The Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) Trek in Colombia has become a must on the bucket-list of eco-tourists around the world; many people are disenchanted by the commercialization of Machu Picchu in Peru, and have labeled the Lost City of the Tairona tribe the best challenge in South America.
Compared to the Inca ruins, built around 1450 A.D., it is estimated that the Tairona’s were established 650 years prior, 800 B.C. Moreover, while Machu Picchu can be accessed via foot, train, and bus, the Ciudad Perdida (known as Teyuna in the Tairona tongue) can be reached only by foot on a three day journey of 30 kilometers through the jungle.
The second difference has determined the interest of the “purist” eco-travelers. Machu Picchu averaged 5,000 visitors daily in 2017 (double the number recommended by UNESCO to preserve the site) and the Lost City 63.
Even though I have criticized the national government for the lack of investment in the touristic infrastructure, I am glad that this Colombian archaeological gem, embedded in the heart of the mountain known as Sierra Nevada, remains lost to preserve the visual treasures that can only be revealed to brave hikers.
Ironically, in an article published in a Colombian paper, a Spanish adventure travel blogger criticized the precarious lodging and trail conditions. When I read this I wondered, isn’t that the attraction for adventure travel? As I understand it, the lovers of this type of tourism are willing to endure lack of comfort and even risk to get in touch with millennial virgin nature.
Unfortunately, there is another kind of adventure travel that the governments, not only in Colombia but in many famous vacationing spots around the globe, have the duty to monitor and punish with the maximum extend of the law: travel child prostitution.
Last week in Cartagena, Colombia, one of the largest prostitution and human trafficking rings was dismantled in the Vesta operation, a cooperation between the Attorney General’s office, Judicial Police, Colombian Migration, and ICE from the United States.
This particular group operated in high-class circles of foreign wealthy men, who could choose services from catalogs online. Girls and boys as young as 14 were advertised as products ready to use locally or shipped to attend private parties in the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico.
Developing countries with high rates of poverty are breeding grounds for this type of perversion, often times permitted by the victims’ own parents. Public officials, local authorities, and managers of luxury hotels are also accomplices, by action or omission.
Criminals of this type of tourism set sail on their adventures without a moral compass, leaving at port their family and businessmen reputation. They have no regard for human life and take advantage of the abused.
Following the principle of the Jewish Talmud, “Whoever destroys a single life is considered to have destroyed the whole world, and whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the whole world“.
Therefore, countries and communities that benefit from tourism should facilitate mechanisms to report the crime and protect children. The famous policy, “See something say something” shouldn’t be exclusive to terrorism.
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