The Journey of a Lifetime
If you follow us on social media, you may have seen some of the amazing content we posted regarding our recent Charity Challenge.
We are all safely back home now, after what has been described by many trekkers as a "life changing" experience. 50 members of Not Just Travel (made up of corporate staff and homeworkers) set out on the epic journey to the Lost City in Colombia. In partnership with G Adventures, we set out to raise money for Mind, dedicated to improving mental health services in the UK
The trek consisted of 5 days in the jungle of the Santa Marta mountains in northern Colombia, giving us the opportunity to also see the amazing region and people both native and hispanic who make this place so unique. Trekkers split into 2 groups, each with 2 local guides and 3 G Adventures reps:
Both teams set off with high spirits into the jungle and began their long ascent to the fabled city. Each day began before sunrise, providing some spectacular scenery along the way. Temperatures rose as high as 35-degrees and late afternoon downpours were a regular occurence. These downpours sometimes lasted all night which meant packing as strategically as possible to reduce weight. Lightning illuminated the sky during these storms, adding additional beauty to the stunning evening landscapes.
Day 2 saw each group heading deeper into the jungle, where the terrain became tougher and more beautiful with each step. The pathway was no longer accessable by vehicles, and locals use donkeys as their primary way of moving supplies they cannot carry themselves between remote villages. Each group had the opportunity to learn about the indigenous natives from our local guides. We discovered how their culture has grown and adapted against the influence of the modern world, and how they maintain their unique ways of life in the harsh rainforest conditions. The teams quickly learnt the meaning of the phrase "Colombia flat" and "Colombia steep", variations of "steep" and "even steeper".
The third day of the trek was a journey to the last camp before the lost city. A surprisingly large camp, Teyuna Paraiso was built to house bigger quantities of trekkers weary from their journey and ready to rest before the ascent to the city at dawn the following morning. We met other groups from all over the world who were excited to finally arrive! Paraiso is also situated by the river, providing an oasis for cooling and relaxing after the many kilometres already travelled.
As usual in the jungle, the teams woke up before sunrise to eat and prepare for the short walk, river crossing and 1200 steps that would take us to Ciudad Perdida, The Lost City...
It is estimated that only 10% of the city has been reclaimed from the overgrowth of the jungle. The colombian government is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the site, and there are strict rules around new excavation projects to ensure proper care is taken to any artefacts or relics that are discovered. At the city we were also introduced to the spiritual leaders, Mamos and Zaga, who oversee the land and assist in communicating between tribes in important matters.
After spending time at the city and learning about some of the amazing traditions of the ancient community and their customs, it was time to head home. Whilst we had accomplished our challenge, we had a gruelling 2 day hike back to civilization. Our time in the jungle had hardened our resolve, and both teams stayed in good spirits knowing each step was one closer to home.
As pathways widened and inclines flattened, we realised we were reaching the final few kilometres of the journey. Whilst happy to have finally finished, we were all sad to be saying goodbye to such an amazing and beautiful place. The groups set out with little expectations as to what was in store. What awaited them was heat, humidity, inclines, rain, mud, bugs, more bugs and very little sleep. But even with all these things, the comradery of each group and unbelievable sights and accomplishments meant each and every consultant walked away with fond memories of this epic adventure.
Team Not Just Travel will never forget the journey of a lifetime!
To find out more about the trek and for information on donating, head to our wonderful fundraising page now!