Forget the Inca Trail and do the five-day trek to the ancient city of Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) in Colombia. The hike was definitely one of the highlights of my year backpacking around South America. Colombia’s steamy and jungle-rich Caribbean coast sets the scene for the trek, which passes brilliantly green valleys, dotted with banana trees.
At night, we slept in hammocks, bathing along the way in streams and small waterfalls. Deep into jungle, we made a fascinating visit to a small cocaine factory: a ramshackle shed loaded with chemical-filled buckets. The cocaine farmer said he liked to show tourists how the drug is made in the hope it will discourage them from taking it.
Ciudad Perdida, which dates back to 800AD, is suitably remote: it takes three days of hardcore uphill trekking to reach the 1200 moss-encrusted steps that lead up to the city – and it can’t be reached by bus or train. Thanks to the lack of tourists, wandering through the terraces and staircases of the Lost City is like exploring a secret garden – and was well worth the effort in getting there.
Janine Kelso – Travel Editor for TNT Magazine