I completed the 5 day Lost City Trek with Expotur. I did a bit of research, and as others have pointed out, all of the companies offer a similar package. I chose expotur because of the few reviews that stated they had an English speaking guide. I didn't request one, but we lucked out with Miguel. He wasn't fluent, but he spoke enough English to have a conversation, and of course, to provide information along the trek. Booking was very straight forward. I emailed them to confirm the date, paid the deposit, and they picked me up from the hostel on the morning of the trek. After sorting everything out in the office, it is about a 2.5 hour drive to Mamey, where you have lunch, and then start walking! About 20 minutes along the trail is the first swimming hole. And after that, it is up, up and up for about 90 minutes. I actually found this first day the toughest, as we were walking in the afternoon heat, with very limited shade on the trail. Make sure you go into it hydrated! The first day is about 4 hours of hiking, and that includes stops for swimming, and breathers.
Miguel got us up early the next day. 4am! We didn't get on the trail until about 515am, so 4am was perhaps a bit early. It was lovely to walk in the cool early morning, although you sweat almost as much as in the heat. The early morning meant that we had lots of time for swimming breaks. We went into a beautiful swimming hole, about a 5 minute walk off the main trail. I spoke to other groups that night, and none of them went into this swimming hole. Because they did not start as early, they just hiked all day, with no swimming stops. I would take the early morning option every time! We camped in hammocks at the base of the mountain up to the lost city. The second day was a long day. About 9 hours, but with plenty of stops, and a long lunch,
The next morning, it was up to the lost city. I haven't been to Macchu Pichu yet, so perhaps that is why I actually found the lost city very impressive. It isn't very big - it is spread out over about 30 acres.
So it was another long day of walking - about 9 hours. Again, plenty of stops, and a long lunch.
Miguel kept the 4 day group, and the 5 day group together until the 4th day. This meant that for the 5 day group, the 4th and 5th days were quite short. All of us 5 dayers were happy with this though, as we got to spend more time with the 4 day group, who, due to Easter, were all Colombians, which was great, and we got the long days out of the way, and could relax on the last two days.
Some tips, many of which you will read in other reviews.
The food was good, and there was plenty of it at lunch and dinner time. However, we did find that with the early morning starts, and just a piece of fruit for morning tea, we were starving by lunch. If you are doing the hike in 4 days, I actually would recommend you take a few granola bars. Dinner was often served quite late as well, and we were all sitting around taking about how hungry we were!
DO NOT drink the river water untreated. This may seem obvious, however a person in another group became very sick after drinking the river water untreated. He had to go out on a donkey.
Take your first aid kit. 2 people in my group became sick on the second day and luckily between a couple of us, we had electrolyte powder, and anti vomit tablets to give them, so they could keep going. The guides do not carry any of this kind of medicine. Also take band aids, and a pair of tweezers for pulling ticks off. Yes, ticks.
The Mosquitos were not very bad for us. The guide said it was because it was a new moon, and they are much worse when it is a full moon. However, you need bug spray to keep the ticks off. Even if you wear long pants, you need to spray all around your ankles to keep them from crawling up your legs.
Do take enough clothes. As others have said, clothes don't dry at night time. Have at least 2 shirts for hiking, and one clean shirt to wear to bed. Also take some warm pants to sleep in. I just had some thermals. I also took a thermalite sleeping bag liner, and it paid off when I was the only person in the group to get a good nights sleep on the second night. We were in hammocks, and everyone else got really cold. However, they looked to have spare blankets, so you could also ask for a second blanket.
Take enough cash to buy a few beers and chocolate bars (we ate these in the afternoon, when we just couldn't wait until dinner for food), and to tip your guide and cook. Tips are definitely expected.
At a minimum, take a 1 litre bottle of water with you. I had 1 litre, and there were a few times where I had to ration it a little bit, to get me to the next refill point. If you are a heavy sweater, I would recommend 1.5 litres.
Also, this is a hike. Not a walk in the park. I fully recommend hiking boots. Before I went, I had people tell me to wear runners. No way! I am so glad I wore my hiking boots. The trail is rough, rocky, plenty of tree roots, and very dusty in sections.
It is a wonderful hike, with beautiful scenery along the way. In regards to the terrain, If I were, say the USA National Park service, I would probably rate it as a medium difficulty hike. However, the hot, humid conditions are difficult if you are not accustomed to them. Make sure you drink enough water to replace the sweat you lose. I got a bit sick on the very last day, and I think it may have been due to dehydration, and heat stress.