach and I didn’t want to risk it. If you have a stomach of steel, bring a bottle and refill it everyday at camp. If you run out of water during your trek don’t panic, there’s a couple of stops everyday, where you can find fruit and drinks to buy.
Personal first aid kit: very basic. Plasters and Betadine, paracetamol, antibiotic and anti-diarrhoea. The tour guides also bring FAK.
- Camera/mobile phone and batteries: you want to immortalize this adventure, so don’t forget your camera, GoPro or phone, and some batteries since there’s not electricity in all camps. I just brought my phone, I put in plane mode and energy saving mode and I almost didn’t have to charge it.
Cash: bring some cash to buy snacks and drinks in the camps or along the trek. The water price was from 3000 to 6000 COP depending on the camp, they also sell energetic drinks and beer, to celebrate every end of the day completed successfully.
Nice to have
Thin sleeping bag: I packed it and I’m very glad I did. At least I had this thin layer between my body and those matresses tha have been in contact with thousands of other people and those smelly blankets. Besides, there were some bedbugs (we only realized this next morning, on other peoples’s legs). So, if you have space in your bag, spare the raincoat and pack a sleeping bag!
Pillow: there were only pillows in the first camp. So if you can’t sleep with your head hanging, I recommend you pack an inflatable pillow.
Earplugs: lucky for me I sleep like a baby, and I was so tired by the end of the day that it just took me seconds. But for those who doesn’t sleep so easily, earplugs might be useful to avoid listening your neighbour snoring.
Not to bring
A big backpack: packing light is key. We saw people carrying with 15kg bags that finally had to be carried by mules.
Important documents: leave your documents back in your big bag at the hostel/tour company offices. However, bring a paper copy with you if you wish in a plastic bag.
Post picture: McKay Savage / flickr