Team Not Just Travel take on the Lost City
Hear from Head Office member, Lauren, about how our Charity Challenge - Trek to the Lost City of Colombia, went:
50 members of Not Just Travel took on the journey of a lifetime to the Lost City in Colombia, we set out to raise as much money as possible for Mind and made lifelong memories as we did so. The trek was a 5-day challenge in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada mountains, northern Colombia. We split into 2 groups each with 2 cooks, 2 indigenous guide and 2 G Adventures Chief Experience Officers (CEOs) and headed out for an epic adventure.
With our alarms set for 4:15 am, we were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as we handed over our luggage to store at our hotel for the next 5 days with only our essentials in our trekking backpack (which we would later realise could have been halved!)
We were split into 3 jeeps, backpacks strapped to the top, and headed off for a 2 and half hour drive into the jungle to the base where we were provided with our first breakfast and began our first day of trekking! We faced 14km of hiking, with the majority being an uphill battle of uneven terrain.
After a midday lunch stop, we then continued for the afternoon trek. A welcome downpour of rain began shortly after leaving, which in the 35-degree heat, was pure bliss. Mudslides galore appeared around the corner, at first a fun highlight that had everyone sliding all over the place, soon became an ongoing battle as the night drew in and the light became minimal from our head torches or flashes of lightning. We were eventually greeted by a sea of torches and cheers, as we made it to the Wiwa Camp. Group 1 came to welcome us in and congratulate us for making it through the trying conditions.
After a hearty meal of chicken, rice and veg (a Club Colombia, the local beer!), and a quick cold-water shower, we bunked down for the night – bedbug spray at the ready!
We awoke at 4:30 am ready to face day 2, breakfast was served and we were ready to leave at 6:30 am. Our boots still wet from the night before, we crossed a small river straight after camp and stopped at a local Kogi village to get an understanding of their way of life in their small communities. A few of the footpaths became narrow, providing a challenge to those slightly unsteady on their feet (walking poles became a life saver on many occasions!)
After crossing a bridge with some great ‘I’m a celebrity’ style photos, we had a quick pit stop before facing our hardest conquest of the day – an uphill battle with the promise of watermelon at the top! Taking a moment away from the fact you were climbing on your hands and knee’s, there were amazing photo opportunities with mountains lining the landscape for miles, and a serene calmness that made you forget every ache and pain your body was feeling.
After a Gatorade pit stop with watermelon that exceeded every taste before, we headed downhill and across farmlands to head towards our next camp. Following the riverbed allowed us to have quick cooling stops to soak our hats in water to keep us refreshed and cool. We then reached Teyuna Paraiso Camp, which as its name says, was paradise to us. Set beside the river, it provided an oasis to swim out in and sit around while catching the last of the sun. We set our clothes out to dry and battled the prehistoric sized spiders to have a welcome cold shower and grab some dinner. After a round of Uno and some popcorn snacks, we were ready to settle in for the night!
The day we had all been waiting for – The Lost City! The only thing that separated us was a waist-high river crossing, and 1,200 steps – although we were advised it may be a few more…With a few of the team racing up the steps to beat the quickest time, most of us took the views in and even attempted to count each step.
Once at the entrance, we were invited to take part in a ritual with our Wiwa guide, welcoming us to leave our negative thoughts behind and cleanse ourselves before we explored the once-forgotten City. With only an estimated 10% of the site thought to be discovered, we were told the stories of its origins from our local guides and even had a chance to meet the spiritual leaders, Mamos and Zaga, who oversee the land and keep an eye on the local tribes. We took time out to take in the spectacular views and reflect on ourselves personally, it really was a life-changing experience and the ritual beforehand allowed you to focus on your surroundings even more. We had all taken this journey on for a charity of our choosing, a factor that made this so much more than just a trek.
We then headed back down 1,200 steps and waded our way back across the river to Teyuna Paraiso Camp to grab some lunch and head back to Wiwa camp. Most of this was downhill, with walking poles saving a few stumbles once again! The light rain created a welcome cool down as we made it back to Wiwa. The cards came out as we sat down and relived our highlights of the day, a welcome break for our aching muscles.
Today we faced our nemesis from day 1, except this time we got to see it in the daylight! A completely different experience left us shocked at the sheer drops we had narrowly missed in the darkness of day 1. With a quick stop for an ice cream refuel, we made it to Ricardito camp for lunch and the afternoon at leisure.
Known locally as vista hermosa, we sat down and admired the views and enjoyed our first leisure time. Sitting slightly above the clouds, we filled the afternoon with games of Uno and card tricks, allowing us to catch the sunsets that aren’t to be missed! A final wrap up of wounded feet and aching knees, before a chorus of our ‘Jungle Playlist’ we settled into our bunk beds for one final night, a feeling we had grown to love.
Our final morning was bittersweet, we enjoyed our final Colombian coffee taking in the last of the sunrise views. A pancake breakfast was prepared, and we bid farewell to our amazing cooks, before heading off on the final leg. It was a leisurely stroll compared to the previous day’s battles, with the majority being downhill (although hard on the knees), we reminisced on this amazing journey and couldn’t wait to reunite with group 1 and share stories!
We made it to the bottom with plenty of time to spare and took time to relax in the river giving our tired legs a soak and bask in the sun. Heading to our lunch spot, we took the time to get involved in a local game of Tejo, involving throwing an iron disk across an alley into a box of mud aiming for the gun powder triangles!
During lunch, a new group arrived eager and clean to take on their trek, brimming with questions we gave them any leftover items we had (including boots) to prepare them for their trip of a lifetime.
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