All this, not to mention that over the last few decades, all but the most intrepid travelers were afraid to visit Colombia. Fortunately, those days are over. President Álvaro Uribe’s administration has clamped down on crime and drug trafficking over the past eight years, and Colombia is now considerably safer. The Colombian Army is now in firm control of the Sierra, and with that, Ciudad Perdida is now open to any and all who are willing to brave a little rain and mud, one of the world’s deadliest snakes, and five days in close contact with one of South America’s most beautiful and imposing mountain ranges.
Like clockwork, the heavens open up shortly after our arrival and drop another gallon or two of mist across the ruins. Nobody seems to mind. We chat with the soldiers, who are no doubt a little stir-crazy from being cooped up in the jungle for six months. We had heard a rumor that you could trade with them for their army gear, so we give it a shot, though we don’t have much to offer. I decide I have nothing I’m willing to part with, but I do have cold, hard cash (there are no souvenir stalls, so it’s not like I’ll be needing it). I offer 30,000 Colombian pesos (about $11) for an authentic Colombian Army camouflage hat. Deal.
The soldier rips his name tag off of the hat, and it’s all mine. And so it goes. Army-issued hats, T-shirts and dog tags are exchanged. The soldiers probably shouldn’t be doing this, and surely some military protocol is in breach. But Colombia has changed.
Getting to Ciudad Perdida
The following companies are the most reliable for tours to Ciudad Perdida. Negotiable prices were starting at COP$500,000 (around $245 ) at press time for the five-day, all-inclusive trek.