LatinaLista — Before there was Peru’s Machu Picchu — 650 years to be exact — there was Teyuna, a settlement tucked away in the jungles of northern Colombia. Long forgotten until 1972 when looters stumbled across it and found an untouched treasure trove of gold and ceramics, the isolated settlement is now resurrected — and open for tourists.
When archeologists heard rumors of looters selling incredible artifacts on the Colombian black market, they tracked them down and discovered the source of their riches. Scientists with the Colombian Institute of Anthropology estimate that Teyuna, more popularly known as Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), was founded in 860 AD. Its inhabitants likely died off after contact with Spanish traders.
Archeologists started reconstruction of Teyuna in 1976 and finished six years later, leaving a tourist destination that transports visitors back in time. Mountainside terraces, stone rings, precisely placed rugged rocks and perfectly formed pebble stone pathways remain of a people lost to history.
Though the area of the archeological site is patrolled by the Colombian Army, and there have been kidnappings by FARC and ELN in the past, adventurous visitors continue to hike the trek, taking advantage of expeditions offered by Colombian tourist agencies. The popularity of the Lost City inspired the local indigenous to create their own tour company — Wiwa Tour.
The indigenous see the Lost City, known to them as Tehizuna, as a magical and sacred place. Since 2009, they’ve been getting help in preserving the memories of these ancestors from the non-profit Global Heritage Fund (GHF).
One goal of the GHF is to help the indigenous maintain a voice at the table in the preservation and sustainable development of the site, and they have seized the opportunity by setting aside a large part of their Wiwa Tour profits to donate to the development of projects of other indigenous communities that don’t benefit from the tourism of an ancient city creating a modern impact.