Cat Adventures and When Tara’s Pants Fell Down – Upon trekking to The Lost City, Colombia

Song of the trek: Times Like These by The Foos. Please click here for a soundtrack to this post.

How to sum up five days of trekking through steaming rainforest to find The Lost City in Colombia? Well, the outline is that we trekked for 5 – 7 kilometres a day, so not far, but up and down the steepest donkey tracks. I seriously have never ever sweated that much in my life, my arm pores were the flooding seas of forty days and forty nights. Donkeys carried our food and the camps were actually rather nice. Rustic, wooden, but only one had hammocks, the others had two stories of beds built into their structures. The mosquito nets made them look picturesque and every camp had a wonderful and MUCH welcome natural swimming hole by it. MUCH welcome because these camps also had showers (a hosepipe streamed from the river), but the boys didn’t use them and STANK. (Sorry boys, but you know it’s true.)

But the best way to sum up this story is by relating the highlights.

When Tara’s Pants Fell Down.

Perhaps not strictly a highlight since we were pretty scared for her life at the time, but definitely a moment to remember. I will prelude this story by relating the night before. It was a dark and stormy night… It’d been raining since around 4pm and even our Indian friend Arnab said he’s never seen continuous tropical rain like it, even in monsoon season. We were all watching rocks as markers and watching our markers disappear as the waters rose. Then the markers (massive boulders) started being washed downstream. One of the Colombian guides came over and told us to watch if the water subsided. That could mean a landslide upriver which could mean a sudden wall of water, an inland tsunami. This was the river we had to cross in the morning to get to The Lost City. And the river a French guy had died crossing just last year. And so we apprehensively continued playing cards in the candlelight, ears turned to the water.

The raging torrent had subsided the next day, but the current was still strong. We all got across it ok, but it was less easy on the way back. Somehow we managed, but Tara was a little less agile. Suddenly her grip on the rope loosened. Mr Brasil, our nickname for the guide who always wore T shirts emblazoned with BRASIL, but wasn’t actually from there grapped her. They grappled, they struggled and suddenly there was a YELP! Tara’s trousers and knickers had been caught by the naughty flood and were slipping down her white bum. Our hands had been at our mouths in collective horror, now they were smothering giggles as one of Tara’s hands LEFT THE ROPE and reached to cover her modesty. She was choosing her pants over her life! Well Mr Brasil pushed her across and she made it to our relief.

This is NOT Tara. She would kill me if I put a pic of her bottom up here. But you get the picture.

The Cat in the Night.

Ever read Catch 22? Well now I know the fear of smotheration by cat. On night three I awoke to find something big and soft one inch above my face. Frantically poking my neighbour, I said not so quietly considering there were 40 others sleeping next to me, “I THINK UPSTAIR’S MATTRESS IS ON MY FACE! GET THE TORCH!” But no, the mattress above had not sagged two foot onto my face. There was a cat happily napping on my mosquito net, one inch from my nose. We wrestled it off twice before it realised I wouldn’t put up with cat on face. The last we saw of it, it was splayed, desperately clinging to the vertical side of my net before it left for good.

Sorry, no pics of cats, but you can get a feel for our sleeping arrangements

Flat Tyres, Cliff Jumping Into Swimming Holes, Indigenous Children and Other Adventures…

The title pretty much says it all. On the way to the trek we got a flat tyre, but it was ok, after half an hour a coach came up the hill and deposited a spare slightly-bigger-than-the-others tyre out of its backside for our 4×4. On the way back, yes, we got a flat but our driver was prepared this time and had a spare at the ready.

There were swimming holes at least once a day with wicked cliff jumps. The highest was 8 metres. I didn’t do it.

But I did jump this one!

In the Other Adventures section, I should probably mention The Lost City right? Well it was pretty magical. Terrace upon terrace of ancient civilisation. Founded around 200-600AD, but the population was wiped out by disease brought by the Spanish around 1600. You climb 1,200 steps to reach the city and everything – every platform, level, step is stone piled upon stone. What work! They still don’t know how they cut the stones so straight with the technology they had. Ancient mysteries.

Lost in thought at The Lost City

When we reached The Lost City our most excellent guide Wilson gave us all lollipops. Tara and I are the only girls so we stayed out of this photo of the boys and their lollies.

So above is our gang – Wilson our guide, Bruno the gentle giant Brasilian, Bronson the intrepid, musical Aussie who I’m going to Cuba with on Tuesday (whoopeee!), Arnab who I have psychic connections with, he’s wicked, Mike the English lit teacher, Faz in front, the Brummy who I’ve been travelling with for a few weeks, and Nikolei the softly spoken Danish art teacher.

These kids were so cute. Some we met were super friendly and naughty, poking us with sticks and then running away, but looking back with massive grins on their cheeky faces. Others were a lot more solomn.

So, some facts if you’d like to book this trip:

We went with a company called Turcol, but Magic Tours are pretty much the same deal. You end up on the same trek with cool guides, the same camps and pretty much the same food. We booked through our amazing hostel in Santa Marta – Dreamers, which has been our base for the past ten days.

It costs $600,000 pesos (about $300 US dollars) whether you choose the four, five or six day trek. Four would be a touch rushed, six would be forever since even with the five day we had two afternoons free to relax. Five was perfect.

A soap bar of Nopikex mosquito repellant is essential if you don’t want to be eaten alive. It comes in a black box and is available at most chemists in Colombia. It contains about 25% deet. DON’T GO WITHOUT REPELLENT. I’ve heard some serious horror stories of more bitten than unbitten skin. Yum.

You can do the trek comfortably in trainers, I did and was fine. Don’t wear new shoes (obs).

Take cards and a book for the evenings.

Take two swimming costumes and prepare to be a bit damp most of the time.

Have fun!

The views were crazy beautiful

Huge jungle leaves and Bronson.

The views, oh the views.