Ciudad Perdida-The Lost City of Colombia.
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Ciudad Perdida-The Lost City of Colombia.

This ancient Colombian city located deep into the dense tropical jungle was only discovered in 1972 and not announced to the outside world until 1975.

This ancient Colombian city located deep into the dense tropical jungle was only discovered in 1972 and not announced to the outside world until 1975. Ciudad Perdida meaning ‘Lost City’ is an archaeological site housing an ancient city in the Sierra Nevada region of Colombia. It is thought to date from as early as 800AD making it older than Machu Picchu by 650 years. Locally it is known as Buritaca and Teyuna by the indigenous population of the area.

It was only discovered in 1972 when local treasure hunters uncovered some stone steps ascending a mountainside and followed them to the abandoned city. When gold figurines and other items such as ceramic urns began to appear on the black market locally the location was revealed and this information was announced to the world in 1975.

Local tribes of the Arhuaco, Koguis and the Asario all claimed to have known of this site prior to this but had not informed any outsiders of its existence despite their visiting it regularly. Local belief was that it was one of a network of villages inhabited by the Tairona, their forbearers. The village was believed to have been the political and manufacturing centre for the region and may have been home to up to 8,000 people. It is not known why it was abandoned but it coincided with the arrival in the area of the Spanish conquistadors.

The Lost City of Ciudad Perdida is a series of 169 terraces carved out of the mountainside, a network of tiled roads or paths connect the terraces. There are also a number of small circular plazas. The city is only accessible by climbing up a strenuous 1,200 stone steps through the dense jungle. Getting into the area is not easy as it is so remote with very virtually no roads in the area. The only way in is on foot.

For many years after it was discovered Ciudad Perdida was in an area of conflict between the Colombian National Army, right wing paramilitaries, left wing guerillas and revolutionary forces. In September 2003, the National Liberation Army kidnapped 8 tourists visiting the site, the hostages were held for three months before they were released. The Colombian Institute of Anthropology refused to work in the area after this and visits by tourist groups were restricted.

In 2005 the Colombian army began to conduct active patrols in the area and this enabled the safety and security for tourists to return. Since the patrols began there have been no further kidnappings. Access to the site is governed by the ability of the individual wishing to visit. Due to how inaccessible the site is most visitors undertake a six day hike to get in, visit and return to civilization. It is a hike of 44kilometres but requires a standard of fitness. There are several rivers to cross and steep ascents and descents. It is classed as being a hike of a moderately difficult level.

Some sections of the terrain mean only 4 to 8 km a day can safely be negotiated, overnight accommodation is a mixture of hammocks in jungle camp sites or remote farmhouses with basic facilities for bathrooms and cooking.

The Global Heritage Fund, a non-profit organization has been working in and around Ciudad Perdida since 2009 to preserve and protect the site. Their aims are to develop a plan to include the local indigenous population to guard against climate damage, neglect or looting from the site and to develop sustainable tourism.


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Comments (4)

I learned a lot from your great article.


I, too, have learned something..voted

A fascinating article. I hope this place is well protected. Thank you John for this discovery.