Discovering Colombia and the Dropped City Trek

Next Up: Exploring Colombia and LOCATING THE Lost City

We're headed to Colombia tomorrow. We're off to visit a country we were likely to visit five years back. We'll be on the trail for Colombian culture – from the Andes to the Pacific to the Caribbean – also to discover the Lost City on the way.

The colorful streets of Cartagena, Colombia.

Colombia. It's among the countries that got away through the 15 months we traveled through Latin America a couple of years ago. We didn’t skip it due to safety concerns – actually, even in those days a lot more travelers were saying the contrary and urging us to go. We just happened to pass it at the height of rainy season and we figured we’d return whenever we were certain to possess ample time and energy to explore.

We didn’t expect it could take five years to come back, but here we have been.

We leave for Colombia tomorrow.

Note: Completely disclosure, we technically have already been to Colombia before. After some duration ago, we enjoyed an eight-hour layover in Bogota, visited a pal in the town and tooled around for many hours. Dan thinks this counts. I really do not.

Editor’s Note: Dan here. I’m not entirely certain what Audrey means by “counts.” Have I gone to Colombia? Yes. Have I must say i “gone to Colombia” in the Uncornered Market way. Not yet.

Colombia IN MY OWN Imagination: Marquez

Even though many are introduced to Colombia through the news headlines media – reports on things such as drugs cartels and FARC rebels and the tenor of companion violence that is included with all that – I’d prefer to think I first met Colombia by reading Gabriel García Márquez novels, including Love in enough time of Cholera and something CENTURY of Solitude. Marquez’s characters and plot lines were so vivid and outlandish, but I knew those portraits were drawn from and grounded in personal experience, composites of individuals and life events as Marquez had lived them.

Marquez's depictions conveyed an intensity in Colombian life, both in its joys and its own sorrows. Scenes played out in colorfully painted towns and villages, albeit contrary to the backdrop of corrupt politicians and clergy, all dashed having an undeniable Spanish colonial angst.

Tropical, colorful and sweet – Colombia's Caribbean coast.

This Colombia intrigued me. The Colombia of emotion, of color as well as perhaps some calamity.

So after reading and hearing about Colombia for such a long time, we're curious to dig in, to see for ourselves, to meet up who we can, also to find what we shall in the coming weeks.

Safety in Colombia

As we’ve shared our upcoming visit to Colombia with relatives and buddies, one of the primary questions: “Could it be safe there now?”

Dan and Audrey, meet up with the travel safety elephant in the area. Colombia has certainly witnessed its share of turmoil and violence, and even though it isn’t competing with famous brands Singapore near the top of the set of the world's safest countries to go to, it has made a lot of progress within the last decade on those counts. This is simply not to state that incidents don't still happen. However, we’ve within our travels in nearby countries where knowing of visitor safety remains high (e.g., Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc.), we often find locals quite protective folks, advising us on-the-fly concerning where we should and really should not go.

Medellin: the general public transportation gondola goes high above the town.

We shall remain aware and become mindful just as we'd in cities anywhere – in the usa, Europe or elsewhere in Latin America. As we’ve written before, you can find ways to stay safe yet open to residents and experiences.

What WE WILL HAVE and Do in Colombia

We shall spend just a little over three weeks in Colombia, with the initial week on our very own and another two . 5 weeks on a G Adventures tour and Lost City Trek. Although we’ve done some research on Colombia, we have been intent on gathering advice and tips once we go. So we welcome any recommendations.

Going right to the foundation for Colombian coffee: Armenia.

Our First Week in Colombia: South or West?

We shall travel independently during our first week in country. We'll spend the initial few days at a friend’s cabin beyond Bogota, but from then on we’re not entirely certain. We'd hoped to visit the Pacific Coast to the region close to the town of Nuqui, but as you can find no roads for the reason that region we’re influenced by flights plus they are proving a little problematic. So now we're considering visiting San Agustín so we are able to explore the 500 stone statues left in the hills by prehistoric peoples surviving in the region almost 5,000 years back.

Of course, all of this may change between your time we publish and enough time we land in Bogota.

Update: After talking with friends within Colombia and getting feedback from you all on our Facebook page we've went to the Sierra Nevada and Barichara for the week.

What's your advice? Where can you go with weekly in either Colombia’s west or south?

Colombia Experience Tour

It is now time for anyone places and experiences that dance inside our heads when we think about Colombia. Medellin, Cartagena, coffee plantations in the hills, beaches and jungles in the north – each of them come into play through the next segment of our trip. We’ll spend almost fourteen days exploring the united states on the G Adventures Colombia Experience Tour.

Bogota Cathedral. Mostly of the photos from our brief visit years back.

Several highlights of the trip include:

  • Bogota: Although we spent a day here a long time ago (I refer one to the inline argument between writer and editor, couple above) we are looking towards returning, digging in and exploring its markets, neighborhoods and free galleries.
  • Armenia: We shall spending some time in the hills of Colombia’s main coffee-growing region, visiting coffee farms and meeting one particular behind the coffees of Juan Valdez lore. We’ll likewise have a while to explore Salento and Cocora.
  • Medellin: The prevailing trustworthiness of Medellin was once among violence and drugs (think: Medellin cartel), nonetheless it now stands as another exemplory case of destinations that aren't static, places which have witnessed positive change and can hopefully continue to achieve this. We know several individuals who chose Medellin as their house, and have heard advantages of the relaxed feel of the town and the friendliness of its people.
  • Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona: That's where we commence to shift gears and revel in a few of the beaches and Caribbean culture that Colombia is famous. After all of the photos we’ve seen of the region, we have been trying hard to control our expectations.
  • Cartagena: This coastal city appears to be the stuff of Marquez novels – colorful, vibrant, steamy. Each and every time we mention Colombia to anyone who has visited, they always appear to have a tale of Cartagena, one which they connect with a tinge of emotion – eyes cast wistfully or perhaps a hand placed on the heart.

Lost City Trek

We end our journey with the Lost City Trek, a five-day hike in the jungle of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains, with the purpose of reaching “Ciudad Perdida Teyuna,” (Spanish for “Lost City of Teyuna”). Although nobody knows for certain, it really is believed that Teyuna was founded around 800 A.D., some 650 years sooner than Peru's Machu Picchu. The town was a central hub of sorts for several villages inhabited by the Tairona (on the list of predecessors of today's northern Colombian inhabitants). Teyuna comprises 169 terraces carved in to the mountainside. It really is connected by roads and a large number of stone stairs and was abandoned in 1599 after it had been attacked through the Spanish conquest.

Found: The Lost City in Colombia's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Rumor has it that local Kogi, Arhuaco and Wiwas indigenous groups in your community knew of Teyuna, considered it a holy place, and therefore kept it to themselves. It had been “rediscovered” just a little over 40 years back and opened to trekkers in 2005. So while this is not a completely new trek, it isn't especially well known…yet.

On the way we’ll go through farms and villages and talk with a few of the indigenous communities to understand about local culture, history and life in your community. The trail carves its way through thick jungle and follows the Buritaca River, arriving every night at a campsite conveniently located near an all natural swimming pool in order that we may cool-down from the day's efforts.

Sierra Nevada jungle layers unfold to the Lost City.

It is a new trek for G Adventures so we’re excited to see it before they begin offering it to travelers from mid-June of the year.

Our Visit to Colombia: WAYS TO Help

If you’ve traveled to Colombia and gone to the cities or areas mentioned previously, we’d want to hear your suggestions about markets, food, along with other great experiences you’ve had. Even though some of our itinerary is fixed with the tour — specifically the destination cities – this G Adventures trip provides a substantial amount of independent time so we’d want to hear your suggestions!

Any Colombia destinations or experiences, hidden or elsewhere, that you are feeling warrant a look or perhaps a visit, please share. We might have the ability to pursue them inside our free time. If we can not, our readers will definitely appreciate and reap the benefits of your advice.

Follow Our Colombia Adventure

It is possible to follow our adventures in Colombia utilizing the hashtags #GadvColombia on Twitter and Instagram. We shall also share updates on our Facebook and Google Plus pages. We're excited to really have the possibility to share our Colombia experience with you!

About Audrey Scott

21 applying for grants “Next Up: Exploring Colombia and LOCATING THE Lost City”

Looks good. I'm actually ‘moving’ to south usa next year possibly starting in Colombia and cant wait to accomplish the hike to the lost city

Damien, we’ve met lots of people who moved to SOUTH USA and finished up making Colombia their house – then never left 🙂

We’ve heard advantages of the Lost City trek, when we were planning our Colombia trip that has been near the top of our list. Keep tuned in!

I think I am aware you guys’ technicality here. As seasoned travelers, there's sometimes the urge to create lists and count what countries you have been to, just how many borders were crossed, and just how many passport stamps and visas you have accumulated. But as you have previously said, getting in the new country’s borders is a very important factor, but actually exploring it really is another.

As if you, I have been to Colombia before, technically. It had been also a 9-hour layover in Bogota, while I was flying from NEW YORK to Lima. I acquired out from the airport, visited the city center, tested the Museo del Oro, explored La Candelaria for a little, and bought a postcard. I've a Colombian stamp in my own old passport. In my own country count, I really do consider Colombia as a country I have already been to, but I also acknowledge that 9 hours isn't enough to confidently say that I've “seen” Colombia.

One final point, before this comment becomes too much time. I think enough time spent in a country to create it count is somewhat proportional to its size and level of what to see and do and explore. If we spend 4 hours in the Vatican City, the majority of us will not have an issue saying we've been to and seen the Vatican City. But I believe even you guys would think I'm cheating when I say that I have already been to Slovakia, only because I was in Esztergom, Hungary, and I crossed the Maria Valeria Bridge to Sturovo, Slovakia. I was inside Slovakia for one hour, ate ice cream, and stayed long enough to possess my mobile roaming differ from T-Mobile Hungary to T-Mobile Slovakia. Again, I could say I have already been to Slovakia, but I definitely haven’t seen it at all.

Yes, there's that urge to count, make lists, to almost try to quantify your qualitative/unquantifiable travel experiences. Even though it helps to describe where we’ve gone to people in a concrete way, there's so much gray space behind the “amount of countries visited” numbers. Maybe there’s a method to put an * close to the countries where we’ve technically gone to, but don’t feel just like we’ve explored. Then it gets too complicated…

I concur that the size and diversity of experiences and places in a country definitely changes whether it is possible to say that you’ve “been” to a location – perfect examples you gave here concerning the Vatican vs. Slovakia.

Hi Audrey and Dan,
I've spent approx. 2 months in Colombia back 2009, and this can be an absolutely amazing country. I'll not have the ability to offer you details like markets or restaurants, as that is 6 years back now.
There are numerous highlights in Colombia, which I'd definitely include La Guajira, the northernmost point of SOUTH USA, an incredible desert and the area of “La Contrabanda”.
I really do not see in your plan the colonial cities Northeast of the united states: Villa de Leyva & Barichara.
When visiting San Augustin & Tierradentro, check when there is still market in Inza, it had been in the past quite an experience… And push further to Popayan, this city really deserves the name of “La Ciudad Blanca”!
Are you considering in Medellin for the “Fiesta de las Flores”? Great experience… In Medellin, we haver great souvenirs of taking the cable cars with great views of the town and especially really nice encounters.
We've written quite in information regarding this trip, including an overview and a budget, on our website.
Cheers, Gilles

Gilles, thanks so much because of this great advice! We weren’t originally thinking about Villa de Leyva & Barichara because of this in a few days, but as a lot of people have mentioned it we need to reconsider. In the event that you had to choose only 1 (as that’s all we've time for before we meet up with the tour), can you choose visiting Barichara or San Agustin/Popoyan? We've in regards to a day or two to create a decision 🙂

It appears like the Fiesta de las Flores in Medellin reaches the finish of July/early August so we’ll miss it with this visit. Will take a glance at your website for more advice – thanks!!

Hi Audrey,
It is a tough decision.
But San Agustin is among the oldest archeological site of the Americas, and for me a must-do in Colombia.
Papaya can be a great city, therefore i would prefer to choose San Agustin / Popayan.
Can’t you stay another week in Colombia?
Cheers, Gilles

Hello Gilles,
After hanging out talking with this friends who reside in Colombia we ultimately chosen Barichara area once we didn’t have a great deal of period. They said that to carry out what we wished to perform in the San Agustin/Popayan we’d spend an excessive amount of our period on transport rather than enjoy it just as much. Sadly, we can’t expand our amount of time in Colombia as we possess a trek to the Balkans (Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo) approaching right afterwards.

Thanks a lot for the advice. Hope we ensure it is to San Agustin the next time!

You should attempt “ajiaco santafereño”, a delicious poultry soup with a wide selection of potatoes or “lechona”, pork filled with rice and standard meats of Tolima. Another. To sweeten the palate you can even enjoy wafers filled up with “arequipe” (sweet made out of milk and glucose) curdled with muskmelon. All the best with the journey!

Thanks a lot, Izy, for the meals recommendations!! Searching for these dishes- have previously heard a whole lot about “lechona” 🙂

Hi there Audrey,
I occurred upon your site while looking for information on Bolivia. I find out about your projects and the slogan of travelling with respect. Cool! When I sought out my much loved Colombia, I was thrilled to discover you all simply landed there. I had been also a bit amazed to find you are going on the dropped town tour, given your fascination with respectful travel.
Initial, well, your explanation of the lost town is usually that the descendants of the people who created the dropped city didn't share these details with outsiders because they hold the web site as a holy location. Why can you go visit after that it, within your “respect” design?
2nd, I had to depart Colombia four years back, so my info isn't necessarily up-to-date (some things don’t transformation, actually), but in the past, each individual who traveled to the dropped city with helpful information was paying a charge to their guide, who was simply after that being forced to cover a ‘protection’ charge to the neighborhood paramilitary loss of life squads. I will suggest asking your instructions if they're paying such protection costs (vacunas they're sometimes called), and when they’re not really, if you’re really secure. It’s among those catch-22s that business lead many thoughtful visitors to not continue the vacation.
The paramilitaries had been demobillized in the past, nevertheless, it was a sham, and several continue their organized criminal offense, drug running, social handle and sociable cleansing, extortion, along with other less than legal routines. I'd think that an excellent goal for respectful vacation would be to do your greatest to not contribute money to the paramilitary/BACRIM.
I suppose that this has appear before on your own travels (I've not searched your site), and when not, I wish this can be a good teachable second. Yes, it’s secure for foreigners to go to many elements of Colombia; that doesn’t mean your existence is bringing protection to those you're visiting.

all that said, I hope which you have an excellent journey and that I’m amazed by the nice stuff you discover out about your vacation. Colombia is stunning, and I’ve in no way met friendlier those who are even more excited to talk about their good power. Hopefully, socially accountable tourism is producing leaps and bounds in Colombia (and through the entire Americas/world).
lina

Hi Lina,
Thanks a lot so much for the comment and mentioning these issues of if the Lost Town trek can certainly be respectful. We are keeping them at heart and inquiring about these from the neighborhood, indigenous organizations we meet whenever we are usually on the trek (mostly Wiwa, I really believe).

I am aware the concern regarding going to a holy web site and this getting “respectful.” Whether this trek drops beneath the umbrella of “respectful take a trip” will undoubtedly be determined by the way the web site is taken care of and the inclusion of regional indigenous communities inside the decision-making in the way the treks are created. As I understand, the federal government got involved previous and positioned it on a safeguarded heritage list to greatly help avoid killings between two indigenous groupings who have been fighting about who “possessed” the website.

Right now I really believe that only 10% of the Lost Town is available to trekkers or tourists, so that the vast majority remains off limitations and in the handle of the neighborhood communities. The site can be closed to tourists for many weeks a yr so that the nearby indigenous communities may use it for seasonal ceremonies. I also recognize that the regional communities get excited about your choice process with the federal government as to how exactly to develop socially accountable tourism here, but I'll enquire about this more whenever we are usually there.

The business that we will undoubtedly be trekking with – G Adventures – works together with the only indigenously possessed operator who represents the passions of the Wiwa and Kogui indigenous organizations. The target is respectful cultural swap that allows tourists to learn concerning the indigenous cultures and history of the region. I am aware the big problems with this particular, which is why residents are involved to find out what they need because of their communities.

There are several fees paid to municipality authorities regulating the trek and safeguarding the region. Although technically the paramilitary groupings have already been disbanded, as you stated it’s hard to state whether you may still find similar organizations operating in your community working in medications and extortion. I am hoping to learn more concerning this when we continue the trek and ideally have a chance to discover out what the problem is on the floor for people lifestyle there. As you mentioned, the target is not to aid paramilitary or unsavory groupings, but instead the neighborhood communities through socially accountable tourism.

Also, we've had an extremely wonderful amount of time in Colombia in the nearly fourteen days we’ve been here. Folks have been incredibly helpful and helpful (really moving away from their method) and we’ve felt extremely welcome and safe right here. Like you, I must say i do hope that accountable travel may be the path here in order that tourism growth doesn’t “ruin” the openness and hospitality of Colombians.

Thanks once again for your comment as well as your concerns. I’ll record back on which we discover on the trek.

Noises amazing guys! Looking towards listening to about your adventures. We ran out of period during our SA journey after some duration ago so also desire to return and ideally get some tips from your own trip – enjoy!

Laura, we’ve actually had an enjoyable experience these last fourteen days here and also have experienced so very much very quickly. The country is actually quite diverse with regards to landscape, cultures, encounters. It’s also very huge, so anticipate to take some lengthy buses or make an effort to book flights earlier to get round the country for an inexpensive price. Keep tuned in for the roundup from the vacation with an increase of Colombia travel advice!

Great pictures. I find out about your projects and the slogan of vacationing with respect. Cool!

The best way to explore and incredibly forward thinking understanding that all places shift. We experience a lot of this with Laurels dad. He only remembers titles and associates with those brands not on current circumstances. It can worry him, we perform the very best we can to inform me that adjustments have already been made.

Be safe and be mindful where ever you're.

Thanks a lot, John, for the comment. We had an excellent and safe visit to Colombia, and discovered how much has transformed in that country within the last decade. Looking towards seeing how much even more it changes within the next yrs.

You’ll think it’s great there … invest some time and soak everything in!

Thanks a lot, Elaine! We definitely enjoyed the 3+ days we'd in Colombia, but emerged away having an even much longer wish set of places we wish to go to 🙂

To the best story- telling few….cheers you both!! it’s been 90 nations and this post here's written with exactly the same exhilaration and curiousness like you’re very first. Daniel and Audrey, many thanks for inspiring my planet and I enjoyed scanning this blog.

Thanks a lot, Saachi, for the kind words! Happy you enjoying your blog and discover it inspiring.

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