The ancient Lost City of Teyuna, in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada region, has long captured the imagination of travellers seeking off-the-beaten-track trekking adventures. For the first time, G Adventures and their non-profit partner, Planeterra, have partnered with the Lost City’s Indigenous Wiwa community to allow travellers to explore a new undiscovered route, visiting an Indigenous village that is opening its doors to tourism for the first time.
Working alongside Wiwa Tours, the first Indigenous travel company in the Sierra Nevada, the G Adventures seven-day Colombia – Lost City Trekking tour includes an Indigenous Wiwa guide, overnight stays in Wiwa camp sites and a new exit route, open exclusively to G Adventures and Wiwa Tours travellers. Leading groups through the farmland surrounding the Lost City, the new route will pass through the Wiwa village of Gotsezhi, where travellers will undergo a traditional soul-cleansing ceremony before entering.
Once inside, travellers will visit the community, with a G Adventures Chief Experience Officer to translate, learning first-hand about their customs, before enjoying a traditional meal cooked by the women using local ingredients.
Committed to supporting Indigenous communities around the world, Planeterra and G Adventures have been working with local partner Wiwa Tours since 2015 with the aim of identifying opportunities for the communities along the Lost City trekking route. Working side by side with Wiwa Tours, founded by Aduanemaku or Eduardo Gil, they developed a community enterprise in the village of Gotsezhi for women to demonstrate and sell their traditional woven bags and handicrafts as well as to provide meals to travellers trekking to the Lost City. Located a short distance from the village to respect the community, a new training kitchen, hammock rest area, bathrooms and handicraft demonstration were funded by Planeterra and Wiwa Tours.
“Sustainable Indigenous tourism in the Sierra Nevada region not only offers employment for many of the local communities, but also helps to protect their traditional cultures and customs, which have been threatened in recent years,” comments Jamie Sweeting, vice president of social enterprise and responsible travel for G Adventures.
“In 2017, Planeterra introduced a set of industry guidelines, to improve tourism’s interaction with Indigenous communities. Using these guidelines, we work to ensure the long-term prosperity and survival of communities like the Wiwa people through tourism, while allowing our travellers to learn more about their cultures and traditions,” Sweeting continues.
The new itinerary is as follows:
Travelling from Santa Marta, the seven-day Colombia – Lost City Trekking tour takes travellers through lush, dense, jungle and sweeping river valleys, spending nights camping under the stars in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Swimming in natural pools, exploring Indigenous Wiwa and Kogi villages and hiking the 1,200 steps to the Lost City, travellers will learn more about the history of this mystical region from their Indigenous guide. After five days of trekking, travellers will make their way back through the jungle, taking in the “vista Hermosa”, or beautiful views, before visiting Wiwa Gotsezhi village, where they will experience a soul-cleansing ceremony and learn more about the traditional handicrafts and customs of the Indigenous people.