Definitive Colombia Travel Guide

In this article, you will learn everything about Colombia. You will discover all the best places to stay in Colombia, things to do, where to eat, how to get around and more. So if you plan to travel to Colombia, you will love this new guide. Let’s dive in
tayrona park cabo san juan colombia

Table of Contents

Colombia is a beautiful country and it is as if they have put a facade on it where there is a lot of violence so that people do not visit it, which is not true at all.

Colombia is a country that many people from all over the world have dared to visit and they do not stop telling about their magnificent experiences.

In recent years it has become a very attractive tourist country where you get a very lively trip and good experiences for a low price, as it is a very cheap country to live and travel in.

Prepare your trip Colombia before everyone wants to travel there.

Section 1

Top Tips and Advices

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top tips news 4

Why Colombia ?

Human warmth

If we put together the calendar of festivities in each department and the number of public holidays, we realize that there is at least one holiday a day in Colombia.

Whether it’s during the Holy Week processions, the Barranquilla Carnival, or the festivities in the squares to the sounds of the orchestras, the Colombian joie de vivre is palpable at every moment.

Colombia loves dancing, singing, getting drunk! The hospitality, enthusiasm, spontaneity and good humour of Colombians are generally what one remembers most about a trip to Colombia.

The omnipresent nature

Communion with nature is easy in Colombia, since there are so many areas free of human presence.

Cordilleras with green valleys, snow-covered peaks, the immense llanos (flood plains) of the east, the powerful rivers, the wild beaches of the Pacific are so many places where nature imposes itself.

In rural areas, traditional farms are increasingly turning to agro-tourism, welcoming foreigners in search of green pastures and authentic peasant culture.

Adventure and extreme sports

The variety of relief allows the practice of many water, air or land sports.

The surroundings of Cali, Medellín or San Gil attract lovers of paragliding, mountain biking and rafting.

Climbers will put their boots on the cliffs of Suesca and mountaineers will have the choice between several Andean peaks at over 5,000 m.

The sea bed, coral or volcanic, will delight divers.

A mask and a snorkel are enough to observe an unforgettable spectacle, all the more so as the water temperature is pleasant everywhere.

Finally, the Amazon and the little-known Eastern Llanos offer incredible adventures, on foot, by bicycle or in dugout canoes.

Historical and cultural heritage

The mixture of pre-Hispanic, African and Spanish cultures, merged in the Republic and modernity, make Colombia a territory where heritage is striking; architecture of the big cities mixing skyscrapers and colonial houses, archaeological remains of pre-Columbian civilizations, Amerindian villages along the rivers or in the mountains.

Colombia is a mosaic of peoples, with cultural peculiarities and many hidden treasures.

Do

  • Speaking Spanish, even badly, is much better than talking to a Colombian in English, the language of the gringos.
  • French is not widely spoken, but the French are generally well regarded.
  • Greetings: Colombians are rarely satisfied with a quick hello and ask all sorts of questions before getting down to business.
  • Possible variations: ¿ Qué has hecho? ¿ Q’hubo? ¿ Qué más? ¿ Cómo le ha ido? ¿ Como andas? The answer is almost always muy bien (gracias a diós) y tú? As a general rule, be in a good mood and smile like Colombians do so well, even when things are not going well.
  • Stop grumbling, positive!
  • Keep calm under all circumstances, avoid raising your voice, Colombians are not used to direct verbal conflicts and your little nerves will be seen as particularly rude.
  • Avoid criticizing Colombians and use diplomacy when dealing with cultural, political and religious differences.
  • Keep yourself clean, even when travelling: clean shoes especially! Be aware that the French have a reputation in Latin America for not smelling very good…
  • Be gallant with Colombian women, pretty princesses used to being held out to when getting off the bus or car, to carrying their luggage or packages…
  • Compliments and piropos are appreciated!
  • Avoid jokes associating Colombia and cocaine, Colombian and trafficker …
  • They will make Colombians who are fed up with this reputation laugh.
  • And don’t be afraid if you come across an Escobar, it’s a very common family name in Colombia.
  • Be flexible in your travel plans and be patient: schedules are very flexible in Latin America.
  • Ahorita literally means “in a little while”, but that moment in reality tends to last forever or never happen? ¡ Tranqui cogela suave papi!
  • In Bogotá, close the taxi door with great delicacy, otherwise beware!
  • When driving on the roads, give back salvation to the soldiers who raise their thumbs…

Not to do

  • Dar Papaya. A papaya puesta, papaya partida, the equivalent of “giving the stick to be beaten”.
  • Avoid showing off your valuables, behaving too ostentatiously and trusting a stranger.
  • On the beach, accept a free massage or an oyster from a street vendor.
  • In the same way as Dar papaya, avoid falling into these little scams.
  • In the case of a massage or oyster, you will not be able to avoid paying (often an exorbitant price), even if you have been promised the opposite with a big smile.
  • As a general rule, don’t accept anything from a stranger.
  • Ask to share the bill at the restaurant if you dine with a Colombian woman.
  • Also avoid being too stingy (tacaño), which is very badly regarded in Colombia.
  • Also leave tips (propina) and don’t haggle over anything.
  • Photograph people without their permission, especially in Amerindian communities. And if you promise to send photos, be sure you can do so!
Section 1

Discover Cuba

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discover news 1

The Republic of Colombia borders Venezuela and Brazil to the east, Panama to the northwest and Ecuador and Peru to the south.

It has a multicultural population (mostly the result of crossbreeding between Europeans, indigenous people and Africans, with minorities of indigenous people and Afro-descendants) and is the only nation in South America with a Pacific Ocean coastline and access to the Atlantic through the Caribbean Sea.

  • Official name: Republic of Colombia
  • President:  Ivan Duque
  • Area: 1,141,748 km².
  • Language: Spanish
  • Capital: Santa Fé de Bogotá (Bogotá)
  • Religion: Catholic (85%)
  • Motto: Libertad y orden (Freedom and order)
  • Hymn: ¡ Oh Gloria Inmarcesible! (O imperishable glory!)

The people

  • Total population: 49.3 million (2017)
  • Density: 42 inhabitants/km².
  • Annual growth: 1.2
  • Birth rate: 16.3 ‰
  • Mortality rate: 5.4 ‰
  • Infant mortality: 17 ‰
  • Life expectancy: 75 years (men: 72 years, women: 79 years)

The Economy

  • GDP: US$ 282 billion (2016)
  • GDP/capita: US$ 5,800 (2016)
  • Growth rate: 2% (2016)
  • Unemployment rate: 10.5% (2016)
  • Population below the poverty line: 28% (2017)
  • Inflation: 5.7% (2016)

TIME DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPAIN AND COLOMBIA

In summer, Spain is 7 hours ahead of Colombia.

In winter, Spain is 8 hours ahead of Colombia.

PLUG TYPE IN COLOMBIA

Colombia American Adapter Plug

Being European you probably wonder if Colombia uses the same plug as the Americans and the answer is yes, the voltage is 110 v.

If you travel to Colombia from Spain you will need an adapter to be able to travel through Colombia without problems.

Country code: +57

Departmental Code (main cities)

  • 1: Cundinamarca (Bogotá).
  • 2: Valle del Cauca (Cali, Buenaventura) – Cauca (Popayán) – Nariño (Pasto).
  • 4: Antioquia (Medellín).
  • 5: Atlántico (Barranquilla) – Bolívar (Cartagena) – La Guajira (Riohacha) – Magdalena (Santa Marta).
  • 6: Quindio (Armenia) – Caldas (Manizales) – Risaralda (Pereira).
  • 7: Santander (Bucaramanga, San Gil) – Norte de Santander (Cucuta).
  • 8: Amazonas (Leticia) – Huila (San Agustín) – Boyacá (Tunja, Villa deeyva) – San Andrés and Providencia.

How to phone?

From France to Colombia. 00 + 57 + area code + the 7 digits of the local number (example: call Cali: 00 + 57 + 2 + 313 3520).

  From Colombia to France or abroad (there are three national operators: 5 from Orbitel, 7 from Mundo and 9 from Telecom). 00 + (5, 7 or 9 depending on the operator) + the country code + area code without the 0 + local number (example: call Biarritz: 00 + 5 (or 7 or 9) + 33 + 5 + 85 64 24 33.

In Colombia from one region to another. 0 + 5 (or 7 or 9) + country code + area code + the 7 digits of the local number (example: from Providencia to Bogotá: 0 + 5 (or 7 or 9) + 1 + 313 3520).

  • Making local calls from Colombia to Colombia The 7 digits of the local number (example: from Bogotá to Bogotá: 313 3520).
  • Call a mobile phone from a landline: 03 + 310, 311, 312, 313, 314 or 315 (depending on the operator) + the 7 digits of the mobile phone.
  • Calling a landline from a mobile phone: 03 + the region code (e.g. 5 for Cartagena) + the caller’s number.
  • Calling a mobile phone from another mobile phone. Operator number (310, 311, 312, 313, 314 or 315) + the 7 digits of the caller’s number.

Cost of the telephone

Local calls cost $200 per minute. If you own a Movistar and call a Movistar, it only costs you about $100 per minute, but if you call a Claro or Tigo for example, the rate goes up to $1,000 per minute. 

Most people in Colombia today use Whatsapp more than the normal telephone channel.

Internet

Cable and fibre optics have long since invaded major cities, providing high-speed connections in the many Internet cafés. In the rest of the country, there are few towns or villages without a connection point. Wi-fi is also very common.

Time difference

Section 2

Where to stay in Colombia ?

When it comes to plan your trip, your itinerary can make or break your journey

You will learn here all the best places to go in Colombia

where to stay 3

In Colombia you have as many accommodation options as you want.

Booking your hotels 

Many people look for the best deals on hostels and other accommodation on Booking.com.

It is also a good country to use Couchsurfing, especially if you want to know the local culture first hand!

Another option that is always available is to look for accommodation at AirBnb, where you can find a lot of options adapted to the type of trip you are considering.

From hammocks to 5-star hotels, family guesthouses and youth hostels, Colombia offers multiple housing options.

Reservations are required during the high tourist season or for a special celebration.

The average cost per person :

  • $25-50,000 : Dormitory bed
  • $50-80000 : Basic bedroom
  • $80-200,000 : comfortable double Room with private bathroom,
  • $250,000 and more for more luxurious bedroom

For many, it can be interesting and original to rent a finca (rural property), with optional staff.

There are also many todo incluido (all-inclusive) formulas that are very appreciated by Colombians: tourist offer including plane, accommodation, meals and drinks at will.

Section 3

How to get to Destination ?

By bus, taxi, walking or by boat, we will see all the ways to go

How to go 3
Section 3

How to get to Destination

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how to go 4

The best options to fly to Colombia, as always, you can find them in Skyscanner, the best current flight search engine.

Section 3

How to get around

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getting around

GETTING AROUND IN COLOMBIA: LAND AND AIR TRANSPORTATION

Are you having second thoughts about transportation? It is definitely one of the most important points to take into account when you are going to travel to a new country, we will try to give you a general idea since transportation can vary a lot.

Long distances in Colombia: If you are going to travel between cities it is advisable to take flights, internal flights are usually cheaper and faster.

Just make sure you book your flights in advance.

Transportation between cities by land: If you are going by land you can go by bus, but you know that it can take a long time to travel by bus, it all depends on what your plans are.

It is also true that when traveling by road you will see things that you would miss in a flight.

Airlines in Colombia: Satena, VivaColombia, Easyfly, among others.

Transportation in the cities: It is advisable to move in taxi if you go with several people.

Uber is also a good option and it is also quite safe.

If you are in Medellín you can use the metro system, it is quite safe and fast.

If you’re staying at a hotel, it’s advisable to ask for a taxi, because if you take a taxi, it can be more expensive, you know…

because of your foreigner’s face.

ORIENTATION IN COLOMBIAN CITIES: STREETS AND CAREERS

The races go from north to south and the streets go from east to west, the streets and races are named with numbers.

The number of streets is growing from south to north, and the races are growing from east to west.

Note: Each house or building has an address made up of 2 numbers, the first number is the previous street (in case we are in a race), the previous race (if we are in a street), and the second number is the number of meters that separate the house from the street or race.

The even numbers correspond to the buildings or houses on the right and the odd numbers to the houses or buildings on the left.

 

Section 6

Best time to visit Colombia

Leaving at the right time can make the difference between a good trip and an exceptional trip, right ?

It all depends on your travel priorities : culture, sun, avoid crowds

In this section we will help you choose the ideal time for your trip to Colombia

 
when to go

Climate in Colombia

The climate in Colombia varies according to the region and altitude.

On the coast and in the flat areas, temperatures can reach 30 degrees; while in the surroundings of the Andes Mountains they can go down to 0 degrees in the coldest months.

Despite these extreme differences in some parts of the country, its proximity to the equator means that temperatures remain stable throughout most of the country

Temperatures vary between 20 and 30 degrees all year round.

Colombia has only two seasons, summer corresponding to the dry season (December-February and July-August) and winter to the rainy season (April-May and October-November).

In the rainy season it rains every day but it doesn’t rain all day long, don’t worry! Of course,

The Amazon and the Caribbean have a humid tropical climate, the Guajira a desert climate and the Andean region has sometimes freezing temperatures.

Seasonality

Three periods correspond to the high tourist season (temporada alta): mid-December to mid-January (school holidays), Semana santa (Holy Week, mid-April) and to a lesser extent, mid-June to the end of July (school holidays).

During the numerous three-day weekends (puentes festivos), some establishments also charge the prices of the high season.

Everything is much more expensive at Christmas and during Holy Week.

During the rest of the year, prices are more accessible.

See Also : Best time to Visit Colombia

Section 7

Where to Eat in Destination

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restaurant 3
Section 7

Tours & Excursions

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guided tours 3
Section 7

Recommended Itineraries

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plan your trip

Best places to visit in Colombia

Tourists are increasingly letting the world know about the incredible experiences they have in Colombia.

It is a very complete country that offers everything that any tourist would want in a country, cities, rural areas with incredible landscapes, beautiful white sand beaches, exquisite gastronomy, unexplored wild places, colorful towns, among many other things.

Colombia is a country that continues to grow and improve its ability to offer a unique experience to all its tourists.

It is definitely going to become a very visited country, so you should visit it before it becomes very popular.

To give you an idea of what you will find in this country we will give you a short summary of the places you should visit yes or no.

Medellin

Medellín is a city that enters through the eyes, it is joyful and has a very peculiar architecture.

Its streets are full of history, some good and some not so nice.

Medellín is the only city in Colombia that has a metro system and is constantly growing.

Probably what you will like most about Medellín is its climate and its nightlife which is really lively.

You can visit the towns that are around it, it is totally worth it.

If you are looking for a safe way to stay there you should look at the southern part of the city.

To learn more about this city check out our guide to the best places to see in Medellin and you’re sure to be delighted.

To the east of the city of Medellin we find the department of Santander, specifically its capital Bucaramanga.

Great destination for those who seek to spend their stay in Colombia in one of the most developed places in the country.

It has urban parks, markets every day with traders selling a multitude of food and typical dishes, beautiful squares and buildings and much more.

Discover one of the best cities in Colombia in our guide to what to see in Bucaramanga

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias is Colombia’s spoiled city.

There is no doubt that it is very cheerful and colorful.

Every corner of its streets is full of history that will make you fall in love.

You can walk around the historical center of Cartagena which has streets full of life, surely it will be one of the places you will like the most.

Cartagena is the living example of the colonial city that is still intact.

Prepare your trip to Cartagena de Indias when you are on Colombian soil.

To help you prepare your trip to this wonderful city we have prepared a guide on what to see in Cartagena de Indias and not miss anything.

San Andres and Providencia

This is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia, paradise islands that are part of Colombia, San Andres and Providence is the Colombian paradise in the Caribbean, with its sea of 7 colors and white sands.

You will definitely find exquisite food, water sports and a great variety of marine life.

The rainy season for San Andres is April and November (we recommend not visiting San Andres during these seasons).

San Andres and Providencia ColombiaSan Andres and Providencia Colombia

You cannot stay without visiting these wonderful paradisiacal beaches of crystalline water.

If you are going to stay in the northern part of the country but do not have much time, we offer you to consult our recommendations on what to see in Santa Marta in 3 days, a coastal city in the department of Magdalena that enjoys a natural environment with rivers, bays, squares, monuments and an endless number of landscapes and sunsets that will leave you stunned.

Bogotá

On a trip to Colombia, Bogotá is the city you should visit, yes or yes.

The center of Bogota is the most beautiful part that you can find, the walk through the neighborhood of the candelaria, Bolivar Square, the funnel street, the nightlife, which you can find in its fullest splendor in the zone T, 97 park or in Usaquen.

Around Bogota you can visit the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá, one of the most popular places in Colombia.

Discover this detailed travel guide about what to see in Bogota.

If you have time and want to visit other departments of the country we recommend going to the city of Boyacá where you can see amazing landscapes, swim in its lake or walk through its large hills enjoying the view at your feet of the city.

Discover all this and much more in our guide about what to see in Boyacá.

Travel to bogota ColombiaTravel to bogota Colombia

The Amazon

The Colombian Amazon is a magical place full of much wildlife, you can cross the jungle by the river in kayak, see unique animals and in freedom, alligators, piranhas, monkeys, etc.

It is definitely a perfect place for those who like adventure and the wildest places, for sure you will love it.

Travel to Amazon ColombiaTravel to Amazon Colombia

Salento and the Cocora Valley

The coffee belt is another of the most visited places in all of Colombia.

Salento is a very colorful and happy town that will leave good memories in your mind.

Every morning Willys leaves Salento for the Cocora Valley, a magical valley full of wax palms so high that they will make you feel small, even if you are 3 meters tall.

You can ride or walk through the valley, both ways are special.

Note: Since it is a coffee zone you can’t leave without visiting one of the coffee farms and trying the authentic Colombian coffee, the original one.

Not tasting coffee in the coffee zone would be like not having made that trip to Colombia.

Tour Salento and the Valley of Cocora ColombiaTour Salento and the Valley of Cocora Colombia

National Natural Park Tayrona

This is one of the most important natural parks in Colombia, in recent years it has become quite touristy.

It has more than 15 thousand hectares, it has a lot of biodiversity, its white sand beaches and Caribbean sea will make you fall in love.

You can make the typical excursion to the Tayrona, but you must reserve a day of those who are there to go to some beach where tourists are not so abundant, you will not regret it.

see also : Best places to visit in Colombia

 

Section 7

Is Destination Safe ?

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security

The foreign media and people you know who have never set foot in Colombia tend to be very alarmist about the situation in “the country of FARC and cocaine”.

However, the armed conflict in some rural areas and the insecurity in the large urban centres is undeniable.

Yes, the ELN guerrillas and criminal gangs are still very much present.

But they are unlikely to attack a passing tourist if he does not look for it himself (for the taste of adrenaline or white powder).

The situation has improved considerably over the last ten years: the number of kidnappings has been divided by ten (less than 1 kidnapping per day on average in Colombia in 2017, compared to 10 in 2005), and the homicide rate is steadily decreasing.

The police are also well present and generally behave cordially towards foreigners.

They will recommend a minimum level of vigilance, but do not become paranoid: to avoid problems, it is enough, as everywhere, to have common sense and to respect basic rules, such as :

  • No dar papaya: don’t attract attention by displaying your valuables (camera, jewelry, smartphone, etc.), don’t lose sight of your luggage, don’t leave your purse lying around when you go dancing…
  • At night, take a taxi.
  • Don’t hail it on the street: call a taxi radio company or use an application like Easy Taxi.
  • Don’t go just anywhere: in tourist areas, don’t go far from lighted streets.
  • In Bogotá, be careful at night in the Candelaria district.
  • Do not carry parcels or luggage for a recent acquaintance, however friendly.
  • Avoid going out at night with your passport (a photocopy is sufficient) or credit card.
  • Take the money you need for the evening.
  • In case of an assault, keep calm, do not play the hero, give what you are asked. It is advisable to always have some money to give just in case.
  • Avoid withdrawing money on the street, preferably during the day and in shopping malls.
  • In bars and discos, keep control of yourself and stay in groups; most reported problems with tourists are due to alcohol abuse by tourists.
  • Don’t accept drinks, food, cigarettes or chewing gum from strangers, and don’t leave your drink lying around unattended, it could be laced with scopolamine, a burudanga-based drug, leaving you with no conscience.
  • Ask the right people and get several opinions: local authorities, Foreigners people living on the spot, hotel manager can all offer you valuable advice.
Section 9

What to pack for Destination ?

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vaction
Section 9

What to do in Destination?

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what to do 2
Section 9

How to Get Around in Colombia ?

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getting around 3

Flights in Colombia

Flights in Colombia are usually quite cheap and more if you get the offers, they are usually cheaper and cheaper than a long distance bus.

With a little information you can easily move around Colombia.

As this is a guide for people making a trip to Colombia, there are 3 companies that offer direct flights from Madrid – Spain to 3 major cities in Colombia (Cali, Medellin and Bogota):

Avianca, is a very popular company (you may get it on a chartered plane, but it is usually a good option).

Iberia, is another excellent option, but tends to be the most expensive of the 3.

Air Europa, is the option that is usually the cheapest, you know that the cheapest does not always come in the best conditions, but it all depends on how much you are willing to spend.

These are the 3 airlines.

You will have to do some research to find the cheapest tickets to Colombia and see what flights they offer that suit your needs.

If you want to know more about the city of Cali, take a look at our recommendations and we will help you solve your doubts about what to see in Cali.

Also if you want to continue discovering the area you can go south of Cali to see the fantastic region of Nariño and see a village situated on a hill between the mountains of the natural park of Farallones.

A unique place where you can merge with nature and discover its people and customs.

Getting around

Colombia has five land entry points with its neighbours: Cucutá and Maicao (border with Venezuela), Ipiales (Ecuador), Sapzurro-Capurgana (Panama) and Leticia (Brazil and Peru).

While the bus is the most common way to travel around the country, the plane remains the safest way to travel.

Indeed, Colombia has impressive statistics of road deaths.

Plane

There are more than 70 listed airports in the territory, including several international ones.

The main companies are Avianca, Latam and Copa.

Others such as Satena, ADA, EasyFly, VivaColombia and Wingo connect small airports, sometimes with low cost fares and conditions.

The ticket prices are not economical but remain reasonable. From Bogotá (round trip), average $300,000 one way to San Andrés or Leticia, $150,000 to Cartagena, Cali or Medellín.

AEROLÍNEA DE ANTIOQUIA (ADA) 

www.ada-aero.com

ADA mainly serves destinations neglected by the major airlines: Quibdo, Bahia Solano, Acandí, Tolú…

AVIANCA

  • www.avianca.com/co

Covers just about every destination in the country and serves many foreign countries.

Attention, on departure or arrival in Bogotá some national flights leave from Terminal 2 (Puente Aereo).

A free shuttle bus makes the connection.

There are Avianca agencies in all major cities.

Other address: Terminal Puente Aéreo Tel + 57 1 4 139 862

COPA AIRLINES COLOMBIA 

  • Cra 9a N° 99-02
  • Local 108
  • BOGOTÁ
  • +57 1 638 3323
  • www.copaair.com

Serves many national and international destinations from Colombia.

EASYFLY 

  • +57 1 414 8094
  • www.easyfly.com.co

This Colombian low-cost airline serves some 15 destinations, including Manizales, Bucaramanga, La Macarena, Yopal, Quibdó, Popayan and Neiva from Bogotá.

LATAM www.latam.com

Open weekdays from 8am to 8pm and Saturdays from 9am to 6pm (Chico district).

Serves the main national and international destinations in South America.

SATENA 

www.satena.com

This state-owned commercial airline serves smaller airports such as the Pacific coast or Llanos.

Essential for reaching remote areas.

VIVA AIR www.vivaair.com/

Low-cost airline serving Medellin, Cali and Cartagena from Bogotá.

WINGO www.wingo.com

A low-cost airline belonging to Copa Airlines which serves Bogotá, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Cali, Medellín, San Andrés, but also Panama City, Mexico City, Havana, Punta Cana, Aruba, Quito and Caracas.

Boat

On the Pacific coast and in the Amazon, it is the main means of locomotion.

From sculpted dugout canoes to powerful 40-passenger twin-engined boats, the range is wide.

The landing stage is called muelle, and schedules are rarely respected.

Very often, the departure is only made once the maximum capacity has been reached.

Bus

Colombia has a myriad of bus companies.

Buses or minibuses are economical and convenient for short trips.

Bus stations in the big cities are modern and equipped with shops, while the central square often serves as a terminal in the villages.

In the city, the many buses that follow routes along the main roads make their way through with a bang, stopping anywhere, anytime.

Practical and economical for a straight route.

A massive public transport system, such as Bogotá’s Transmilenio, is gradually being introduced in major cities.

Train

Since the 1940s, Colombians have forgotten what a locomotive is.

Passenger transport by rail is almost nil today.

The railways still in operation (Cali-Buenaventura, La Guajira) are for goods.

However, the remains of stations in Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Manizales remind us that the country had a network worthy of the name in its time.

Only the Mano Negra and her band of musicians and circus performers briefly revived the disused road between Bogotá and Santa Marta on board the “Expreso del hielo” in 1993 .

Car

Do not rely on distances on road maps, the relief of the Andean region multiplies travel times.

It can take 8 hours to drive 200 km! Driving is particular in Latin America.

One exaggerates a little but in general the priorities are rarely respected, the horn often acts as a brake, and it is the law of the biggest that counts, with, in order, the bus, the car, the motorcycle, the bicycle, then the pedestrian at the end of the chain.

So be very careful when crossing a street, even at a “protected” crossing with a traffic light.

Taxi

Taxis are plentiful and economical.

They are yellow and most of them have a taximeter (if not, agree on the fare beforehand).

Tip: in order not to hurt the driver unnecessarily, avoid slamming the doors too hard, whatever the condition of the vehicle …

Taxis can be rented by the hour or for short out-of-town trips.

Getting a recommendation from a trusted taxi or having your hotel call it is a significant guarantee, especially in Bogotá where some real fake drivers shamelessly relieve you of your money.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is not practiced and is not recommended in Colombia.

Section 9

Tips and Advices Destination?

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what to do travel guide

SHOULD I CHANGE EUROS TO COLOMBIAN PESOS BEFOREHAND?

The peso is the currency of Colombia (COP).

1 is worth approximately 3,700 COP today, it may change in the future.

To make you change your mind faster 10 euros = 37,000 COP _ 20 euros = 74,000 COP _ 50 euros = 185,000 COP.

It is advisable to take Colombian pesos with you beforehand so that you can change your euros to arrive in Colombia with cash.

Although if you don’t want to change it before, there are exchange houses at the airports or in the city centres you can also find them.3

Section 10

Budget for Destination

Where to go ? Check

Where to stay ? Check

Now it is time to make the bill and see how much you need for a trip in destination

how much money

PRICES TO TRAVEL TO COLOMBIA, IS IT CHEAP?

It all depends on how you want your trip to Colombia to be, it can go from very cheap to very expensive.

It will depend if you go on a luxury trip with luxury hotels and luxury restaurants, or if you go quietly traveling knowing and sleeping in hostels.

Colombia is a country that is prepared for tourism and for this reason you will find all kinds of places to stay and restaurants to eat.

Although if you are in Europe it will be quite cheap, if you are in Latin America it is a country that is on average in costs in Latin America.

You will be able to find a good room with air conditioning, TV, private bathroom for about 70 thousand Colombian pesos, which would be about 20 euros.

If you go to luxury hotels and can afford it you can find them for 1000 Euros or whatever you plan to spend, they usually come with tourist plans in which there are guides to show you the city.

The most important thing, the meals will be the cheapest in Colombia and if you are the one who cooks then much cheaper.

In Colombia there is something that Colombians call “corrientazos” which in other words are menus of the day that bring soup and a second course or “seco” with meat, rice, ripe banana and salad (for about 3 euros).

A meal in the best restaurants may be costing 20 to 30 euros per person.

Note: The prices shown here are just to give you an idea, prices may vary in each city and depend on what you want to get.

Although it must be said that it will not vary much either, since we are talking about the same country.

As for transport, taxis charge the minimum fare at 5,500 COP (approximately 1.5 euros), public transport is approximately 2,300 COP and it depends on the city (less than 1 euro).

Section 11

History and Culture

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culture 5
Section 11

Where to go ?

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where to go 2

Thematic stays

Cultural Travel

From pre-Columbian archaeological remains to the architecture of Spain’s colonial past and contemporary arts, Colombia’s cultural heritage alone deserves a tour. The archaeological sites of San Agustín and Tierradentro; the wonderful colonial cities of Boyacá, Santander or Antioquia will fascinate lovers of patios and balconies full of flowers; the historic cities of Popayán, Cartagena and Mompox are real gems and Bogotá has many museums and a lively cultural life.

Nature Travel

Wildlife lovers could easily spend a year in Colombia. National parks or nature reserves are described later in this guide. Of course, the adventure of meeting nature includes the Amazon and its forest larger than Australia. Another destination is the coffee-growing area and Los Nevados, accessible from Pereira, Armenia or Manizales; this is an opportunity to experience rural Colombia in optimal conditions of safety. In the northeast, the Sierra Nevada is a mountainous massif independent of the Andes Cordillera, reaching 5,775 m in altitude only 42 km from the Caribbean Sea. Finally, the Pacific coast, the Llanos or the Guajira will seduce the most adventurous, adept at travelling off the beaten track.

Sporting and festive travel

Sports enthusiasts will have plenty to do: paragliding over grandiose valleys, rafting down raging rivers or canyoning down waterfalls, hiking, horseback riding or cycling (San Gil, Bucaramanga, San Agustín, etc.), climbing the cliffs of Suesca or Mesa de Los Santos, andinism in the Central Cordillera, surfing in the waves of the Pacific or the Caribbean, kitesurfing in Lake Calima or Cabo de la Vela… For those who always have energy to spare, the dance floors of Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellín or Bogotá are waiting for you. Finally, to perfect your hip movements to wild rhythms, there’s nothing like dance classes in Cali, the “salsa capital of the world”.

Section 11

Visa & Entrance

Do you need a visa to travel to Colombia?

How long can you stay ?

Find out what documents you need to be able to set foot on Colombian soil as a tourist.

Visa

Requirements to enter Colombia

Another question that comes up a lot when traveling to Colombia is Do I need a visa to travel to Colombia? Find out what documents you need to be able to set foot on Colombian soil as a tourist.

Citizen from North America, Europe or Aussie do not need a visa to enter Colombia, as long as your stay does not exceed 90 days and you do not go to the country for work.

The only thing you will be asked for at the borders is a valid passport with at least 6 months of validity and a blank page in your passport.

HOW LONG CAN YOU STAY AS A TOURIST IN COLOMBIA?

You can stay as a tourist in Colombia for only 90 days, you can extend your stay as a tourist for 90 days more, by presenting yourself at the Office of Migratory Affairs

When you enter Colombia, you will have to say how many days you plan to stay in the country.

In some cases you may be asked for a ticket to leave the country 

You will be stamped with the days that validate your stay and that’s it, you are in Colombia!

Section 11

Health

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Health

NECESSARY VACCINATIONS BEFORE YOUR TRIP TO COLOMBIA

There are no mandatory vaccinations for travel to Colombia, there are some recommended vaccinations, but only if you are going to visit jungle or rural areas, among these are

It is advisable the vaccine against yellow fever.

The vaccine against hepatitis A.

And finally against typhoid.

Note: These vaccines must be taken one month before the trip.

Malaria pills.

This one is recommended when you go to jungle areas such as the Amazon or Choco and is taken 2 days before going to these areas.

Section 11

FAQ about Destination

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FAQ 2
Section 11

Your Turn

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now its your turn

TRIP TO COLOMBIA WITH CHILDREN

If you have been wondering, is Colombia a safe country to travel with children? The answer is yes, it is a safe place.

There are several questions that come to mind besides whether it is safe, there is the gastronomy, the logistics for children, the people, the diseases a child may contract, the medicine, etc.

Here we will solve some doubts that may arise when traveling to Bogota with children.

The endemic diseases

If you want to avoid endemic diseases on your trip to Colombia, you should prepare yourself if you are going to visit Amazon and coastal areas where you may be caught by mosquitoes or mosquitoes.

These include yellow fever, chikungunya, zica, dengue, among other diseases.

Note: If you plan to be in this type of coastal or jungle areas with your child, it is recommended that before traveling to Colombia you check the vaccinations your child has.

As for the vaccine against yellow fever, it can be applied to children from 9 months old.

If you want to reduce all risks of disease, vaccinate your child and visit places where there is no risk of mosquitoes, such as urban areas.

Safety with children

Colombia is a country that has had strong conflicts, which for the luck of all have already ended, conflicts that were seen in the most jungle and rural areas.

As far as security is concerned, since you must watch over your child, you cannot pretend to let your child alone as if it were nothing, in Colombia you are told “not to give papaya”.

Keep an eye on your child and nothing will happen.

Make sure that you are not at long hours of the night are children, neither carry expensive devices by the streets.

Colombia works very hard on its security, especially when it is a country that is visited by many foreigners every year.

Transportation with children in Colombia

When it comes to transport between cities, you should know that bus transport is going to be a bit slow, as Colombia has two-way roads with only one lane, so it can take time to get from one city to another.

You can rent vehicles which will make the trip more comfortable for the child.

Internal flights: In Colombia internal flights are quite cheap and work well, you can even get cheaper than a bus trip.

You will get to your destination quickly and the kids won’t be so stressed out.

Transportation in the cities: If you are traveling to Colombia with several people we recommend you take a taxi as it is cheaper.

Public transportation is not always advisable if you are traveling with children.

Uber is another good option, it is safe and fast.

You can also choose to rent a vehicle to move around the city.

 

If you are visiting the city of Medellín if it is worth using its public transportation in the Metro system, the children will love it.

Traveling to Colombia was a dream come true after several years of trying.

And the truth is, that dream far exceeded the expectations we had about Colombia.

We met wonderful people in every corner we visited, we loved their gastronomy (we came back with a few extra kilometers), the imposing nature of places like the Amazon, the Cocora Valley or the Tayrona National Park.

It was really a great trip.

And for you to enjoy it also without frights, we are going to tell you a series of tips for traveling to Colombia, which will help you enjoy this country.

Visa to travel to Colombia

If you are going to travel to Colombia for less than ninety days, and you are from one of the following countries, you will not need to apply for any visa, as long as you are going to tour Colombia.

Besides, it is free.

Spain, Italy, Portugal and the rest of the EU countries do not need a visa.

And most of the countries in the American continent do not need one either;

Argentina, Bolivia, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In any case, if you have any doubts, it is always better to go to the Colombian Embassy in your country, and also, take a look at the official website of the Colombian Foreign Ministry, where you can check whether your country of origin or the one that issued your passport, requires a visa or not.

Travel Insurance Colombia

Do I need to carry travel insurance to Colombia? We recommend that whenever you travel, wherever you are, Colombia or any other destination, you always take out travel insurance.

During the trips we do activities that go out of our daily routine, such as trekking, snorkeling, renting a bike or a motorbike, and nobody is exempt from suffering a mishap that takes them directly to a hospital.

And the worst may not be a minor accident that requires medical attention, but the bill that we will have to pay.

So we, no doubt, always travel with travel insurance.

In this link we tell you how to choose the best travel insurance to Colombia.

Currency in Colombia, the Colombian Peso

The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian peso, and with respect to the euro, the exchange rate is 1 euro almost 3800 Colombian pesos, so the exchange rate is quite advantageous.

You can take a look at this link, where you will see in real time what the exchange rate is from Colombian peso to euro.

Travel to Colombia cheaply

You may be wondering how cheap or expensive traveling to Colombia can be once you’ve seen the change.

Well, here it’s like everything else, depending on where you stay, the transportation you decide to use, etc, you will get an economical trip or not.

In general it is cheap, but there are places that, because of their exclusivity or how difficult it is to get there, will cost you more money.

I am referring to accommodation in the Tayrona National Park.

In our case, we decided to look for a quiet place, with its own beach, and that cost us money, more than if we had chosen other places.

In any case, Tayrona is one of the places where accommodation is more expensive.

 

 

We also paid a little bit for the time we spent in the Amazon.

In the end, we decided to make a different stay than what we had read about.

That is, more contact with indigenous communities, and we moved away from the more touristy areas.

The experience was simply fascinating, but we paid more than what it would have cost us to make the typical visits in the Colombian Amazon.

We used several planes to move around the country, but the prices are very competitive.

None of the flights were over 100 euros, and we used Avianca and Latam.

We did not use Viva Colombia, because in the end, with the cost of luggage and other additional costs, it was more expensive than the other two, which are supposed to be more expensive.

We also used public transport to get to Salento from Pereira, in Medellin and in Bogota, so we saved some money.

At the end of the day, Colombia offers you expensive travel, cheap travel or something more intermediate, come on, it’s made for almost every pocket.

Withdrawing money from ATMs in Colombia

Although it is quite safe for tourists in Colombia, one of the things you should consider with regard to getting money out of Colombia is where.

We withdraw money from ATMs mainly at airports and in supermarkets.

Yes, as you hear, supermarkets.

In many you will find that they have an ATM, and it is a very safe way to get money, since since it is not exposed on the street, it is almost impossible to be robbed.

It’s also true that we didn’t see many ATMs on the street, maybe we didn’t look too closely either, but if you don’t want to worry about withdrawing money, you know, supermarkets or airports.

When to travel to Colombia, the weather

One thing you must take into account when traveling to Colombia is the climate.

But also, as Colombia is a large country, with coast, mountains, jungle and different altitudes, you will have to pack a little bit of everything.

Well, don’t be scared, it’s cold, it’s not cold, just a little bit in Bogota, but it’s not that bad.

 

Except for the city of Medellín, known as the city of eternal spring, in the rest of the places, there are indeed different seasons and seasons.

Therefore, we have written a more detailed article about the climate in the different places in Colombia that you will visit.

You can take a look at this link, The climate in Colombia, best time of the year to visit the country.

Internet in Colombia

As has become commonplace in almost every corner of the world, Internet access is becoming easier and more accessible, although there are areas where it is almost better to be offline.

Our experience in Colombia was that, except for the Amazon, in the rest of the places we had access to the internet via WI-FI.

The accommodations have internet access, although the coverage may not be the best.

Buy Colombian SIM card

As we were not very clear, before traveling to Colombia, how the internet connection was going to be, we decided to buy a local SIM card, to have the most access possible, you know, search for accommodations, Google Maps, contact with local people, transportation, etc.

In our case, as soon as we landed in Bogota, we bought the SIM card at the airport.

We decided to buy a SIM card from Claro, because it was the one that best suited our needs.

You can also buy your SIM card in the center of the cities where you go, whether it is Bogotá, Medellín or Cartagena de Indias

But in Colombia, the Tigo and Movistar companies also operate.

For our two weeks in the country, for the price and coverage, Claro turned out to be perfect.

Except in the Amazon, in the rest of the places the coverage was perfect, come on, we have no complaints about that.

You can take a look at the plans of the different operators in their respective websites, Claro, Tigo and Movistar.

Adapter and plugs in Colombia

Before travelling to Colombia, or once you get there, you will need to get an adapter to charge your mobile phone, tablet, camera, etc.

travel to Colombia

Plugs and adapters for Colombia

And that’s because the plugs, unlike in Spain, are type A/B.

But in addition, the voltage is 110V, and in Spain 220V.

In principle you should not have any problem, we did not have it either with mobile phones or with the reflex camera.

Taxis in Colombia

The issue of taxis in Colombia was something that worried us a lot, especially in the cities.

We had heard that a situation that could occur is known as “the millionaire’s ride”.

What is that? Visiting the richest areas of each city? No, not even close.

The Millionaire’s Walk is a kind of kidnapping, where the taxi driver forces you to go from ATM to ATM, taking out money until you leave your bank account shaking.

Well, cautious as we are, and from my experience in other cities like Mexico City or Guatemala City, we decided that we were only going to take official taxis.

And so we did, in the airports where we landed, we always took the taxis that the airport security told us to.

Uber’s service also works, both in Bogota and Medellin, but we didn’t use it.

Another way to avoid robbery or this type of kidnapping / theft, is to ask your accommodation or a restaurant, or similar, to call a trusted taxi driver.

Do not stop taxis on the street and get into them.

Nothing may happen to you, or yes, but the chances are higher.

Don’t forget to get travel insurance if you travel to Colombia.

We tell you how to find the best travel insurance to travel to Colombia, and for being our reader, you can take advantage of a 5% discount by clicking here.

Transportation for traveling in Colombia

In Colombia the transport you can use to move around is basically the bus, the plane, or a rental car.

I have read in several places that, above all, to travel around the Eje Cafetero, a rental car is usually a good option.

We don’t rent any car, not even for the Eje Cafetero, since we use the famous Willys and the public buses.

Well, even if there are places where the distances are not so long, don’t be fooled, the time that the journey can take can be long.

A clear example is the distance between Bogota and Medellin, just over 400 kilometers, but it takes more than eight hours by bus.

Depending on how much time you have and what you want to visit, consider the option of the plane.

The prices are not high, and you will save a lot of time.

But if you have time, use public transport.

The only place you can only get to by air is Leticia, the gateway to the Colombian Amazon.

There is no road that goes there.

 

To move around Bogotá or Medellín, I recommend you use the Transmilenio in the first one and the metro in the second one.

They are two very cheap and safe options.

Accommodation in Colombia

Are you worried about accommodation in Colombia? Well, actually, you have nothing to worry about.

Accommodation in Colombia is generally good value and in good condition, except in Tayrona, where it is more expensive than in the rest of the country.

What you should take into account are the areas where you stay in the cities.

In our case we were in Bogota and Medellin.

In the first one we stayed in the area of La Candelaria, although the area of Usaquén is also very good.

travel to Colombia

Usaquen Flea Market

However, in Medellin, we stayed in Poblado, the best area of the city.

Besides, it has a lot of atmosphere, both during the day and at night, and it is very safe.

As far as prices are concerned, you’ll find everything from glamorous and expensive hotels to other charming and cheaper hotels.

 

We stay, both in Medellin and in Bogota in some hostels of the Selina chain.

They are wonderful, really beautiful, with a touch of hipster, and with all kinds of amenities at really good prices.

Is it safe to travel to Colombia? Do not give papaya

It is quite possible that you have missed more than once the question, is it safe to travel to Colombia?

Unfortunately, the country’s reputation, from the 1990s until well into the 19th century, has been really bad with regard to security.

The hard years of the war on drugs, crime and guerrillas made Colombia the least suitable place to travel.

Fortunately this has changed.

Nowadays you can move around the country with peace of mind, but only if it is within the tourist route.

There are still certain areas where there is conflict, drug trafficking movement, and cities have their places where you should not set foot.

But in general, and although some Colombians say it’s not safe, I can say that in our experience, and that of many friends who have been to Colombia, it is safe.

What you have to keep in mind are some precautions like being careful with taxis.

At night, especially in the cities, don’t walk on lonely streets, and above all, “Don’t give away papaya”.

You will often hear this expression from Colombians as a safety tip.

Giving papaya is basically showing off expensive objects like a smartphone or a reflex camera.

 

 

Does this mean I can’t take pictures? You can take as many pictures as you want, but once you’ve taken the picture, put your camera in the bag, don’t leave it hanging around your neck.

And the same goes for your cell phone.

This advice is mostly for cities.

In smaller towns like Salento, the Amazon area or Tayrona, you don’t have to worry about this.

Another advice, if you have doubts about going to a certain area, it is better to ask at your accommodation, they will give you the most updated information.

In any case, we have written an article where we tell you absolutely everything you need to know to travel to Colombia safely, Security in Colombia, is it dangerous to travel there?

Travelling to Colombia on your own?

Without a doubt, I recommend that you travel the country on your own.

If you want to do some guided tours, or make guided tours, such as Free Tours in the cities (we did it in Bogota and Medellin), you can book it already there, or approaching the time and place where they start, on your own.

Colombia is a country that you can travel on your own without any problem, is our impression and recommendation.

The Netflix Narcos series and the Colombians

This series based on the Medellin cartel and its bloodthirsty leader Pablo Escobar is not to the liking of Colombians, even though it has been a boon to the country’s tourism.

If you talk to Colombians about this series, they are all embarrassed and against it, because they also say that the story is very distorted and shows the worst of Colombia.

So don’t make the fun of saying some of their phrases like “The boss is respected” or “silver or lead”.

Travelling to Colombia from Spain

If you are traveling to Colombia from Spain, there are currently two cities with direct flights from Madrid and Barcelona, they are Medellin and Bogota.

This way you can organize to enter one city and leave from another if you wish to make better use of your time.

Flight prices, except in the months of July and August, are usually quite reasonable, so aim for any of the other ten months, and you will be able to fly without leaving a penny behind.

Travel Itinerary to Colombia

During the seventeen days that we spent in Colombia, we tried to make the most of it to be able to enjoy different places that we wanted to see yes or no.

That is why we made several internal flights, also because we wanted to get to Leticia, in the Amazon.

This time, we did bring a travel itinerary that we didn’t change on the fly, as usual.

In any case, we managed to visit everything we wanted for the little time we had.

Here is the itinerary for the trip to Colombia, to help you plan yours.

Day 1; Arrival in Bogotá

Day 2; Bogotá-Pereira (plane) and bus to Salento.

Visit to Coffee Farm

Day 3; Salento and Cocora Valley

Day 4; Salento-Leticia (early flight from Pereira)

Day 5; Amazon (Sacambu-Peru)

Day 6; Amazon (Sacambu-Gamboa)

Day 7; Amazonas (Gamboa)

Day 8; Leticia-Medellín (plane)

Day 9; Medellín

Day 10; Guatapé

Day 11; Medellin-Santa Marta (plane)

Day 12; Santa Marta-Tayrona

Day 13; Tayrona

Day 14; Tayrona

Day 15; Tayrona-Santa Marta-Bogotá (plane)

Day 16; Bogotá

Day 17; Bogotá-return home

Map of the route

Gastronomy in Colombia

We liked Colombian gastronomy and a lot of it, proof of which was that we did not have to charge for it because we carried it with us.

Well, in Colombia as in all countries, depending on the region where you are, the food varies to some extent.

In Bogota the most typical dishes are ajiaco, a soup with chicken breast, corn on the cob, potatoes and avocado.

A hot soup for the cold days of the capital.

Patacones are also typical.

This appetizer is typical of more Latin American countries, such as Panama or Ecuador.

They are mashed and fried male bananas with a little bit of salt.

But in Bogotá they are served with tomato and onion (hogao).

 

 

In the area of the Eje Cafetero we were surprised that the most typical thing was the trout, because there are several fish farms in the area.

Well, there we ate trout served on a tray with beans, patacones (which in this case was a very fine stretched banana), rice, avocado, tomato and arepas.

Come on, you can’t stay hungry.

The dish we most wanted to try was the bandeja paisa, typical of Antioquia, and we were able to try it both in Medellín and in Guatapé.

Tip: I think the best thing is to share it between two people, they are huge.

The bandeja paisa has rice, chicharrón (bacon), patacones, chorizo, morcilla, avocado, hogao, ripe banana, beans and beef.

Come on, an impressive caloric barbarity.

 

 

In Tayrona we had a typical dish from the area of Santa Marta called cayeye for breakfast.

This is a ripe banana dough accompanied by coastal cheese, strength and energy to start the day!

Mondongo soup is another typical Colombian dish.

This one has what we call tripe, as well as corn, potatoes and other vegetables.

We can’t forget the chicken stew, which is a chicken soup, accompanied with corn, rice, avocado and potato.

A very strong soup.

Cayeye for breakfast in Tayrona

During our trek through the Cocora Valley, in La Casa de los Colibríes, we ate panela water with cheese.

At first sight, it doesn’t really attract much attention, maybe even the opposite, but I liked it very much.

This is hot water with panela (a more pure and natural type of sugar) and fresh salty cheese.

What a mix, right? Will you dare to try it?

Now you understand us, how could we not gain weight on our trip to Colombia?

Visit Bogotá

The capital of Colombia, Bogotá, is worth at least two days to see some of its most representative places.

We visit La Candelaria, which is the origin of the city, the first settlement.

You can’t leave Bogota without visiting Plaza Bolivar, climb Cerro Monserrate to get an idea of how huge this city is.

 

You can enjoy the Botero Museum for free, with his works on loan to the city of Bogota.

In La Candelaria, look for the Chorro de Quevedo, the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center and enjoy the graffiti in every corner.

We tell you in this article, What to see and do in Bogota.

Don’t miss the Gold Museum of Bogota

In the section on Bogota I have not talked to you about the Gold Museum in Bogota, and I think it deserves a separate mention.

When we went to Bogota, we had doubts about whether to go to the museum or not, since we had read everything.

Well, honestly, I think it’s a visit you can’t miss.

In this Gold Museum, you will be amazed by the gold pieces it has, all of them are several centuries old.

And not only that, it tells you the history of gold, evolution, how it was understood by the Indians, and how the Spaniards at the time of the conquest took it for totally different purposes.

What to see in Colombia

The Muisca de Oro raft

In short, if you want to know more about the history of Colombia, this Gold Museum is a fundamental part of it.

Enjoy the Usaquén market in Bogotá

If you are in Bogotá on a Sunday, we agree, don’t miss the Usaquén neighborhood and its flea market.

Security in Colombia

Environment in Usaquén, Bogotá

It is another Bogotá very different from the central area of La Candelaria, it is like a small town, with a colonial atmosphere.

Besides, it is full of cafes and restaurants.

Without a doubt, a very good plan for a Sunday in Bogota.

Where to club in Bogota

Colombia is synonymous with celebration, and proof of this are the carnivals of Barranquilla.

So if you’re in Bogota and you want to party a little bit, you should go to the T Zone.

It is in the northern part of the city, and it is one of the safest places in Bogotá.

The best areas to stay in Bogota

The best areas to stay in Bogotá are La Candelaria, Usaquén and La Chapinero Alto.

The La Candelaria area is where most of the travelers who come to Bogota stay, since it is in the historical center of the city.

Here there is a great offer of accommodation for all tastes and pockets.

travel to Colombia

La Candelaria Street

Usaquén is the neighborhood where the Sunday flea market is held, as I mentioned a little earlier.

It’s a good choice if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of La Candelaria.

And Chapinero Alto is the gay area of Bogota, a quiet place, very safe and full of bars and restaurants of the most chic.

Don’t miss the Eje Cafetero

Coffee and Colombia is a kind of symbiosis.

And a visit to the Eje Cafetero cannot be missed when travelling to Colombia.

 

Inside the Eje Cafetero, you can enjoy the Cocora Valley and its high wax palms.

You can also enjoy the rural atmosphere of Salento or Filandia.

And of course, do not forget to visit some of its many coffee farms to see in situ what is the process to have in our cups every morning, the best coffee in the world.

 

Check out our articles, What to See and Do in Salento, The Cocora Valley and What to See and Do in the Eje Cafetero.

Go to Leticia, the Colombian Amazon

It was not clear to me, if not very clear that I wanted to reach the Amazon and enjoy the lung of the world.

 

To do this, we flew to the city of Leticia, since it is the gateway to the Colombian Amazon.

And from there, we made a trip along the triple border of Peru, Brazil and Colombia.

We spent four days exploring tributaries of the Amazon, swimming in Brazilian river beaches, and enjoying Peruvian indigenous communities.

Leticia Amazon

Sunset in the indigenous community of Gamboa

We were trekking through areas where it seemed that no one had ever been before, since there were no roads, and our guide was making them by force of his machete.

A whole unforgettable adventure and totally recommendable.

You can read about our adventure in Leticia, the gateway to the Colombian Amazon.

Discover Medellin

Without a doubt, Medellin was one of the places we liked the most in Colombia, even though we didn’t have great expectations.

But the city of eternal spring won our hearts.

Who would have told me 15 years ago that I was going to visit Medellin and love it? Well, you see how things are.

 

In Medellín you must visit downtown, Plaza Botero, the Museum of Antioquia, the different viewpoints of the city, and the Poblado area.

The latter we loved, a lot of life, both day and night.

Narco tourism, or what is the same, visiting places that made the city of Medellin famous for the drug cartel that bore its name, in my opinion is not something that should be done in such a frivolous way.

In some cases, it is Pablo Escobar’s own hitmen who carry out these tours.

And it may seem like a legitimate way to make a living out of violence.

It’s true that these areas now feed off the money of tourists, with places to eat or Pablo Escobar’s merchandising.

But they also leave out, forget about the victims, who were in the thousands.

We tell you in this article What to see and do in Medellín.

Take a free tour of Medellín’s Comuna 13

At the height of the violence in Colombia, the epicenter of this was Medellin, but hell was in Commune 13, the most dangerous neighborhood in the world at the time.

Today, with its many things, it has become a kind of open-air graffiti museum that tells the story of the neighborhood.

 

And not only that, but it is one of the most visited places in Medellin.

We visited the Comuna 13 and its Graffitour in a Free Tour, with one of its inhabitants.

During the day it is filled with travelers with their reflex cameras to take pictures of the place, the radical change and the graffiti.

Perhaps it is the safest place to leave your reflex camera hanging around your neck.

But at night, it’s better not to go.

Part of the success and change of La Comuna 13 is due to the work of the community itself with inclusion activities and workshops to improve neighborhood life.

But the cable car that takes you there has also been fundamental in connecting the reality of La Comuna 13 with downtown Medellín.

 

The local authorities have invested a lot of money in infrastructure such as the cable car, and also escalators that make it easier for residents to move around from the bottom to the top.

In my opinion, Commune 13 is a success story of pacification of a hyper-conflictive and dangerous place.

We write an article where we tell you everything you need to know before going to Commune 13.

The best areas to stay in Medellin

The best area to stay in Medellín is the Poblado, one of the safest areas of the city, both day and night.

Here you will find, bars, restaurants, cafes, the Poblado’s houses and Lleras Park.

We stayed here, and I think it was the best option.

But it’s not the only area, there are others.

El Envigado, is another of Medellín’s fashionable areas, besides being famous for being the neighborhood where Pablo Escobar was born.

The travelers who come to Medellín, also begin to frequent this area.

Take a trip to Piedra del Peñol and Guatapé

One of the best excursions you can make from Medellín is to visit the Piedra del Peñol and the beautiful town of Guatapé.

Also, it is very simple, cheap and you can go on your own from the Medellín Caribe Bus Station.

Several buses leave every hour, and the same for the return.

 

La Piedra del Peñol is a huge rock in the middle of a beautiful landscape, with incredible views.

You can climb the almost 700 steps that take you to the top and contemplate this area of Antioquia.

And since you’ve reached Piedra del Peñol, the picturesque and colorful town of Guatapé is just a few steps away.

Famous for the plinths that are in all the houses of the village, as if it were a competition, to see who has the most beautiful plinth.

 

Come on, if you have arrived in Medellin, I advise you to enjoy this excursion that you can do in one day, and as I said before, you can do it on your own if you want.

We tell you all the details to get from Medellín to Piedra del Peñol and Guatapé.

Santa Marta, gateway to Tayrona

Santa Marta, in the province of La Magdalena is famous, among other things, for being the gateway to the Tayrona National Park.

So it’s not surprising, you might get to spend a night there.

If you have some time to visit this city, don’t hesitate.

Its colonial touch is still present in its streets.

Discover the Tayrona National Park

What can I say about the Tayrona National Park, one of the places we had marked on the map when we decided to travel to Colombia.

Nature in the wild, dream beaches, and the desire to never leave.

You have to take into account that every year the Tayrona National Park is closed several times for its conservation.

We tell you all the details so that you can travel on your own in this link, Tayrona National Park, guide to travel on your own.

Where to stay in Tayrona

Some people decide to stay outside the park, since prices are lower.

But if you want to do it inside, the most popular places are Canaveral, in the Ecohabs, the most expensive accommodation in the park.

Other options are Cabo San Juan and Arrecifes, although I recommend you to book in advance.

We stay at Wachakyta, a cabin located on a beach that can only be reached by boat, in an incredible environment.

The Lost City

Less famous than Machu Pichu in Peru, and also less traveled.

This is a very good option if you want to do a trek.

Of course, it is not easy and lasts five days, but you can visit the sacred land of the Koguis.

Visit Cartagena de Indias, the most beautiful colonial city in Latin America

Cartagena de Indias is said to be the most beautiful colonial city in Latin America.

We finally couldn’t go, since we had to decide between spending less time in Tayrona or spending a couple of days in this city.

Finally Tayrona gained weight.

In any case, if you travel to Colombia and have time, I think Cartagena de Indias is a place you should not miss.

And for us, one more reason to go back to Colombia.

The Colombian Guajira, a unique place

The Guajira is an area of Colombia lost from the hand of God.

It is located in a peninsula in the north of Colombia and borders on Venezuela.

Cabo de Vela is one of the places where those who decide to visit this province arrive.

We couldn’t get there either, but everyone told us that it was very worthwhile.

To get there you will need a guide to show you this area where the Wayuu Indians live.

It is curious that there is a desert in this area so close to the Tayrona National Park.

 

What to see in Colombia: guide to travel around the country on your own

Inês and Chris23 August, 2019 Colombia, Travel Guides, RandomLatam 4 comments

When we returned from our 8 months in Latin America, the question we were asked the most difficult to answer was: Which country did you like the most? The answer always sounds ungrateful, short and difficult because, having lived so many different adventures in the 5 countries we went through (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile), logically there are things that we liked more from some and others from others.

But if we have to do this exercise, then the answer is: Colombia, the country that has stolen our hearts and takes the lead in this adventure (as long as we specify that Galapagos competes in a separate league in this travel and those Galapagos days were, for us, incomparable to any other trip).

Colombia surprises with its heterogeneous landscapes (it’s like many countries rolled into one), from paradisiacal Caribbean beaches to arid deserts dotted with colorful hammocks to eclectic cultural cities.

Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here, further north or further south.

But, above all, you will find it in the hands of the people who turned out to be the nicest and most hospitable of the trips we made.

Don’t be surprised if you start the night learning a few steps of champeta with the panda you met in the afternoon and the days you’re already sleeping at home.

Or that when you return to your country, you find people to be rude and boring.

Don’t worry, it’s normal, we’ve called it ‘post-Colombian syndrome’.

This guide is to help you plan your trip to Colombia with everything you need to know.

Since we want it to be so complete, it is under construction and we will be completing and expanding it with specific posts from each zone/region.

If you have any questions or there is something that is not in the guide and you would like it to be, do not hesitate and leave it to us in the comments.

We spent Chris’ birthday in Cayo Cangrejo, Providencia.

And the pictures don’t do that blue one justice.

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.

We spent Christmas in Crab Cay, on Providence Island.

It’s one of the most beautiful islands we’ve been to on our travels

Contents [show]

Why travel to Colombia

Some people do not have Colombia among their possible travel destinations, so we leave you a list of the reasons that led us to visit it, and those that we think stand out after having been there

It has an incredible variety of landscapes, climates, fauna, cultures and gastronomy

This variety makes it possible to condense different enjoyment plans (beach, desert, city) into an itinerary of 2 or 3 weeks.

See more in Travel Itineraries

If you’re a beachgoer, we warn you, the best beaches in our #RandomLatam are here

Because of its (unfair) stigma of being dangerous, it is a far less touristy country than some of its neighbours, like Peru for example.

Although this is changing.

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.

The people are, without a doubt, the best in Colombia.

One thing is clear to us about Colombia: after spending 3 months there (yes, we were coming for a month and we spent three!), we left with a crazy desire to learn more about this wonderful country, so: we will be back!

If the coffee belt is our favorite region of the country, Tochecito is its unknown pearl.

If the coffee axis is our favorite region of the country, Tochecito is its unknown pearl.

Here we tell you more

Two hours by bus from Medellín you will find yourself in one of the most colorful towns you have ever seen: Guatapé

Two hours by bus from Medellín you will find yourself in one of the most colorful towns you have ever seen: Guatapé

The best thing you will find in Colombia: its people

The best thing you will find in Colombia: its people

Basic facts about Colombia

Capital of Colombia: Bogotá

Number of departments: 32

Currency: COP (1 Euro = 3700 COP approx.

in August 2019)

Climate: tropical but with cold areas due to the altitude

Language: Spanish is the majority language, and there are more than 60 indigenous languages.

Daily budget: as it depends on your travel style, here are some details

Population: 49 million (2nd most populous country in South America)

Time zone: time difference with Spain of 6 or 7 hours less depending on the time of year (Spain changes time every 6 months, Colombia does not)

Tips: included in the bill (usually 10%) but optional (you can ask to have it removed, but usually leave it)

Prepaid mobile internet price: 6 Euro for 2GB

Sunset on the Caribbean coast in downtown Cartagena (terrace of the Café del Mar)

Sunset on the Caribbean coast in downtown Cartagena (terrace of the Café del Mar)

How to get to Colombia

We detail some of the most common ways to enter Colombia.

By plane

Unless you are visiting Colombia from a nearby country, the most likely means of transportation you will use to get there is by plane.

The main international flight destinations are Cartagena de Indias, Medellin and Bogota.

Flowers and colors in Gethsemane

Flowers and colors in Getsemaní, Cartagena de Indias

Direct flights are usually more expensive, although they are the ideal option if you are going to Colombia for a short time and want to make the most of it.

If, like us, you have more flexibility, or you don’t have it but don’t mind wasting some time to save as much as possible, the ideal is to look for some combination that will be cheaper and with which perhaps you even know an extra destination.

In our case, the cheapest combination we found (one way, since we started our #RandomLatam adventure through Colombia without a return ticket) was the following:

Madrid -> Fort Lauderdale (Miami): 180 euros/person with Norwegian, with checked baggage and no food on board.

Ford Lauderdale (Miami) -> Cartagena de Indias: 100 euros/person with Spirit, with checked suitcase

That is to say, the one-way flight from Spain to Cartagena de Indias cost us 280 euros/person.

To give us a margin for possible unforeseen events with the flights and to take advantage of getting to know Miami, we spent two nights in Fort Lauderdale.

Be careful! Both companies (Norwegian and Spirit) are low cost and you have to check the conditions to avoid surprises.

The first price you see if you look for flights in either of the two will be quite low, but it does not include checked-in luggage or anything like that.

Also if you see the conditions you can get very good prices.

The best way to find cheap flights is to buy in advance, be flexible with stopovers and use flight comparators to see combinations and prices.

We usually use Skyscanner or Kiwi.

com, besides trying to see for ourselves which companies fly to each destination and check the prices directly on their websites.

Flamencos flying in Camarones, Alta Guajira

Flamencos flying in Camarones, Alta Guajira

By car or bus by road

Another way to enter Colombia is by road.

There are several points to cross from both Venezuela and Ecuador.

We from Colombia went to Ecuador and crossed the border at Ipiales in southern Colombia.

It was easy, fast and safe at all times, although there were a few months in 2018-2019 when the lines were quite long due to the Venezuelan crisis.

Find out more before you cross the border.

If you are going to enter Colombia from Ecuador, you must first get to Tulcan, from there go by bus to the border, make the corresponding arrangements to cross, and go by taxi or bus to Ipiales, already inside Colombia.

The Willy, the means of transport par excellence of the coffee axis, in the Cocora Valley.

The Willy, the means of transport par excellence of the coffee axis, in the Cocora Valley.

By boat from Panama

Another option to reach Colombia is by boat from Panama.

You cannot cross from Panama to Colombia by road, but there are some boats that make the journey by sea, to Capurganá (already in Colombia) or Cartagena, stopping at several islands along the way.

We have not been able to make this trip, although we read that it is not cheap.

If you want more information you can check out San Blas Adventures and/or this Lonely Planet thread where they detail the options.

The lighthouse of Cabo de la Vela, Alta Guajira

The lighthouse of Cabo de la Vela, Alta Guajira

Visa Colombia

Most European countries do not need to apply for a visa in advance or pay anything, as they receive 90 days free upon entry.

That was our case, with Spanish (Chris) and Portuguese (Inês) passports.

Ideally, you should check whether you need a visa according to your country of origin with the relevant authority.

For example, if you are from Spain, you can check here (Documentation and Visas section).

Do I need a flight to Colombia?

It is possible that you will be asked to provide proof that you have a flight out of Colombia before entering.

This is usually requested by the airlines before boarding (since in case you are denied entry into Colombia, it is the responsibility of the airline to take you out of the country).

If you are going on vacation with a return flight you don’t have to worry about this, but the truth is that it’s a nuisance for lxs who travel without a return date and who also move by land.

After diving in many forums and posts in English and Spanish, what we get clear is that you are not always asked, and that it is more a matter of luck.

In our case, we flew to Colombia from the USA (Fort Lauderdale) and were not asked for anything, nor did we have a departure flight since the plan was to cross to Ecuador by land.

If you have a one-way flight and they ask you for proof, what you can do is:

Buy a departure bus ticket online (for example at Redbus) and try to convince them of that.

If there is no way, look for the cheapest flight from Colombia (for example Skyscanner or Kiwi) within 90 days of Visa and use it to get them to let you board (even if you don’t use it afterwards).

We also read that you can buy a flight with some companies that allow you to cancel it within 24 hours, although we have no experience with that and we read cases where they didn’t accept it, so we can’t tell you for sure that it works.

Hacienda Cafetera Venecia, the best travel accommodation 🙂

Hacienda Cafetera Venecia, the best accommodation of the trip, in the Eje Cafetero

Currency and money

The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian peso, which stands for COP.

  When we went, the exchange rate was approximately EUR 1 = 3500 COP.

You can check the current COP exchange rate <-> EUR here

How to withdraw / exchange money in Colombia

We never exchange money unless there’s no other alternative.

What we do is withdraw money from ATMs with our debit/credit cards, and we always carry some “emergency” euros/dollars with us just in case.

Colombian pesos: in the foreground the 50,000 peso with Gabriel García Marquez (Gabo), one of the most illustrious Colombians in the world

Colombian pesos: in the foreground the 50,000 peso bill with Gabriel García Marquez (Gabo), one of the world’s most illustrious Colombians

Cards that do not charge commission in Colombia

Until a few years ago we used EVO Bank, as their debit card did not have any fees for withdrawing money abroad and they applied the official Visa exchange rate.

Their conditions changed and now they use their own exchange rate which is worse and where you pay over 3% more than the official exchange rate, so we use the following cards to be able to withdraw money abroad without paying commissions:

Revolut: with it we can get 200 euros / month without commission (your free Revolut card with this link)

Bnext: 3 withdrawals per month, up to a maximum total of 500 ? without commission (5 ? free on Bnext with this link)

Abanca (only for under 35s): up to 5 withdrawals per month without commission, then 1 per withdrawal, with the Clear Account.

With these 3 cards we manage to make withdrawals without paying commission.

Whenever you can, in Colombia, pay by card, as the limits of the previous ones for card payments are much wider.

Banks / ATMs that do not charge commission in Colombia

Even if your card does not charge you a fee for withdrawing money from ATMs abroad, the ATM itself may have a fee for its use, which is usually quite high.

In Colombia, after much trial and error, we found that most ATMs charge a commission of 19000 COP (about 5 eurazos!) on each withdrawal, so the following information will be very useful and will help you save a few euros

The ATMs that we always used during our 3 months in Colombia and that never charged us a commission for their use are

Davivienda: maximum 320000 COP per withdrawal (88 euros).

It is important to know this limit because if you try to withdraw 400000 COP sometimes you do get charged commission.

BBVA: idem, maximum 320000 COP

You will find ATMs of both banks in almost every tourist place in Colombia.

To locate them easily, you can search directly on Google Maps on your “davivienda” or “bbva” smartphone.

In addition to the above, whenever you withdraw money and/or pay by card, you must make sure that the transaction is made in local currency (i.

e.

COP).

If you let the cashier or the dataphone make the transaction in another currency, you will be charged your own exchange rate, which will generally be a bad one, and you will end up paying extra money, as a hidden commission.

The variety of bags woven by the Wayuu women (whose drawings represent their worldviews and dreams) will make you go to the ATM more than you thought they were beautiful.

Remember: You can find them in various parts of the world at abusive prices.

Here, you will find them at a fair price for their work, don’t haggle.

The variety of bags woven by the Wayuu women (whose drawings represent their visions of the world and their dreams) will make you go to the cashier more than you think of how beautiful they are.

Remember: You can find them in various parts of the world at abusive prices.

Here, you will find them at a fair price for their work, don’t haggle.

Vaccinations and health

What vaccinations are mandatory for travel to Colombia?

There are no mandatory vaccinations for travel to Colombia, except for the yellow fever vaccine if you are coming from or going to any of the following countries: Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Brazil.

In any case, although it is not mandatory, it is recommended.

In theory if you are going to visit the Tayrona Park, for example, it is recommended that you have it.

The best thing to do whenever you are going to travel is to go to the international vaccination center in your country, well in advance to indicate how your trip will be in Colombia and they will tell you there what vaccinations they recommend you.

The beach of the dunes of Taroa, Alta Guajira

The beach of the dunes of Taroa, Alta Guajira

Do I need travel insurance to travel to Colombia?

We recommend that you always travel with travel insurance, to avoid having to pay hundreds or thousands of euros out of your pocket in the unfortunate event that something happens to you.

We always travel with IATI Insurance and we recommend it, because with IATI you do not need to advance money (they are responsible for sending you to a hospital or medical center in which they have collaboration and where you do not have to advance any money).

For this #randomLatam contract the IATI Estrella Premium, which is the most coverage offered.

If you hire your IATI insurance through this link you have a 5% discount

Travelling with travel insurance means that, apart from being happy wherever you are, you have the peace of mind of knowing that no matter what happens, you will be looked after

Travelling with travel insurance means that, apart from being happy wherever you are, you have the peace of mind of knowing that no matter what happens, you will be looked after.

Here, on the island of Providence.

Safety: Is it safe to visit Colombia?

Colombia has a very bad reputation when it comes to security, due to its recent violent history linked to drug trafficking and the guerrillas, but nowadays it is safe to travel to Colombia, especially to its most touristic spots.

We spent 3 months touring the country and we can tell you that not only nothing happened to us, but also the Colombian people are some of the best in the country and one of the main reasons that makes us want to return.

The image that people have abroad doesn’t correspond to reality, and series like Narcos have done a lot of damage: you’ll see that the local people are fed up with the talk about this, which only contributes to worsen the image of a country that has changed and improved a lot in the last years.

We talk about this in more detail in the Medellín post.

Obviously, nothing is as idyllic as it sounds or as easy as it seems and, although we have a backpack full of good memories of this incredible country, not all experiences are the same for everyone.

  In the end, as we say, it is a country with a very hard recent past and wounds that can be felt today.

While it is true that the stigma of danger associated with the country is, for us, a stigma far removed from reality that must be deconstructed, it is also true that there are factors to take into account to make your experience as pleasant as possible and take away memories as beautiful as ours.

Inês with one of the works that we liked the most in the tour of Comuna 13

What was once one of the most dangerous areas of Medellín (and one of the most violent in the world) is now an open-air gallery: Comuna 13

Although security is a subjective thing (anything can happen to you anywhere in the world), it’s true that in Colombia there are still higher rates of robbery and homicide than in other countries, so it’s important to use common sense, take extra precautions and follow the advice that you’ll be given by todxs lxs colombianxs: “don’t give papaya!

Do not give papaya

“No dar papaya” is an expression that you will hear a lot in Colombia and that means not to become an easy target: not to go around with the super camera around your neck, showing a lot of money or any other valuable object.

Don’t be scared, it’s not that you won’t be able to take any pictures on your trip to Colombia (you see, we couldn’t stop) but it is important to only take the camera when you are in tourist areas where you are going to use it, and always with extra care, especially in big cities.

The advice you’ll be given most in Colombia so that you don’t get robbed: don’t give away papaya!

The advice you will be given the most in Colombia so that you don’t get robbed: don’t give papaya!

Our feeling about security

As we were saying, we didn’t have any problems during our 3 month tour of Colombia, although we did have more of a sense of insecurity (be careful, this is totally subjective) in Cali and in some neighborhoods of Medellin and Bogota.

This feeling comes from feeling more observant when walking around the city, and above all from the warnings of the local people and/or our hostel/accommodation.

In any case, we met wonderful people everywhere and people were for us one of the strong points of Colombia.

Travelling alone

We can’t talk much about this subject because we travel as a couple, but we have known solo travelers who had no problems and felt safe, so it’s feasible.

The only thing, once again, to take extra precautions, especially at night and in big cities.

Our most dangerous experience in Colombia

So you see, in our case the moment we felt most insecure in Colombia was not in any city or because of any person: it was in Barbas Bremen, a national park in the coffee belt where we did a trek to try to see howler monkeys (and we succeeded!) and where, already on the way back, we passed without realizing within inches of a poisonous snake that could have ended up quite badly.

Luckily, it didn’t and it remained an anecdote.

In any case, as we have just mentioned, it is advisable that you always travel with insurance such as IATI

Walking along one of the photogenic streets of Cartagena

What to see in Colombia

Here is a summary of what Colombia has to offer.

Get ready because it is a country full of surprises and we didn’t have time to see everything in 3 months, so if you go there in a few days, you will have to choose!

Tourist map of Colombia

In the following map you can see a summary of the regions of Colombia and the most touristic points of each one:

Pretty complete tourist map of Colombia Easy

Quite complete tourist map of Colombia Easy (from 2016)

And here is a map we have created with the tourist places in Colombia mentioned in this guide, so you can take it with you on Google Maps on your smartphone:

North and islands: the Colombian Caribbean

The best beaches in Colombia are, without a doubt, in the Colombian Caribbean, although this area is much more than just a beach.

Here is a summary of the main places of interest:

Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena is the most touristic point of all Colombia, and a city full of contrasts, where the small historical center contrasts with the skyscrapers of Bocagrande and both contrast with the misery and poverty in the rest of the city.

Of course, the historical center is clean, beautiful and photogenic, as well as full of history.

Guide to Cartagena de Indias: we will publish it soon!

The beautiful Cartagena de Indias

Beautiful Cartagena de Indias surrounded by the Caribbean

Tierrabomba, Baru, Rosario Islands and San Bernardo Islands

As Cartagena is a very touristy place, the nearby beaches are obviously also touristy.

The best known and most visited are Tierrambomba, Baru and the Rosario Islands, which are one of the most typical tours from Cartagena.

We only visited Tierrabomba (which we didn’t like especially) and Baru in the afternoon (when most tours leave and only those who sleep there stay) to see the bioluminescent plankton after sunset, an incredible experience.

You can also see that it is a crowded beach.

We read that the islands of San Bernardo, being a little further away are a better option, and you can stay at the fantastic Casa en el agua hostel.

Enjoying a beer and a swim in Playa Blanca

Skyline of Cartagena from the beach of Tierra Bomba

Skyline of Cartagena from the beach of Tierra Bomba

Barranquilla

Besides being Shakira’s hometown (it has a statue and everything!), Barranquilla is famous for its carnivals, although it also has a reputation for being a dangerous city.

Santa Marta, the Tayrona and the Lost City

Santa Marta is a small city that is usually used as a base to go to the Tayrona National Park and/or to go to Ciudad Perdida, and we liked it much better than Cartagena for its street art, its sunsets and for being less touristically overwhelming.

Sunset in Santa Marta

Sunset in Santa Marta

For the Tayrona Park we recommend sleeping at least one night inside the park, in order to enjoy its beaches with less people.

Guide about the Tayrona Park ==> Guide to go to the Tayrona National Park on your own: nature in its purest form on the banks of the Caribbean

Ines in Piscinita, a postcard beach in the Tayrona National Park

Ines in Piscinita, a postcard beach in the Tayrona National Park.

More info here

Pueblito, a sacred place for the indigenous people who live in the park and who connect here with Pachamama

Pueblito, a sacred place for the indigenous people who live in the park and who connect here with Pachamama

Ciudad Perdida is an archaeological site of the Tayrona, the ancestors of the indigenous peoples who today live in the Sierra de Santa Marta (the Kogui, the Wiwa, the Arhuacos and the Kankuamos), and which dates back to the 8th century AD, long before the arrival of the Spanish colonisers.

The only way to get there is by trekking a minimum of 4 days (round trip) through the sierra, and it is mandatory to do so with one of the authorized agencies.

The problem is that the price is very high and increases every year (in 2019 it is already 1,100,000 COP, about 300 euros).

Four or five years ago it cost half as much.

Still, if you don’t mind paying that amount it must be an incredible experience! You can hire the 4-day trek to Ciudad Perdida here.

The Guajira

The Guajira is Colombia’s northernmost department, and one of the poorest and most abandoned by the Colombian government.

It is home to a large part of the Wayuu population, the largest indigenous people in Colombia, who also live between Colombia and Venezuela.

A Wayuu boy watching us from the top of a tree

A Wayuu boy watching us from above a tree

Punta Gallinas, La Guajira

Punta Gallinas, La Guajira

These are the main points of interest in La Guajira:

1.

Palomino: is a beach town that has become very famous in the last years, especially for foreign backpackers.

The beach, although it has a very beautiful landscape, is not suitable for swimming because of the strong waves and currents, but it is possible to swim in the area where the river flows into the sea.

The star activity is “tubing” (throwing oneself downstream on a “donut” of air and slowly going down to the beach), and relaxation in general.

Palomino Beach

Palomino Beach

2.

Minca: another place that has become fashionable.

In the Sierra de Santa Marta, in the middle of nature, this mountain village attracts more and more visitors to see its waterfalls, go hiking or appreciate the views from its viewpoints.

On Instagram you will see a lot of a picture from a giant hammock with a view, it is from Casa Elemento, the most famous hostel in the area.

3.

Riohacha and the flamingos in Camarones: Riohacha is a small town that is used as a base to visit the Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Flamencos, in Camarones, where you can see a lot of flamingos in the wild.

Los Flamencos in Camarones, La Guajira

Flamencos in shrimp, La Guajira

3.

The Alta Guajira: also from Riohacha you can hire or ride on your own the visit to the Alta Guajira.

Wayuu territory, living between Colombia and Venezuela, desert with sand dunes, incredible beaches and a lot to learn about the Wayuu culture.

Guide to La Guajira: we will publish it soon!

La Playa del Pilón de Azúcar.

Upper Guajira

The Sugar Pylon Beach.

Upper Guajira

At the Lighthouse of unta Gallinas: the most northern point of South America.

Upper Guajira

At the Lighthouse of unta Gallinas: the most northern point of South America.

Upper Guajira

Saint Andrew and Providence

These two islands are closer to Nicaragua than to Colombia, and can only be reached by plane.

In both, the sea that surrounds them is called the “sea of 7 colors”, because of the amount of blue tones you will be able to appreciate.

Santa Catalina, Providencia Island, Colombia

Santa Catalina, Providencia Island, Colombia

San Andrés is very very touristy (it’s another of the top beach destinations for Colombian lxs) and is full of all-inclusive resorts, huge duty free shops and mass tourism.

We didn’t like it, several of the “star” activities include animal abuse, and it’s precisely the kind of tourism we tried to escape from.

To go to Providencia you have to go through San Andrés.

The 7 colours of the rainbow mixed in the sea of 7 colours, a happy moment on an island that ended up disappointing us: San Andrés

The 7 colours of the rainbow mixed in the sea of 7 colours, a happy moment on an island that ended up disappointing us: San Andrés

Providence, on the other hand, is THE paradise: its inhabitants were opposed to the big hotel chains opening their resorts there and to the construction of a new, larger airport that would allow direct flights from Colombia and other countries.

This means that there are many less tourists and you can enjoy its wonderful beaches and its Caribbean rhythm almost in solitude.

For us they were without a doubt the best beaches in Colombia.

Guide to San Andrés and Providencia: we will publish it soon!

The beach in the bay of SouthWest, in Providencia Our favourite and the one we walked to from our accommodation

Living barefoot is better, Here, in our Caribbean Rhythm Week, on the beach at SouthWest Bay, in Providence.

Our favorite and the one we were walking to from our accommodation

Sapzurro and Capurganá

Very close to the border with Panama, these two paradisiacal places are reached by boat from Necoclí or Turbo.

The boat trips are usually very busy, but everything is compensated when you get to these isolated places, without roads, with white sand beaches with coconut palms and surrounded by jungle.

Mompox and Valledupar

In the interior of the northern zone we also have Mompox (or Mompós), a Colombian Heritage Village, on the banks of the Magdalena River, and one of the oldest in the country, which stands out for its churches and colonial architecture.

Here we leave you the Travelgrafia de Mompox guide in case you want to visit it.

On the other hand we have Valledupar, cradle of the Vallenato, a Colombian music genre famous in Colombia and in many other Latin American countries.

If you go you can learn more about Vallenato in its streets and museums, and in areas near Valledupar you can learn more about towns like the Arhuaco in Nabusimake.

Medellín and surroundings

Although the series of Narcos and drug trafficker Pablo Escobar are the only things many people know about Medellín, the “city of eternal spring” (named for its climate) is much more than that.

Also, near Medellín you have several small towns in the countryside (that’s how people and places in the Antioquia region are called) that are very beautiful and worth visiting.

Medellín: the city of eternal spring is one of our favorites in all of Colombia, so much so that we spent about two weeks there in total, including Christmas and New Year.

Medellin Guide ==> Everything Medellin has to offer in this complete guide about the city

The streets of Medellín are full of urban art.

Here, in the Buenos Aires neighborhood.

The streets of Medellín are full of urban art.

Here, in the neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

Guatapé and the Piedra del Peñol: one of the most typical excursions from Medellín, to visit the small and colorful town of Guatapé, full of baseboards, and the Piedra del Peñol, from where after climbing 700 steps you will be able to contemplate incredible views of the surroundings, today an artificial reservoir that hides the sinking and relocation of the town of Peñol.

Inês in one of the streets of the colourful Guatapé

One of the streets of colorful Guatapé with the characteristic plinths on all the houses

Garden: another colourful village surrounded by nature, where you can go hiking and visit some of its caves.

Santa Fe de Antioquia: a small town one hour from Medellín where you can stroll through its cobblestone streets admiring its colonial architecture and see its long hanging bridge, a work of engineering in its time.

The impressive views from the top of the Piedra del Peñol

The impressive views from the top of the Piedra del Peñol

Coffee axis

Surely if you think about Colombia, one of the first things that will come to your mind is coffee: it’s no wonder, as it’s the third largest coffee producer in the world (after Brazil and Vietnam).

Coffee is produced in many areas of Colombia, but the most touristy area in this respect and a must on almost every itinerary in Colombia is the Eje Cafetero.

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So that the conuco does not suffer so much.

I hope that it rains coffee in the field.

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” 🎶 🎵 We’ve had this song in our heads almost every day around here.

Coffee plantations, Hacienda Venecia, Manizales

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So that the conuco does not suffer so much

I hope it rains coffee in the country.

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” 🎶 🎵 Coffee plantations, Hacienda Venecia, Manizales

The coffee axis is an area made up of three departments, Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda, whose capitals and main cities are Manizales, Armenia and Pereira.

It is an area with a spring climate, much green and much nature, where there is much more than coffee.

Here is a summary of some of the main attractions of the region, but if you want to investigate further:

Guide to the Eje Cafetero ==> here we have a super complete guide on what to see in the Eje Cafetero.

Visit small colorful towns like Salento or Filandia: these towns are excellent bases from which to explore all that nature has to offer in the Eje Cafetero, and they are also like open-air museums where you can admire their colorful doors and windows, taste the delicious food of the region and see them from another perspective from their viewpoints.

Doesn’t this look like a real movie set? We guarantee it’s real.

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and that’s how beautiful it is.

Doesn’t Salento look like a real movie set? Well, we guarantee it’s real.

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and that’s how nice

Visiting a coffee farm: a visit to a coffee farm is a must in your itinerary, where you can learn about the complete process of coffee production.

We went to and recommend the Finca de Don Elías, a small traditional family and organic farm.

We did a trekking through the coffee plantations of the farm

Don Elias Farm, Salento

See the Wax Palm: The Wax Palm, the tallest palm in the world (it can reach up to 60 meters high) is the national tree of Colombia and a tourist attraction in the region.

The most typical point to see it is the famous Cocora Valley, where you can easily go on your own from Salento.

We recommend you to do the circular trekking through the Cocora Valley of 12km (it takes between 4 and 6 hours), and if you want to see the most amount of wax palms, better go to Tochecito, as we explain in this Travelgrafia guide

Chris in Tochecito, almost alone

Chris in Tochecito, almost alone

See howler monkeys in the Andean jungle: if you want to see wildlife in the wild and in its natural habitat, we recommend visiting the Barbas Bremen Reserve, very close to Filandia, where with the help of a guide, and if you are lucky, you can see some howler monkeys.

Ines and Alvaro at a waterfall in the Barbas Bremen

Ines and Alvaro, our guide, at a waterfall in Barbas Bremen

Sleeping in an authentic coffee plantation: if you feel like indulging in a whim, we recommend sleeping in some of the authentic coffee plantation in the region.

After much research, we spent a night at Hacienda Venecia, near Manizales, and we can’t recommend it enough.

The hacienda has several hammocks along its corridors to enjoy the surroundings

The hacienda has several hammocks along its corridors to enjoy the surroundings

We didn’t want to leave Hacienda Venecia: a real working coffee farm, with idyllic surroundings, comfort, delicious food, plantations to get lost in, open coffee bar and swimming pool

We didn’t want to leave Hacienda Venecia: an authentic working coffee plantation with idyllic surroundings, comfort, delicious food, plantations to get lost in, open coffee bar and swimming pool

Visit the Los Nevados National Natural Park: yes, there is snow in Colombia too! As you will have seen if you have read everything up to this point in the guide, Colombia is a huge and very heterogeneous country.

The PNN de los Nevados has peaks of more than 5000m with snow (a few years ago it had 6, now only 3 due to climate change).

There are several options and ways to visit the park, from the most comfortable to the most physically demanding.

If you want something easy, do like us and go to the Snowy Ruiz, where you can get to know the páramo (an ecosystem that collects water and supplies the entire coffee belt), learn about climate change and the volcanoes of Colombia, and also learn about what these mountains represent for indigenous cultures.

The black lagoon in the Nevado Ruiz

The black lagoon in the Nevado Ruiz

Bogotá and surroundings

Bogotá: The Colombian capital, somewhat colder than other cities due to the altitude (2600 meters above sea level) is full of history, cultural offerings and good cuisine.

We spend a week there and we recommend that if your flight arrives or departs from Bogotá, you spend at least a couple of days getting to know it.

Bogota Guide ==> Everything there is to see and do in Bogota

Chris contemplating the magnitude of the 8 million people (who actually told us that they are “badly counted” and we believe it) at 3200 meters, Mirador de Monserrate, Bogotá

Chris contemplating the magnitude of the 8 million people (who actually told us that they are “badly counted” and we believe it) at 3200 meters, Mirador de Monserrate, Bogotá

Zipaquirá and the salt cathedral: one of the excursions that almost everyone makes from Bogotá, and one of the 7 wonders of Colombia.

You can go and come back in the same day from Bogota, by yourself or in a tour like this

Guatavita Lagoon: a lagoon with much mysticism, since it is said that all the gold of the “El Dorado” legend is found here.

It can also be visited in the day from Bogota, and if you have little time even hire a tour that takes you to Zipaquira and Guatavita in the same day.

El Chorro de Quevedo, in Candelaria

El Chorro de Quevedo, in Candelaria, Bogotá

Boyaca Department

The department of Boyacá, which is located north of Bogotá, has several incredible places worth visiting.

Here are some of them:

Monguí and the páramo of Ocetá – the páramos are a very important type of ecosystem in Colombia, responsible for collecting fresh water to supply the population with drinking water.

Several of them can be visited, but the Ocetá moor is recommended because it is full of frailejones and incredibly beautiful.

The ideal is to spend a night in Monguí to visit the moor.

Villa de Leyva: one of the most beautiful, representative and tourist towns in Colombia.

Known for its huge main square, we recommend sleeping at least one night here.

Ráquira: a beautiful and colorful town where everything revolves around pottery, where you can see and buy figures made of clay

El Cocuy National Natural Park: this park is located between the departments of Boyacá and Arauca, and there you can find the largest glacier in Colombia, with peaks above 5000 meters above sea level.

You can hike, enjoy nature and see snow!

Do you want to know more about Boyacá? Don’t miss the guide with the most beautiful villages of Boyacá in Travelgrafia

Moor in the Nevado Ruiz

Moor in the Nevado Ruiz

Department of Santander

Santander was an area that we were very sorry not to visit and that we have very much in mind for the next time we visit Colombia: practically all the Colombian people we met recommended us very much to visit the department.

It is located north of Boyacá.

Here we leave you some of its most interesting points:

San Gil: it’s the tourist capital of the department, and famous for adventure sports.

There you can feel the adrenaline rush while rappelling, paragliding, rafting, bungee jumping.

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The offer is very wide so if you like extreme sports, San Gil is your place in Colombia.

Do you want to visit San Gil? Here you have a guide with the extreme sports you can practice, from Travelgrafia

Barichara: known as the most beautiful town in Colombia, it is a must if you visit Santander.

Its cobbled streets, its church, and its white colonial houses stand out.

It is a quiet place where the plan is to walk its streets and rest.

Las Gachas de Guadalupe: a group of coloured “natural jacuzzis” in which to relax and bathe.

They are natural wells that due to the oxidation of the stones with the constant contact with the water, its water acquires different color shades.

Bucaramanga: this city is the capital of the department, and is known as “the city of parks”, because of the large number of parks it houses.

Meta and surroundings (Caño Cristales)

In the department of Meta, south-east of Bogotá, is one of the most incredible landscapes of Colombia, Caño Cristales, located in the Sierra de la Macarena.

Caño Cristales: without a doubt the main attraction of the department, and it’s no wonder.

Known as the river of the 5 colors, due to the endemic algae it holds, it is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world.

It can only be visited from June to November, which is when the river flow increases, the algae are present and the spectacle of colors takes place.

You can go by yourself, although the place is not super accessible, or paying a tour like this of 4 days

Although Caño Cristales is the main attraction, there is more to see.

Find out in this guide about the Sierra de la Macarena by Travelgrafia

Cali, surroundings and southern Colombia

In this section we summarize some of the attractions of southern Colombia:

Cali: the capital of salsa, where you can learn and practice the famous dance in many places in the city.

You cannot miss the river cat, its viewpoints and its historical centre.

Cali Guide: we will publish it soon!

Inês with the famous Gato del Rio, in Cali

Inês with the famous Gato del Rio, in Cali

Tatacoa Desert: one of the most surprising landscapes in Colombia.

Technically it is not a desert, but a tropical dry forest.

Millions of years ago the area was a jungle, with lots of water, green and animals, as shown by the fossils of turtles and other animals that are found there.

We certainly wouldn’t miss it on a trip to Colombia.

You can get there from Bogotá in about 6-7 hours

Guide to the Tatacoa Desert: to be published soon!

And when you think that Colombia can’t surprise you anymore, it goes and introduces you to the Tatacoa Desert

And when you think Colombia can’t surprise you anymore, it goes and introduces you to the Tatacoa desert

Tierradentro: reaching this archaeological park is not an easy task, but the adventurers will find their reward by being able to appreciate its “hypogeums”, pre-Columbian burial chambers excavated in the ground and decorated that are surprisingly well preserved.

San Agustín: another important archaeological park, the most important in Colombia, and the largest necropolis in terms of area in the world.

You can see different pre-Columbian tombs and statues in different archaeological sites.

In addition, you can also visit some natural attractions of the region as the Strait of Magdalena River, and sleep in the incredible Masaya Hostel

Guide to St.

Augustine: we will publish it soon!

In the largest necropolis in the world: St.

Augustine

In the largest necropolis in the world: St.

Augustine

Popayán: also known as the white city, for the color of its colonial houses that transport you back 500 years (it is one of the oldest cities in Colombia).

The best thing is to get lost in its streets and visit its monuments and churches.

Ipiales and the Sanctuary of Las Lajas: Ipiales, a small town on the border with Ecuador, is a typical stop for those of us who cross from Colombia to Ecuador (or vice versa) by land.

The city itself doesn’t have much to offer, but a few minutes drive away is the Santuario de Las Lajas, an incredible church worth seeing.

Ipiales Guide: coming soon!

The impressive Sanctuary of Las Lajas, Ipiales

The impressive Sanctuary of Las Lajas, Ipiales

The Chocó

Chocó, one of the least visited areas on trips to Colombia because of the difficulty (or expense) of getting there, as well as the presence of some armed groups in certain areas.

Of course, this means that there are far fewer tourists and much more can be enjoyed.

It is pure peaceful, pure nature, with jungle and wild beaches.

We are looking forward to visiting it during our stay in Colombia, so it is another of our must-sees for our next visit to the country.

If you go between July and November, you will have a good chance to see the humpback whales up close.

This is one of the main reasons why we want to return to Colombia on other dates 🙂

If you want to know more, check this guide about the Chocó by Travelgrafia

Getting to know the Chocó is one of the reasons why we will return to Colombia, yes or no, as well as wanting to return to the places where we were happy.

Here, resting in a hammock in Palomino, in the Colombian Guajira

Getting to know the Chocó is one of the reasons why we will return to Colombia, yes or no, as well as wanting to return to the places where we were happy.

Here, resting in a hammock in Palomino, in the Colombian Guajira

Travel itineraries to Colombia

As Colombia is such a big country with so many things to see, it is impossible to cover everything in a 2-3 week trip, so we leave some suggestions, recommendations and examples of itineraries

Walking in the capital of salsa, Cali

Walking in the capital of salsa, Cali

How to organize your travel itinerary in Colombia

Here are some tips for setting up your itinerary:

As you can see, Colombia is a huge country with lots of places to visit: choose well the places you are interested in and try to minimize the displacements.

Choose the places you are most interested in and check if the dates you are going to travel are good for each of the destinations.

Check if there are any special holidays in the places you are going to visit on the dates you are going to travel, as this may affect timetables, transport, prices, etc.

Book your accommodation, trips and tours in advance, especially if you are going to visit tourist places in high season.

Check out the travel possibilities to make a realistic itinerary.

If possible, leave room so that if one trip fails, the entire itinerary will not be ruined.

Taroa Dunes, Alta Guajira

Taroa Dunes, Alta Guajira

7-day (1 week) travel itineraries to Colombia

If you only have a week to get to know Colombia, we recommend you choose one or two areas and avoid jumping from one place to another, as you will spend more time in transport than getting to know the places.

Some examples of itineraries you can do in a week:

Option 1: Medellín and Guatapé (3 days) and Eje Cafetero (4 days)

Option 2: The Caribbean:

A: Cartagena (2 days), Santa Marta+Tayrona (2 days) and La Guajira (3 days)

B: Cartagena and nearby islands (5 days) and Santa Marta+Tayrona (2 days)

C: Cartagena (2 days), Santa Marta+Tayrona (2 days) + San Andrés/Providencia (3 days)

Option 3: Bogotá (2 days), Tatacoa (2 days) + Eje Cafetero (3 days)

These are just examples, it all depends on your tastes and interests and the money you can spend (with a low budget you will move more slowly in the end).

Plaza Trinidad: a must in Gethsemane to go during the day and, above all, at night.

Plaza Trinidad: a must in Gethsemane to go during the day and, above all, at night.

Cartagena de Indias

14 day (2 week) travel itineraries to Colombia

If you have two weeks, it gives you time to visit more places.

You can join several of the options in the previous point to create a 2-week itinerary.

A couple of examples of itineraries:

Option 1:

Medellín and surroundings: 3 days

Coffee axis: 3 days

Bogotá: 2 days

Tatacoa: 2 days

Cartagena: 2 days

Santa Marta + Tayrona: 2 days

Option 2:

Medellín and surroundings: 3 days

Coffee axis: 3 days

Cartagena: 2 days

Santa Marta+Tayrona: 2 days

Saint Andrew and Providence: 4 days

Option 3:

Bogotá: 2 days

Tatacoa: 2 days

Cartagena: 2 days

Santa Marta+Tayrona: 2 days

Riohacha+Camarones: 1 day

Upper Guajira: 3 days

Medellin: 2 days

Kitesurfing in Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira

Kitesurfing in Cabo de la Vela, Alta Guajira

21 day (3 week) travel itineraries to Colombia

With 3 weeks you can get a pretty good general idea of Colombia, or dedicate yourself to getting to know some specific areas more thoroughly.

Let’s make an example of a 3-week itinerary:

Bogotá and surroundings: 2 days

Tatacoa: 2 days

Medellín and surroundings: 3 days

Coffee axis: 3 days

Cartagena: 2 days:

Santa Marta+Tayrona: 2 days

Riohacha+Camarones: 1 day

Upper Guajira: 2 days

Saint Andrew and Providence: 4 days

The impressive Tatacoa desert

The impressive Tatacoa desert

Climate: what is the best time to travel to Colombia

Colombia is a huge country, with beach, jungle, mountains.

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This implies that it has a lot of variety of places to visit, and also a lot of climatic variety, so there is really no one time that is better for all the places in the country, but each area has its best time and depending on what you are interested in seeing / the dates you can go, you will have to adapt your itinerary.

The climate differs a lot depending on the altitude: Colombia has 3 mountain ranges: the Andes in Colombia are divided into the eastern, central and eastern mountain ranges.

The three mountain ranges of Colombia: western, central and eastern

The three mountain ranges of Colombia.

As you can imagine, crossing the cordilleras is slower than it seems, so keep this in mind when organizing your trip.

Image from socialterceroprimariainem1.

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We leave you with a summary of the best time to visit some of the most touristic areas (be careful! the weather is somewhat unpredictable so nothing guarantees that it won’t rain in the best season, nor that it will rain in the not so good one)

Saint Andrew and Providence: The best time would be from December to May

Caribbean Coast (Cartagena, Tayrona, Guajira.

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): it is a good time all year round except May, September, October and November, when there is more chance of rain.

Medellín: it is the city of eternal spring, so it is a good time all year round, although in theory it rains more in April, May, September and October

Coffee belt: it is a good time all year round, although in theory it rains more in April and May

Bogotá: located at a higher altitude (2600m) so it is cold at night.

It usually rains more in April, May, September and October, but you can visit at any time of the year.

Tatacoa Desert: in theory all year round

The Pacific (Chocó): the best time to see the whales is from July to October

Amazon: all year round.

From December to May it rains more and the water level increases, so you can go deeper into the jungle.

From June to November, the water level drops and you can’t navigate in some areas, but there is more chance of seeing turtles and some migratory birds.

Caño Cristales: the famous colored river has only the colors and can be visited from June to November

Cali: can be visited all year round.

You will not see this incredible beach in the Tayrona this empty neither on weekends nor on local holidays.

Choose your dates well, we went to the Tayrona on a Tuesday in November.

This incredible beach in the Tayrona you will not see it this empty neither on weekends nor on local holidays.

Choose your dates, we went to Tayrona on a Tuesday in November.

Important: you have to take into account also the strongest periods of local holidays and of the tourists, because they are times to avoid, where some places receive tourism in mass and the prices increase considerably:

Christmas: from December 15th to January 15th there are local holidays for Christmas and the beach destinations (Caribbean: San Andres, Cartagena, Tayrona.

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) are full and prices rise.

Also other tourist places like the Eje Cafetero.

It is a good time to visit cities as they are usually more empty, although there are probably things closed for holidays.

Easter: variable dates according to the year, the same as at Christmas

European summer: (July and August) high season for foreign tourists.

Depending on what you want to see, or what interests you most, this will help you choose the best time of year to visit Colombia

Cartagena dressed in lights at Christmas

Cartagena dressed in lights at Christmas

What to wear to Colombia

Because of this, depending on the areas you are going to visit you have to pack in onion mode: with many layers.

From flip-flops, swimwear and short-sleeved shirts for the Colombian Caribbean to trekking boots and several layers for Bogotá, páramos/nevados, etc.

In the outstanding stories of Instagram you can see what we carry in our backpacks, although we have to add some trekking boots that we bought in Bogotá (some Columbia) precisely because the shoes were not enough for some areas.

For a long trip our backpacks carry everything from feathers and trekking shoes to swimwear and towels although we are honest: nothing makes us happier than beachwear

For a long trip our backpacks carry everything from feathers and hiking shoes to swimwear and towels although we are honest: nothing makes us happier than beachwear.

Here, in the Tayrona, a well-deserved rest after a whole day’s trekking

Gastronomy: what to eat in Colombia

In a country as big and diverse as Colombia the gastronomy gives to make several posts, so we summarize here some of the main dishes that we liked and we recommend you to try:

Arepas

Although the best known are usually the Venezuelan ones, arepas are also typical in Colombia and there are always heated debates between Colombians and Venezuelans about the origin of these arepas (which, as far as we read, predates the existence of both countries).

Colombian arepas are different from Venezuelan arepas, and are very typical of the Colombian Caribbean.

Our favorite: the egg arepas (they fry the arepa, take it out, let it cool down a bit, open it, throw an egg inside and turn the fryer.

Delicious!).

The best egg arepa we ate was in Cartagena, in a street stall that is about 17/18h in the Plaza San Diego, it is called Los Fritos de Dora, they do everything on the spot and sometimes there is even a line! Each one costs 2000 COP, 0.

60 euros.

To the rich arepa!

To the rich arepa!

Carimañolas

They are a kind of cakes or rolls whose dough is made of yucca and whose filling includes meat, chicken or cheese, among other things.

They are fried and can be accompanied by chili, chopped tomatoes or others, and they are delicious! The best ones we try also in Los Fritos de Dora, in Cartagena (each one 2000 COP, 0,60 ?)

Paisa tray

It is the most typical dish of Antioquia (the department or region where Medellín is located) and consists of a large plate (tray) in which a lot of ingredients come: rice, meat, fried egg, patacón (fried green plantain), beans, avocado, arepa.

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Come on, it is a plataco, and in general (or at least in our case), with one tray two people eat.

Ajiaco

A delicious soup typical of Bogotá, ideal for the cold climate of the city.

It has shredded chicken, three types of potatoes, corn on the cob and optional (served next to it) capers and cream of milk.

To accompany it, they usually put avocado and rice.

It was probably the dish we repeated the most in Bogota

The famous Ajiaco

The famous Ajiaco

Sancocho

Another very typical Colombian soup, which varies according to the region and can be made with meat, chicken, fish.

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Our favorite is the chicken soup (it is easy to find in the Eje Cafetero region) and it has chicken, onion, green plantain, corn on the cob, yucca and cilantro.

Trout

The star dish of Salento is the trout, cooked in different ways.

We tried the trout with garlic, in “Dónde Laurita”, with one we ate lxs two, for about 22000 COP (6 euros)

Home

This is not usually a dish in itself, but rather an accompaniment that they put with some dishes or that they bring you as an appetizer, along with arepas, patacones, fried yuccas, etc.

Basically, it has tomato, onion, garlic and some other seasoning, and it’s delicious.

The best we tried was in the best restaurant in the Eje Cafetero, Helena Adentro, with Arepas (7500 COP, 2 Euros).

It was also very tasty the one they put us as an appetizer in Dónde Laurita, in Salento.

The arepas and Helena Adentro’s hogao.

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Ñamiiii (every time we see this picture we get hungry)

The arepas and the hogao of Helena Adentro.

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Ñamiiii (every time we see this picture we get hungry)

Doughnuts

To end with something sweet, a little vice: fritters! Perfectly spherical, it’s impossible to eat just one.

They are little balls made of flour, egg, cheese and sugar.

At Christmas they are usually accompanied by custard, a typical Colombian dessert.

Obviously there is much more gastronomy, but with this you get an idea and you will know what to order when you arrive in Colombia.

We also recommend that you try the lunches of the day: they are usually cheap (between 8000 and 15000 COP, that is, between 2 and 4 euros) and almost always include soup, main dish, drink (usually a juice) and dessert.

Transportation: how to get around Colombia

Between cities or destinations

Colombia is a huge country and you don’t have to rely only on kilometres, so travel is slow.

The easiest way to move between cities is by bus or van.

For buses, if you want to buy online in advance, we recommend Redbus.

We use it a lot in both Colombia and Peru, and it is completely reliable.

However, not all companies offer this service, so you may have fewer options than there really are.

Alternatively you have Pinbus, which we also use several times and always without problems.

In each post of each destination we tell you in more detail which companies are available.

The prices for buses and vans depend on the comfort and distance.

To give you an idea of the prices, from Cali to Ipiales, which are 12h, we pay 23 ? (by bus), from Cartagena to Santa Marta, which are 5h, we pay 14 ? (by van), etc.

Willys in Salento square

Willys in Salento Square, Eje Cafetero

Alternatively, you can also fly between cities at low cost thanks to the low cost company Viva Air, with Wingo or with other somewhat more expensive companies such as Easyfly or Avianca.

If you are going to cover very long distances, it can compensate you.

For example, we use Viva Air to go from Cartagena to Medellin and it costs us 35 euros per person with checked baggage.

To find the best prices we always use comparators like Kiwi and Skyscanner, and the companies own websites

Watch out for low cost like Viva Air and Wingo: they are Ryanair or Easyjet style which means they are full of restrictions and the web is full of traps.

The initial prices are for the most basic ticket with no checked-in baggage (and very limited luggage in the cabin) so read the conditions carefully to buy what you need in advance and not get any surprises at the airport.

We try to avoid the plane, because of the ecological footprint and prices.

During our 3 months in Colombia we made 6 flights in total:

4 mandatory, to go to Providencia (since you have to fly to San Andres and from there to Providencia, and then back)

2 to avoid long/complicated journeys: from Cartagena to Medellín and from Manizales to Bogotá

The streets of downtown Cartagena de Indias are like this: colorful, flowery and with many tourists walking

The streets of downtown Cartagena de Indias are like this: colorful, flowery and with many tourists walking

Within the cities

In Medellin there is a very good subway, although in rush hours it is crazy because of the amount of people there.

In Bogota you have the Transmilenio, a public bus system, which if you are going to spend a few days, we do not recommend using it because it is usually full and sometimes there are thefts due to carelessness.

In most major cities we use Taxi or Uber.

It is never recommended to take taxis from the street for safety reasons, so we recommend that you download these two applications and use them whenever you want to move around in distances that you do not want to walk:

Easy (Easytaxi) which is integrated in Cabify (2.

50 discount with code 4wr775), and with which you can order normal taxis.

We had problems when trying to add a foreign card as a payment method, so we always used it with cash payment, but now that it’s integrated in Cabify it’s probably not a problem anymore.

It’s the one we use the most in Colombia

Uber: the arch-known app also works in the main cities of Colombia, although for example in Cartagena was fatal.

It’s not 100% legal in Colombia, so get informed before using it.

In both cases, it usually costs between 2 and 4 euros depending on the time and distance.

Views of Medellín from the 4th floor of the MAMM

Views of Medellín from the 4th floor of the MAMM

Accommodations: where to sleep in Colombia

In our case, we always choose to stay in double rooms with private bathroom.

In Colombia this type of accommodation costs an average of 25-30 euros per night per couple (in cities or very touristic places more, in the rest of the places less).

We loved the balcony of our room at the Hotel Villa Colonial in Cartagena

We loved the balcony of our room at the Hotel Villa Colonial in Cartagena

With very few exceptions, we always seek and book accommodation through Booking or Airbnb.

Although we detail all the accommodations in each guide that we publish, in this link you can see all the accommodations in which we stayed during the 3 months in Colombia, with the price that we paid at the time

Take advantage of these discounts!

15 euro discount on Booking with this link

25 discount for your first booking on Airbnb through this link.

Sunset in a coffee plantation among its plantations (Hacienda Venecia)

Sunset on a coffee plantation among its plantations (Hacienda Venecia)

Compared to Asia (which is where we’ve been traveling similarly for a year in our #random year), accommodations in Colombia (and South America in general) are more expensive and less value for money.

That is, what in Southeast Asia (in general, there are exceptions) cost us between 10 and 20 euros, in Colombia it cost us between 30 and 40 euros.

One of the negative aspects to emphasize of the majority of lodgings in which we were is that almost always we woke up at 7/8 in the morning by noises, already be of the own hotel/hostel, of other people, of the street (they love the horn.

.

.

), of the animals.

.

.

To the point that many times we chose interior rooms instead of exterior ones to be able to rest more.

The street where we stayed in Filandia, right in the middle of the city: the Street of Detained Time.

Even the name of the street is beautiful.

.

.

🙂

The street where we stayed in Filandia, in the middle of the city center: la Calle del Tiempo Detenido.

Even the name of the street is beautiful.

.

.

🙂

Plugs in Colombia: do I need to bring an adapter?

Yes, like us, you travel from Spain/Portugal: yes, you need a plug adapter.

In Colombian you use the plug types A (two parallel flat pins) and B (like A but with a third round pin):

Type A plug

Type A socket.

Source: Wikipedia

Type B socket

Type B socket.

Source: Wikipedia

We have been travelling for 3 years with this universal plug adapter that you can buy at Amazon for about 14 euros and it works great:

Universal plug adapter that also comes with 2 USB ports

Universal plug adapter that also comes with 2 USB ports.

Photo: Amazon.

com

We recommend this one for one main reason: it “grabs” all the sockets we have tested it on.

You’ll see many other adapters (universal or not) that are cheaper (or not if you buy them at the airport), but then in some wall sockets they don’t hold, they fall out, and it’s impossible to use them.

For example we have also this other adapter that we bought before, to which this happens and that we hardly use.

As the accommodations do not always have many plugs, we travel with (and always recommend) these two extra accessories:

A 3-socket strip of the typical, simple kind.

With this you only need a plug

A USB charger with 6 outlets: with this one, you can charge 6 USB devices with just one plug.

It also has 2 quick charge ports for your smartphone.

Phone, internet with SIM card and country code

To have internet during your trip to Colombia, the ideal is to buy a local SIM card with which, besides having internet in your smartphone, you can share connection with your laptop or other devices, and you can call hotels or tour companies if necessary at a very low price.

We tell you everything you need to know about how to buy the SIM, where, with what company, what internet speed you will have, etc.

in this specific post for that.

We already told you that the provider with more coverage in the whole country (and therefore the one you are most interested in if you are going to visit different places in Colombia) is Claro, and that the price is similar for all operators (for internet, 2GB = 5-6 ? approximately).

If you don’t want to get complicated buying the SIM when you arrive, you can buy it in advance and receive it at home with Holafly.

The Colombia SIM with 4GB for 15 days costs 47 euros, and you have a discount with this link (or using the code “RANDOMTRIP”)

Holafly SIM card for Colombia

If you do not want to complicate yourself you can buy Holafly’s SIM in advance with a 5% discount

The prefix of Colombia is +57, and to call within the country is more complicated than it seems if you have to call fixed numbers, because you need to dial the area code.

Sometimes the full number comes, sometimes not.

You can consult this guide to know how to do it: http://www.

bikingbogota.

com/una-llamada-telefonica-colombia/

Budget and prices: how much does it cost to travel to Colombia

This is a very subjective issue since the money you can spend on a trip to Colombia depends a lot on how you like/need to travel, since the price range is quite wide.

We include the prices that we pay during our three months in Colombia, taking into account that we are a couple, that we always stay in rooms with private bathroom and eventually in apartments, and that we do not travel “low cost” but looking for certain amenities, although we do not like to waste money and we set some prices.

We alternate local food on the street with restaurants, and try to move around by land if possible.

Accommodation: between 25 and 30 euros per night per couple for “basic” double rooms with private bathroom.

In the cities you pay more, in less touristic areas less

Food: daily menus for about 3 euros/person, a la carte restaurants from 7 euros/person

Internet: from £6 for 2GB of data with a local prepaid SIM.

Transport:

Long-distance buses between 5 and 30 euros per person per trip (an average of 2 euros per hour)

From 30 euros/person and route the flights, although it depends a lot on dates, anticipation and route

Tickets: the most expensive ones are about 15 Euros (for example the Tayrona)

Tours: we don’t usually do tours, but prices vary a lot.

We did some expensive ones (Tochecito and Nevado Ruiz, 50 euros/person), and some cheaper ones (the tour to Comuna 13 in Medellín can be obtained for about 10 euros).

You can check prices of different tours in Colombia at Civitatis

Based on these prices you can get an idea of what you can afford depending on your tastes/needs and the number of days you go.

Remember that you have the following cards to withdraw money abroad without paying commissions:

Revolut: with this card you can withdraw 200 euros / month without commission (your free Revolut card with this link)

Bnext: 3 withdrawals per month, up to a maximum total of 500 ? without commission (5 ? free on Bnext with this link)

Abanca (only for under 35s): up to 5 withdrawals per month without commission, then 1 per withdrawal, with the Clear Account.

And remember to pay by card whenever you can as the limits of the above for card payments are considerably higher.

Travel blogs and websites with information about Colombia

During our 3 months in Colombia we discovered some Colombian websites/blogs with good tourist information about the country.

Here we leave you with what we consider to be the most useful.

Travelgrafia: if you have read this far you will have noticed that we have linked to several of their posts.

For us they are the best blog to discover unexplored Colombia, always with a sustainable and responsible tourism approach.

Follow them on Instagram

Tom Plan My Trip (in English): Tom is a French guy who fell in love with Colombia and helps you organize your trip around the country.

In his blog he has very good articles and guides about some of the areas of Colombia

Chipviajero: This couple of Colombian travel bloggers have pure useful information on their blog, especially on how to get around on public transport.

Chris Bell on Culture Trip: there are some pretty useful articles about tourist places in Colombia

An incredible mural in Santa Marta

An incredible mural in Santa Marta

Music for your trip to Colombia

In Colombia music is a fundamental part of the culture: cumbia, salsa, vallenato, champeta, reggaeton.

.

.

There is no lack of styles and you will see and hear music everywhere.

We stayed addicted to some groups/singers that we discovered during our trip, like Bomba Estéreo, Monsieur Periné, Systema Solar, Totó la Momposina.

.

.

But we better leave you with this list of Spotify by Travelgrafia with Colombian music for you to take with you on your trip

You can’t talk about Colombia without talking about its music

You can’t talk about Colombia without talking about its music.

Cartagena’s Independence Celebrations 🙂

Recommended movies about Colombia

During our stay in Colombia we went to the cinema several times to see, among other things, films about the country that helped us to understand it better.

We leave you with two recommendations that we especially liked:

Birds of Summer: a film about Wayuu and the “marimbera bonanza” (cultivation and sale of marijuana grown in the Caribbean to the USA).

You will learn a lot about the Wayuu culture and how this time affected them.

The negotiation: you can see it online at Mowies.

It is a documentary about the negotiation process of the peace agreement between the government and the FARC, which was censored in the country.

Chinchorros al viente in the Colombian Guajira

Chinchorros in the wind in the Colombian Guajira

Teleworking: digital nomads in Colombia

If, like us, you work online while you travel, here’s the most important thing: is it easy to be a digital nomad in Colombia?

Inês working with a view in Cartagena de Indias.

With a local SIM card you can tether and share internet with your laptop

Inês working with views in Cartagena de Indias.

With a local SIM card you can tether and share internet with your laptop

For those of us who work while traveling (and therefore do not settle in one place for long), the best thing is to have a SIM with internet, since the WiFi connections of accommodations and cafes are a real lottery.

With the SIM in general we had connection everywhere, there are 4G in many places in Colombia (although not always fast and/or stable).

Obviously, in the big cities (Medellín, Bogotá, Cartagena), there are better connections and it is easier to find cafes with good internet and/or coworkings.

For example in Cartagena we were working a few days in Coworking Cartagena, which has a very good connection and incredible views.

As there is no internet / 4G everywhere, if you depend on it to work you need to plan a little bit more than that.

Although it is not 100% reliable, if you need to know if a particular operator has 4G in a particular place, we usually use OpenSignal and NPerf.

As we commented in the previous point, the approximate price of data with 4G is 6 ? for 2GB.

If you want to settle down for a while to work online, the best place is undoubtedly Medellin: city with spring weather, cultural activity, plans to do near and in the city itself, good prices, green areas and probably one of the most important digital nomads “hubs” in Latin America.

There is no shortage of coworkers or cafes to work in.

We also loved Bogotá (better at a cultural level) but it’s colder :'(

After this guide it has become clear that we are totally surrendered to Colombia, right? And we know that as soon as you step on it, the same thing will happen to you.

What are you waiting for?

Ay Eje cafetero! How we miss you and

Oh Colombia, how we miss you already!

Organizing your trip? We help you

Find cheap flights using Skyscanner and Kiwi

5% discount on your travel insurance with IATI

25 discount on Airbnb

Find your perfect accommodation at Booking.

com

Rent a car with Sixt

Don’t miss out on the internet on your travels with Holafly’s SIM cards with up to 6% discount

Book tours in advance online with Civitatis

Get a Bnext and Revolut card for commission-free cash withdrawals at ATMs worldwide

CLIMATE & GEOGRAPHY OF COLOMBIA

1/ Climate in Colombia

If Colombia knows all the climates (arid desert of La Guajira, snowy summits…), almost all the Colombian territory is subjected to a climate of humid tropical type.

The rainy season (April to November) is called ‘winter’ and the dry season (December to March) is called ‘summer’.

In general, it is difficult to avoid rain completely during your stay.

2/ Best season for a trip to Colombia

You can travel all year round, but the best season to visit Colombia (and avoid the rain) is from December to March.

3/ Geography and weather in Colombia

Being located near the Equator, Colombia has few climatic variations.

Temperatures are stationary over the months, only rainfall changes during the year.

It is hot and humid on the Caribbean coast (tropical climate from Cartagena to Santa Marta), on the Pacific coast and in the Amazon.

Bogota, located at an altitude of 2,600 meters, has a “temperate altitude” climate with cool temperatures for most of the year (15-20°C), with a peak of rain from April to May and then from October to November.

It is hot and dry in Cali (30°C on average all year round).

The region of La Guajira (towards Riohacha) tends towards a desert climate.

It is the same in La Tatacoa (towards Neiva).

The coffee region (around Armenia) is very rainy.

Ice time on the side of the eternal snows in the Cocuy Massif and the mountains of Sierra Nevada and Los Nevados.

Los llanos (Orinoco), comparable to the Argentinean pampas, experiences severe drought from January to about April and then undergoes massive flooding between June and October.

Temperatures vary between 18°C and 35°C, between day and night.

4/ Temperatures (in degrees centigrade, max. in the shade)

 

5/ Rainfall (height in millimetres per month)

 

MAP OF COLOMBIA

Download the map

1/ Some data

Surface area: 1.1 million km² (twice the size of France), divided into 32 departments.

Population: 47 million inhabitants, 3rd most populated country in Latin America (after Brazil and Mexico).

Density: 40 inhabitants/km², 70% urban population.

Colombia has the world’s largest population of internally displaced persons (around 4.5 million).

Capital: Santa Fe de Bogota (8 million inhabitants) Other cities: Medellin (4 million inhabitants), Cali (3 million inhabitants), Barranquilla (2 million inhabitants), Cartagena (1.5 million inhabitants), Cucuta (1.3 million inhabitants), Bucaramanga (1.2 million inhabitants) Neighbouring countries: Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela and Panama.

Maritime borders: Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Highest point and relief: Pico Cristobal Colon and its twin peak Simon Bolivar (5775m) in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

On the border with Ecuador, the Andes Cordillera is divided into 3 branches: Western, Central and Eastern.

Longest river : The Rio Magdalena (1,550 km) crosses the country from South to North.

Colombia alone holds 60% of the water in Latin America.

Head of state:  Ivan Duque

Official language: Spanish – but many dialects still exist.

Literacy rate: 93%.

FORMALITIES & VISA IN COLOMBIA

Europeans and North Americans do not need a visa to travel to Colombia. You will need a passport valid for 6 months after the return date to travel to Colombia. If you are a European citizen, you do not need a visa for a stay of less than 3 months (otherwise, please contact the embassy in Paris to make the necessary arrangements).

To obtain your biometric passport in France, go to the town hall with the necessary documents (tax stamp, proof of address, identity card and 2 passport photos) and they will deliver it to you within 3 weeks.

Advice: During your trip, keep a photocopy of this precious document with you.

For stays longer than 60 days, an exit tax (20aine euros) will be imposed.

The Embassy of Colombia is located 22, rue de l’Elysée 75008 Paris – 01 42 65 46 08 – http://francia.embajada.gov.co/

PRACTICAL LIFE IN COLOMBIA

1/ Language

Colombians speak Spanish even though there are many dialects according to regions and communities.

In tourist cities, you can make yourself understood in English.

English is little practiced.

2/ Time difference

Time difference: 6 hours less than in France in winter, 7 hours less in summer.

3/ Voltage

110 V, American type plug with 2 flat plugs.

4/ Telephone & Internet

The country has a good mobile phone network and several operators (Movistar, Claro or Tigo).

It is necessary to have a tri-band telephone, check that your operator has an agreement with a local operator and that the “world” option is activated on your phone.

Otherwise, the “minutos” allow you to borrow a mobile phone from a mobile provider for a few cents a minute.

From France to Colombia, add 0057 in front of the 7-digit telephone number (Example: 00 57 1 702 70 69).

From Colombia to France, add 00 + operator number (5, 7 or 9) + 33 + telephone number.

(Example: 00 5 33 4 50 46 90 25)

For landline phones, the 1st digit is the area code.

Mobile phones start with 3 and have a total of 10 digits.

Long distance: From Colombia to Colombia (from different regions), add 0 + 5, 7 or 9 (telecom code) in front of the phone number (Example: 0 + 5 (7 or 9) + 1 + 702 70 69).

Local: From Colombia to Colombia (same region), only tel.

(Example: 702 70 69 if you are in Bogota and you call Bogota).

For Internet, you will find wifi zones in restaurants and hotels, so you can bring your laptop.

Otherwise, in all cities, you will have no trouble finding Internet cafes.

 

CURRENCY & MONEY IN COLOMBIA

1/ Currency and money

The currency is the Colombian Peso (COP).

1 Euro = about 3,600 pesos.

1 Swiss Franc = about 3,200 pesos.

Current rate of the Colombian Peso by clicking here.

It is easy to change Euros on the spot, in the exchange offices (“casa de cambio”).

However, it is cheaper and more convenient to withdraw cash from ATMs (“cajero”); those of ATH and Bancolombia are present all over the country.

Note: maximum withdrawal of $300,000 or $400,000 (€150) with a commission of approximately €7 (depending on your bank in France).

You can find ATMs that can withdraw a maximum of $780 000 (300€) (Da Vivienda bank, present throughout the country).

You can also pay by credit card (mainly Visa and Mastercard) in some shops, hotels, restaurants and car rental companies.

2/ The cost of living in Colombia

Entrance fees to parks/sites/museums: 5 to 15 €.

Price of drinks (water, fruit juice, beer…): 2€.

Price of a light meal per person: 5 to 10 €.

Price of a larger meal: 10 to 15 €.

3/ Taxes and Gratuities

Taxes and Gratuities are generally included, except in tourist restaurants where 10 to 15% of the bill must be added.

VACCINE, HEALTH & SAFETY IN COLOMBIA

1/ Vaccines and treatments recommended for travel to Colombia

No vaccination is administratively compulsory for travellers from Europe to Colombia.

However, the following are recommended:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B (check with your doctor as you may be naturally immune)
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio
  • Yellow fever and anti-malaria treatment recommended for certain regions such as the Pacific coast, the Amazon, La Guajira (Riohacha – Punta Gallinas) and when trekking to Ciudad Perdida.

Yellow fever is normally requested when visiting Tayrona Park but to date no control is done.

In general, protect yourself from mosquitoes and insects (especially dengue fever) and avoid drinking tap water.

You can easily find bottled water wherever you are.

On the Pasteur.fr website, you will find a lot of practical information.

We advise you to contact the international vaccination centre nearest to your home or your doctor.

2/ Safety

Colombia is becoming a safe destination for tourists, security being the government’s priority since 2002.

In fact, this destination attracts many American and European travelers every year.

As everywhere else, every traveler must respect a few simple rules:

  • Do not “dar papaya”, i.e. attract the eyes of malicious people by showing off your wealth and your status as a US or European tourist.
  • Always keep an eye on your personal belongings (do not entrust them to strangers).
  • Keep a photocopy / scanned version of your passport with you.
  • A photocopy of your plane ticket may also be useful.
  • Call a taxi rather than taking it from the street.
  • It is recommended to avoid conflict zones (especially in the forests of the West coast and in the south of the country).

The military are present throughout the country to ensure the safety of inhabitants and tourists.

It takes about 11 hours to get to Colombia from France or Switzerland.

There is a direct flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle with Air France.

For a departure from the provinces or from Geneva, there is a stopover in Madrid (with Iberia), Lisbon (with TAP), Frankfurt (with Lufthansa) or Amsterdam (with KLM).

It is also possible to travel via the United States, but in this case you must fill in the ESTA form and comply with the customs and legal requirements of that country.

1/ Flying to Colombia

International arrival: you will arrive mainly via Bogota, or even Cartagena.

Other international airports: Barranquilla, Cali and Medellin.

  • Domestic flights: very convenient and highly recommended for connecting the country’s main tourist destinations.
  • Main airports: Armenia, Bucaramanga, Cucuta, Leticia, Pereira, San Andrés and Santa Marta.
  • Companies : AVIANCA, LAN, COPA and SATENA.
  • Advice: for an international connection at Bogota airport, allow 3 hours of stopover.

2/ Taking the bus in Colombia

The network is very developed.

Bus stations are often in the centre of cities and you will always find a bus leaving.

Ask for information on the spot.

Fares are still important for the country: count $ 5 000 to 6 000 / hour of transport per person.

For some journeys, the bus can be considered because it is cheaper:

  • Medellin – Cali, via Armenia (coffee region).
  • Cali – Neiva, via Popayan.
  • Neiva – Bucaramanga, via Bogota
  • Cartagena – Mompox – Santa Marta

Apart from these axes, the aircraft is the only solution.

  • Advice: prefer ‘comfort’ buses (Pullman type) to small, less reliable local buses.
  • Attention: the distances are long and the roads are not all asphalt.

In addition, the relief of the Cordillera often makes travel uncomfortable.

3/ Getting around by taxi in Colombia

Ideal in the city, you will find them everywhere.

The best thing to do is to ask your hotel to order it for you (it is not recommended to take the taxi at random).

At the airport and the bus station, there is an office that calculates the fare to be paid to the driver according to your destination.

In Bogota, a trip from the airport to the Candelaria district costs about $20,000/taxi or approx.

8€ (a little more at night).

In Bogota taxis there is a conversion table in front of the passenger: just read the number on the meter and see on the table which fare it corresponds to.

A trip in other cities of the country, costs about $ 4,000 / taxi ($ 5,000 in Cartagena) or between 1.5€-2€.

4/ Car rental in Colombia:

with or without driver?

Driving in Colombia can be complicated and dangerous.

The roads are sometimes in poor condition, outside of the big cities the signs are almost non-existent, and Latin American driving is particular! We therefore advise you to choose the car with driver! It is, in our opinion, the best solution for regional visits (Caribbean, Eastern and Western Cordillera).

5/ Distances and transport time

 

ACCOMMODATION IN COLOMBIA

The hotel business in Colombia is relatively good.

Depending on the number of visitors to the region, the offer of accommodation is more or less extensive.

You can find excellent hotels in the big cities, especially in Cartagena and Bogota.

Other charming and authentic addresses are offered in more confidential areas such as Barichara, Salento or San Agustin.

Tips: alternate between the various categories to discover the best of Colombia!

1/ Standard Hotel

Hotels, equivalent to our European 2* hotels, including single rooms with private bathroom, without frills but pleasant.

2/ Hotel Comfort

Addresses full of charm representing a comfortable alternative and benefiting from a certain standing.

3/ Luxury hotel

Prestigious accommodation corresponding to the best of the hotel business.

Beyond the quality of the rooms (worthy of the great international hotels), they offer top-of-the-range infrastructures, an enchanting setting and superior services.

4/ Hacienda

Farms also offering hotel services.

Depending on the location, they offer simple or charming rooms.

The “hacienda cafetera” is the ideal place for an in-depth discovery of coffee, on the side of Armenia and Pereira.

5/ Ecohabs

Individual constructions made of natural materials represent the most comfortable offer in the heart of Tayrona National Park.

As the number of rooms is limited, it is highly recommended to book well in advance.

Due to the exclusive character of this offer, the prices are very high.

6/ Cabaña

Accommodation similar to eco-housing offering excellent services at a more affordable price.

7/ Maloka

Other accommodations very well integrated into the natural environment and closer to the local population, offering more basic comfort.

Offered especially in the Amazon, the Malokas allow authentic encounters and the discovery of traditional life.

8/ Lodge

Option benefiting from the proximity to nature, while ensuring superior comfort to accommodation in local communities in the Amazon.

9/ At the inhabitant’s home

Not yet widespread in Colombia.

An option is offered in a beautiful house in Barichara.

Sometimes small hotel and family facilities allow a direct contact with the local population (towards San Agustin in particular).

10/ Ranch and camp

In the regions of La Guajira, Caño Cristales or when trekking to Ciudad Perdida, accommodation is often limited to hammocks with mosquito nets (“chinchorros”) or beds with very basic comfort.

Sanitary facilities are common.

It is currently the only option.

The welcome is very warm.

CULTURE & HISTORY OF COLOMBIA

Mixed population: The Colombian population is a mixture of Spanish, African (especially on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts) and several types of Afro-Hispanic-Indian mixes.

Catholic religion for more than 90% of Colombians but the country also has Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

Food and drinks

Colombia is the 3rd largest coffee producing country in the world.

On the spot, Colombians drink “tinto” (poor quality coffee) in order to export the best of the production to Europe and North America.

But by visiting the farms and farms in the coffee triangle (Manizales, Armenia and Pereira), you will be able to savour all the richness of the aromas.

Harvest between October and February and from April to June.

Corn is the basis of many Colombian dishes, especially the arepas (patties) served at every meal.

Colombians are fans of beans, plantains, fish and potatoes.

The wide variety of fruits allows for a multitude of delicious squeezed juices.

Local alcohols are aguardiente (an aniseed liqueur made from sugar cane) and rum.

Famous characters

  • Yuri Buenaventura, Juanes, Shakira (singers)
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel Prize for Literature 1982, deceased April 17, 2014)
  • Fernando Botero (watercolorist and scuptor)
  • Alvaro Uribe (President 2002-2010)
  • Pablo Escobar (former cartel boss, died in 1993)
  • Sergio Cabrera (film director-producer

History of Colombia

Pre-Columbian civilizations: Before the arrival of the settlers, many peoples occupied the different regions of the country: the Muisca, Quimbaya, San Agustin, Tierradentro, Tayrona?

  • 1500: Discovery of Colombia by Alonso de Ojeda 1717: The Kingdom of New Grenada is created, bringing together Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama.
  • 1794: The French “Human Rights” are translated into Spanish by Antonio Nariño, precursor of independence.
  • 1810: Simon Bolivar (“El Libertador”) and Francisco de Paula Santander declare the country independent from Spain.
  • This autonomy is only officialized in 1819 with the creation of the Federal Republic of Greater Colombia.
  • 1863: 9 states form the United States of Colombia but the establishment of this federal system divides the populations.
  • The civil wars begin then.
  • 1886: Rafael Nuñez, of the conservative party, abolished federalism and wrote the constitution of the Republic of Colombia.
  • 1899-1902: The Liberals and Conservatives clashed during the very violent Thousand Day War (100,000 dead).
  • The Liberals are crushed and their party virtually disappears from the political landscape.
  • 1904: The Conservatives install a dictatorship.
  • 1930: The Liberals regain power and coexist almost peacefully with the Conservatives.
  • 1948: The assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, leader of the Liberal party and official candidate for the presidential elections, leads to riots and then a civil war known as La Violencia between the reactionary Catholic right and the liberal left (250,000 deaths).
  • Peasant self-defence militias appear to fight against the abuses of the military and conservative armed groups.
  • In this difficult context, smuggling (of alcohol, tobacco, emeralds, narcotics…) develops.
  • 1964: 2 Marxist guerrilla groups appear following the agrarian struggles and the Cuban revolution: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC – a communist group led by Vélez) and the National Liberation Army (ELN, a Castro group led by the radical clerics Restrepo and then Perez).
  • 1970: The United States helps the Colombian government to fight against these groups.
  • 1980 : The narcotrafficking develops thanks to remote regions where poppies, coca and marijuana can easily be cultivated, but also thanks to important technical means to transform them into drugs and, finally, thanks to the opening on 2 seas to export them.
  • Paramilitary groups financed by drug traffickers are multiplying.
  • The Medellín cartel assassinates personalities of the time (journalists and politicians) and organises several attacks.
  • Pablo Escobar, its leader, was shot dead in 1993.
  • 1990: The Cali cartel resumes drug trafficking in the country and collaborates closely with the political class.
  • 1995: Following the dismantling of the Cali cartel, other cartels organize themselves to control each one a stage of drug trafficking.
  • Colombia becomes the first cocaine-producing country.
  • 2002: Álvaro Uribe is elected president and puts the fight against guerrillas and drug trafficking at the heart of his political project for “democratic security”, using repression.
  • 2010: Juan Manuel Santos wins the presidential election and makes “social prosperity” the priority of his government.
  • He works actively in peace negotiations with FARC.
  • He positions himself as a fervent defender of democracy and human rights and works to improve the image of Colombia internationally.
  • The Colombian economy has shown sustained growth of 4% to 5% in recent years.
  • Mainly thanks to mining and oil exports, it has become the third largest economy in Latin America, ahead of Argentina.
  • 2014 : Presidential elections: Juan Manuel Santos is re-elected and continues peace negotiations with the F.A.R.C.
  • 2016 : The peace agreements are signed between the Colombian government and the F.A.R.C., the population rejects it in a referendum.

FESTIVALS AND TRADITIONS OF COLOMBIA

Colombia is a very festive country that hosts many events in every city and every season!

The main events of the year are :

  • Holy Week in March-April (particularly beautiful in Popayán and Mompox): From the 14th to the 20th of April 2019
  • The Baranquilla Carnival in February-March (the 2nd most important after Rio): From 02 to 05 March 2019
  • Medellín’s Flower Festival in August: From 03 to 12 August 2019
  • Other events take place depending on the region:
  • Armenia: Coffee Festival in October
  • Bogota: Al Parque Rock Festival in July / Independence Day on July 20 / Anniversary of the foundation of Bogota on August 6 / Jazz Festival in September.
  • Barichara and Bucaramanga: September is the month of festivals (piano, fair, sculpture, cinema…).
  • Cali: Week of the Calidiversidad in June / Salsa Fair in December.
  • Cartagena: Summer Festival in June (concerts) / Independence Day on November 12th / Jazz Festival in December
  • Leticia: Jungle Triathlon in July / Scarecrow Parade in November
  • Manizales: Fair in January (election of Miss Café, street shows) / Theatre Festival in October
  • Medellin: Tango Festival in June / Festival of Troubadours in September
  • Naked: Bay Festival from August 1st to 7th (Bahia Solano)
  • San Agustin: Film Festival at the Archaeological Park Auditorium in November
  • Uribia: 3 days of festivities (May-June) to discover the local gastronomy, dances and crafts.
  • Villa de Leyva: Festival of Lights on December 7th.
  • Colombians are passionate about Cumbia and are at the origin of the Vallenato.
  • The city of Cali has been named world capital of salsa!
  • Zumba was born in the 90’s thanks to Alberto Beto Perez.
  • Today it is very popular in all the trendy gyms.
  • Music: Listen to the local Colombian Radio live on “Cheverisima”.

USEFUL ADDRESSES IN COLOMBIA

1/ Representations of Colombia in France OFFICE DE TOURISME “PROCOLOMBIA” 28, rue de l’Amiral Hamelin 75116 PARIS Tel: +33(0)1 49 52 60 52 www.colombia.travel AMBASSADE 22, rue de l’Elysée 75008 PARIS +33 (0)1 42 65 46 08 [email protected] CONSULAT 12 rue de Berri 75008 PARIS +33 (0)1 53 93 91 91 [email protected] www.consulatcolombie.com

2/ Representations of Colombia in Switzerland

AMBASSADE Dufourstrasse 47 3005 Bern [email protected] suiza.embajada.gov.co

CONSULAT Dufourstrasse 47 3005 Bern [email protected] berna.consulado.gov.co

3/ Representations of Colombia in Belgium AMBASSADE Av. F.D.

Roosevelt 96A, box 5-6 1050 IXELLES +32 (0)2 649 56 79 +32 (0)2 646 54 91 [email protected] [email protected] www.cancilleria.gov.co

4/ Representations in Colombia AMBASSADE DE FRANCE Carrera 11, n° 93-1229611 Bogotá +57 (0)1 638 14 00 +57 (0)1 638 15 64 www.ambafrance-co.org PROCOLOMBIA Calle 28 Nº 13A-15 36º Floor Bogotá [email protected]

AMBASSADE DE BELGIQUE Calle 26B – n°4 A-45 – piso 7 – Barrio La Macarena Bogotá Tel: +57 1 380 03 80 Fax: +57 1 380 03 40 [email protected] diplomatie.belgium.be/colombia AMBASSADE DE SUISSE Cra.

9a no 74-08 Piso 11, Edificio Profinanzas Bogotá Tel: +57 1 349 72 30 Fax: +57 1 349 71 95 [email protected] www.eda.admin.ch www.eda.admin.ch/bogota

 

When to go to Colombia?

Colombia can be visited at any time of the year.

However, we advise you to avoid scheduling your trip during the rainy season, which runs from October to November.

Colombia has all the thermal stages and within a few hours of travel you can go from extreme cold to intense heat, so it is quite easy to adapt your itinerary to the period you wish to travel.

See the article in our travel guide about this and the different regions of Colombia.

When can we attend local parties?

Renowned for their lively spirit, Colombians punctuate their festive calendar with numerous events taking place throughout the country.

Culture holds an important place in the hearts of Colombians.

Cinema, painting, literature, bullfighting are all centres of interest that punctuate the calendar of Colombian festivities and testify to the great cultural and ethnic diversity of the country.

Learn more about the country’s traditions!

If you want to live to the rhythm of Colombia, here are some key dates that may be useful in planning your trip:

  • At the beginning of January the Carnival of Manizales is held in the city of the same name.

On the program: Corridors, dances, music, parades and extreme sports.

  • From the 2nd to the 7th of January you will celebrate the Blancos y Negros Carnival in Pasto.
  • At the end of January, the Hay Festival is held in Cathagène des Indes.

You will attend numerous readings, theatre works, lectures, workshops and conferences during these beautiful festival days.

  • At the beginning of March, the famous Barranquilla Carnival is held in Barranquilla.

On the program of these lively days: parades, street dances, musical parades.

  • In mid-March, you will attend the International Film Festival in Cathagène des Indes.

This international film festival highlights the 7th Art by showing many Hispanic-American films.

  • From 20 to 27 March, the Semena Santa (Holy Week) takes place in the towns of Popayan and Mompox.

This great celebration gives rise to many religious ceremonies and processions during these few days.

  • At the end of April, the Bogotá International Book Fair is held in Bogotá.

A literary event not to be missed on the continent, numerous cultural activities and conferences bringing together authors, poets, journalists, illustrators, artists, national and international, bring the capital to life for 15 days.

  • At the end of April, in Valledupar, you will attend the Vallenato Festival.

This vallenato music festival promotes folk music and popular speech around concerts and music competitions.

  • From 22 June to 2 July, the Festival Folclórico, Reinado Nacional del Bambuco is held all over the country.

On the programme of festivities: music, dances, parades and gastronomy.

This festival is particularly celebrated in the department of Neiva and contributes greatly to its development.

  • From 27 to 29 June, in Ibagué, it is time for the Folkloric Festival.

Traditional Colombian music (Pasillo, Bunde, Bambuco and Sanjuanero), dance competitions, election of the queen of folklore will enliven your wild evenings.

  • From July 11th to 18th, Medellin is the place to be.

With its International Poetry Festival bringing together nearly 80 poets from all over the world, this major event mobilizes against violence and social injustice by restoring poetry to its former glory.

On the program: readings and events related to poetry.

  • On July 20, all over the country, Independence Day is celebrated.

This national day is a public holiday as it is the Commemoration of the Declaration of Independence from Spain.

  • On 24 July, all Andean countries celebrate the Birthday of Simon Bolivar.

The “liberator of Colombia” holds a special place in the hearts of Colombians celebrating the anniversary of his birth.

On the programme: concerts, exhibitions, theatre performances, symposia and conferences.

  • From 31 July to 9 August, the Flower Festival is held in Medellin.

Concerts, horse fairs, car parades and dog parades bring their share of unusual things to the country.

  • From 15 to 17 August, in Bogotá, it’s time to rock with the Rock al parque festival.

In the heart of the Simon Bolivar Park is held this huge open-air rock music festival which welcomes 3 days of concerts and spectators to the rhythm of this legendary music.

  • In mid-August, in Uribia, you will make way for the Wayuu Culture Festival.

This festival rewards the knowledge of the Wayuu culture, Amerindian people occupying the Guajira Peninsula around dance, cooking, games, medicine, music and Wayuu handicrafts competitions.

  • From September 5 to 13, you will attend the International Theatre Festival in Manizales.

Many indoor and street theatre performances are on the program for this local event.

  • From mid-September to the end of September, a new music festival is in the spotlight in Bogotá, the Festival Jazz al parque.

It celebrates this musical style with numerous jazz concerts.

On November 11th, in San Martin, Cuadrillas is held, commemorating the clashes between African, Indian, Christian and Arab slaves in the heart of the Los Llanos plain.

Numerous equestrian choreographies, rodeos and music competitions are organized.

  • From 25 to 30 December, in Cali, place at the Feria.

Musical concerts, cavalcades, bullfights, beauty and orchestra competitions will bring to life the streets of the 3rd largest city in Colombia.

Is it better to visit Colombia with a guide?

An increasingly popular destination for travelers looking for cultural and natural diversity, many paper guides will accompany you throughout your trip to Colombia.

But what could be better than benefiting from human know-how and local expertise to guide you during your stay in Colombia?

Whether they are natives of the Andean peaks, the Caribbean or Pacific coast or the banks of the Amazonas, these specialist guides have the expertise to meet your every need.

This ideal interpreter and travel companion will open the doors to a sincere and authentic Colombia, off the beaten track, and give you the historical keys to better understand the incredible richness of Colombia’s cultural and natural heritage.

Let yourself be told the mysteries of the Ciudad Perdida, the curiosities of the Colombian flora and the singularity of the local gastronomy, the spirit and the backpack freed from any literary constraint of weight.

This human exchange will give a whole new dimension to your trip to Colombia and will feed you with anecdotes that only you would not have had the chance to discover on your own.

Of course, it is entirely possible for you to discover the extent and richness of this country by yourself.

But we can only recommend, if you can, to use the services of a local guide specialized in making your trip to Colombia a privileged moment.

See our selection for an accompanied tour in Colombia

Formalities

Do I need a visa to travel to Colombia?

From Europe and especially from France, it is very easy to travel to Colombia.

No visa is required to board a flight to Bogota.

Just bring your passport valid for another 6 months after your return date and with the required or sufficient number of blank pages (usually 3, 2 of which are opposite each other).

It is possible to stay up to 90 days from the date of arrival indicated on the passport bucket.

Beyond this period, a visa will be required.

Be careful however to justify a return date when you enter the country, your ticket may be required.

How else can I register in Colombia?

In order to best organize your trip to Colombia, we first need to understand your expectations and your needs.

In this sense, the first step concerns you: it consists in detailing your travel project as precisely as possible.

We therefore invite you to contact us via our website by submitting a request for quote and tell us your dreams, your desires, your expectations for your trip to Colombia.

We are interested in every piece of information, even the smallest, in order to be able to offer you a first estimate as close as possible to your project.

Of course, you can also contact us by mail, phone, Skype, we are all French-speaking and we will be happy to answer all your questions! Your request is sent ? You will receive a detailed proposal within two working days from the date of sending.

The deadline can sometimes be extended during busy periods.

And it is because we attach great importance to your project that we do not want to rush or rush it.

From our side, we will not hesitate to contact you directly to get to know you better and thus offer you a trip that really suits you.

Have you reached an agreement on the program and prices? Then your consultant will create a personal space on our website where you can log in at any time and find all the information and documents relating to your trip (registration form, invoice, detailed programme).

From this same space, you can take out travel insurance and pay online for the services you have booked.

The payment of your trip is organized as follows: 35% on the day of booking, the balance within 35 days before your departure.

Once your first quote proposal has been drawn up by your consultant, he or she will create a personal space on our website where you can log on and study the detailed proposal for your trip at your leisure.

You inform him of your requests and any modifications you may wish to make and, in the process, you agree on a finalized quote at the price you expected.

Your adviser will then allow you to register for your trip, always from the same personal space containing all the information and documents relating to your trip (registration form, invoice, detailed programme).

From this same space, you can subscribe to travel insurance and pay online for the services you have booked.

The payment of your trip is organized as follows: 35% on the day of booking, the balance within 35 days before your departure.

As you will have understood, with Colombie Autrement, your registration is flexible, practical and completely secure!

Do I have assistance during my trip?

Throughout your trip to Colombia, you will benefit from assistance 7 days a week.

Before your departure, a telephone number will be given to you.

You will then be able to reach us on this line at any time of the day or night.

Whether it is for a question, a technical problem or simply to give us your impressions at the time, do not hesitate to use and abuse this number made available to you throughout your stay in Colombia.

We guarantee your serenity throughout your stay in Colombia.

Learn more about the 7/7 assistance

What about after my trip?

Because we put all our heart into designing your trip and ensuring your well-being while you are in Colombia, we want our relationship to go beyond the airport gates.

So, as soon as you return, do not hesitate to write to us, to give us your news, to share with us your experience, your remarks, whether positive or negative.

We are fond of all kinds of anecdotes, encounters, good (or bad) plans that contributed to build the memory of your trip to Colombia.

We make it a point of honour to publish all your opinions and comments on our website, whether they ensure the continuity of our agency or contribute to the improvement of our services and benefits.

If I cancel my trip to Colombia, what are the costs?

In case of cancellation on your part, the following conditions apply:

More than 60 days before the date of departure: 35% of the total price of the trip including taxes

From 60 to 31 days before the departure date: 40% of the total price of the trip including tax.

From 30 to 14 days before the departure date: 45% of the total price of the trip including taxes.

From 13 to 7 days before the departure date: 50% of the total price of the trip including taxes.

Less than 7 days before the departure date: 60% of the total price of the trip including tax.

Is the online payment on the site perfectly secure?

At Colombia Autrement, security is our commitment.

Payments are no exception.

PAYBOX, an online payment system recognized internationally for its impeccable reliability, is the partner we have chosen to guarantee the security of your transactions on our website.

Combined with the 3D Secure protocol, which allows the authentication of the cardholder, this payment protocol is the guarantee of your peace of mind.

You thus pay directly in euros and save the costs associated with issuing an international transfer, which can sometimes be very expensive.

Find out more about online payment

Do you offer travel insurance?

Of course we offer an insurance service for your trip to Colombia.

It is possible to subscribe to it from your “Customer Area”, when you register.

All you have to do is tick the “yes” or “no” box and pay for your insurance, so that all participants in your trip are covered!

If you have the choice to subscribe to this travel insurance, we can only bring out the famous saying “prevention is better than cure” in order to motivate your decision.

Find out more about travel insurance

What is the link between Colombia otherwise and bynativ?

Our local agency Colombie autrement welcomes French-speaking advisers who love Colombia and are passionate about travel.

You will benefit from their in-depth knowledge of the destination and their enthusiasm to create the tailor-made trip that suits you, as close as possible to your desires, in the heart of a warm and authentic Colombia.

bynativ is the community of local agencies around the world.

It brings together local agencies known for their reliability, fair rates, expertise in their destination and the French language skills of their advisers.

But bynativ is also a number of services that provide you with welcome help in your travel arrangements.

Booking international flights, travel insurance, quick visa obtaining and health advice from a specialized doctor are the services that bynativ offers to accompany you in your travel project from A to Z.

While remaining your privileged contact in the elaboration of your trip, Colombia Autrement, by being a member of the bynativ community, allows you to be protected by the French consumer law, to pay online and in euros directly from your personal space and to benefit from a 7/7 assistance throughout your trip in Colombia.

See information about the bynativ community

Hosting

What other types of accommodation are offered at Colombia Otherwise?

In Colombia, there is a wide range of accommodation on offer and there is something for everyone.

Whether you wish to enjoy the comfort of a luxury hotel in the heart of the capital Bogota, the charm of an eco-hotel in the middle of the coffee region or the unusual character of a tree house in the heart of Tayrona Park, you will have plenty of choices for your accommodation.

In most cases and according to the character of the offer of the visited regions, we let you position yourself according to 2 accommodation categories: standard or superior.

Nevertheless, all the accommodation we can offer you is not listed on our site.

So do not hesitate to tell us your specific wishes, we will do everything we can to satisfy you!

When is the best time to book?

The months of December-January and July-August being months of strong tourist affluence in Colombia, accommodations and flights are taken by storm and prices can also soar.

We can only recommend that you book in advance in order to take advantage of a wide choice of accommodation, advantageous flight schedules and attractive prices for your trip to Colombia.

As in many cases, the sooner you get started, the better!

Can we find charming accommodations in Colombia?

Colombia has no shortage of charming accommodations, no matter what region you visit.

Whether you want to enjoy the ideal location of a romantic hotel in Cartagena, the benefits of a spa or gourmet restaurant in the hotels of big cities like Medellin or Bogota, or the breathtaking views from the luxurious tree houses in Tayrona Park, the advantages of staying in a charming hotel are numerous and adapt to the needs of the traveller looking for comfort.

Beyond the services and comfort offered by these charming accommodations, it is also possible to stay in an exceptional setting that will add an exclusive and privileged dimension to your trip to Colombia.

In the heart of the natural reserves, the Amazonian forest or the Andean valleys, on the Pacific Ocean or on the Caribbean coast, each place has an accommodation adapted to each traveller’s profile.

Other recommendations and good tips for a trip to Colombia?

You have chosen to go through a local agency to organize your trip to Colombia.

In addition to benefiting from the know-how and professionalism of our consultants who are specialists in their destination, you will also benefit from a lot of advice and good plans that are based on their in-depth knowledge of the terrain.

They will be able to advise you to use a particular alleyway rather than the main boulevard, to venture into a restaurant with an unattractive front, at the risk of missing out on the best bandeja paisa in the city, or to provide you with the basics of good communication with the Colombian population.

If you will find a lot of advice in this section of our website, we are more than ever there for that and we will be happy to share with you our experience and love of Colombia.

Transport

International flights to Colombia

As a local agency, we are not in a position to book your international flights.

This part of the trip is your responsibility.

Colombia has 5 international airports and its network is one of the most developed in Latin America.

So you will have no trouble finding a flight that will allow you to reach us in the greatest comfort and safety!

As far as domestic flights are concerned, which are essential for the fluidity of your tour, we will gladly take care of it and we will be pleased to offer you the best rates.

More about flights to Colombia

Colombia by car, is it possible?

Globally and always for a greater serenity, we do not recommend you to use the road without the services of a driver or a local guide for your tour in Colombia.

If all the international car rental companies will be present in the big cities or airports, there are several points that you should come back to before justifying your decision.

First: the quality of the roads.

Not all of them are in very good condition and the highway code is not often respected.

If you are a novice driver or not very comfortable on winding roads or sometimes bumpy country roads, then stick to the transportation suggestions that are included in the details of your program.

Second: the heterogeneity of the regions crossed.

Although Colombia is no longer a country dominated by risk and there are no warnings for the whole country, there are still areas where guerrillas and paramilitaries may live entrenched.

These areas are of course prohibited and will not be included in the program of your tour in Colombia specially designed by experts of the destination.

On the other hand, as an inexperienced traveller, you may not be kept informed of the regions that you should not cross during your tour in Colombia and encountering such risks is not part of the program we have planned for you.

Therefore, we can only advise you against embarking, alone, on the Colombian roads, which after all remain the playground of the fine connoisseurs of the region.

Travelling by train in Colombia, how does it go?

To test the quality of the railway infrastructure in Colombia, you will simply have to be patient…because this network does not exist! A single line connects Bogota to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast exclusively reserved for freight transport.

Thus, the density of traffic on the country’s roads is affected and it will not be rare for you to come across some trucks or heavy goods vehicles on the narrow and winding mountain roads…

Be patient and full of humour, Colombia, its incredible beauty and generosity are well deserved!

And the bus, is it a good idea?

While our warning about travelling by your own means by road using the services of a rental car remains valid, you can nevertheless trust the bus network which squares and serves all the cities and villages of Colombia perfectly.

The main means of locomotion for Colombians, the possibilities of travelling by bus and coach are numerous and the bus stations are very busy.

You will find a range of services as diverse as varied as ordinary buses, regular stops frequented by the population, air-conditioned buses, modern and comfortable looking, providing great connections.

We must nevertheless warn you about the sometimes interminable duration of bus journeys (the Bogota-Cartagena link lasts 22 hours with frequent stops) and the quality of the roads, which will not please the most sensitive among you.

Security

Security in Colombia, can we talk about that?

Security in Colombia, let’s talk about it! While Colombia’s reputation has been largely tarnished in recent years by the armed conflict, the security situation in the country has now become more peaceful.

The very recent peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and FARC augurs well for the population and travellers who dream of discovering all the richness and diversity of this fabulous country.

Travellers who have put their trust in Authentic Colombia have in no way encountered violence during their trip.

Receive sound advice from our local agents and respect the security regulations in force in the country to avoid the risks you face when travelling internationally.

However, if you wish to be reassured, do not hesitate to report to the embassy as soon as you arrive in Bogotá and find out about the situation in the regions you will be visiting during your tour.

As far as cities are concerned, Bogota, Medellin or Cali are more subject to risks associated with the typology of large cities: robberies and assaults are particularly rife in neighborhoods plagued by poverty.

Rest assured that the tourist police are watching and the immense warmth and generosity of Colombians will make you forget this scourge that many of them denounce.

Finally, and because your safety is our priority, you can count on Colombie Autrement to help you discover the incredible beauty of Colombia and its many hidden treasures without taking any risks.

Deeply in love with Colombia, we are here to build with you a trip that will leave you with unforgettable memories and will contribute, we hope, to restore the image of Colombia throughout the world.

Health

What about health?

Colombia has a good quality of health, but the typical climate and the regions you will encounter during your trip can make those who are not prepared for it fragile.

Here are some health tips to follow if you plan to travel to Colombia.

First of all, you should be up to date with your basic vaccinations: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B.

Then, it all depends on the regions you visit during your stay in Colombia.

– If you plan to travel to the rainforest areas in the Amazon and Pacific, the Llanos region, the heart of the parks or the Guajira department, you will be asked to be vaccinated against yellow fever.

The vaccination must be done at least 3 weeks before your departure.

If you plan to stay in these regions for a long time, an anti-malaria treatment will also be strongly recommended.

– In addition, the health authorities recommend vaccination against typhoid and rabies (for travellers staying in rural areas).

– Concerning the Andean summits, we remind you that the altitude presents certain risks (cold, sun, temperature changes, mountain sickness…).

A good physical preparation is necessary.

– Although the big cities have a developed hydraulic network, we advise you not to consume tap water (especially in tropical areas).

Take water purification tablets with you and don’t hesitate to abuse them if you have any suspicion.

– Also be aware that in all cities you will have access to excellent health services.

Altitude sickness, signs not to be neglected!

It’s a fact, the higher you go above sea level, the rarer the oxygen to breathe.

Called “el soroche” in Latin America, altitude sickness is a reality in most Andean countries.

The first effects of altitude sickness are felt when you reach altitudes of more than 2000 meters.

For example, if you land in Bogota, the Colombian capital, located at 2640 meters, you can feel strange sensations very quickly associated with what we like to call “mountain sickness”.

It doesn’t strike everyone but can strike anyone.

So be aware of the symptoms and be vigilant about following your doctor’s advice and prescriptions.

The first symptoms are as follows: headaches that are not enough paracetamol, abnormal tiredness or a feeling of breathlessness at rest.

Don’t panic, many travellers have already been there and respecting certain dietary or lifestyle advice can sometimes be enough to knock him down.

Don’t make a sudden effort, rest, don’t eat too much or too little and avoid exciting drinks such as soda or coffee.

However, if the symptoms persist or tend to develop into migraines, nausea or vomiting or even insomnia, you will have to descend to a lower altitude, such as along the side or in the heart of a valley, to finally feel the effects diminish.

If it affects only a small proportion of travellers, altitude sickness can, if left untreated, degenerate into pulmonary oedema or relatively severe cerebral oedema.

As a preventive measure, do not hesitate to visit your doctor before your departure.

He will be able to guide you in the choice of preventive solutions.

If our best advice is to give your body time to adapt smoothly to this new environment, you will find herbal remedies that can be very effective on the spot.

Thus, the coca leaf, very present in Colombia, can be an effective remedy against altitude sickness.

In chewable leaves or in infusions, its medicinal virtues may surprise you…

Zika virus: Should we be worried?

Zika, a virus transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, has been the talk of the town since the beginning of 2016.

Here’s a quick look at what the virus is, how it spreads and what the risks to our health are.

This so-called “emerging” virus is not new in the landscape of viruses transmitted by our late lamented mosquitoes.

Like dengue fever or chikungunya, it has experienced epidemic waves of varying degrees of severity over the years.

Already known from French Polynesia or New Caledonia, where it spread in 2013 and 2014 respectively, Brazil was the first country this year to record the beginnings of what will later become an “epidemic”.

If the infection goes unnoticed in 75% of cases and causes only simple fevers, headaches or joint pain in the infected person, it can in some cases be associated with serious nervous system disorders.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (inflammation of the nervous system) or microcephaly (abnormal development of the skull) of the fetus of the pregnant woman who is infected are the most common complications, causing concern among the general public and travellers.

At present, there is no safe and durable vaccine to eliminate the risk of infection.

However, some common sense reflexes are sufficient in most cases to avoid the bites of these disturbing insects.

Effective protection at hand (repellent, mosquito netting), light, covering clothing and effective treatment of mosquito breeding sites will keep them away for as long as it takes.

While WHO has officially declared this epidemic a “public health emergency of global concern”, no travel or travel restrictions are envisaged in the countries affected by the virus.

While we recommend that you be cautious and listen religiously to the advice of your local guide or counsellor, you should not give up your good travel plans.

Family

Can I travel with my children?

The idea of a family trip to Colombia thrills you but you wonder if safety and activities will take away their wonder? Rest assured, Colombia is not a country exclusively for grown-ups! The little ones will also find their happiness if the tour is adapted to them!

Special itineraries specially designed to travel serenely with your family will be proposed to you by your specialized advisers.

Travel time, accommodation and activities will of course be adapted.

Young and old alike will marvel at a whale and dolphin watching trip along the coast or a horseback ride in the heart of the edifying Valle del Cocora.

They will also enjoy a stroll through the colourful streets of Cartagena or a few days at the beach playing in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Are there discounts for children?

Some accommodations offer discounts for children according to their age.

In many hotels, free accommodation is available for children under 2 years of age.

Naturally, we undertake to include these discounts in the price of your trip to Colombia.

Suitcase

The essentials to put in your suitcase for Colombia

With such great climatic variations, there is no doubt that you should think about the contents of your suitcase for your trip to Colombia.

The essentials:

– Plan rather a large backpack or large canvas bag than a suitcase with wheels for your trip to Colombia.

The cobbled streets of its colonial cities or the excursions that will take you off the beaten track do not favour a good walk on wheels!

– A small backpack of 30 to 40 liters for visits and outings.

– A waterproof jacket…unfortunately, you are never safe from a small “squall” wherever you are!

– Sun protection: hats, sunscreen, sunglasses …

the sun can appear at any time and hit hard depending on the exposure of the day!

– A camera and its charger as well as several spare memory cards.

– An electrical adapter for 110V plugs (the same as in the USA).

– A flashlight so that you don’t miss any part of your stay, even on a dark night.

– A first-aid kit (disinfectants, bandages, paracetamol, anti-mosquitoes, anti-diarrhea…).

We thought it wise to provide you with a non-exhaustive list of essentials to take with you in your travel bag according to the regions you will visit during your tour in Colombia.

For the Andes :

Plan for:

– Warm clothes (pants, fleece, jacket, hat, gloves, socks…)

– A windbreaker…

you may be surprised by the winds that can blow through the many valleys in the area.

– Hiking boots.

– UV-protective lipstick.

For the Amazon:

In addition to the essentials, remember to bring:

– Light clothing, preferably with long sleeves and legs to protect against mosquito bites.

– A high-performance mosquito repellent.

Do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist for advice.

– A microfibre towel and a swimsuit for the swimming stages of your stay.

For the Caribbean coast :

Incredible diversity both in terms of the landscapes encountered and the activities promoted in this region of Colombia, your travel bag will adapt to the details of the program that awaits you on the spot.

Whether it is for a lazy stay on the paradisiacal beaches of Santa Marta, an excursion in the jungle of the Tayrona Park to discover the Cuidad Perdida or a night stroll in the alleys of beautiful Cartagena, design a custom-made suitcase that will adapt to your needs.

Thus, we recommend that you add to the must-haves of your trip, the Andes and the Amazon, the kit for a perfect seaside holiday.

This means :

– Shorts.

– T-shirts.

– Mosquito repellent.

– Open, comfortable and light shoes.

Finally, for more details and according to the specificities of your tour in Colombia, we invite you to contact your consultant who will be pleased to tell you precisely what you should bring according to the details of your program.

Phone

Making phone calls, connecting to the internet while traveling in Colombia?

As in many emerging countries today, it will be very easy for you to communicate with the rest of the world during your trip to Colombia.

The Internet is relatively widespread throughout the country.

Hotels often offer free or paid internet access, and all medium and large cities in the country have internet cafes where it is very easy to get online for a very cheap hourly rate.

Telephone services are also of good quality.

You can always use your mobile phone by activating the “world” mode and respecting the telephone codes according to the nature of the extension and the country from which you are calling, but we advise you to be vigilant at the risk of being greeted on your return by a very salty bill.

Finally, if you want to control your communication budget during your trip to Colombia, we recommend the use of free internet telephone software such as Skype, which will also have the luxury of providing you with video!

Gastronomy

What do we eat in Colombia?

Colombian gastronomy is a reflection of its country: rich, varied and multicultural.

Far too little is known about it, and it consists mainly of dishes of pre-Colombian origin that were transmitted orally by the conquistadors and colonists.

Thus the multiple Spanish influences that can be found throughout Latin America.

To know everything about Colombian cuisine, follow the guide!

The three daily meals eaten in Colombia are desayuno (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch) and comida (dinner).

A traditional meal usually consists of rice (or potatoes), kidney beans, meat or fish and plantains, to which you must necessarily add the arepas, small corn cakes that are the national “baguette”!

Colombia, the fourth largest country in Latin America with a very diverse climate, has agricultural crops specific to each region and thus contribute to the richness of its cuisine.

Cereals, tropical fruits, citrus fruits, wheat, corn and potatoes form the basic ingredients of Colombian cuisine, which are available in many forms.

Souvenirs

What souvenir to bring back from your trip to Colombia?

The memories you bring back from a trip contribute to the happiness of your loved ones and feed the imperishable character of your stay in Colombia.

They can therefore constitute, depending on your nature, an important part of your vacation.

Whether they are durable or consumable, the important thing is what they represent and the pleasure you had in unearthing them.

The “artesanias”, popular handicraft markets, are full of treasures that will delight lovers of popular art and craft souvenir fetishes.

Thus, we can only recommend that you buy one of these magnificent hand-woven hammocks, a comfortable “ruana”, a kind of sheep’s wool poncho that will warm your long winter evenings, of chic “guayavera” shirts typical of the Caribbean coast, a hat “vueltiao” national emblem, a Colombian “mochila”, a jewel in filigree of Mompox, an object in “werregue” or any leather object of which you can have the insurance of an irreproachable quality.

Do you prefer to work in gastronomy? Then don’t hesitate for a second to spoil the coffee lovers.

If there is one country that is known worldwide for the quality of its coffee, it is Colombia.

Finally, if you have preferred to enjoy the present moment during your trip and have skipped the “souvenirs” stage, you will find many shops at the airport that will still allow you to spoil your loved ones who will not have had the chance to take part in the trip!

Spanish Glossary

Useful expressions and questions to make yourself understood in Colombia

As in the majority of Latin American countries, the official language in Colombia is Spanish.

Blessed are those who manage to remember the teachings given at the high school, for others here are some simple and useful expressions that will help you immerse yourself in the heart of the local culture and forge ties with this population that deserves to be known throughout the world.

The Colombian B.A ba

With unparalleled kindness, Colombians could spend their day greeting each other and inquiring about the well-being of their fellow man.

There are a thousand and one ways to express a simple “how are you? ».

Here are a few examples: Qué mas, Qué hubo, Como le va, Como le ha ido, Como esta, Como ha estado.

To these questions it is of course customary to answer by Good or Evil, as in French, with the accent in addition!

  • Bonjour, salut : Hola
  • Good morning (morning): Buenos días
  • Good morning (afternoon): Buenas tardes
  • Good night: Buenas noches
  • Bye, bye: Adiós
  • Goodbye (more formal): Hasta luego
  • Please: Por favor
  • Thank you: Gracias
  • You’re welcome: De nada
  • Nice (to meet you): Encantado de conocerle
  • I don’t understand: No entiendo
  • I don’t speak Spanish: No hablo Español
  • If you wish to go further in the conversation
  • What’s your name? ¿Cómo se llama usted?
  • I am French : Soy Frances (e)
  • How do you say that in Spanish? ¿Cómo se dice esto en Español?
  • Excuse me (to ask for information): Perdón
  • I would like to (…) : Quiero (…) por favor
  • Great! (expressing enthusiasm): Goat or Bacano
  • Can you repeat that, please? : Puede repetir, por favor?
  • Can you speak slower, please? Puede hablar mas despacio, por favor?
  • Useful questions depending on the situation
  • Where’s the bathroom? ¿ Dónde se encuentran los lavabos?
  • I’m lost, could you help me : ¿ Estoy perdido, me puede ayudar?
  • Where is the train station / the city centre / the airport : Puede indicarme como ir a la estaciòn de tren / al centro / al aeropuerto.
  • At what time does the train / plane / bus leave? A qué hora el trén / el avion / el bus para (city), por favor?
  • Could we have some water / bread / check, please? ¿ Nos podria traer agua/ pàn / la cuenta, por favor?

Anyway, you should know that Colombian Spanish is one of the most comprehensive forms of Spanish.

Although some dialects differ from region to region, the language is nonetheless soft and musical.

You will enjoy conversing with a festive and welcoming Colombian population that will make fun of your imperfections.

So don’t be afraid of ridicule and in a word “dare”!

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