Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
Photo by Nicolás Sastoque
Ciudad Perdida Ciudad Perdida (or “lost city”) is believed to have been a political and spiritual center for the people that inhabited the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta highlands around 800 C.E. Treasure hunters "discovered" the complex in the 1970s and plundered its ceremonial artifacts. The subsequent arrival of archaeologists and anthropologists failed to turn up the site’s true origins with any certainty, but indigenous Arhuaco and Kogui people believe it was a sacred city. It seems to have been abandoned around the same time the Spaniards arrived. Today’s visitors can still see a network of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, overlooking the Buritaca River. The city can be experienced two different ways—choose to hike in (a four-to-six-day guided trip) or to fly over on a helicopter tour (though note that aircraft are not permitted to land).