Deciding what to pack for Ciudad Perdida is quite the challenge. You want to keep your bag light and only bring the essentials – you’ll be carrying it for four or five days! – but you don’t want to leave something behind you’ll need later.
In this ultimate guide to what to pack for the Ciudad Perdida trek, we’re sharing the tried and tested gear items you shouldn’t travel without.
We hope this Ciudad Perdida packing list helps you pack your bag and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.
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Backpacks and Luggage for Ciudad Perdida
The choice of what backpack to bring when visiting Ciudad Perdida is an important one. Most Ciudad Perdida guided treks are four days, though some can last for five days or even more, so you’ll need to be comfortable with your bag. Here are some options to consider.
A roomy daypack is perfect for the Ciudad Perdida trek. You want to travel as light as possible, as you’ll be carrying everything with you on your back. I don’t recommend with traveling anything too large or heavy.
The North Face Recon Daypack I’ve had for years is my favorite backpack by far. It’s the perfect size for the trek, and also the perfect bag for digital nomads with their laptops, or just carrying your stuff around on a daily basis.
If possible, leave your large backpacking backpack in Santa Marta before heading out on your trek. Carrying anything too large will really weight you down and make the trek much harder.
You can’t bring luggage on the Ciudad Perdida trek for obvious reasons, but you may be traveling out of luggage for the rest of your time in Colombia.
There are plenty of hostels and hotels in Santa Marta willing to keep your luggage for you while you embark on the Ciudad Perdida trek.
Looking for a great hostel or hotel that will keep your luggage while you head out on the trek? These are our recommendations:
Travel Essentials for Ciudad Perdida
A Steripen is a tiny water sanitation pen that is a game changer for international travel. Stick the UV light into any water, swirl it around for a few seconds until you hear a beep, and the water is safe to drink. It’s genius, and saves money on bottled water, while cutting down on your single-use plastic consumption.
Filtered water is provided at all the camps along the route, so you won’t need the Steripen during the trek, but definitely bring it with you to Colombia!
Water Bottle with Filter
I always travel with my Lifestraw filtering water bottle – you can get water from any source and it safely filters it for you to drink. This is a must for any international trip!
Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Bag Liner Sheet
The camp beds along the trek route can get a little gross, so pack a warm-weather sleeping bag if you spare the space in your bag. It also gets quite cold in the mountains in the evening, so this will keep you quite cozy.
If you don’t want to or can’t bring a sleeping bag, you need to (at least!) pack yourself a sleeping bag liner sheet.
They’re quite inexpensive, and it’s a much-needed layer between yourself and the camp beds that are used by different travelers every single night.
White Noise Machine
If you’re sensitive to noises when sleeping, the idea of sleeping in the camp beds along the route might make you nervous.
We always travel with a tiny, portable white noise machine – when traveling, you never know what the noise level at your hotel or Airbnb will be like, so this is a favorite travel hack to ensure you sleep well.
Even if you don’t usually sleep with an eye mask, I recommend bringing one to travel with. Especially when sleeping in the camp beds along the Ciudad Perdida trek, this will be a lifesaver when your fellow trekkers want to stay up late.
Reusable silicone ear plugs are another travel must for good sleep, as it can be hard to know if your accommodations will be noisy. Especially when hiking Ciudad Perdida, these can be a lifesaver. They’re also great on airplanes or public transportation.
With all the river crossings you’ll complete along the route of the trek, a quick-drying microfiber travel towel is a MUST for the trek. It can also be rolled up and used as a pillow at night.
I love to pack a travel blanket when I travel to use on the airplane, as a picnic blanket, or even as a beach towel.
If you have your sleeping bag liner in your backpack, this isn’t super necessary on the trek, but can be a cozy addition if you can spare the space.
Silicone Reusable Bags
I love this packing hack no matter where I travel, but bringing silicone stasher bags is a MUST when hiking Ciudad Perdida.
Use them to store your wet bathing suit or muddy socks, or anything else that is wet from rain or river crossings.
Even if you don’t travel during the rainy season, you will get wet along the route – there are dozens of river crossings to complete over the course of multiple days. Bring this tiny, packable clothes line along to dry your stuff out along the route.
You’ll want some bags for dirty or smelly clothes while you’re trekking. Throw some reusable, environmentally-friendly canvas bags in your pack and keep the rest of your stuff clean as you travel.
An inexpensive headlamp is a great addition to your pack, and you’ll be thankful you have it when you need to get up to go to the bathroom at night!
Clothing for Ciudad Perdida
Hiking Boots or Sneakers
I recommend hiking the Ciudad Perdida trek in hiking boots, as its important to have great support for multiple days of being on your feet and moving for hours. However, it can also be done in sneakers during the dry season.
If you’re in the market for new hiking boots, we’ve had the same waterproof pairs for years and LOVE them:
If you’re looking for good sneakers to hike in, I love to travel and hike with the Loom sneakers, which are 100% waterproof (seriously!) and quite durable, while also being extremely stylish.
Chacos or Similar Water Shoes
If you feel comfortable hiking in Tevas or Chacos, go for it. These type of tactical sandals tend to be sturdy enough for a hike like this – and they’ll also give you the convenience of not having to take off your hiking boots and socks for each river crossing.
These are also nice to have with you once you’re done for the day and resting or swimming at camp.
Merino Wool Base Layer
Wool in the hot jungle? It might sound crazy if you’ve never heard of the magical properties of merino wool, which keep you perfectly cool and covered in the heat, and warm in the cold.
Traveling with a merino wool base layer is a fantastic idea, even in the rainy season, as its water resistant and protective even when wet.
Here are our merino wool base layer recommendations:
- Women’s Merino Wool Base Layer Top
- Women’s Merino Base Layer Bottom
- Men’s Merino Wool Base Layer Top
- Men’s Merino Wool Base Layer Bottom
You can layer clothes like shorts, a t-shirt, and a rain jacket over the base layer and remove as needed based on the weather.
Make sure to bring several pairs of comfortable, well-fitting socks that will be tall enough around your sneakers or hiking boots to protect your skin. Bring more pairs than you think you need – they’ll get wet!
You’ll want a few t-shirts, at least 2 or 3, in case one gets wet and doesn’t dry in time for the next day’s hike. If you’re planning on using a base layer, you might not even need a t-shirt at all (though I do recommend bringing at least one in this case)!
Sweater or Sweatshirt
The days are hot, but the nights can get chilly! You’ll absolutely want a sweatshirt and at least one pair of leggings or long pants, no matter what else you plan to bring.
If you won’t be using a merino wool base layer, definitely plan on bringing leggings. They’ll keep your legs covered and safe from scratches or irritation as you walk on the trail.
Hiking Pants or Shorts
Don’t even think about bringing jeans – you’ll want comfort and mobility for this trek. If you’re bringing pants, opt for something movable and breathable, or choose shorts and tall socks.
You’ll be able to swim in the river next to camp every night, a welcome reward after a hot day on the trail, so you’ll need to have your bathing suit and travel towel. This is also a good time for flip flops, Tevas, or Chacos.
If you’re traveling to Ciudad Perdida in the rainy season – approximately June through November – these items are absolute must-haves. Don’t fear the rainy season, just make sure you’re prepared for it.
Waterproof Hiking Boots
Whatever your chosen footwear for the trek, you’ll want something that allows you to hike easily and comfortably, especially in muddy conditions. It will be no fun at all to be slogging around in wet sneakers or hiking boots for the entire trek.
A good rain jacket is a must! You’ll want something that is decently breathable while still being waterproof, as it’s so steamy here, even when raining. We’ve both had the same Columbia rain jackets for years, and can’t recommend them enough.
Toiletries and Personal Care Items for Ciudad Perdida
There is a good amount of tree cover during the Ciudad Perdida trek to keep you out of the sun, but you’ll still want a strong sunscreen for any exposed areas. Hiking with a burn is no fun.
Don’t even think about coming out here without insect repellant – either insect repellant spray or insect repellant lotion. Personally, I prefer the insect repellant spray, which can more easily be layered with sunscreen.
Bug Bite Lotion
Despite your best efforts, you will get some bites. Bring along Murphy’s insect bite relief balm – this stuff is all natural and works like a charm. Or, whatever you have on hand!
Lotion and Lip Balm
You likely won’t feel dried out while hiking since it tends to be quite humid, even during the dry season, but you might want to bring these for comfort, especially if you get sunburned easily.
You won’t be bathing for the duration of the hike, and that’s fine – no one does! However, I recommend bringing a bar of soap just in case you need to keep a cut or scrap clean.
Baby Wipes or Facial Wipes
Like I said, you won’t be showering during the trek. If you want to feel refreshed after a day of getting sweaty while hiking, bringing some baby or facial wipes along is an inexpensive (lightweight!) solution.
Again, don’t expect to shower (other than a dip in the river) for at least four days. For the sake of your tour guide and the other participants on your hike, remember to pack your deodorant.
Aspirin / Ibuprofen
You don’t want to be on the trek and need some painkillers and have no way of getting them. Add these to your pack!
You never know when stomach issues might strike while traveling, so come on this trek prepared. Bring some Imodium or a similar product, even if you think you have a strong stomach.
I’d also recommend bringing some electrolyte powder packets to add to your water.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Don’t let it sneak up on you! Bring what you’ll need just in case that time of the month decides the middle of a multi-day, remote hike is the perfect moment to strike.
Tech and Photography at Ciudad Perdida
Whether you plan on bringing a professional photography setup or just traveling with the basics, make sure you have what you’ll need to protect your stuff from getting wet! Silicone reusable bags are the safest option for this, or single-use quarter bags with zippers work as well.
You’ll want a power bank to keep your camera and any other gear charged – we love the slim, super powerful Anker power banks that somehow holds hours and hours of charge for all our devices.
Travel Adapter / Converter
You may need a voltage converter or plug adapter when traveling to Colombia. We always travel with our favorite travel electrical adapter and converter – it has several USB ports and plugs, so it also serves as a power strip when you don’t have enough outlets.
The breathtaking beauty of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains will have you stopping every few minutes for a picture, so bring along a good camera.
Whenever we’re asked about what travel cameras we use, we recommend the Nikon Coolpix B500 digital point and shoot – our favorite for beginners – and the Nikon Z 50 Mirrorless camera for those looking with a little more control. This is Nikon’s smallest frame DSLR camera, and it’s perfect for travel.
Extra Camera Memory Card
Bring an extra memory card for your camera, and carry it with you. Don’t get stuck without a memory card in one of the most photographable spots on Earth.
You’ll probably just want to swim, eat, and sleep once you make it to camp for the evening, but if you can’t imagine being disconnected and screen-less for four days, bring a tablet (Jose loves his Amazon Fire tablet) with pre-downloaded shows or movies.
Even if you normally use wireless headphones, you may want to toss a basic pair of wired headphone in your bag so you don’t run out of battery before reaching camp. Make sure to bring that headphone adapter if you need one!
Drones are permitted at Ciudad Perdida, and you’ll get some awesome shots at Ciudad Perdida and along the way. The DJI Mini 2 is a great, reliable option, without being the full price of the professional, top-of-the-line models.
Travel Safety Gear for Ciudad Perdida
First Aid Kit
Having a basic first aid kit is a must for travel, especially somewhere as remote as Ciudad Perdida. When looking for what to pack for Ciudad Perdida, this is one of my number one items.
You can make your own – grab a pouch and add bandaids, gauze, painkillers, alcohol pads, etc. – or grab a simple travel first aid kit before you depart.
S-biner microlocks are one of my favorite travel safety items that I bring on every single trip. They easily keep zippers locked together, and provide that little bit of deterrence that is often more than enough to keep your belongings safe.
Luggage locks with flexible chains are great for keeping backpacks or suitcases locked up. I always keep them on, even when leaving my bags in a hotel room or Airbnb. They’re also TSA compliant, a great plus.