By: Richard McColl
The Lost City (or, “Ciudad Perdida”) is actually misnamed: it has never been lost. It is a living ruin of 170 oval-shaped raised stone terraces cut into the jungle hillside. Visiting its ancient beauty requires an arduous six-day trek (four days up and two days back).
Stewards of and contributors to this ancient city’s beauty are the local Kogui tribe. To them, the Lost City (“Teyuna,” in their language) is a sacred place that at one point is thought to have been an administrative center where up to 6,000 people lived. Today it remains an important ceremonial site to one of South America’s last surviving pre-Columbian peoples.
Sadly, much of its off-the-beaten-track, rugged charm could soon be lost. In recent years, Colombia has been enjoying a mini-tourism boom, and the number of backpackers, travelers, and adventurers who wish to make this trek has exploded. Tour group operators have improved their services and bridges have even been built, making the site more accessible.
As Colombia’s tourism continues to grow, more people will saddle up and make this journey, perhaps pushing the Colombian government to make good on its previously idle threats of putting in a cable car through the jungle to the site. High-end tour operators have and will increase helicopter trips to the Lost City, threatening the local wildlife. And the Koguis, who have fiercely protected their culture and traditional way of life, who were never subdued by the Spanish, will also likely succumb to the pressures of modern life.
Part of a NileGuide Special Report: 25 Destinations to See Before They Change Forever.
Image: Threat to Democracy/Flickr