Lost City Trek
P3 - This trip is physically tough. Frequent exercise is necessary to prepare properly for this expedition. Regular walking mixed with training at the gym to build up endurance and cardiovascular fitness is key. Expect to be able to do 8 hour days in hilly and often steep train, carrying a pack of 6-10kg in weight with the occasional extra long day.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
T2 - Consider this a trek, although there may be occasion to use hands for short sections of easy scrambling. No previous climbing or trekking experience is necessary.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
Date & Prices
Pics & Vids
You will need to don both Indiana Jones’ battered archaeological hat and David Attenborough’s naturalist hat for this fascinating expedition to Ciudad Perdida, Colombia’s ‘Lost City’, hidden deep in the Caribbean jungle. This trek offers a unique experience in the heart of Colombia, drawing you into one of its oldest indigenous communities and offering a glimpse of one of the world’s secret wonders. Journey into the rainforest and become, for a short moment, the explorer you always wanted to be.
Our time in Colombia begins with the two-day Cerro Kennedy Hike, trekking upwards to 3,100m, through farmlands, coffee plantations and cloud forests teaming with jungle wildlife, with views that stretch out to the Caribbean coastline.
Then, our Lost City trek takes us into the dark equatorial jungle for four days and delivers an adventure like no other. Crossing waist-deep rivers, showering under thundering waterfalls, sleeping in hammocks or jungle beds and following rough and ready forest trails leads us to one of the last wonders of the world, the lost city of Colombia, a truly unforgettable South American adventure.
Incredible biodiversity, coupled with the only recently discovered archaeological wonders of this remote isolated city, along with the city’s utterly unique custodians (the native Kogui Wiwa and Kankuamo communities) combine to form an experience like no other.
Colombia’s lost city, and much more, awaits.Find out more
Date & Prices
For private trips or bespoke itineraries inc. different dates, please contact the 360 office on 0207 1834 360.
A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.
For private trips or bespoke itineraries inc. different dates, please contact the 360 office on 0207 1834 360.
A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.
Departure & Return
Price (excl. flight)
Price (incl. flight UK-UK)
Start: 29 November 2023
End: 10 December 2023
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £2,945
29 November 2023
10 December 2023
Start: 03 April 2024
End: 14 April 2024
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £3,065
03 April 2024
14 April 2024
Start: 30 November 2024
End: 11 December 2024
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £3,065
30 November 2024
11 December 2024
Please note that if 360 is booking your international flights, a supplement may be applicable to allow for changes
in transportation costs such as fuel.
Please note that if 360 is booking your international flights, a supplement may be applicable to allow for changes
in transportation costs such as fuel.
- International airfares departing from London
- Local Wiwa and Kogi guides and a 360 guide (depending on group size)
- Airport transfers and all expedition transfers
- Park/conservation fees
- Coffee tour / Arhuacao bag weaving workshop
- Cultural rituals throughout the trek.
- All accommodation (based on twin occupancy)
- Late check out on day of departure to allow for maximum RnR
- All jungle camping and group equipment
- All meals on the trek and those detailed in itinerary
- Fresh fruit juice during the trek
- 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor
- Monthly payment plan, on request
- Colombian visa (not required for UK nationals)
- Personal equipment and excess baggage
- Tips for local and western guides
- Antigen test for entrance to the Lost City NP and any additional covid tests required
- Personal travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature: phone calls, laundry, room service, etc.
- Alcoholic drinks, and snacks
- Any unforeseen increase in park/safari fees
- Single supplement (applicable for the hotels at the start and end of the expedition only)
- Airport transfers when not booking on with flights
- Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early including any airline surcharges as a result of changing return airline tickets
Please note that if international flights are booked, a supplement may be payable if costs exceed the flight budget.
Pics & Vids
DAY 1 : Depart UK
We will depart the UK, likely on an evening flight from London to Colombia.
DAY 2 : Arrive in Colombia
We fly directly to Santa Marta, usually arriving around 9am, in order to allow us to maximise our time in this remarkable area of Colombia. On arrival in Santa Marta, a city bordering the Caribbean Sea, we will head to our hotel where we can freshen up, then it will be time to explore this wonderful city, with time to dip our feet in the sea!
Santa Marta was the epicentre for slave and illegal trading and we will take a short but very insightful city tour to learn more about this history. Later in the afternoon we’ll visit the gold museum which is a fantastic way to learn all about Colombia’s history – we think it helps start to knit together everything you will experience over the next 10 days.
After the museum, we will have the opporunity to meet with the Arhuaco community for a unique insight into their lives. Members of the community will run a bag weaving workshop for us where we’ll learn the skills to make a traditional Mochila bag. This bag is very poignant to our Lost City expedition and it will give us a greater depth of understanding of the remarkable culture we will experience whilst trekking.
In the evening we’ll head to a very fun, tucked away restaurant for our first Colombia dinner…
DAY 3 : Start the Cerro Kennedy Trek
After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we will set off to the mountain town of Minca, a small village in the sierra Nevada above Santa Marta. At an elevation of around 650m, it is a small jungle paradise, teeming with a variety of colourful birdlife.
After arriving in Minca and sampling a coffee or two in one of the traditional cafés we’ll jump into 4×4’s to reach the start of the Cerro Kennedy trek. The initial trek is around 3km and lasts 2 hours, after which we reach Santa Elena Campestral Farm for a warm welcome and traditional lunch.
During the afternoon, if the weather allows, we’ll seek out some waterfalls for a dip before finding a spot to watch the sunset. Dinner will follow in the farm before an early night.
Approx. trekking time: 2 – 3 hours
DAY 4 : Cerro Kennedy Trek
We’ll rise early for a magnificent sunrise and panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, after which we’ll begin walking to reach the peak of Cerro Kennedy which lies at 3,100 meters above sea level. It’s a great trek that will give us views of the highest white caped mountains in Colombia, sitting at 5700m, these mountains influence the design of the Kogi and Wiwi traditional houses which we’ll experience as part of the Lost City trek.
We’ll be back at the farm for a traditional lunch before setting off to walk downhill for a further 1 ½ hours to meet our transport which will take us back to Minca. During the hike back to Minca we’ll learn a little about medicinal plants and Colombia’s history with them, all whilst having consistently stunning views of Colombia’s Caribbean coast and mountains.
Approx. trekking time: 4 – 5 hours
DAY 5 : Minca - Coffee, Cacao & Waterfalls
Today is a fabulous full day spent in the rustic jungle mountain town of Minca.
We’ll enjoy a lazy breakfast soaking in the breath-taking views from our mountain lodge before heading off to visit to a coffee and cacao plantation. Here we will discover how world-class coffee is made while also exploring the process of chocolate production – it’s an interactive visit that is a fantastic experience not to be missed!
After our immersion into the production of our all-time favourites, we’ll set off to explore the famous Minca waterfalls for a refreshing swim. The jungle is a nature lover’s paradise, and we can expect to see monkeys, toucans and parrots.
After this full day of “wows” we’ll head back to Minca where, should we wish, we can do a little craft shopping before heading to our accommodation for a delicious meal and sleep before the lost city trek begins!
DAY 6 : Lost City Trek - Day 1
From Minca, we have a 1 ½ hour 4×4 transfer to Machete Pelao, the gateway to the start of our four day trek in the heart of the Colombian jungle.
We begin trekking on a dirt track, leaving farmlands behind and entering the terrain of indigenous villages where around 80 families, mainly Kogi and Wiwa, reside. We follow a trail that weaves pasts large banana trees, towering palms and dangling vines, with the surrounding jungle full of wildlife.
The jungle is a hard environment to trek through as it’s humid and the trails are often slippery and covered in tricky roots. Despite all this, it’s an unforgettable experience! If we are lucky, we will see howler monkeys (no doubt we will hear them!), lizards, toucans, and perhaps even snakes – though they are usually found under the rocks and found by the guide, if we choose to search for them.
With plenty of breaks for photos, snacks and refreshing fresh fruit juices, the final hours see us on a long downhill stretch followed by a sharp ascent to 620m before we head downhill to rest at camp.
Tonight, we are sleeping in either jungle beds and hammocks, to the hum of the jungle life that surrounding us.
Approx. trekking time: 6 – 7 hours
DAY 7 : Lost City Trek - Day 2
Begin early for a challenging day hiking through jungle alive with bird species. Watch out for glimpses of panoramic views of the coastal mountain range while learning about the sacred traditions of the indigenous Wiwa and Kogi communities. This is a big day as we journey towards the Lost City!
We’ll branch off the main track and head onto a recently opened up pathway for trekkers. We will walk through pristine jungle, down mountainsides and wade through shallow rivers to arrive at a stunning waterfall where we can rest our legs and cool down while bathing in clear waters, among vibrant jungle vegetation. This is a very special and unique route, and we are excited to be some of the first to explore this section of the jungle in its raw beauty.
We’ll spend the night in camp. We encourage you to chat to our amazing guides about the myths and legends of the land and the history behind the civilization that used to live in Ciudad Perdida – the Lost City.
Approx. trekking time: 10 hours
DAY 8 : Lost City Trek - Day 3
Today we will reach Ciudad Perdida, an ancient site shrouded with mist, glory and magic at an altitude of 1,200 metres.
After breakfast, we start the hike up the 1,200 steps that ascend to the Tayrona village. Once in the Lost City, our local Wiwa guide will lead us on a fascinating tour, explaining the history and secrets of this magical place, showing us the circular ruins of the former market and meeting places and giving us a fascinating insight into the drainage systems and agricultural structures of years before.
We then follow another stone trail that will take us to the ‘Central Axis’. The spot where the main houses and temples once stood, and now a site of large, stacked stone terraces, is steeped in history, and we have the chance to explore before turning around for the once-in-a-lifetime magnificent view over the Lost City. We’ll have time to bask in our trekking achievements above the clouds, looking into the thick jungle from atop one of the high platforms in this ancient masterpiece where the overgrown nature shrouds the site.
When we have had our fill of the views, we descend back down to our camp for dinner under the stars.
Approx. trekking/walking time: 7 – 8 hours
DAY 9 : Lost City Trek - Day 4
Today is our last full day of jungle trekking. This morning we will learn about the local Kogi cultures and their ancestral traditions as we walk alongside Kogi land. We’ll learn from afar, giving the community their space as they are semi-nomadic people and farmers and only come back to these villages sporadically. The houses in the village are fascinating, and symbolically built, with two stumps on the top of each house representing the two sacred highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, which are the ones closest spiritually.
We’ll not only experience the Kogi way of life today, but also the culture of the Wiwa people, descendants of the Tairona, who have been left undisturbed for centuries. They have a deep spiritual connection with the land that continues today. Dressed in all white, a colour the Wiwa respect as holy, tribe members will allow us a peek into their lives. They will show us how they strip the wax from palm leaves and use the fibre to make cross-body satchels called mochilas, and we have the opportunity to taste the coca leaf, which the Wiwas consider a sacred plant and chew throughout the day.
This is another day of challenging, humid, jungle trekking, with climbs on rocky pathways and over protruding tree roots, through small parts of dense jungle and thick forest that leads us back to the head of the trail where we will have a late lunch, pack up the 4×4’s and head off to our welcomed accommodation with sea views, hot showers, and jungle cocktails!
Approx. trekking/walking time: 5 hours
DAY 10 : Travel to Cartagena
After a delicious breakfast, a dip in the pool and generally a lazy morning we’ll head off on a private transfer to the vibrant costal town Cartagena. We’ll take a packed lunch with us on our 4 hour journey.
Cartagena packs a punch and is definitely worth the journey. The old town is truly mesmerising, full of vibrant colours we’ll enjoy getting lost in the array of cobblestone streets and colourful colonial buildings.
After checking into our stunning hotel located in the chaos of old town, we’ll head out for cocktails on one of the many roof bars and simply soak it all in.
DAY 11 : Depart Colombia
We’re planning for a late breakfast and a lazy relaxing day!
Our flight won’t be until later this evening so we have the full day to explore, making the most of the wonderful town.
Cartagena has a very rich history and we’d suggest spending time exploring and taking a city tour for a few hours (it is brilliant & one of the best we’ve done). There are lots of things to do from relaxing and having a massage, to explore the back streets, endless shops and beautiful buildings and if neither of these take your fancy you could just linger in one of the many restaurants and simply watch Colombia life unfold.
What we guarantee is that you’ll love Cartagena and it will give you the perfect ending to your adventure, and the airport is only a 20-minute transfer so you really do have all day!
If you have the taste for adventure or wish for more ideas on what to do in Cartagena including rum and chocolate tasting or a half day kayaking in the mangroves or even and adding in a few days diving or beach time on the Islas del Rosario, known for their coral reefs, check out our 5-day Colombia extension!
DAY 12 : Arrive UK
Today marks the end of our Colombian adventure. It is always hard to return to reality after such an adventure, but the memories and friends made will last a lifetime.
These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the trek and what you will experience.
Bags & Packs
Travel duffel bag
This bag will be your main travel bag for your international travel. We would suggest you pack your rucksack for the trekking part of the expedition (if you are not taking it as hand luggage) in here, along with your casual clothes for before and after the trekking. This bag can then be left with the team while you are out on the trek.
We would suggest a 40 to 50 litre capacity rucksack fitted with shoulder straps and, importantly, a waist belt. We would recommend your rucksack weighs no more than 8-10kg when fully packed (including your water bottles).
Waterproof rucksack cover
To protect rucksack from rain
For use on your kit bag for travel and on the expedition plus your hotel bag
Nylon rolltop bags that keep fresh clothing and other important items like passports and iPods dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks.
Please note that many countries are now banning plastic bags. We would always advise buying re-usable nylon rolltop bags for keeping your kit dry (and sustainability).
1 season sleeping bag
This is not compulsory. If you choose to bring a sleeping bag, we would suggest a light summer bag, preferably a 1-season bag with a rating of around 5C. Please note that the temperature at night on the Cerro Kennedy could get down to about 8 degrees and the temperature on the Lost City around 10 or 12 degrees so please pack accordingly. All of the accommodation will provide blankets, and we suggest you sleep in light long trousers and a long sleeved top.
Light summer silk liner
Either a light summer silk liner or a 1 season sleeping bag for the camps and farmstead.
Wide brimmed hat
Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck
Category 4 minimum. Worth spending money on good UV filters. Julbo is our preferred supplier
Worn around the neck or head for comfort, to wick away sweat. Buff, or similar brands, are ideal.
We suggest breathable, quick-dry / wicking tops. Gym-style or sports clothing, or lighter safari-style trekking tops or shirts work best, and we would suggest lighter colours. You will sweat a lot, and can’t count on drying your clothes along the way.
Long sleeved t-shirt
The average daytime temperature is 30 degrees, but this can drop to around 12 at night. We would suggest two long sleeved options, one to sleep in and one spare for the day.
Fleece top/jacket or Softshell
A lightweight soft top (jumper or hoodie) is perfect – remember it will likely be hot in the daytime but you feel the temperature change in the evenings, and the temperatures can drop to around 8 – 12 degrees.
A lightweight jacket for if it rains. Remember, we will be in the jungle so some rain is to be expected!
For jungle or rainforest downpours! Due to the heat this is often a preferable option over a more bulky waterproof jacket and trousers.
We would suggest breathable, quick-dry / wicking trousers or leggings. You will sweat a lot and can’t count on being able to dry clothes along the way. Gym-style / sports clothing, or lighter safari-style trekking clothes work best, and we would suggest lighter colours.
Light weight shorts are advisable for this expedition as some of the days can be hot. Zip off trekking trousers are the most versatile. Consider buying this
How many pairs you take is entirely up to you
Though daytime temperatures can be warm, they drop at night, so we would suggest light weight / fleece leggings and a long-sleeved top or t-shirt to sleep in. As well as being comfortable, long sleeves / legs are good protection against mosquitos.
For showers in camp or the odd swim
3-4 season walking boots
Well worn in 3-4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support. Your feet will get wet if you don’t have decent boots which over 4 days can have major complications.
Single layer or wearing 2 pairs is a personal choice and lighter weight merino wool is a good option. You must have a clean dry pair for each day of you trek.
This are a must in jungle conditions
Walking sandals with a good grip are a good choice for river crossings and in camp.
These tend to be a personal preference but help with your stability and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming down hill
We recommend Petzl head torches. Bring spare batteries.
Buy the highest SPF you can find as UV intensifies with altitude
Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper protection
Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!
For waste and rubbish including toilet paper.
Preferably biodegradable, these are great for washing when modern shower facilities become a thing of the past
Towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect
A must have for good camp hygiene
This might sound an odd one but we have found that Vicks Rub provides a fantastic protection to insect bites. Use over the spray in generous quantities on your ankles!
Personal first aid kit
The 360 med kits are designed to be used in emergencies and akin to an A&E rather than a pharmacy on Expeditions so please come prepared with useful meds for yourself such as painkillers (Ibuprofen if you can take it and a Paracetamol) plus blister plasters, plasters, antiseptic, rehydration sachets and any muscle rubs you wish to use.
Keep this in your daysack
Water bottles / bladder
A 2 litre bottle equivalent is perfect (camelbacks are always a good option) and a small collapsible water bottle for night time is also a good additional option.
Although generally all water is boiled some prefer to double up and add purification tabs as well. Always good to have in your bag
Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards
For protection against the inevitable snorers!
For when your energy levels flag and you need a pick me up
Of course optional, but most trekkers like to bring an iPod, book, Kindle, cards etc for evening entertainment.
Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity. With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.
Copy of passport
Just in case
Tips for local guides (tipping your 360 leader is optional) plus any extra cash for meals not included, or additional drinks, snacks or souvenirs on the trek. Please see the FAQs or for advice on additional spending money.
Copy of own travel insurance details. And relevant contact numbers.
We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
The Lost City Trek
Where is the Lost City, and what is it?
Ciudad Perdida, know as the ‘Lost City’ is buried deep in Colombia’s jungle and is impossible to access by road due to several river crossings and steep climbs, finishing up with 1,200 stone steps that lead to the Lost City. Here, there are around 170 stone terraces carved into a mountain, with numerous small “plazas” and connecting “streets”. These are the remains of a city built in around 800AD, some 650 years before Peru’s Machu Picchu. The mountain in question is part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range, just 42km from Colombia’s Caribbean coast. With peaks reaching 5,700m, it is the world’s highest coastal mountain range.
Why was it “lost”?
Ciudad Perdida was re-discovered in 1972, when treasure hunters found steps in the jungle leading to the city, naming it the “green hell”. Treasures from the site, including gold figures and ceramics, soon began to appear on the black market which alerted archaeologists to its presence and, on reaching the city in 1976, began a careful excavation and restoration that was completed six years later. However, local indigenous people, including the Koguis, Wiwas and Arhuaco, all descendants of the Tairona, say they had always known the city’s location and had visited it, but preferred to keep it secret.
Who lived there?
It is believed the Lost City was once at the heart of several small villages inhabited by the Tayrona people, a pre-Colombian population whose habitation of the city dates back to 1AD. The city was likely their political centre, and may also have played an important role in trade and manufacturing, given its position on the Buritaca River. It is thought up to 8,000 people once lived in the Lost City but it was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest, its inhabitants probably fleeing further into the mountains.
Can you tell me more about the Tayrona people?
The Tayrona / Tairona were advanced in construction, engineering and military operation, with a complex hierarchy of society, a religious and political elite, and organised as a federation of towns. It’s thought the Lost City was their capital and most sacred town, connecting and trading with other groups in people in Colombia.
By the time the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, the Tayrona (at an estimated one million people) was suspected to be at the edge of becoming a major civilisation in the Americas. Sadly, at least 60% of them died from diseases brought over by the colonisers or died defending their land.
What little was found of the Lost City in the 20th century was stolen and often sold on the black market and what was recovered is now in the gold museums in Santa Marta and Bogota.
Today, it remains a permanent archaeological area with archaeologists using the knowledge from the Kogui and Wiwa people, said to be direct descendants or at least related to the Tayrona, to fill the gaps in the story. Outsiders trek to Cuidad Perdida in search of them.
What is the Lost City trek like - is there climbing involved?
The Lost City sits at 1,200 metres (3,937 ft.) above sea level, and the city itself is the highest point of our trek. Technical equipment (eg. ropes and harnesses) are not required, but this is raw, uneven jungle territory with narrow pathways, uneven surfaces, loose rocks and dense foliage in parts.
How long is the trek to and from the Lost City?
The expedition plan is to trek over 5 days – many companies choose a 4 day route, but we have travelled far to be here and we simply wish to make the most of our adventure!
The total distance of the trek to and from the Lost City site (on the 5 day route) is about 55km, using the same jungle path. It is estimated that if you factor in the steep uphill and downhill climbs along this route, in both directions, the total distance is around one and a half times this, meaning you will rack up closer to 75-80km trekking here.
Is there any additional support on the Lost City trek?
Along with our guides, we have a team of porters, and a mule that carries our food. Between this team, if needed, they can help carry some weight from the bags. This is of course a back up plan if there is any form of medical issue or injury, rather than a bag carrying service. After the 2-day Kennedy hike, if a trekker felt they needed a bit more help we can also arrange an extra porter or even a mule before the Lost City trek, at additional cost.
Do they ever close the National Park where the Lost City is found?
The National Park is closed every September for preservation and maintenance. At this time the indigenous communities perform ceremonies and offer payment so to restore the balance of energy in the park. They say this mountain is the ‘heart of the world’ for them and that if the balance of this place should break, the whole world will break along with.
Who will our guide be in Colombia?
360 works an amazing team and you will be accompanied by local, licensed, indigenous Wiwa trekking guides. We feel this is vital for your experience and a significant portion of your money for the trek is a contribution to these indigenous communities. This is their sacred land (alongside the Kogui community)
Not only is your expedition cost helping support these two communities, but it is also spread amongst the farmer communities, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park and the Colombian Institute of Archaeology.
What is the history of this region?
The region has seen three economic booms.
The first two were tied to illegal substances: firstly marijuana farming, and then coca, the plant used to produce cocaine. (Coca leaf tea is legal in both Bolivia and Peru, although not in Colombia. Currently, there are some movements to legalise coca in the country.)
Through farming, these crops provided a means for communities to make money, though this type of industry also brought with it warring cartels and guerrilla groups. A solution to the violence and problems with the government arrived when Ciudad Perdida was uncovered, setting the stage for the third wave: tourism.
How out of my comfort zone will I be?
The trek itself is not too hard but the humidity can be tough at times. The highest altitude we will reach on the Lost City Trek is 1,200 metres, and though it is not a technical trek (ropes and harnesses are not required), we will be trekking through raw, uneven jungle territory with narrow pathways, uneven surfaces, loose rocks and dense foliage in parts. A good level of fitness will help with your enjoyment of the trek itself, and a positive spirit for trekking in jungle climes!
I see we are sleeping in hammocks during the trek. I have a bad back - is there another option?
Camps are open, with bunk beds and hammocks, but with a roof over each section. You should have a choice of a bed or a hammocks when we reach camp, but at times the availability may be limited and so we may not always have the choice – you should advise your guide ahead of time (or let the 360 office know in advance) if a hammock is absolutely not an option for you.
Are there showers on the trek?
Yes, there are showers at all of the camps. They are cold water only, but incredibly refreshing, and much welcomed at the end of the trekking day!
Should I be worried about Malaria?
Malaria is present in Colombia however, there have been no recent cases of malaria in the areas we visit on the trek.
We would advise you consult your doctor or a local travel clinic for the most up to date advice and decide if you wish to take prophylactics. We would advise you to bring mosquito spray and cream for bites.
Whilst on the trekking phases of your itinerary, your accommodation (whether beds, dorm bunks, or hammocks) will have a mosquito net. In the evenings and early mornings we advise you cover up with long sleeves and light trousers.
Food & Water
What is the food like on the trek?
The food is typical Colombia fare – you should expect a buffet breakfast including eggs, tomatoes, onion, arepa (cornbread) and fruit, along with coffee.
Lunches are usually a chicken, fish, or vegetable dish, with salad and fruit juices, while dinner is often a pasta or rice dish, with vegetables, and local fruit juices.
The underlying aim is to provide balanced and nutritional meals with a good amount of carbohydrates to refuel hungry bodies and to replenish stores for the next day of activity!
We would also encourage you to bring along any of your favourite snacks from home if you want a little extra.
I have food allergies; can these be catered for?
Absolutely, please inform the 360 office team of any allergies, intolerances or dietary requirements and we will ensure that these are taken into account on the trek.
Where does the drinking water come from?
We will have access to purified drinking water throughout the trek.
How often is fresh water available for replenishing during the day?
You are able to refill your bottles at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There will be plenty, so do refill when you need – it is important to stay well hydrated!
Should I bring a few snacks with me? What is best for the jungle?
Snacks are always a great idea, especially on any of the longer trekking days to give you that additional boost. Nuts, trail mix or sweets are always good, or dried fruit or energy bars. We’d avoid chocolate, it is likely to melt!
Health & Safety
Is Colombia considered a safe destination to travel? I have heard many stories of kidnapping and unrest...
There are regions in Colombia where we would advise against visiting, however, the along our itinerary are safe routes to travel. Of course, no expedition is without its risk and we would advise our 360 travellers to practice the same safety consciousness as travelling anywhere else. This means keeping your personal belongings close, not bringing expensive valuables with you, getting registered taxis at night if needed and, if you are exploring, enquiring of your guide as to the safe places to walk.
I see we are mainly based in the Santa Marta region, what is the safety like here?
Please see the above FAQ on general safety in Colombia – we would, as with any travel destination, advise practicing basic safe travel procedures, but Santa Marta is a popular traveller’s destination.
Can you tell me a little more about FARC?
FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army) was a guerilla group involved in the country’s conflicts in the late 90s. In June 2017, FARC ceased to be an armed group, disarming itself and handing over its weapons to the United Nations, and is now no longer officially in operation since the peace deal. There may be some FARC members in more remote sections of Colombia, but there have been no reports in the areas of the country we travel through.
Is theft and/or violence a concern?
As with the questions above, keeping your belongings close to yourself when out and about should always be a priority, wherever you are travelling. Though petty crime is common in some areas of Colombia, the rate of unprovoked theft in the Santa Marta area is low, and if you practice sensible safety precautions there should be no issue.
I plan to join the extension, and we will visit some coastal towns and Cartagena – what is the crime rate like here?
When you are on the coast, we would advise sticking to the tourist-visited towns and main centre of Cartagena. As stated above, if you wish to explore further afield at any point, we would recommend you check ahead of time with your guide on which areas are best.
Travelling as a single, young female - should I be worried? What advice do you have?
We have may solo female travellers on our expeditions – and the same safety measures and advice apply as stated in the above FAQs when you are travelling in a group with 360. We would advise additional caution if you are planning on going out in the evenings, but the same recommendations on personal belongings and valuables apply.
We have a few bus transfers on the itinerary - what are the roads like, and is there a risk of “hold ups”?
The transfers on the bus are run by our brilliant local team, or on well-known local public routes. Our usual hold up is because of traffic! If you plan to take any other bus journeys in your free time, please do check with the guide. As always, we keep an eye on safety in Colombia, and if the situation changes we will advise the team accordingly.
We are going to many waterfalls – are we permitted to swim?
The waterfalls are stunning and there are often large pools below. These provide a really excellent spot to swim, and it is also a great way to cool down and refresh, though do be aware there are no lifeguard services and any swimming is at your own risk.
Is there a dress code?
No, but respectful clothing is preferable on the trek – shorts and t-shirt or a similar style of gym clothing will be fine. On the beaches, there is no dress code.
We are in the jungle - is there anything specific I need to be aware of?
You always need to be aware of your surroundings, respect nature and what lies within. There could be snakes and spiders, but they won’t hurt you unless they feel at risk. Your guide will give the team a full safety briefing at the start of the trek.
Am I likely to suffer from altitude sickness on this expedition?
No, there is no risk of altitude sickness on this trek.
What happens if there is a problem in the mountain?
All of our guides are trained in wilderness first aid, and carry emergency communication equipment in case of an incident. If an accident occurs, the guides are there to give first aid treatment, evacuate the trekker and liaise with insurance companies accordingly – and all of out trekkers are required to have travel insurance covering them for such incidences.
You advocate taking a small first aid kit, what should it contain?
We advocate a little bit of self-help on the trek. For example, if you have a blister developing, then please stop, take off your boot and treat it, before it becomes a problem.
We would recommend your own first aid kit should contain: a basic blister kit, plasters, antiseptic, sun-protection, your own personal medication, basic pain relief, rehydration salts, antibiotic cream in case of infected bites, antihistamines, and, if you are prone to infections, a personal course of antibiotics. Foot powder in your socks every morning is great for preventing blisters, especially in such humid environments.
Generally, the best approach to packing your first aid kit is to include such basic medications as if you would on a family or personal holiday.
Your guide will also carry a comprehensive first aid kit which contains a wide range of supplies. They are fully trained to use whatever is needed for any emergency that may arise.
Do I need to take anti-malarial drugs?
Malaria is present in Colombia, but there have been no recent cases of malaria in the areas we visit on the trek. We would advise you consult your doctor or a local travel clinic for the most up to date advice.
What vaccinations do I need?
It is important you check with your GP or local travel clinic for the latest recommendations and to ensure you are up to date on necessary vaccinations.
For additional information, both the FOC and NHS offer guidance on entry requirements:
Do I need a yellow fever vaccination?
Yellow fever is present in some areas of Colombia and it is a recommendation to be vaccinated if you are a visitor to certain areas, including the Tayrona National Park (www.parquesnacionales.gov.co/portal/en/ecotourism/caribbean-region/tayrona-national-natural-park). Please check with your doctor or a local travel clinic for the most up to date advice for your personal situation.
Do note also that a yellow fever certificate is required for any travellers arriving from or transiting for more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission.
Do I need to have had my covid vaccine to enter Colombia?
Currently, you do not need to have had the covid vaccine to travel to Colombia, but if you are unvaccinated against covid then you do need to show proof of a negative test prior to departure. Do be aware that the rules and regulations have been changing often and so it would be wise to be fully vaccinated, but of course this is a personal choice.
Though we will do our utmost to advise of any changes, is your responsibility to check the entry requirements before the trip.
Do I need a Covid test to enter the Lost City?
Yes, you do currently need to present proof of a negative Covid-19 antigen test before you enter the Lost City. Our team will assist with the logistics of this, as the test needs to be taken at least 72 hours before the start of the trek.
Kit & Clothing
On the Lost City trekking days I must carry all my own kit – does this include a sleeping bag?
Blankets and mosquito nets are provided, and sleeping bags are not necessary unless you really desire one. If you do, we would recommend a very light one, otherwise a sleeping bag liner, either cotton or silk, would work well.
Can I leave a bag somewhere for the end of the trek?
Yes, you can leave your main bag / suitcase at the beginning of the trek and it will be securely stored, ready for the end of the trek. Please do note the bags are left at your own risk and so we would advise not leaving any valuables.
Will I have access to my main bag after the Cerro Kennedy hike, when we stay in Minca?
Yes, you will be able to leave your main bag in Minca.
What clothing should I wear on this trek?
We suggest breathable, quick-dry / wicking clothes. Gym-style / sports clothing, or lighter safari-style trekking clothes work best, and we would suggest lighter colours You will sweat a lot and don’t count on drying your clothes along the way. Chjeck out the kit list, and do ask us in the office if you have any questions, but essentially, pack light and pack smart, as you will carry your own bag throughout the trek. It can feel chilly in the evenings as the temperature drops so a light jumper or hoodie is a good idea too.
Will I need to bring waterproofs?
Yes – whether that is a waterproof jacket, or a light rain poncho. We will be in the jungle, and the weather can be unpredictable! Do bear in mind though that often everything will be wet at the end of the trekking day due to the humidity, and so a dry pair of clothes for the evening is always nice to change into.
What is the best type of footwear to use?
Boots should be sturdy, waterproof and offer adequate ankle support – whether you prefer boots or hiking shoes is up to you.
We would definitely recommend that your boots are well worn in to prevent the formation of blisters. Check out Cotswold Outdoor for handy advice on boot fitting – and we’ll give you a discount code to use with them too when you book.
What sort of rucksack should I take for the trek?
We would recommend a 40-45 litre backpack, large enough to carry enough light clothes for five days. Ideally, one that doesn’t rest directly on your spine is best, to reduce sweating.
Is there a maximum weight for my rucksack?
There is no maximum weight but remember you will be carrying it for the duration of the trek.
Are there porters to carry my main bag during the trek?
While we have porters to assist the team, we do not have porters for carrying luggage unless they are specifically requested, but if you do feel you need additional help with carrying your luggage it is possible hire a porter, or even a mule, for additional help.
Please let 360 know in advance so we can organise this, and we can advise on the cost.
What clothing is suitable for when we come back from the trek?
You will have access to your main bag when you return from trekking so you can leave anything for after the trek in here. We suggest normal lightweight travel clothes and sandals for the city and evenings in the Tayrona national park.
Do I need to bring a bivvy or tarp in case of rainy nights?
No – we will be sleeping in hammocks or bunkbeds under a cover. Both come with mosquito nets and blankets.
What is better - a silk sleeping liner or a cotton one?
Both are fine, it is a personal choice – a silk liner is lighter, though usually a bit more costly.
What type of bag should I take with me?
We always recommend you take a large soft duffle bag as this is by far easier for our crew to move around in vehicles. Hard suitcases with wheels are simply less mouldable to spaces BUT if you only have a hard case then that’s “okay” as your bag isn’t traveling on mules.
When is the best time to travel to Santa Marta?
- The dry season in Colombia usually lasts from mid November to March
- The rainy season normally occurs in April and May, and from September to November
While it is possible to do this trek year round, we suggest the best times are the end of January through to March, and then mid November to December. Later in December can become busy as holidays coincide with the optimal weather!
How hot or cold can it get?
In the dry season it can get up to 33°C and rarely gets below 23°C. However, it can get chilly at night, to around 10°C, in the evenings.
Dropping to 10 C at night is quite a dip – what do you suggest for sleeping?
The camps provide blankets and covers for sleeping, but if you wish you can bring a silk liner, or a light summer sleeping bag. We also suggest bringing a jumper or hoodie for the evening if it does get cooler.
We are in the jungle so I imagine it will be very humid – any advice?
The jungle is exciting but the humidity can be uncomfortable at times. If you come with the mindset that you will be sweaty a LOT of the time, appreciate that you will all be in the same (slightly stinky!) boat, and take advantage of the refreshing natural pools and waterfalls en route, we think you’ll have an amazing time!
What if I arrive early or depart late?
If you want to arrive in Colombia a little earlier this is not a problem, we can arrange an additional airport transfer – just chat to the 360 office team, and make sure you let us know if we are booking your flights for you.
If you wanted to extend your trip then it would be worth exploring our 5 days extension, which includes in surfing, diving, and time in Cartagena, which has wonderful Afro-Colombian music and dance. You will also have time to explore the fishing village of La Boquilla and go kayaking in the mangroves. There will be an opportunity to take part in a drumming workshop, and enjoy an evening of rum tasting with chocolate pairing at the sublime restaurant and rum bar El Arsenal!
Is there a single room option on this trip?
Yes, there is the opportunity for a single room for the nights top and tailing the trek, please do let the office know and they will advise on the costs.
When we are on the trek we are in communal dormitory-style camps, as one big family!
What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?
If a trekker needs to leave early, arrangements can of course be made, and your guide will assist throughout. Do note that any additional costs related to an early departure (transport, hotels flights etc.) will need to be covered by you, and we would advise travel insurance that also covers for such an eventuality.
Do I need special travel insurance for the trek?
You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on this trek without proof of insurance.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip to include, at a minimum, medical evacuation and coverage for relevant activities and up to the maximum altitude of this trip. Do remember that you may need an adventure add-on if you will be taking part in additional activities (ie. surfing or diving) after the trek
Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date, though we would advise getting insurance to cover you for cancellation at the time of booking. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your full insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.
Visas / Entry Requirements
I am a UK citizen. Do I need a visa to get into Colombia?
No, currently there are no visas required for UK citizens, though we would advise you check the entry requirements for your nationality.
Though the 360 team are on hand to assist, it is your own responsibility to ensure your passport is valid and meets the entry requirements, and that you have the correct paperwork and vaccinations to enter Colombia.
How can I best train / prepare for this trek?
It is a tough trek due to the conditions, some say tougher that our main treks such a Kilimanjaro and Machu Picchu – therefore we suggest train hard, to enjoy all the more! We suggest if you are comfortable with the level of training at the end of month 4 on our training program (found at the end of the brochure – click ‘Discover More’ above) you should be in good shape for this expedition. We also recommend that, if you want to delve a little more into training, you head over to www.uphillathlete.com as they have some brilliant plans outlined.
It is also worth reading up on the area and the culture so you have a good understanding that you can build on with our knowledgeable guides.
When is the money due for this expedition?
360 asks for an initial deposit of £800, then the final balance is due 4 months before departure. There is also the option to set up a flexible payment plan, with the final balance then due 2 months prior to departure – chat to the 360 office team for more info!
Money in Colombia: what currency is used and what does this mean for me?
The local currency is Colombia pesos (COP) and the current exchange rate is around 0.00020 COP to $1.
Outside of Santa Marta, you will need cash with you as cards are not widely accepted again until you reach Caragena. We suggest on arrival you withdraw around 500,000 COP for this expedition (250,000 COP will be dedicated for tips).
Unlike many other South American countries, you cannot pay directly with US Dollars in Colombia and can only pay using COP.
When you arrive in country you have a few options:
- Exchange money at the airport (this is expensive and is definitely not recommended)
- Exchange money using hotels, banks or bureaux de changes in Santa Marta
- Withdraw money from ATMs at the airport or in Santa Marta
What additional spending money will we need?
The amount of money you will need depends on how many presents you wish to buy or if you are buying additional drinks and snacks throughout. As a basic rule of thumb, 500,000 COP should be more than adequate for any post expedition spending, plus money for tips (see below).
Colombia is a relatively cheap place and, when indulging in the local custom of haggling, sounvenirs can be very good value for money. Your guide will be happy to point out the relative bargains and the suitable prices plus where to get the best value for money.
How much do we tip our local crew?
Our local crew work extremely hard to ensure that your expedition runs well. Tipping is completely optional and there is no pressure in Colombia to tip in general, but if you feel you would like to show gratitude then tipping the guides, cooks, helpers and the native guides would of course be appreciated.
Bear in mind that you will be with a guiding team of around five people. We would suggest bringing an additional 250,000 COP to be split between the local crew. Your leader can do this!
Tipping the 360 guide is entirely at your discretion.
What's included & not included?
- Airport transfers
- All activities advertised
- All accommodation
- Food – all meals are included apart from those mentioned in the itinerary. Note: alcoholic drinks are not included.
- Drinking water throughout
- All transport listed in the itinerary
- Guiding on trekking and activity days
What’s not included:
- Snacks on non-trekking days and some meals, please refer to the itinerary for details
- Travel insurance
- International flights
Do we need a travel adaptor for the plug sockets in the hotel?
You will need an adaptor for UK plugs. In Colombia they use types A and B – plugs with either two flat parallel pins or two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin.
Colombia operates on a 110V supply voltage and 60Hz.
Is there mobile phone reception on the trek?
There is no mobile phone reception, but you are able to access WiFi at some of the camps for a small fee.
Can you can get Wi-Fi at each camp?
You can buy a WiFi pass at the majority of camps, depending on availability, and it will cost a couple of dollars.
Will I be able to charge my phone or camera out in the trek?
Yes at each camp you will have the opportunity to charge your electrical items, but do bear in mind that the charging points at the camps are communal and so availability is not always guaranteed. We would recommend a power bank – though remember the weight, as you will have to carry it. We use PowerTraveller for our power packs and solar chargers and would highly recommend them!
Will my valuables be safe?
While we will do everything we can to provide adequate safety for the group and security for your possessions, the general rule is that if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. This includes jewellery, necklaces, rings and even watches. Your passport and money should be kept on you at all times. As with travel in any foreign country, you need to look after yourself and your possessions, and this is no different.
Who will I be talking to before departure?
Before and after booking, the 360 office team is on hand to help. If you do have any queries, whether it’s about medical concerns, you’re unsure about certain things on the kit list, or you want to add a few days onto the expedition at the end to relax a bit, we encourage you to get in touch with us. This is a dream holiday, and we are there to make sure you are fully prepared and raring to go!