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What to Pack for La Ciudad Perdida Lost City Trek

The Ciudad Perdida Tour, or Lost City Trek, in northern Colombia is an incredible hike.  It is not an easy walk though, and involves steep climbs and descents, two river crossings and hoards of mosquitos.  Here is a handy guide to what to pack for La Ciudad Perdida Tour to help you prepare, and handle it like a pro!

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I recommend Wiwa Tours for the trek, I went with them and had a great time, learning a lot about the indigenous communities as well as the nature along the way.

Read more about my experience on the Lost City Trek to Ciudad Perdida

The Lost City Trek Ciudad Perdida Colombia
The Lost City Trek in Colombia – worth it for this view!

Santa Marta is a great base before the trek, and most tour companies leave from there, although some arrange pick up from Palomino too.  In Santa Marta I stayed at the Dreamer Hostel, and loved it!  The staff were friendly, the food was good, and the swimming pool was a godsend in the hot weather.

Check rates for the Dreamer Hostel on HotelsCombined | Hostelworld | Tripadvisor

What to bring on the Lost City Trek:

The important thing is to pack light.  You will be carrying all your own gear, so leave your big backpack at the hostel, or at your tour company’s office.  This is the Lost City Trek packing list recommended by Wiwa Tours, plus some extras that I found very useful:

Small day pack

Comfort is key here, make sure that the straps don’t rub, and try not to over-pack.  Keep everything inside a plastic bag or two to keep it dry from the rain.

Comfortable hiking shoes

I had my Salomon hiking boots which I was glad of.  When it rained it got slippy, but if it is the dry season you may be ok with comfortable trainers/sneakers.

Sandals for crossing rivers

Flip flops are not good enough, you need straps or water shoes that won’t slip off in the water.  I took a pair of [amazon_textlink asin=’B01FTZH8LO’ text=’merrell sandals’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’43284825-3e96-11e8-a1a5-55f7d6235141′] which worked well for this.

Several pairs of socks

Comfortable, and dry – you will be glad of them I promise!


There are swimming spots at each camp, so don’t forget your swimsuit!  There is nothing better than cooling off in the water after a sweaty hike.


Lightweight and small towels are soooo useful for trekking!  I took a Microfibre travel towel which was perfect for this.

Comfortable clothing for daily walking

Shorts or leggings, and t-shirts that ideally cover your shoulders to shield you from the sun, and protect your shoulders from rubbing against the day pack.


Obviously.  Biodegradable or [amazon_textlink asin=’B001FVIRHQ’ text=’reef-safe sunscreen’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’76dab050-3e96-11e8-9e53-5f5bfa68cab5′] is best to avoid contaminating the rivers.


It may not be the height of fashion, but a [amazon_textlink asin=’B005FEGYJC’ text=’headlamp’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7f464bf4-3e96-11e8-a415-e5e740b0e54e’] is super useful for going to the bathroom.  Otherwise the light on your phone should be fine.

Insect repellent

You. need. this.  There are a lot of mosquitoes in the Colombian jungle, and even more at the Lost City itself.  Apply [amazon_textlink asin=’B004H89KFC’ text=’insect repellent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’acc7513e-3e96-11e8-a73d-f5771e6e3049′] regularly, and wear long trousers in the Lost City if you can.

Water bottle 

I recommend 2 litres of water to begin with.  I had my LifeStraw Go Water Bottle with me, so I could also fill up at the rivers if needed.

Warm sleeping clothes

And dry!  It does get surprisingly chilly at night.  I did the Lost City Trek in June, and was glad of long trousers & a sweater in the evenings.

Personal hygiene products

Bring biodegradable shampoo & soap if you can, for example this Sea To Summit Trek and Travel Liquid Soap – Conditioning Shampoo.  Don’t forget toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush etc.

Personal medication if needed

The basics, plasters, paracetamol, I also took [amazon_textlink asin=’B00IT5MHWW’ text=’earplugs’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’20a41d07-3e97-11e8-8f38-4d14699c6896′] too as I’m a light sleeper!

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The Lost City Trek Ciudad Perdida Colombia
On my trek to the Ciudad Perdida we met the Shaman

Extra Items I Recommend for the Lost City Trek:

Toilet roll

Luckily I had some tissues with me, as not many of the toilets along the way had paper.  Also if you are caught unawares along the trail and have to answer the call of nature, toilet paper is much better than leaves!

Rain jacket or poncho

In rainy season, you will need it – or worst case scenario a black bin bag with a hole for your head

Complete set of clean dry clothes for evening

This is really a personal choice, but I was very glad to be dry after a hot sweaty day, and when my previous day’s clothes were still damp!

Long Trousers

Long trousers were great for evenings, when it gets cool, and for inside Ciudad Perdida as there are even more mosquitoes there than on the trail.

Bite relief cream

You will get bitten by mosquitoes, so may also be glad of a [amazon_textlink asin=’B00IE4TEOM’ text=’bite cream’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0c6661ae-3e97-11e8-be52-915506402a8c’] or an [amazon_textlink asin=’B07C2W5CBZ’ text=’electric shocker’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’013934bd-3e97-11e8-bee6-07c608b615c4′] which helps soothe itchy bites.

Inflatable pillow

No pillows are provided in the camps, so you can either roll up some dry clothes for a pillow, or take an inflatable travel pillow.

Portable charger

There are no electricity points after the first camp, so a portable charger is great for keeping your phone & camera charged.

Something to think about…

Bear in mind whatever you wear during the day will be drenched in sweat when you arrive at camp – and won’t dry in time for the next day. I would recommend at least 3 sets of clothes – one to wear the first day, your evening clothes and a dry set to wear the next day. If it is sunny, the wet set will usually dry during the second day, and will be ready to wear again on the third day when your second set can dry. I actually took 5 tshirts and sets of underwear, and was glad to start each day at least semi-clean!  I had 2 pairs of shorts, a pair of trousers for the evenings & the Lost city, and clean socks for each day.

What do you think of this list, have I missed anything?  Please let me know if you recommend any other essential items for the Lost City Trek packing list!

Prepare for your trek to la Ciudad Perdida with these top picks from Amazon:

[amazon_link asins=’B01K1TX1AU,B004H89KFC,B00X5RV14Y,B01G7SQ8GS,B00KWK7HZ4,B008J547PW’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’talesofaback-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’47fe54c3-f91c-11e7-9990-97bab86add51′]

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Disclaimer: Just to let you know, Tales of a Backpacker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.

Last updated: December 20, 2018

18 thoughts on “What to Pack for La Ciudad Perdida Lost City Trek

  1. Shira Reiss says:

    Hi Claire, I’m a 60 year old woman and going to Santa Marta on the 30th. How do you think I would do on this hike? I am a very slow hiker. A few questions: Do I need a sleeping bag? My son suggested getting a mosquito bag, but said it will not keep me warm. I also have an Osprey 24 day pack that has a water bladder. Do you think Wiwa would accommodate my needs as an older woman?

    • Claire says:

      Hi Shira, Thank you for reading! 🙂 I think if you are of overall reasonable fitness you should be fine. I would let Wiwa know when you are booking to see what they advise – if you are flexible on dates they may be able to put you with a group of a similar level. I am not a fast hiker, but it didn’t bother me just going at my own pace and although I did find myself hiking on my own a lot of the time, you will come across other groups as well, and our guide split his time between everyone and kept a close eye on us all so I didn’t feel abandoned! You might find that walking poles help you on the steep climbs/descents. We didn’t need sleeping bags, they had blankets provided – and a sleeping bag would just add weight to your bag which you don’t really want to do. Take a warm jacket for the evening though in case does get chilly. There were mosquito nets provided on the hammocks and bunk beds so you should need one of those either, double check with Wiwa though to make sure. I hope you enjoy your time in Colombia, and on the trek!

  2. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for such a thorough blog! I heard that Wiwa will carry your bag on the mule if you pay extra, is this not the case anymore?

    Thank you,


    • Claire says:

      Hi Melissa! Thank you for reading 🙂 I’m not sure, no-one in our group took that option so I don’t know if it is possible or not. Probably the best thing would be to email Wiwa directly to check with them and make sure – better safe than sorry!

  3. Carolina Gonzalez says:

    Hi Claire!
    I’m planing visit Colombia and make this trekking.
    I have some questions for you… where did you left the rest of your things to make the hiking?
    Did the repellent work? some brand to recommend?
    I hope you are enjoying your current backpacking adventures.. your blog is being very useful for me
    Saludos desde Chile!!!!

    • Claire says:

      Hi Carolina! Amazing, you’re going to love it! I left my big bag at the Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta – I stayed with them before the trek, and again afterwards so I could pick up the rest of my stuff when I came back. The tour company should also be able to store your big bag too while you are on the tour – I know Wiwa Tours offered that so I presume all the companies do.
      As for repellant – I still got a lot of bites unfortunately! I really don’t know which is the best, none of them are 100% effective for me, I always get bitten! ‘Off’ seemed to work pretty well, although if you can take some bite relief cream with you to help stop the itching of any bites you do get that would be useful. And long trousers to wear in the Lost City itself, if not on the trek – if you keep moving the mosquitos don’t settle on you while you’re walking, but as soon as you stop anywhere they land and bit!
      I’m so glad the blog is useful for you, I hope I can come and visit Chile soon!! Saludos 🙂

  4. Mari says:

    Thanks so much for the tips. I am doing the Ciudad Perdida Trek (and Salkantay Trek to Machu Pichu in Peru) this October and your post gives me an idea of what to pack.

  5. Carmen Edelson says:

    I’ll definitely be checking out Wiwa Tours! Thanks for the suggestion. Repellent sounds like a must but relief cream is something I often forget. thanks for sharing these awesome suggestions. Happy travels 🙂

  6. Drew says:

    What a great looking hike. I would love to get out the cities and explore the Colombia countryside. Great tips too. I have forgotten bug spray on way too many hikes, only to come to regret it each and every time!

  7. Indrani says:

    Yes the right list. Insect repellents and bite relief creams are the first ones to go in to my pack. 🙂 I have such small kits ready for different kinds of travels.

  8. Elaine J Masters says:

    Usually, I wouldn’t read a packing list for a trip I’m not planning but this was an intriguing read. Love your practical and personal points. Dry clothes, strategies for staying warm and comfortable, all great tips.

  9. Sara Broers says:

    This looks like a great hike! You offer great tips on what to pack and why to bring specific things along. Great tip on managing those mosquitoes and the sun. Would some type of netting been helpful? You make it easy on packing just right and not overpacking.

  10. sherianne says:

    I have never attempted anything even remotely like this and is sure feels overwhelming. This is so much info, it would be a lifesaver when planing this type of adventure!

  11. Carol Perehudoff says:

    I need to use these packing tips for all my trips, except perhaps, I wouldn’t need the headlamp in Paris. It sounds like a challenging trek and I look forward to reading more about it.

  12. Anna @ shenANNagans says:

    In January I was walking in thongs, the recommended foot ware for the tour, thong caught some water, I slipped and fractured my ankle. I say NOPE to things now always. Def invest in some good hiking shoes. Great list!

  13. Paul says:

    Packing light is definitely a good idea for a trip like this but, by the time you’ve covered all your essentials, it’s surprising how the amount of kit you already have seems to escalate! There is some really helpful advice here, though – thank you!

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