Out Of Colombian Jungle and Off to Panama!
I survived the South American Columbia Jungle and I am now sailing to Panama for the next 2.5 days. I have to say that the trip to Columbia was the best decision so far on our voyage. My trek into the Jungle started 5 days ago in Santa Marta. I arrived at Magic Tours and was greeted by two English men Simon and Rich who booked the same 5 day trip to the Lost City. I was glad that Simon new a lot of Spanish and could understand what was being said. We took a trip by taxi to the city limits and were joined by the rest of our new team to trek into the Jungle. All 9 of us, plus the drive stuffed ourselves into our new clown car which was a small Toyota truck and spent the next 2 hours on the road driving deep into the Jungle.
We finally arrived at the Jungle National Park and were met by armed government grads with machine guns and full camo. They granted us access to the Jungle two track road and we headed into the Jungle Mountains on a muddy path that twisted along the edge of mountains inches from the canyons below. The road was covered in mud, rock, and we crossed through streams to arrive in a mountain village.
We had a quick lunch provide by our 2 new guides and cook. We then started our 4 hour hike into the Jungle which started out by hiking through a mix of Jungle and ranchers farmers as we climbed higher and higher to our camp for the first night. The terrain was a mix of streams, and steep muddy paths that had cross traffic of local ranchers moving supplies by horse through the mountain. We finally arrived 4 hours later at our campsite number one. The campsite was rustic, but included a hammock with an insect net for sleeping. We enjoyed a great meal of pasta and fruit from the jungle. We then enjoyed talking to one another about our travels and places we have been. We played cards and most of group went to bed. But a few of us wanted to play one more game in the candle light. As we played 100’s of insects started to cover the table around the candle light and soon our playing cards where covered with bugs. We had to shack the cards every time to get the bugs off so we could play. We quickly decided that after the king of hearts started to walk away by itself that the game should end and we went to bed. But our guide told us to use our flashlights and make sure we looked at the ground as we walked for poison snakes, and scorpions. I crawled into my hammock and found it very uncomfortable because my legs kept going to sleep. I soon found out that no matter what you always slid down in the hammock and the blood rushed to my head. Even though I was uncomfortable I was soon asleep as the jungle came alive with millions of new noises that I have never heard but was very soothing.
We all awoke early the next day excited to hike deeper into the Jungle. Our breakfast was simple eggs, toast, fresh fruit, and juice. I filled my bottles with fresh boiled smoked water and put on my backpack. We hiked for 4 hours again and arrived in the afternoon at campsite 2. We all took a swim in the river that was next to the camp and enjoyed cooling off from the intense humid heat of the jungle. The water was cool and clean. Once again I enjoyed conversation between my new friends about American and English politics. We talked about our occupations, and the standards of vacation time, pay, typical working hours and so on. I found it interesting that other than the amount of time off we get we all work way to much and the world is getting too fast and out of control. As we continued to talk the rain started to dump down and the noise of the rain hitting the tin roof reminded us that we were really in the deep jungle of Columbia. As the sun went down we all went to our bunk beds this time and listened to the rain, and all the jungle things sing us to sleep.
We woke up again with eggs and toast, packed our bags, and slipped into our day old wet cloths. We all decided that there was no point in wearing fresh dry cloths because within 10 minutes you where wet to the bone for the rest of the day. The jungle was very hot and wet this 3rd day. I could not tell if I was sweating or drenched with the thick hot mist of the jungle as we climbed high up into the mountains. Sometimes the trail was so steep that we had to use our hands to pull ourselves up the trail. After being covered in mud, wet, and sweaty we arrived in camp 3. We were glad that it had bunk beds. Once again we played cards, learned more about each other’s cultural difference and had a great time. We had a great dinner but the steak we ate was not beef. The English folks thought it was Alpaca and I thought horse, not sure, anyway it all tasted great.
Day 4 we headed out to the lost city without our packs and hiked along the river for one 1km. We had to cross the river which after 3 days of heavy rain was moving very fast. We all made it safely across and where greeted by the 1800 steps that went straight up to the lost city. It took about 30 minutes of none stop stepping to get to the top at the lost city where the weather was very cold and wet. Our guide explained to us not to walk in the stone circle as these where sacred areas and that we were not allowed to enter so we didn’t. I could not believe the craftsmanship of the structures. I was told that what we could see was only about 10% of the city and the Indians would not allow the archeologist to dig anymore of the city up. The city was found by the cocaine ranchers about 15 years ago and looted the city of its gold, and jewels. Most of treasure has not been found but what has is now in Bogotá and England museums. The night before we got to the Lost City we talked with a local Kogi Indian about the lost city. The Kogi have lived in this region for thousands of years and to this day still live as they did then. They don’t believe in material things and believe in mother earth and everything that it gives. Matt one of our team members asked if they have noticed any climate change in the last few years. The Indian indicated that in the last three years 3 local plants have disappeared from the region. Also the rain and dry seasons have been very extreme and have never been so bad.
After visiting the lost city we trekked back down the 1800 wet steps and crossed the rivers and hiked back to camp 2, ate dinner and enjoyed conversations with other hikers from Germany, Australia, and many other countries. We woke up and trekked through muddy mountains, and crossed deep streams and made it back to the village. We all thought the trip was great and where ready to be dry for more than a few hours. As we drove out of the mountains the rain had been so bad the driver got us stuck in the muddy ruts. We tried to explain how to drive through the mud but he was hell bent on putting the petal to the floor and letting the wheels spin. This Columbia drive was a Jack ass bottom line and because we could not drive the truck we got to push it out of the mud as he laughed. O well it made for a good story. Sadly we all had to part ways and continue on our own adventures and I hope that one day I will get to see all the people I hiked in the Jungle with. They are the best people I have every come across traveling and I wish them the best of luck.