Sunday, March 2, 2014

{Trekkin' Tips} Ciudad Perdida

1.)    Pack Light
 This trek would have been way easier if I scaled down my pack. I learned the hard way by bringing too many clothes and other non-essential items making my pack unnecessarily heavy. You really don’t need much. What I would suggest to bring with you on the trek is as follows:

Good trail shoes (hiking boots – unless light weight, will be too heavy for this trek). I hiked in Salomon Speedcross 3 trail shoes. I have used these trail shoes on other backpacking trips and they are the best. Although they lack the ankle support of a trekking boot, they are light weight and have incredible stability and grip.

 Easy slip-on sandals or water shoes – there are numerous river and stream crossings on the trek and your feet will get wet. I crossed most of the rivers in my Salomon’s because they dry super-fast. I brought along flip flops, which was a nice breather for my feet when hanging out at camp, but Chaco’s or Teva's could also be helpful if you want to keep your shoes dry.

1 pair of fast drying shorts & 1 pair of long pants – You will almost always be hiking in shorts due to the humidity and sweat factor. Pants are nice for the mornings and evenings when it gets very chilly and for getting coverage from the bugs that bit. It was crazy because I had a bunch of bits but never felt them.

2-3 shirts or tank-tops – polyester is great in these kinds of conditions. I also put one shirt aside that I used to sleep in only. 

1 long sleeve shirt – I brought a thin fleece and glad I did. I wore it every night around camp, as well as to bed.

3 pairs of socks & underwear – There is something wonderful about putting on a clean pair of socks & underthings when you’re out in the great outdoors.

Swim suit – Even if you’re not a great swimmer there are so many opportunities to cool off, you will be thankful that you brought it.
Head lamp – Do I need to really elaborate? It’s essential and you will use it.

Water bottles – enough to hold about 64oz. or so. I brought 2 (32oz) Nalgene water bottles and although I love these things, I never used them on the rest of my trip (except for 1 or 2 times and in the airport) so they became kind of an annoyance when packing. I would suggest bringing a Camelbak bladder or hold on to some of the disposable water bottles that you will indeed purchase while in Colombia.

Deet/Mosquito Repellent – I treated my clothes beforehand and brought 2 (2.2oz) Deet Repellent with me. I only used one bottle and I don’t think it was necessary to treat my clothes. A few people were covered up most of the time and had significantly less bits, so it pays to stay covered up, but it is very hard with the heat/humidity. Despite all the repellent and coverage you have, you will get bit. It’s inevitable.

Sunscreen - duh.

Duck Tape - You never know when your pack might rip or have a shoe blow-out. I haven't had to us it myself, but have had other's use it on several occasions.

TP - Although some spots had TP available, it's not guaranteed.

 Backpacking blanket – I brought a very thin sleeping bag and was happy to have it. It gets deceivingly cold at night so it was nice to be bundled in something you know is somewhat clean. The tour group provided blankets, so bringing a sleeping bag isn’t necessary.

Small Quick Dry Towel - With all of the opportunities to swim, it was nice having a towel to dry off with.

Dry bags – These are always good to have and very handy when the weather turns.

Camera – If you’re anything like me, then you will be snapping away at the beauty. Just be aware that if you are bringing a nice, fancy camera or any electronics for that matter, they might get wet, fogged up and they might not function normally. I ran into all sorts of camera issue’s due to the humidity, but still came away with a few good shots. If you don’t have a waterproof camera, bring an extra dry bag that will fit your camera in if it starts to pour. It’s also a little piece of mind when crossing those rivers.

2.)    Water
Before doing this trek, I was most concerned about the water. Was it available? Do I need to bring a water filter? Do I need to bring iodine tablets? etc.. I couldn’t get a very clear cut answer so I ended up bringing my water filter and my friend brought her steri-pen. Don’t bring a water filter – you won’t use it. Our tour group provided plenty of water all throughout our trek and used non-iodine purification tablets. I drank the water provided with no problems. If I were doing this trek again, I wouldn’t bring any water purifiers, HOWEVER, it is always better to be safe than sorry, so bringing a few iodine tablets or a steri-pen isn’t going to hurt. The last thing you want is to be sick in the wilderness.

3.)    Food
It isn’t necessary to bring food unless you want something specific. I brought a few snacks with me – mainly almond butter, which was my go-to morning snack that I had with my malaria pill. Good stuff.

Our tour group, Magic Tour Colombia, provided ample amounts of amazing food. We were given huge portions for breakfast & dinner, with lunches on the lighter side, and several snacks in between. The typical breakfast we ate was scrambled eggs with bread, fruit, and coffee or hot chocolate. Dinner was different every night from fried fish and curry rice to hearty pasta. Everything was delicious and filling.

4.)    Sleeping
Every night (except for 1 night) we slept in hammocks that had mosquito nets around them. If you’ve never slept in a hammock before, they take a fine balance and shift to get comfortable in. I loved the hammocks and had no problems sleeping in them. On the last night, we actually slept in these make-shift beds with thin mattresses. Normally I would be excited to sleep in an actual bed after a long day of hiking, but I hated it. There was a special suffocating smell, a mixture of mold and dirty people making it hard to sleep, I felt confined by the odors.

Side note:
{All the above is my opinion and recommendation only. I did the 4 day trek in mid-January.}
If you are planning on doing this trek, I highly recommend going with Magic Tour Colombia. I hope you find these tips helpful.

Until next time,
Happy Trekkin'.