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Malachai Constant
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PostTue Dec 17, 2019 4:35 pm 
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After doing the Inca Trail we became interested in South America. Columbia had gotten a lot more stable but prices were still depressed from years of narcos and rebels. Flights are also significantly cheaper than Europe especially from LA or Houston.  We left for Bogota and then headed out to inspect the area heading for the nearest high spot. Noticed a high hill with a funicular heading up to a large church on this misty day.

We rode to the top where there was a great view of the city, South American cities are huge with an incredible diversity of wealth.

Had empanadas on top pretty mediocre. Then decided to hike down the scenic trail, big mistake. The trail down was a couple thousand feet of vertical on stone steps with street shoes. By the time we got home we could barely walk. Next day toured the public market, gold museum, Botero museum, and public buildings. The gold museum is amazing with many examples of precolumbian metal work. Next day we went to the airport to fly to Santa Marta. The flight was a fiasco as the travel agent put the English equivalent of my Italian first name. Lynda got on the plane but I had to buy another ticket for a later flight. My luggage to a tour of Columbia visiting Cali, Mendalin, and Cartagena before getting to Santa Marta. We had to spend another day in Santa Marta which was ok as it is a quiet town historic on the Carribbian. The next day we climbed into a Land Cruiser heading for the trailhead on a potholed 4x4 road. We then started hiking through the jungle.

Lots of parrots and spiders but no snakes were seen. Most other hikers were Europeans. After a full day passing aboriginal villages we arrived at our first camp near a stream where we took a welcome dip.


After crossing several rivers we arrived at our second camp and another stream. Next day to visit the lost city. This included a thousand step 500 year old stairway that led to the city.

The city is a series of terraces only some of which have been excavated. The builders were not Inca nor Maya and have descendants in the area today. It was rediscovered in the 1970ís when unusual gold turned up in the markets of Santa Marta. The area had been sacked by the Spanish in the 1500s. In the eighties and nineties the area was occupied by narcos and rebels who exploited the natives. Today the Columbian Army has a large presence. In the city is a large stone which includes an incised rock showing other cities in the civilization.

The next day we hiked all the way out and spent a day at the beach. If you go you must retain a guide and only sleep at established camps.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Sculpin
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PostWed Dec 18, 2019 8:15 am 
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up.gif

Fascinating.  I have always wanted to go to Colombia but never considered actually doing it...until now!

Did you start out by communicating with a guide service?

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Dec 18, 2019 8:49 am 
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We started by getting a trip on The Climb because we had dealt with them before. This trip was through One Seed which makes travel arrangements and only hires people from the country. It is far cheaper than REI or National Geographic. There are only a few Colombian companies allowed to guide there and you are not allowed to go alone even if you want to. Pretty much you are on your own in the cities and we extended our time there. The cities are large with a lot of poor people and I would not recommend going to sketchy sections alone especially at night same as large cities in the US. We research everything before going and I was able to download maps onto Gaia before going. Pay attention to State Department warnings and check out the CIA guides.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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cascadetraverser
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PostWed Dec 18, 2019 5:44 pm 
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My wife, daughter and I went to Colombia last year during the Holidays and really enjoyed it as well.  Bogota was a gritty kind of fun and reminded us of Mexico City.  We liked the Monserrat hike.  It felt like a mini pilgrimage but agreed some soft earth would have been nice for the joints. La ciudad perdida was one of the things we considered but couldnít fit it in. (My family told me they do enough hikes and wanted to head to the beach instead!)Thanks for the TR.  How did you like Cartegena?
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Malachai Constant
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Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
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PostWed Dec 18, 2019 7:19 pm 
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We did not get to Cartagena although my bags visited rolleyes.gif . We went to the beach at Santa Marta and a beach midway between Santa Marta and Riohacha used mostly by Colombians which had a lagoon you crossed by water taxi. The Caribbean was warm with a small surf and a few sand bars. There are lots of luxury places near the Santa Marta airport which looked fancy. We still correspond with people there and there have been large demonstrations lately but mostly nonviolent in Bogota.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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rubywrangler
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PostWed Dec 18, 2019 10:25 pm 
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Cool! I spent ~a month in Colombia in 2015 and considered this hike but also couldn't fit it in.  I was there before El Cocuy National Park was closed to overnight stays, and stayed at a very "rustic" lodge inside the park, but the weather was terrible. I've wanted to go back ever since.

Cartagena is sooo beautiful but touristy, and expensive relative to the rest of Colombia.  I was there in June and it was also oppressively humid.
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cascadetraverser
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PostFri Dec 20, 2019 7:54 am 
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We originally were slated to stay in the old city (Cartagena) but I didnt respond in the appropriate time with my CC info and ended up staying in one of the fancy resorts on the strip away from the old town.  I initially dreaded it, but it turned out quite nice.  The price being about 1/3 of what you would pay for a similar type place in the US and the amenities and homey friendliness of the staff was surprisingly good compared to what I am used to at similar places elsewhere.  The temps in December were fine and given that its a very walkable city, especially the old town (what a cool place) we did alot of that.  Proximity to Rosario National Park and its attractions (similiar tourist levels, more domestic than international) was a bonus as we spent a few days there.   Villa de Leyva near Bogota was pretty cool too....
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