La Ciudad Perdida is Spanish for ‘Lost City’. Housed in the depths of the Sierra Nevada jungle, the ruins of this city is one of the largest archaeological finds of the century.  Findings suggest that the city was founded somewhere in the 800 A.D. The location of Ciudad Perdida is known as Buritaca and the Native Americans call it ‘Teyuna’.

The city was discovered in 1972, when a group of local treasure hunters found some stone steps leading up the mountain. They followed it, and it led them to an abandoned city which they named ‘Green Hell’. The authorities were notified about the existence of this city when gold figurines and urns from this city began to appear in the local black market.

The City Design

The Ciudad Perdida is like its neighbor Machu Picchu, in the sense that, it is built up high, on terraces that have been cut out of the mountains. The only way to get to the city is to climb more than a thousand steps through the thick jungle and crawl through carved tunnels. The tunnels are believed to be a form of security so that the locals could hear people from outside approaching.

The roads are narrow and tiled. Interestingly, though, there are town circles in place of the usual town squares.

People Talk

Members from the tribes around the area – the Arhuacos, the Koguis and the Asarios – claim that they have known of the site long before the archaeologists ‘discovered’ it; but they had kept quiet about it. In their belief, the city ‘Teyuna’ (as they call it) was the heart of a chain of villages that were inhabited by their forefathers.

By that virtue, Ciudad Perdida must have been the region’s political and financial center; and the design of the city suggests that it must have housed 2,000 to 8,000 people.

Archaeologists think that the locals must have fled at the time of the Spanish conquest, and thus, their gold statues and jewellery and other precious artifacts were left behind.


Before you get awed by whatever you’ve just read and start packing your bags to plan a trip to this ‘Lost City’, it’s important for you to remember that you need to check for the current situation. In September 2003, around eight tourists were kidnapped. They were released later, but only after they’d spent around 3 – 4 months in captivity.

In 2005, tourist treks became operational again.


The only way to get to the city is to walk up those steps. It is a trek of about 44 kilometers, and requires a good level of fitness. There are a number of river crossings included as well, not to forget the steep climbs and descents. All we’ve got to say is that, it’s definitely not for the weak-hearted.