We compare the Ciudad Perdida hike against the most famous hike in South America; The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. If you have time we recommend doing both hikes as they are both life changing experiences. We understand though that holidays can’t last forever so you may need to choose one over the other, therefore we’ve put together a quick comparison of these two amazing journeys.
The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
Follow the ancient Incan path along rivers and up into the Andean mountains. You will pass through tiny villages and stop to explore outpost ruins that were built to support the Machu Picchu site in the 15th century.
Your reward for those hard days of hiking in high altitude is a series of breath taking ruins. The Incan estate was built for the King at the height of his power. Perched on top of a dramatic mountain, the site wasn’t discovered by the Spanish due to it’s remoteness. Explorer, Hiram Bingham re-introduced the world to Machu Picchu in 1911.
The site is now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site to protect it from further development.
Details of the Hike:
The details are for the “Classic” Inca Trail hike that is most common. Other options are available.
Altitude: 3,660 metres (12,010 ft) at the highest point (Dead Woman’s Pass) – 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) at Machu Picchu.
Price: USD$500-1000 depending on the tour company and where you book it from.
Time: 4 days.
From personal experience, we recommend allowing a week before the hike to acclimatise to the altitude you will face. Even healthy individuals can be hit hard.
We also recommend a day after your hike ends to revisit the site after a nice relaxing shower and sleep in a real bed at the nearby town of Aguas Calientes.
Restrictions: To preserve the site, the Peruvian government limits trekkers to 500/day including porters and guides. Whilst this is good for the site and your own experience, it does mean that bookings for the classic hike are required well in advance.
Trail Conditions: The track is in good condition however parts can become slippery during rain (which is frequent). Good footwear is advised.
Facilities: Local vendors sell drinks and food at certain parts along the way. Toilets are also on the trail. The last night campsite has hot showers and access to cold drinks including alcohol (don’t over do it – the last morning is hard and altitude increases the effects of alcohol).
Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) Hike
After a rough and tumble 4WD trip for a few hours from Santa Marta to the starting village, you set out into dense Colombian jungle to explore where few have travelled before. Along the way you can stop and relax at majestic swimming holes next to the trail. After a hard day walking, relax in the mountains inside your own hammock and enjoy a hearty meal.
As the trail ascends and descends through the mountain ranges you will have a chance to see some amazing vistas and meet the natives; the Kogi people, who have lived in the Sierra Nevada region for hundreds of years. Finally after a few days of walking through jungle that was off limits to foreigners only a decade ago you will reach the Lost City ruins of Teyuna.
As the hike is still relatively unknown, your group may have the site to themselves to explore. Wander down side paths and be amazed at a site that archaeologists believe is only 10% discovered.
Details of the Hike:
The hike is also available in shorter and longer time frames (4-7 days).
Altitude: 1,200 metres (3,937 ft) at the Teyuna Ruins.
Price: Approximately USD$300 – most tour operators offer the same price.
Time: 5 days.
Restrictions: Due to it’s relatively undiscovered nature, there are no limits on numbers. You tour group may be the only ones at the Ciudad Perdida ruins.
Trail Conditions: The track is in okay condition. After rain the trail can quickly degrade and rivers will rise, making the journey more difficult.
Facilities: Local vendors sell drinks and food at certain parts along the way. Toilets are also on the trail. All campsites have cold showers and toilets.