Consulting a Colombia travel blog is a great way to get inspired and find resourceful information about Colombia.
They give lots of travel tips about the latest Colombian destinations and how to improve your Colombia Itinerary.
It’s actually a lot better than all the guidebooks written by Lonely Planet, Guide du Routard or Moon.
However, you shouldn’t rely on just one website – Except ours 😀.
Data are maybe outdated
Your tastes can be different from the writer
To help you out in your research of information, I’ve listed my favorite Colombia travel blog.
Tomplanmytrip: Colombia travel blog to build your itinerary
Yes, Tomplanmytrip is our travel website. We fell in love with Colombia 4 years ago and we quickly realized the lack of information about this country – Although nowadays things are improving.
We aim to help travelers to create different Colombia itineraries. We don’t want our readers to follow the same paths. Colombia is a vast country and possibilities are endless. Moreover, we try to convince travelers to slow down. For us, experiences are better than selfies.
We built our Colombia travel blog in a way that makes it easy for you to organize your trip.
Destination: We split Colombia into 12 regions. Each region gathers lots of travel tips and our favorite places in this area. Like here.
In addition, all our Colombian places have a short explanation about where to stay, what to do, and our best recommendations.
Map: Get access to our different travel guides through our interactive Map.
Colombia Insider is our travel service to create Colombia itineraries from scratch. Moreover, you can get a lot of resourceful information without paying for our services!
Use the filter on our page “experience” to find all the activities you can do in a place.
Travelgrafia: Colombia travel blog in Spanish and English
I love the post written by Travelgrafia. They find interesting topics like “Best glamping”, “Best pictures of Colombia in 2019” and they write about unknown places. Moreover, they always use amazing pictures!
The Unconventional route: Medellin & Pacific coast
Chris and Kim is an adorable Canadian couple who lived for 6 months in Colombia.
Like many other long-term travelers, they don’t want to be like everyone else and get the be-an-adult-and-work-and-die life. They are always looking for new experiences and off the beaten path activities. You will find a lot of good articles about hikes around Medellin and the Pacific coast.
Their website is clear and I’m a big fan of their writing style.
Mon voyage en Colombie: Colombia travel blog in French
Samuel and Angelica are a friendly French-Colombian couple who, like us, helps travelers to plan their trip to Colombia. They advocate tourism sustainable and write about local travel agencies. Moreover, articles are always updates thanks to their many contacts in the country.
This travel blog is only about Colombia and you’ll find plenty of useful information. Learn French or use Google Translate :D.
Medellin Guru: All you need to know about Medellin
Jeff and other fellows travel writers give lots of amazing travel tips about the city of eternal spring.
Through this Colombia travel blog about Medellin, learn about the best restaurants, bars and day trips. Moreover, Jeff helps every year tens of new expats to settle in Medellin. You will find resourceful information about retirement and relocation tips.
Cartagena Explorer: All you need to know about Cartagena
Adam has been living in Cartagena since 2012 and he won’t leave any time soon. He loves sharing about his travel adventures in the Walled City. Don’t hesitate to read his Colombia travel guide before coming to Cartagena.
Jade is an expat who describes Colombia the way she sees it. There is no happy ending and bull-shitting. She loves writing about her cultural experiences and give tips to help other travelers to settle in Colombia.
Through her Colombia travel blog, find out many trip ideas to explore the region around Bogota!
Everything in Colombia is complex… history, politic, food, safety, social marginalization…
Fortunately, the Anglo Canadian Richard McColl clarifies many interesting topics with its podcasts. Don’t hesitate to download them so you can listen to them while driving to your job. It’s ideal to improve your knowledge of Colombia.
Lucie and Martin wrote some awesome and recent articles about Colombia. They always put a lot of effort to create practical travel guides about their travel adventure. Besides, they take amazing pictures!
Check out their website to find some inspirations and recommendations.
If you think that you will withdraw more than 600 € per month on average every year, then you should take it.
600*0.017= 10.2 euros > 9,90 euros
It’s perfect if you’re a couple who likes to travel. You can subscribe to a basic N26 credit card and the N26 YOU.
N26 Bank review: Why do you need their credit card
1. Avoid carrying large sums of money (+)
Because I had to pay outrageous bank fees, I was always withdrawing the maximum from the ATM. Petty thefts can happen in South America. So, I hid my cash everywhere: socks, dirty laundry, secret pockets, butt hole.
I don’t have to do it anymore. And my butt is more than happy with that decision.
2. Stop exchanging currency at a local bank before leaving (+)
Don’t do it! They apply awful exchange rates, and you will have to carry tons of cash. Use your N26 credit card instead.
3. How can you get local currency (+)
Even with a shitty credit card, the best way is to use an ATM.
With N26, your phone is your bank. Moreover, there is no hidden bank fee. Just go to a local ATM and withdraw money with the best exchange rate.
4. Use your card for every transaction (+)
Stop asking yourself Should I or Should I not. Just pay with your credit card.
Which banks should you use in Colombia (+)
While traveling, don’t use a random ATM. Look for a major bank instead. They won’t apply extra bank fees. In Colombia, you should use the following banks:
Also, if the ATM asks you if you want to use their currency exchange rate, say no! You should still be able to terminate the operation and get a better rate – the one from N26 Bank.
Use the Code adrienb9589 when you create your N26 bank account. It’s a sponsorship code that helps us to write free content tips about Colombia. Thanks <3
N26 Bank Review: Do It Now
Many of us love to procrastinate. We lie to ourselves.
I will do it tomorrow. I’m busy right now – I watching Game of Thrones to be ready for the last season.
We waste time and money because we procrastinate.
Bank account and credit card matter. It’s normal that we want to think about it. I get it.
But the N26 credit and the bank account are free!
Once it’s done, you can keep it in your wallet and add some money on it when you’re ready.
It's super easy, and it takes less than 10 min (+)
First, click on one of the links/banners in this article. These are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. It helps us to live from our passion and write free content about Colombia.
Once on their website, fill a form to set up an account:
Your identity: First name, last name, the birth of date
Use the Code adrienb9589 when you create your N26 bank account. It’s a sponsorship code that helps us to write free content tips about Colombia. Thanks <3
Then, N26 needs a confirmation/proof of your identity
Send a picture of your passport
Take a selfie
Congratulation, your mobile banking account is now created. You will soon receive your credit card by mail at home.
However, my N26 Bank review is provided for general educational purposes only and does not provide professional advice, services, opinions or treatment to you or any individual. Tomplanmytrip cannot be held responsible or liable for any purchasing decisions you make after reading this post. As pointed out numerous times, it is essential to read your full policy wording and choose a bank that suits your particular travel needs.
– “hm, should I take travel Insurance for Colombia or not?”
Insurance is a word that gives you goosebumps, except if you work in an insurance company. When you’re a kid, your parents pay for it, then it’s your boss. In the end, it’s like unicorns. You’ve heard about it many times but you’ve never seen one.
Nevertheless, insurances (and unicorns) are important. We don’t realize it because they’re part of our daily life. If you buy a car, you take car insurance. If you buy a home, you subscribe to home insurance. And, you also pay for health and liability insurance.
But did you know that most of the time, you’re not covered 100 % when traveling abroad?
And you’re in this situation, you should seriously think about travel insurance.
Pick your travel insurance in 2 minutes
You already know why you need travel insurance and just want to pick quickly? Here are our three favorite travel insurance for Colombia:
You’re from Europe: Chapka. It’s easy for subscribing, affordable and they offer a good cover. I used them for 3 years and they always reimbursed me – If you follow the procedures. Learn more
You’re NOT from Europe or you’re already traveling: Worldnomad. They’re a bit expensive, but you’ve got an excellent cover. Moreover, you can subscribe to their Extreme activities travel insurance. Learn more.
You’re a digital Nomad:SafetyWing. They listened and understood the Digital Nomad’s issues to offer kick-ass travel insurance. It’s exactly what we need right now. It’s maybe your case too. Learn more
Nowadays, more and more people decide to go with the flow. After all, we only live once.
Thanks to the internet, many new businesses have been created online. These entrepreneurs – like myself – can work wherever they want! They just need an internet connexion.
If it’s your case, you absolutely need travel insurance! And it can be super expensive.
Fortunately, SafetyWing came to our rescue. They offer you travel + medical insurance for less than 40$/month. It’s like a phone subscription.
Their service proposal is even more favorable for families! 1 young child per adult, up to 2 per family, age between 14 days and 10 years old, can be included on your insurance without added cost.
Our two favorite travel insurance for Colombia (+)
As I’m from Europe, I love using Chapka ( but it only works for European Country).
And I’ve heard from famous travel bloggers like Nomadic Matt and Expert Vagabond that Worldnomads is one of the best on the market.
Are you a Digital Nomad? SafetyWing is what you need to be perfectly covered for an affordable price.
I’m sure there are other great travel insurance for Colombia, but I will only use 3 as examples.
2. Which activities are covered in your Colombia Travel insurance?
In Colombia, there is no ski station or famous deep blue hole in the ocean. It’s something less to worry.
Usually, travel insurance does not cover accidents in case of official competition or race. And they have different policies regarding the practice of extreme sports. It may happen that travel insurance companies propose various plans.
But you don’t need to get a 1 trillion dollars coverage.
WorldNomads: 100 000 $ for Medical Expenses
Chapka: 200 000 Euros for Medical Expenses
SafetyWing: 250 000 $ for Medical Expenses
Important, they don’t cover pre-existing conditions.
b. Colombia trip cancellation/ Delay / Interruption (+)
If you’re a traveler who likes to book everything in advance, it might be something you would like to think of, especially if you pay expensive deposits.
Cancellation, delay or interruption have to be beyond your control. You can’t ask for a reimbursement if you decide to go back home because you don’t like the country.
Worldnomads: 2500 $
Chapka: 8000 Euros. However, it’s not included in the initial offer. You have to pay an extra 3.8% of the booking. More explanation here
SafetyWing: Up to 5 000 $
c. Luggage (+)
The limits included in the initial plans are low. It could be enough if you don’t travel with expensive electronics stuff. However, if you are a digital nomad who loves photography or a musician with a fantastic guitar, you could be interested in more specific travel insurance for South America.
You have to check the total limit, the per-article limit and the exclusions.
Worldnomads: 1000 $ total limit | 500 $ max per article
Chapka: 3000 Euros | Valuable max 1500 Euros | No Smartphone
SafetyWing: Up to 3 000 $| 500 $ max per article
The insurance won’t pay back if you’re responsible for the damage or the loss.
4. The policy excess
It’s like a deductible. It’s the amount you are required to pay for each claim arising from any event.
It will depend on your country of residence and the travel insurance company.
WorldNomads: 0$ for the United States / 100 $ for a Europe country
Chapka: 0$ | Except for Travel Cancellation: between 10 to 20 %
SafetyWing: 250 $ Per certificate period
5. The Not Covered section
There are exclusions for every type of insurances. But there is also a general not covered section. There are inside the terms and conditions PDF file. Read them all. Be brave.
In short, the travel insurance won’t pay you back if you’re:
Drunk or on drugs
Arrested by the police
6. How to subscribe and renew travel insurance for Colombia
Do you have to subscribe before going on a trip to Colombia
Worldnomads: No need
SafetyWing: No need
Is it possible to renew by email
Chapka insurance: Yes – But only once
Worldnomads: Yes – As many times as you wish
SafetyWing: You can choose the option “Auto-Renewal”
Be careful. In the case of renewal, the injured or diseases who occurred before the date of the new contract would be considered as pre-existing medical conditions. It’s not the case with the “Auto-Renewal” option with SafetyWing.
The content of this post is provided for general educational purposes only and does not provide professional advice, services, opinions or treatment to you or any individual. Tomplanmytrip cannot be held responsible or liable for any purchasing decisions you make after reading this post. As pointed out numerous times, it is important to read your full policy wording and choose a travel insurance policy that suits your particular travel needs.
Colombia in February: Sunny days and fewer tourists. Good period to plan a multi-day hike.
Colombia in March: Sunny days and low seasons. In humid regions like the Pacific coast and the Amazon, rainfalls are more frequent in the afternoons. Everyone is on holiday during the holy week.
Colombia in April: The rainy season begins. Plan your activities for the morning.
Colombia in May: Rainiest month, especially on the Pacific coast, zona cafetera and Antioquia. It’s better to stay on the Caribbean Coast.
Colombia in June: The weather varies between sunny days and rainy afternoons. You can visit caño Cristales.
Colombia in July: Mostly sunny days, except in some around San Agustin. The whales watching season starts.
Colombia in August: Mostly sunny days. Good period to plan a multi-day hike.
Colombia in September: The weather varies between sunny days and rainy afternoons.
Colombia in October: Rainiest month. It will rain most of the afternoons. It’s better to stick to the Caribbean coast if you don’t like to be wet.
Colombia in November: Rainiest month. It will rain most of the afternoons. Don’t go to the Pacific coast.
Colombia in December: Mostly sunny days, especially after the 15th. It’s also the beginning of the high season.
Best Time To Travel To Colombia To Avoid The Tourists
There are two main summer vacations in the world:
Northern Hemisphere (USA / Canada / Europe): July and August
Southern Hemisphere (South America / Oceania): December and January
Colombians love to travel in their country during their holidays. And many of them are going to the Carribean Coast. Prices explode in Cartagena from December to February.
Most of the Colombians leave on vacation the last weeks of December, the holy week (Easter) and during their 17 public holidays.If you’re looking for quietness, you should avoid going to the most famous highlights of Colombia during these periods.
The different touristic seasons in Colombia (+)
From December to February: It’s the high season in Colombia. Prices increase on the Caribbean Coast because many Colombians and Americans travel toCartagena de Indias. It’s also the period where South American Students and Australians explore the continent with their backpacks.
From March to June: Fewer foreigners are traveling to Colombia. However, many Colombians travel during the holy week (Easter)
From July to August: Then comes the turn of the Europeans to discover the secrets of Colombia. And Colombian students are on vacation in July.
From September to Novembre: It’s the low touristic season in Colombia.
Kiwi is another excellent website with even more features! Besides selecting the cheapest airports, they offer a guarantee for the flight connection (If you book two flights or more from different airline companies).
2 – Apps to know when it’s the best time to travel to Colombia
On Google Flights and Kiwi, prices are directly on the calendar. You can easily navigate throughout to find the perfect dates to visit Colombia.
Another option is to use Hopper. They have analyzed the last 30 years of all flights to understand the algorithms which calculate the price tickets. Thanks to all these data, they advise you about the future evolution of the price regarding your flight ticket.
3 – Apps to add a FREE STOPin your Colombia itinerary
I guess you know the expression “Layover” when you’re at the airport. It’s the number of hours you have to wait in an uncomfortable aluminum chair before taking your next flight. And in general, more you wait, and cheaper is your flight ticket.
But did you know you also can get a “Stopover”? Instead of dying of boredom at the airport, you visit a city for a few days. Moreover, it’s often cheaper than direct flights!
Many travelers try to find these fantastic opportunities. And it wasn’t easy a few years ago. However, today Airwander has built the perfect tool to help you to add a free stop during your vacation.
5 – Apps to quickly find the best prices to travel to Colombia
If you already know where/when you want to fly and you don’t want to spend more hours looking for flights, you should use the “classic 3”. They compare millions of flights to find you the cheapest deals. I have got a preference for Kayak and Momondo.
Depending on where you plan to travel to Colombia, there are months better than others. It would be unfortunate to miss the whales season on the Pacific coast or the river of 5 colors if you travel to Caño Cristales.
#1 Best time to visit Providencia and San Andres in Colombia
The seasons in Providencia (+)
The sunniest months are from December to May.
However, beaches are covered by algae in December and January.
The rainiest months are usually June, and from October to mid-November.
The best period for diving is from July to September.
#2 Best time to visit the Amazon in Colombia
The seasons in the Amazon (+)
In the Amazon, the weather doesn’t matter. But the months have an impact on the water level of the river.
From December to May, the water level increases
From June to November, the water level decreases
When the water level is low, there is more chance to observe turtles and migratory birds. But it’s complicated to navigate. Whereas when the water level is hight, you can travel more in-depth in the jungle with the speedboat or kayak between the trees!
#3 Best time to visit Caño Cristales and San Jose del Guaviare in Colombia
The seasons for Caño Cristales and San Jose del Guaviare (+)
The aquatic plants that give beautiful colors to the river in Caño Cristales and San Jose del Guaviare only appears during the raining season. You will be able to visit the National park of Caño Cristales from June to the end of November.
#4 Months to observe the whales and turtles on the Pacific coast
Whales and turtles (+)
Don’t miss the whale season from July to October.
Or the turtles from July to December
#5 Best time for diving in Colombia
Diving in Colombia (+)
On the Caribbean Coast, the sea is rough during the dry season because of the wind. However, there is fantastic visibility underwater during the rainy season. The sea is like a mirror. The best months are from May to September.
On the Pacific Coast, the best conditions for diving are from January to February. Also, you can swim with whale sharks from March to April!
#6 Best time for hiking in Colombia
The seasons for hiking in Colombia (+)
The Cordillera mountains offer many choices for mountain lovers. During the hikes, the weather can suddenly change. You should always carry a rain jacket and warm clothes.
And, the Paramo landscapes (kind of tundra/wetland between the timberline and the snowline) are beautiful but also very humid. During the rainy season, you risk hiking in the mud. Be prepared 😉
The best months for hiking in Colombia are from January to March and July to August.
Best Time To Travel To The Biggest Cities Of Colombia
#1 Best time to visit Medellin in Colombia
Weather & Events in Medellin (+)
Medellin is called The city of the eternal spring. The temperature is perfect however don’t suppose it will never rain.
The rainy months are usually April, May, September, and October.
And there are two awesome events you should try to attend.
Feria de las Flores (Fair Flower): 10 days in August
The Christmas lights: December
#2 Best time to visit Bogota in Colombia
Weather & Events in Bogota (+)
Bogota is one of the highest capital in the world. Don’t expect warm temperatures at night. And the weather is often cloudy/rainy in the afternoon, especially from April to June and September to November.
Conclusion For The Best Time To Travel To Colombia
Because I’m in love with Colombia, I only have one sentence to say:
There is no bad month to travel to Colombia
Yes, I’m maybe not 100% objective. But it’s what you should retain from this article. The temperature doesn’t vary much throughout the year, and there are plenty of sunny days during the rainy season, especially in the morning.
You should plan your trip according to the weather only if you want to spend most of your time on the Caribbean Coast, visiting the astonishing Caño Cristales river or watching the whales.
Also, Colombia is not too touristy yet. You won’t be bothered by an army of travelers, even during the high seasons – Except Around Cartagena and Santa Marta.
Don’t forget to check out the different events occurring during your stay. Colombians know how to party, and it would be too bad to miss the opportunity to discover this fantastic aspect of the country.
Some of your friends went to Colombia and they surprisingly came back alive and happy. Therefore, you want to know if Colombia is safe to travel or if your friends have just been lucky.
Thanks to this post, you will be able to decide by yourself if Colombia is a dangerous country and you’ll get a bunch of tips to travel safer.
Is Colombia safe: What you must know
Political situation: In 2016, there was a peace agreement between the FARC and the government. There are still various illegal armed groups and paramilitaries in remote areas in Colombia. The actual government doesn’t seem keen to improve its relationship with the rebels.
How do rebels act inside Colombia: Most of them lived in remote areas where there is no military presence. All these groups fight for the control of the drug business. Many social leaders are murdered for this reason. However, they do not attack or kidnap tourists.
Tourism in Colombia: Since 2007, more and more travelers come to visit Colombia. You won’t meet any illegal armed groups in the touristic areas. It’s safe to visit Colombia.
No dar papaya: Most of the bad situations happen because of tourists looking for drugs and hookers. Stay away from that and you will be perfectly fine.
Petty theft: Colombia is a South American country. You have to be more careful when you go out at night and don’t expose your valuables in the streets.
Solo travel: There are thousands of solo backpackers, female or male, in Colombia. You’ll be safe.
Countryside: Little towns are a lot safer than big cities.
I won’t tell you that Colombia is an all happy and lovey-dovey world. Let’s have a closer look at the actual situation to decide if Colombia is dangerous for tourism or not.
1. There is no drug empire anymore (+)
Nowadays, there is still an important drug issue in Colombia (it’s also the case for every country on earth). However, drug empires like the Cartel de Medellin or de Cali have been disbanded. And no future drug organization will be able to face the actual government. Paramilitaries and illegal group armed are hidden in remote areas (far from the touristic areas) to continue their drug business.
2. Peace agreements with Extreme Left-wings (+)
In December 2016, the government signed a peace agreement with the FARC. Those have laid downs arms, and they are authorized to create a political party.
There are still some rebels scattering in the deepest corners of Colombia but they focus on specific areas, far away from the military presence.
Some minor negotiations are still going on with the ELN.
Also, don’t think you’re going to be kidnapped. This strategy has been used by the FARC to fund their movement but it’s no longer true since the early 2000s.
3. Other Illegal armed groups (+)
None of the illegal armed groups are active in the entire national territory. They covered specific areas considered as strategic for cocaine production and trafficking abroad (borders).
In other words, they are in places where nobody wants to go. Don’t travel along the borders (Except Capurgana, Sapzurro, and Leticia). Here is the simple rule of thumb:
If there is a tourist attraction (for Colombians or foreigners), you can move there without any concern. Otherwise, don’t. Why would you like to get there anyway?
Everyone in Colombia is aware that tourism will play an essential role in the growth of their economy and the stability of their country. Also, it creates job opportunities where it would be hard to live otherwise – Like inCabo de la Vela.
Because of that, the government cares a lot about its safety reputation on an international scale. I’m not saying you will be protected against any petty theft. But nobody will jump on you to put you in the trunk of his car.
6. Even the United States's government says it's safe to travel to Colombia in 2020 (+)
We all know that Governments are VERY protective. If there is any doubt about a country, they write on their website that you shouldn’t travel there. I understand their point of view as they want to protect their citizens. However, it’s sometimes a little exaggerated.
But since 2018, Colombia has been upgraded as a Level 2 Country by the U.S State Department! It means they consider that travelers can visit – still being cautious – the main areas of Colombia. It’s fantastic news!
Is Colombia safe to visit in 2020? The USA government says (almost) YES.
If you travel to South America, your iPhone – I know you love it more than your boyfriend – will worth more than 3-4 times the minimum monthly wage.
Petty thefts are the main problem in South America, and the best way to avoid it is to No Dar Papaya. It’s a Colombian saying which means Don’t give them the opportunity. In other words, don’t deserve it.
Unfortunately, it can happen to everyone, even if you take all the precautions.
Nomadic Matt tells us about his experience when he let his guard down. Please read it till the end.
A – How to travel safely in the largest cities of Colombia
8 - Find where are the safest districts (+)
There is a large social gap between poor and rich people in big cities like Medellin and Bogota. According to their wealth, inhabitants live in different districts (from 1 to 6), 6 being the best. And the level of safety differs a lot between these areas.
When the party is over, don’t try to walk back to your hotel (Except if every Colombian told you it was safe), because you will maybe cross an unsafe district without knowing it – Invisible borders. And I don’t think you want to be alone in a dark alley at 4 am.
10 - Be cautious when you're using your camera or phone (+)
During the day, don’t be scared to take pictures if you see that other people are doing the same. But once the job is done, put it back in your bag or your pocket.
11- If you go out, take cash only (+)
And at night, let your valuables in your room and just take some cash. You will save money and if by misfortune someone wants to rob you, you will lose Colombian Pesos only.
There are a few things you need to know before enjoying the nightlife in Colombia.
Don’t let your glass unattended. There is a drug called Scopolamine or Devil’s breath that turns you into an obedient zombie. You will give your credit card number, your phone and you won’t remember anything. Pretty scary, right?
Be careful with hot girls jumping on you in a club, especially if it’s a trendy-expensive-i’m-rich one. It can be a hooker. Moreover, some of them steal their clients after sex (or before if you’re unlucky)
Don’t take your passport. A copy is enough. You will need it to get in the clubs
Use Beat (Colombia Uber) instead of a taxi after a party. A Beat’s car can pick you up in front of the club. It’s more simple. Moreover, some scrupulous fake taxi drivers can try to rob you, especially if you’re drunk.
13 - Set up a low daily payment limit on your credit card (+)
Only a few banks let you do that. And it’s too bad because it’s great!
If you’ve got a mobile bank like N26, you can change the different limits of your credit card in 5 sec. Therefore, thieves can’t do huge withdrawal in case of robbery.
I wouldn’t recommend to hang out near the center at night. Take a cab if you need to get there.
Because many foreigners like to spend their money in expensive bars of Poblado, there are more problems with drugs, hookers, and Scopolamine. However, it’s safe to walk around as long as the clubs are open.
Also, don’t hesitate to use the metro – Exception maybe for the last ones.
Don’t give Papaya, and you should be able to travel safely in Medellin.
15 - Is Bogota Safe to travel for tourists? (+)
Yes, Bogota is also safe to visit but some districts area bit dodgy at night.
La Candelaria is the old city center of Bogota. During the day, many students and officials walk through the streets. But after 9 pm, most of the restaurants close and the streets become empty and badly lit.
Moreover, there are many poor districts around la Candelaria. Be always on your guard for petty thefts.
Above the Avenida El Dorado, there are wealthier districts.
The night buses are the best way to travel through the country, and the roads are safe.
However, many drivers believe they are the new Mickael Schumacher. It can be a bit scary at first.
21- Night buses, taxi and Beat App (+)
This is why I don’t recommend you to rent a car in Colombia. Furthermore, the rentals are expensive.
Regarding the taxis, apart from Bogota, you will usually pay the fair price. In big cities, they’ve got the taximeter. If it’s not the case, ask for the price before getting in.
In Bogota, they use a taximeter with points. Then, they need to convert them into COP. Tell them to press the button to get the price in pesos. Also, it’s safer than you order a taxi from an App like Easytaxi or ask restaurants/hotels to call one.
If you don’t want to bother, use BEAT. It’s working perfectly fine in the largest cities.
5. Can you eat in the streets of Colombia and drink the water?
Yes! Don’t hesitate to try the street food! However, as in every country, avoid stands where the meat doesn’t look fresh – or surrounded by flies.
22 - Don't be affraid of natural juices (+)
Regarding the water, you can drink the tap water in the biggest cities apart maybe from Cartagena and Santa Marta. I also never had problems eating fruits, vegetables or drinking delicious juices.
6. Can you consume drugs in Colombia?
No, you can’t. If a policeman catches you with drugs, he can expulse you from Colombia. Although he would probably ask for a bribe.
23- Cocaine = problems (+)
I don’t have problems with weed, Mdma or LSD. But don’t do cocaine in Colombia – or any other parts of the world. This white shite powder brought enough blood on the hands of the consumers.
Countries like Colombia suffer from the vices of wealthier countries. Be smarter than that.
Why do people think it’s not safe to travel to Colombia?
Because of its bloody past, the TV and the Netflix series, most of the people liken Colombia to drugs and kidnapping.
24 - The different types of people who speaks about Colombia (+)
First, there is the TV-Show lover. He watched Narcos 2 times, and he believes that Narcos had a great and funny life. Today, he has got a mustache and a fat belly like Pablo.
Then, there is the Drug addict lover. For him, Colombia is just a giant swimming pool full of cocaine, and he is stupid enough to book a Hooker + Drugs + Unicorns tour for 3 000 $.
I also should mention the TV News lover. He believes and repeats everything the journalists say. Unfortunately, only bombs, murders, and puppies are perfect to get a good television rating. Hence, he thinks the world is dangerous and evil.
Since its creation, the Republic of Colombiadidn’t enjoy much of an economic stability environment. There have been many conflicts between the Liberal and the Conservative parties. The rivalry was so tense that Colombia has experienced ten years of the civil war called “Violencia” between 1948 and 1958.
25 - A quick explication about Colombia's history (+)
Then, because of many problems of corruption and social inequalities, extreme left wings like M-19, FARC, and ELN took up arms to protest against the government during the ’70s.
Simultaneously, Pablo Escobar started his cocaine venture in the jungle.
You can understand why it was totally fucked up.
Also, you have to realize we were in the ’80s. There was still the Cold War between the United States and the URSS to compete for who has the biggest one. And Americans were hunting communists like Salem witches. They didn’t want to let Colombia into the hands of the RED.
With their help, the Colombian government armed paramilitaries to attack the communists.
Then Pablo became a bomb addict to protest against the extradition. And he was also fighting with the Cartel de Cali to maintain his Cocaine business.
Yes, Colombia was a big mess.
And as you can see in the diagram above, everyone was fighting with everyone. Hence, Colombia wasn’t safe to travel in the ’80s
Then Pablo died in 1993. It didn’t improve much the situation of Colombia, but at least the bombs stopped. However, the commerce of Cocaine and Diamonds was (and still is) too lucrative. Drug Cartels, paramilitaries, and left wings weren’t willing to stop.
But the situation improved progressively since the early 2000’s thanks to an important military presence, many actions from the government and the will of the Colombian people. It’s now safe to travel to Colombia.
In 2020, it’s safe to travel to Colombia
The situation in Colombia has changed a lot in the last 20 years. Every day, efforts are made to increase the dialogue with the last illegal armed groups and improve the stability of the country.
Thanks to a viral word of mouth from the travelers, Colombia knows an increase in the number of visits since 2007 (from 1 000 0000 to 3 500 000). It brings new incomes for Colombian families, and it helps to reduce the gap between poor and rich people.
I know it usually takes time for people to change their opinion about any societal subjects. But I have good hope they realize soon that the bloody past of Colombia is far behind. However, as any country from South America, you should be cautious with your valuables.
I’ve written a long list of precautions and you’re maybe a bit scared right now. But, you shouldn’t because now you’re aware of it. Moreover, the huge majority of travelers don’t have any issues while traveling to Colombia.
In the end, most of the problems happen to tourists who look for drugs, hookers or who are too drunk to walk straight.
Don’t give papaya and everything will be fine 😉
Is it safe to travel to Colombia in 2020? In my opinion, yes. And you, what’s your feeling about it?
Don’t think that you will be able to visit every corner of Colombia in one month. The surface of the country is equivalent to the sum of France + Spain + Portugal.
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Also, even though the trunk roads are acceptable, you will have to be patient if you plan to travel off the beaten path.
Fortunately, internal flights are cheap, especially if you book them in advance.
2. Colombia has many neighbors
Colombia shares land borders with five countries. It’s a great hub to travel to the nations around. Going up north, you can be island-hopping on San Blas before arriving in Panama from Capurgana or Cartagena.In the South of Colombia, you can book a multi-day trip on the Amazon river and travel to Peru or Brazil.
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And if you’re not keen to take the boat, you can catch a bus in the direction of Ipiales and cross the border to reach Ecuador.
Colombia is also sharing its most significant land border with Venezuela. But considering the political and economic situation in the country, you should avoid getting there.
Also, you won’t be able to reach Panama by land as there is no road in the Darien Gap.
3. Colombia has two coastlines
Colombia is the only country in South America with access to the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
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The Pacific region is very humid, with one of the highest precipitation rates in the world. This part of Colombia is not touristy yet and offer unique landscapes made of black beaches and lush vegetation. Boats are the common modes of transport to move from one place to another.
4. The Andean mountains are divided into 3 branches
Another interesting fact is that Colombia is at the intersection of 3 tectonic plates (Nazca, Caribbean, and South American). The important activities between these plates gave birth to the Colombian Cordillera.
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The Cordillera Occidental is the lowest one and makes the separation between the Pacific coast and the Cauca Valley (Cali). You can hike around Popayan (La Purace)
The Cordillera Central is probably the most famous because of its popular treks in Los Nevados –Cocora Valley, Tolima, El Ruiz, Laguna Otun, etc.
The Cordillera Oriental separates the Magdalena Valley (A large river crossing Colombia from South to North) from the Llanos (A vast savanna mainly flooded during the rainy season). There are many day trips from Bogotato discover fantastic Paramos like Sumapaz or Chingaza. And from Guican or Cocuy, you can explore the marvelous Sierra Nevada del Cocuy near the border with Venezuela.
5. The 2nd highest coastal mountain range in the world
Another interesting fact about Colombia is the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. These mountains on the Caribbean coast are isolated from the Andes chain. The peak Cristobal Colon is the highest summit of Colombia with 5700 m.
For the indigenous living there, the mountain is sacred and the access it’s not open to the public. However, some companies organize The Lost City Tour.
The Sierra Nevada
6. Bogota is one of the highest capital in the world
As you can see on the previous map, Bogotais in the middle of the Cordillera Oriental. With more than 8 million inhabitants and at an average of 2640 m above sea level, it’s the third-highest capital in South America (after La Paz and Quito).
Because of its elevation, Bogota is located in Tierra Fria (Cold land). The temperature drops at night. Don’t forget to take a warm jacket if you’re going out 😉
Don’t hesitate to use these interesting facts about Colombia, South America, to plan your future trip!
Interesting Facts About Colombia: Nature
Because of its geographical situation and its different landscapes, Colombia is a paradise for the fauna and flora. The following interesting facts about Colombia should excite more than one wildlife lover.
7. Colombia is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries
Megadiverse countries are nations that possess the highest number and diversity of animals and plants on earth.
Colombia represents more than 10% of all the species (Fauna and Flora) on earth! And if you compare the surface (Km2) and the number of species, Colombia is 2nd.
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Also, with more than 1880 species of birds and 71 of which being endemic, Colombia is ranked at the first place for the avian biodiversity.
Even though there is plenty of room for progression, the government is doing its best to protect its astounding environment. 59 natural areas belong to the Parque Nationales Naturales de Colombia. It represents more than 11% of the global surface of the country.
8. The tallest palm trees in the world
It’s one of my favorite interesting facts about Colombia.
Salento is not only famous for its delicious red coffee beans. From the colorful city center, you can jump at the back of a jeep and reachCocora Valley in 20 min.
Consider staying in Filandia instead of Salento if you’re allergic to other travelers.
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After a lovely hike through the forest and a steep hill, you will have a panoramic view of a vast valley where giant wax palm trees are popping up like mushrooms. Some can measure up to 60 m!
Páramo is a specific biome that occurs mainly in the Colombian Andes. To put it in simple terms, it’s the tundra/tussock grass/wetland between the timberline and the snowline.
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Frailejón is another specific plant that belongs to this unique ecosystem. It looks like a magic troll doll without arms and with a brown-green skin.
Also, the temperature can vary a lot due to the high altitude. Don’t forget to apply your sunscreen before going on a treck in the Páramos. And take your boots and a rain jacket. The weather can change in a few minutes.
The Páramo de Oceta near Mongui is deemed to be the most beautiful in the world and Sumapaz near Bogota is the largest one.
Páramo de Oceta with frailejón, Mongui, Colombia
10. El Eldorado, a lake full of gold
Did you already hear about the legend of El Eldorado?
A secret city where gold is supposed to be present in every corner. Treasure hunters have spent hundreds of years to find this place lost in the jungle.
We even use its name in our everyday life to describe a great opportunity.
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But did you know that the legend was born from the Guatavita lake in Colombia?
During the XVI century, conquistadores were greedy for gold. They could have done anything to find this precious metal. When they heard about a lake where the Muiscas used to throw hundreds of jewelry made of gold, they didn’t hesitate one second.
For many years, they tried to empty the lagoon. But they failed and never found the treasures they expected. For them, only one conclusion came to their mind:
After the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Colombus, Spain quickly became a dominant empire. And thanks to viceroys, they have been able to manage a vast kingdom for more than 3 centuries remotely. But everything started changing when France invaded Spain in 1808. Let’s learn interesting historical facts about Colombia.
11. Colombia had 5 different appellations within 5 centuries
Why is Colombia called Colombia? And not ColUmbia!!!!
After the establishment of the first colony – Santa Marta – in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas, the Spanish conquered Colombia in only 25 years.
To keep an eye on its new territories, Spain created The Audienca in 1549 to manage the different governments. But, the communication with the Viceroyalty of Peru wasn’t effective – Because of the landscapes.
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200 years later, they established in 1740 the Viceroyalty of New Grenada to improve the centralization of their authority. It was in charge of Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
When France invaded Spain in 1808, some governments and subjects took this opportunity to gain more freedom and ask for independence. The first attempt didn’t last long, but it gave a decisive push in this direction. And in 1819, Simon Bolivar – a revolutionist from Venezuela – defeated the Spanish armies in Colombia, before leading his army to Venezuela and Peru.
While the Empire of Spain was collapsing, Bolivar created The Gran Colombia in 1819. His dream was to unify Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela into a great nation. Unfortunately, only a few of his so-called friends shared his point of view.
After many rebellions, Gran Colombia exploded in 1830. Only Colombia and Panama remained together under the name Republic of New Grenada.
It was the beginning of a long arm-wrestling between the Liberal and Conservative Party. And in 1886, the country officially became the Republic of Colombia.
In 1903, because of constant civil conflicts and the implication of the United States – to build a future world-famous canal -, Panama became in his turn independent.
12. Simon Bolivar (El Libertador) is the most well-known hero in Colombia
Simon Bolivar was born in Venezuela and grew up in a wealthy family. After the death of both parents, well-educated tutors took his instruction in charge. And thanks to Simon Rodriguez (one of the tutors), Bolivar met many European rationalist thinkers like Montesquieu and Rousseau during his second travel in Europe.
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Bathed by the Enlightenment and impressed by the coronation of Napoleon, Bolivar decides to break South America free from the Spanish Empire.
The task was not easy, and he had to run away a few times from the Spanish armies. But after many attempts, Bolivar struck a decisive blow against the Viceroyalty of New Grenada. With a small army, he crossed the Andean mountains and attacked by surprise the city of Bogota.
In three days the capital fell into his hands. It was the beginning of the end of the Spanish Empire and the birth of Gran Colombia.
One of the many statues of Simon Bolivar in Colombia
I’m sure the poet Horace went to Colombia before writing his famous sentence “Carpe Diem.” Because of its bloody past, Colombians learned to enjoy life to the fullest. The music, the dance, and the sport are an integral part of their cultural legacy.
Let’s find out the fun facts about Colombia.
13. Colombia, “the land of a thousand rhythms”
In Colombia, the hairs of your skin can feel the pulsation of the music. From traditional Salsa music to hard rock underground parties, you will hear a full spectrum of different sounds that will invite you to move your body on the dance floor.
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With such a large number of communities and many different musical influences coming from Africa, Europe, and modern America, each region has composed its musical styles.
The music on the Caribbean and the Pacific coast have been influenced a lot by the African culture, especially after the abolition of Slavery. For example, Cumbia is more present on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, but Champeta is typical of Cartagena de Indias. And if you hear an accordion, you’re probably listening to a Vallenato song.
The percussions played on the Pacific coast create a rhythm a lot more different. The Group Chocquibtown, which is based there, is very successful.
Small towns in the Andean Region used to dance on Bambuco music, and the Colombian cowboys (Llaneros) are driving herds with soft harp sounds (Joropo music).
But in my opinion, it’s the Salsa that transforms Colombia into such a tireless dancer. The inhabitants have quickly adopted this music coming from Puerto Rico. Kids are learning the first steps with their mothers, old grandmas are dancing near the speakers in the street and boys are kissing their first love on Salsa songs.
Different styles of Salsa appear over time, but the hips are still moving the same.
Fruko y sus Tesos
La Pantera Mambo
More recently, other styles of music have become very popular in Colombia. Local artists are using their musical background to create their proper rock, pop, techno or even jazz style.
But don’t expect to observe as many colorful reefs and fishes than in the red sea or around the Philippines.
If you’re looking for something more exciting – You will probably need the Open Water Advanced-, you should check out Isla Gorgona or Bushnell nearIsla Fuerte.
In the Caribbean sea, the sea is flat during the “raining season”- between April and October. Hence, the visibility will be better!
15. Football is a religion – Funny Fact about Colombia
In Colombia, the real name of Jesus is James, and his apostles are Ronaldo, Suarez, Messi, James, Falcao, Neymar, and Ibrahimovic.
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Ok, I may exaggerate a little. Many Colombians are Catholic so Jesus will be Jesus forever. But I think we can say that Football is as much important as religion in Colombia.
It’s a social/cultural thing. It unifies the country and breaks the barriers between poor and rich people. Many Colombians know more than one hundred European cities because of the different football leagues.
When the national team is playing, everyone watches the game. Plastic chairs and TV screens are set up on the streets, and Aguila’s caps (Colombia beer) are popping like fireworks.
16. Tejo is an explosive game
Tejo is the national game of Colombia, and it’s also a great excuse to drink some beers with friends. Two teams face off by throwing iron disks into a box full of clay.
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The team with the closest iron disks from the center of the box gain points. It’s the same spirit as Petanque or curling.
And you don’t know the best yet.
They add small papers full of gunpowder on the clay. You have to target these “little bombs” to get more points and made an explosion with the impact – Like a firecracker.
Parties of Tejo are usually free, and the owner makes money by selling beers or sodas. Don’t need to say that the more you’re drunk, the harder it is.
17. Festivals are plentiful in Colombia
Colombians express their feeling through the dance. Every rhythm of music has a history and a group of fans ready to spread the sounds in the country.
Festivals and fairs are all along the year, and they can last many days (From 2 to 7 days).
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Usually, people watch the parades during the day and move their hips like crazy at night.
It’s one of my favorite interesting facts about Colombia. And I highly encourage you to participate in one of them during your trip.
I wrote down the most important events:
Carnival of Barranquilla: February
Vallenato festival (Valledupar): April
Rock in the Park (Bogota): July
Feria de las Flores (Medellin): August
Feria de Salsa (Cali): December
Feria de Manizales: January
Festival Blanco y Negro (Pasto): January
Jazz festival (Mompox): October
18. Like the number of Public holidays
Colombians only have 2-3 weeks of holidays. Fortunately, Colombia is one of the countries with the highest number of public holidays. 18!
To allow the inhabitants to enjoy the festivals and discover more of their country, the majority of the public holidays fall on a Monday.
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And let me tell you that Colombians don’t like to spend their days off at home. They rush to the coasts and other highlights. Check out the dates below as you should book a few days in advance if you realize that a “Holly Monday” is coming. Calendar 2018
19. Colombian Coffee Fact – third producer of Coffee in the world
After Brazil and Vietnam, Colombia is the third producer of coffee in the world and enjoys big popularity in the global market.
Why is there such a craze for Colombian Coffee? Other countries are also growing Arabica beans after all. The answer is simple.
Quality and great marketing.
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At the end of the nineteenth century, there was a crisis in the coffee market, and the prices fell. In 1927, the government created the National Federation of Coffe Growers of Colombia to help the many local Colombians producers.
To gain market shares, they opted for a differentiation strategy by selecting the best beans for the exportation. And because many farmers only have a few acres of land, the federation created the brand, Juan Valdez, to express the artisanal and local values.
Then the coffee growers sell their coffee beans to the federation, which takes care of the exportation.
Did you know the Castafiore Emeralds (cf Tintin) probably come from Colombia? Indeed, the country accounts for more than 60% of the global market!
Most of the mines are located in the eastern Andes, but buyers usually met in Cartagena de Indias.
21. An artist in love with generous shapes
Fernando Botero is a world-famous artist whose works are exposed in many countries. He is well-known to give generous curves to his sculptures.
They look like balloons fill up with air and ready to explode.
I recommend you to visit one of the two expositions in Bogota or Medellin.
22. A writer who popularizes the Magical Realism
Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Gabo is one of the most famous writers in South America. He is known for popularising Magic realism, a literary style where magical elements appear in realistic situations.
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Gabo grew up on the Caribbean Coast, and many of his books have been inspired by the lifestyle of the Costeños and the experience he had during his childhood.
Bestsellers like “Hundred Years of Solitude” or “Love in the time of Cholera” have been translated into many languages.
Don’t forget to pack one of them in your luggage!
VI) Interesting Facts About Colombia: Food and Drinks
23. Tasty Colombia facts: Tons of fruits
Imagine a colossal basket of fruits without hundreds of different colors. It’s how I visualize Colombia. There are fruits for everyone and every taste.
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First, there are the ones you cut in half. Then, you eat the inside with a spoon. It’s perfect for a snack. I’m sure you know the most famous one, the Passion Fruit! You can also try Grenadilla and Lulo.
In South America, there are some fruits and staples which are supposed to increase your libido – Most of the time they smell terrible. It’s the case of the Borojo fruit.
If you like the bitter taste, you should try the Star Fruit. And the juice is fantastic too!!
And don’t hesitate to try the ones with a weird shape like the Dragon Fruit, Guanabana -a mammoth fruit- or the Guama – You have to suck the flesh around the beans.
I kept the worst for the end. Try the Noni fruit. It stinks like an old cheese which has been forgotten in a shoebox with the runners still inside. Gross.
Tip: Drink at least one juice a day
Paloquemao Market in Bogota
24. Aguardiente, a social beverage!
When doing party, Colombians love to carry around the bottle of alcohol they bought, and they give chupitos – small shots- to everyone!
As you know, parties are the best occasions to create new friendships.
Aguardiente is the national alcohol. It’s an anise-flavored liquor that literally means “Firewater”. But relax, it’s not that strong – around 29%.
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You have to drink it very cold otherwise you won’t appreciate it. The Aguardiente de Antioquia is the one you will be able to buy everywhere. There are two different kinds, with (Red) or without sugar (Blue). If you want to maximize your chance to avoid a hangover the next morning, you should definitively choose the blue one.
Edit: Daphne informed me there are two other colors: Green and Yellow :0! Did you try it?
2. Check if there is travel insurance included with your credit card (+)
In Europe, you’ve got 3-month travel insurance with your credit card.
Call your bank and ask them the terms and conditions – Upper limit, which activities, etc.
And grab this occasion to learn about your possible bank fees overseas. Also, tell your banker you’re backpacking in Colombia soon and that you will kill him if he blocks your credit card again without any reasons.
And if they want to charge you an extraordinary amount of money, don’t hesitate to tell them to f*(% off.
When you go out at night, take a photocopy of your passport only. I know you. You’re going to be drunk and lose your passport.
The Police accept a copy in case of control, and nobody can steal it.
Also, it’s a good idea to have some official Photo ID in your wallet. You can use them if you have to do some extra papers (if you lose your passport) or if you want to give it to a girl with your number written on the back – Did you try already?
6. Keep some dollars with your dirty socks (+)
I’m doing it every time I travel overseas.
The only time I didn’t do it, some dudes stole my pants and wallet in Barcelona while I was sleeping. I ate chips for lunch -> Not cool.
So, hide 100 bucks somewhere in a secret place in case of an emergency.
Ps: Don’t use it to buy extra drinks.
7. Vaccines before backpacking in Colombia (+)
There is lush vegetation in Colombia. Therefore, mosquitos and sand flies will fly everywhere around you. Be ready to fight!
TV loves speaking about Zika, Malaria, etc. It’s essential to use protection against mosquitos, but Medias are exaggerating the situation.
Sure, I’m not a doctor. But I think that Malaria pills will harm more than necessary while backpacking in Colombia – Except if you plan to live with Mowgli in the jungle.
I recommend the vaccines below if you’re traveling to Colombia:
Yellow fever – Don’t forget the vaccine certificate
Hepatitis A (Obligatory)
But don’t forget to check with your doctor first.
Useful gadgets to have when backpacking in Colombia (+)
First of all, although you don’t travel on a shoestring budget, you should use a backpack. Your trip will be a lot easier and open to new adventures.
Plus, you will be fit for the beaches on Caribbean coast :). And it’s a great way to meet locals.
I wrote down some cool gadgets or tips you could be happy to use when you’re backpacking in Colombia:
Zipper bag – To keep dry your important papers and cables
A sleeping bag cover to keep your dirty and smelly clothes
Empty Tic Tac boxes for the spices
A Hat – Even if you think you’re ridiculous with it
Packing cubes are perfect for organizing your clothes and gain more space in your backpack
A Sarong to use on the beach or as a towel
A Lifestraw – It’s an amazing travel gear, especially if you like trekking. Don’t need to pack 4 L of water anymore.
Sunscreen – It’s expensive in Colombia
Repellent – Take a good one, especially if you’re planning to do the lost city trek, the Pacific coast, the Amazon, Palomino, Minca, etc.
Dr. Bronner liquid soap. Use it for everything – washing, soap, shampoo – in small quantities.
First, you have to stop looking at the weather on your phone. It gonna tell you it will rain non-stop. And most of the time, it won’t. There is a high level of humidity in many regions in Colombia. Hence, it’s complicated to forecast the possible rains.
The country is near the equator line. There are two seasons:
The Windy season – It’s summertime
The Rainy season
During the windy season, it usually doesn’t rain from Mid-December to the end of March. The Caribbean sea is rougher in this period. Chilling at the beach or hiking in the mountains is perfect at this period. However, there is less visibility for the snorkeling and less water in the rivers/waterfalls.
During the rainy season, it’s not raining all day long! The weather changes many times during the day. In general, It’s sunny in the morning and cloudy or rainy in the afternoon.
12. Backpacking in the Orinoquia Region of Colombia
There are not many touristic places to welcome the tourists in this area.
The rare travelers who want to wander in the Orinoquia region are bird lovers or people curious to learn about the Llaneros – Colombian cowboys living there. This part of Colombia is also called Los Llanos because of the grass they cultivate for their herds.
It’s a fantastic place to observe wildlife and untypical landscapes.
Secluded places you should visit while backpacking in Colombia: (+)
15. Backpacking in the Caribbean Region of Colombia
It’s the favorite spot for the Colombians on holidays, and it’s easy to understand. It’s the Caribbeaaaaaaan baby! Bluewater, palm trees, white beaches and a chill vibe of “I’m on holiday, and I don’t care about tomorrow.”
Mobiles, Internet, And Post Office When You’re Backpacking In Colombia
17. Different internet mobile options while backpacking in Colombia
There are 3 important phone operators in Colombia:
They all have the same prices (Around 13$ for 2 Go), but I have a preference for Claro – It seems more “compatible” with foreigner’s phones. Regarding the Sim Card, you can buy them everywhere for less than 5$!
Before going on holidays in Colombia, you should check if your phone accepts any other sim card. Sometimes, mobiles are in a selfish relationship with their phone operator. If it’s the case, you should call them and ask for a magic number to make your phone opens to a new “Relation Chip”.
Would you like more information – Click here
18. The internet in Colombia
I will answer fast so you can stop being worried.
YES! There is the internet in Colombia. However, you will have to wait to be in big cities to Skype your mum.
The internet is terrible on the Pacific coast and the Amazon. And there is a slow bandwidth on the Caribbean Coast.
19. Post office
In Colombia, there is no National Post office. I know, it’s a perfect excuse to avoid sending postcards to your family.
So, if you want to send back some stuff to home – Sleeping bag, Poncho, cute baby cat -, you should do it from Panama or Perou or use a private mail delivery provider like 4-72 (but it can take up to 6 months for a postcard to arrive) or DHL.
How to spend your money while backpacking in Colombia
20. Currency – Colombian Pesos
I’m a billionaire, and it is not even real money. Let’s spend it all!
We’ve got the feeling to be a billionaire when there are many zero on our bills. Calm down and listen to me before starting to live as a Monopoly gambler.
Colombians are using Colombian Pesos (COP). To make it simple, keep in mind that 3 300 COP = 1 Dollar
The Colombian bills and what to buy with (+)
1 000 COP: 30 Cts
2 000 COP: 60 Cts
5 000 COP: 1.5 $
10 000 COP: 3 $
20 000 COP: 6.5 $
50 000 COP: 16 $
Yes, it’s not the exact conversion, but it’s the easiest way to remember.
Now, let’s see how you can spend this money:
Coffee (Tinto): 1 000 COP – 30 Cts
Beer (Aguila): 3 000 COP – 1 $
Avocado: 3000 COP
Fantastic fruit juice: 3 – 4 000 COP
Breakfast: 7 000 COP – 2 $
Cocktail: 7 000 COP
Menu del dia (Menu of the day): 10 000 COP – 3 $
Good Dinner: 25 000 COP – 8 $
Hostel in a dorm: 25 – 30 000 COP: 8 – 10 $
Most of the time, Colombians won’t say the “Mile” (Thousand) – If it costs you 20 000, they will say “twenty.”
Also, keep your small bills.
It’s difficult to pay with a 50 000 COP bill sometimes because they can’t give you back the change.
60 $ is a comfortable budget for backpacking in Colombia – Like eating in restaurants, going out the evenings, using public transportation, doing the main activities, etc. However, expect to spend more if you’re a flashpacker
There is also a page with many apps/websites you could be interested in when backpacking in Colombia.
24. National flights are great for backpacking in Colombia
They are amazingly cheap. Use them if you don’t have much time in Colombia.
There are many flights per day in each major Colombian city. Therefore, you will still be flexible with your itinerary during your backpacking adventure in Colombia.
Try to book your flight at least 3-4 days in advance to get some interesting prices.
A typical flight should cost you around 50 $ (1 way), and a flight to Leticia (Amazon), Bahia Solano (Pacific Coast), Capurgana (Darien Gap) cost around 100 $ (1 way).
Unfortunately, the smallest airline companies don’t have reliable websites (often offline) – It’s better to call them or to go to their office (Satena, etc.).
In case you can’t complete the payment procedure online – Because your credit card has been denied -, you should call your bank and ask them to check. Sometimes they can authorize the payment manually.
Main domestic flight companies in Colombia (+)
Latam |Airline company
Airline with basic services. It’s perfect for domestic flights.
Latam Baggage Policy:
1 Checked Baggage NOT included: Max 23 Kg [Except for tariff “Plus” and “Top”]
1 Cabin Baggage included: Max 10 Kg. Size: 55 cm x 35 cm x 25 cm
1 Personal Item included: 45 x 35 x 20 cm
Avianca | Airline Company
It’s the national airline company, but they seem to have some delay issues.
It’s not a problem if you don’t have to catch your next flight connexion. Otherwise, keep some spare time 😉
When backpacking in Colombia, you should always plan your itinerary with possible delays in mind.
Avianca Baggage Policy:
1 Checked Baggage included: Max 23 Kg
1 Cabin Baggage included: Max 10 Kg. Size: It must measure at most 115 centimeters (height+length+width)
1 Personal Item included
Viva Air Colombia | Airline company
It’s the cheapest airline company in Colombia. Don’t expect high standards and great customer service. It’s not a big deal as you can fly almost for free if you’re booking your flight ticket in advance and without a checked Baggage.
Viva Colombia is making money thanks to optional services and mistakes from the customers.
Viva Air Baggage Policy:
Only 1 cabin baggage is included: 6 Kg and 40x35x25 cm
You have to do the check-in online max 45 min before the departure
You have to print your boarding pass
There is no reimbursement if you can’t take your flight
Extra cabin baggage: 12 Kg and 55x45x25 cm – Price: 44 000 COP
Check baggage: 20 Kg and 158 linear cm – Price: 42 900 COP
Before paying for the ticket, check if they didn’t try to add an option to your basket sneakily.
Travel to off the beaten path destinations in Colombia with charters (+)
Satena has got an important air fleet and deserves many destinations in Colombia. However, the quality of their services isn’t the best. Many delays and cancelations.
San German’s reputation is excellent, we recommend their services.
25. Taxi in Big Cities
Taxis are the easiest and fastest way of transportation in the cities in Colombia. They are everywhere, and they honk to seduce you – I don’t know why they do that. It’s as much tenting than kissing a drunk girl who is vomiting.
In most of the cities, they don’t use a taximeter. Agree on a price first.
In the airports and important terminal stations, you can book your taxi at a welcome desk.
There is also an app to book your taxi from your phone ⇒ EasyTaxi
UBER is illegal, but everyone uses them in big cities. It’s cheaper and easier. You will have to sit in the front seat and pretend to be a friend’s driver if the police stop the car.
Edit 2019: Beat is our new favorite APP. It’s cheaper than Uber.
To have access to secluded places, you can take moto-taxis.
26. Buses when backpacking in Colombia
Buses are the favorite way of transportation for the Colombians. Don’t hesitate to use them during your backpacking trip in Colombia. Drivers are a bit crazy sometimes. Close your eyes, and you should survive.
The long bus drive (+)
Best way to travel in Colombia
Night buses are safe and useful
A fridge is warmer than a night bus. Take a blanket
Semi-Cama means that it’s an inclinable seat
You can bargain and ask for a discount
You don’t need to buy your bus ticket in advance when you’re backpacking in Colombia – Except during Christmas time, easter and public holidays. Check the schedule on the internet and just show up 1 hour before.
29. The different kind of accommodations in Colombia
There are many different sleeping options in Colombia. It depends on your budget and the region you’re visiting. As you know, Colombia is near the Equator, so there is no much temperature variation. At low altitude, you can sleep outside all year long.
The hostels when backpacking in Colombia (+)
They are many hostels in the countryside which let set your tent in their field.
On the Caribbean and Pacific coast, it’s possible to sleep in hammocks. I recommend you to try the Chinchorro in La Guajira. However, it’s a lot more expensive on the islands.
A night in a hammock: 10 – 15 000 COP |In-land
A night in a hammock on Isla Mucura: 70 000 COP
Hotel rooms when backpacking in Colombia (+)
The inhabitants can also rent a room. It often the case when there are no many accommodations around (La Guajira, Pacific coast).
There are hundreds of hostels, and it’s a perfect solution to meet other travelers when backpacking in Colombia. You choose between a private room or a dorm.
A Night ina basic private room (2 pers): 50 – 60 000 COP
A night in a dorm: 25 – 40 000 COP
But, if you prefer to stay in a hotel instead, it won’t be a problem either. Be aware that hotel standards are not the same than in Europe/USA. However, some of them are fantastic!
A night in a hotel: from 60 000 to 600 000 COP.
Finca & Hacienda when backpacking in Colombia (+)
In the department of Antioquia, the coffee region and around Popayan/ San Agustin, travelers can sleep in a Hacienda (huge estates surrounded by lands) or a Finca (coffee farm). It’s an excellent experience if you’re looking for tranquility.
30. Our Favorite Hostels when backpacking in Colombia
Hostels become a serious business game. Nowadays, you can book fantastic hostels in some amazing spots.
Here is the list of the hostels you should check out when you’re backpacking in Colombia:
31. How to book accommodations when backpacking in Colombia
As Colombia is not touristy yet, you shouldn’t have a problem to find accommodations – Even without booking in advance.
If you’re a backpacker, look at Hostelworld first. If there is almost no space left in the hostels, it means you should book your stay in advance too. But keep in mind that the hostels don’t put all their availability online. Try to contact them on their Facebook page too.
Book a few days in advance for the most famous hostels, as there is a higher demand. Do it even earlier for Casa En El Agua.
What to eat and drink when Backpacking In Colombia
32. Water, Juice, and Alcohol
Water when backpacking in Colombia (+)
Colombia is the paradise for fruit juices and cheap beers but not for the water.
You can drink the tap water in principal cities and many towns in the Andean Region. But avoid doing it on the Carribean Coast, Pacific coast, Amazon, etc.
The best is to ask in your hostel first –Es la agua potable aqui? Or you can offer a glass of water to another traveler and see if he survives.
1 L water bottle: around 3 000 COP.
Fresh juices when backpacking in Colombia (+)
Fruit juice sellers are everywhere in Colombia. They are many choices, and it’s perfect to start the day.
You will have to choose between Water or Milk – Con Agua o con Leche. Colombians love sweet, so don’t hesitate to ask with less sugar – Con un poco de Azucar por favor
Read the list to know about the many unusual fruits you can find when you’re backpacking in Colombia.
1 Fruit juice: Around 4000 COP
Alcohol when backpacking in Colombia (+)
What is the most common alcohol you can buy everywhere? BEER!
In any events, outside of a club, on the beach, you will always find someone to sell you a cold beer. And it’s cheap.
Local beers don’t have many flavors, so don’t expect to drink a good beer in most of the bars when you’re backpacking in Colombia.
But many artisanal breweries are opening their doors in big cities like Medellin and Bogota. Ask around you!
In Colombia, Aguardiente is the national alcohol. It has an aniseed flavor, and you drink it in shooters.
There are mainly two types of bottles. The blue and the red one. Colombians say the blue one is less painful the next morning for the hangover;)
Tip: The party district is called Zona Rosa in the big cities
33. Vegetarian survival kit, street food, and restaurants
To find or cook a good meal is one of the most important activities of every traveler.
It’s one of the 3 questions I ask myself each morning when I’m on the road:
What should I do today?
Where do I sleep tonight?
What do I eat?
When you’re traveling, you let all your worries about your daily life at home. And you care about your essential needs only.
Common street foods when backpacking in Colombia (+)
Don’t be scared to try the street foods when you’re backpacking in Colombia. The country doesn’t have a great reputation for its food, but you can still eat delicious Colombian food.
Arepas [ground maize dough]. It’s like Bread for them. They give it to you for breakfast with your eggs; they make sandwiches or pizzas. There are also many Arepas 2.0 – It means they add some cheese or egg directly inside when it’s cooking. Each Colombian’s department cooks it differently.
Empanadas [Bread or pastry cooked with a different kind of filling]. They love to fry them in Colombia. It can be with meat or veggie or cheese, etc.
Salchipapa: Sausage + French fries + Lots of sauces. It’s great!
Yucca [woody schrub]. If you’re a vegetarian, you will love that. You can boil it then fry it. Awesome results.
Plantains [Sweet Banana]. Delicious. You can eat it like chips, or it can be sweet. Don’t hesitate to cook it by yourself – It’s a pain in the ass to take of the skin. Cut into pieces, boil it then smash it with a plate. Once you have a thin circle, fry it.
Yes, the street food in Colombia is a lot about eating fried stuff. So, If you want to save money and eat more healthy, ask for the menu del dia at lunch time. They serve it in every restaurant.
It’s a basic meal that includes:
The main dish: Beans + Rice + 1 leaf of Salad + 2 slices of tomatoes + 2 plantains + Meat
A juice of the day
Vegetarians in Colombia (+)
Vegetarian people won’t be excited by the menu del dia in basic restaurants. They can ask to get some eggs instead of the meat. In small towns, they have no idea about what is a vegetarian.
However, a vegetarian will be fortunate in big cities. There are big supermarkets with lots of fresh products. But be ready to pay the price, it’s expensive. Try to buy your vegetables at the food market or in the street.
There are also delicious and cheap vegetarian restaurants. And they serve a Menu del Dia too. Use Happycowto find them.
Finally, read the description of the different hostels. Some, like Casa Loma in Minca, cook AMAZING vegetarian meals.
There are many volunteering programs in Colombia. I would recommend you to avoid the south near the border with Ecuador and the Orinoquia Region (east of Colombia). The government has less power and control in those areas.
More information about safety and volunteering abroad
35. Backpacking in Colombia as a Solo Female Traveler
I’m reading and receiving many questions about “Backpacking in Colombia as a solo woman traveler”. Being scared the first time is normal. Every one does.
Yes, ladies, you can solo travel in Colombia and go out to party.
And, you will meet many Colombians ready to bring your back home at night in case you feel unsafe.
Moreover, you’ve got a few advantages in comparison with male travelers :
You’re less stupid when you’re a drunk
You don’t want to have sex with everyone
You’re not looking for hookers and wake up naked in a hotel room without pants and wallet
Colombia travel tips for Solo femal travelers (+)
Colombians are romantic. They love to listen to songs with Corazon / heart / Amor / Love in it
They will probably “fall in love” with you. Take it as a compliment and break their hears with delicacy
Always trust your guts and leave if you don’t trust the person
If a man has an inappropriate behavior, don’t be scared to say it to clarify the situation
They will ask you why you’re not married. You can lie and say your husband is at home taking care of your kids. Or tell the truth.
“Mono” means white girl
Try salsa, bachata, and other dances! Colombians love to dance, and they are great teachers
However, you need time for that. You have to create an itinerary and be sure that all the information is correct and updated. It’s complicated to make decisions when you don’t know the country at all. This is why travelers like to use local travel agencies.
35. Places where you have to book a tour when backpacking in Colombia
The desert in punta Gallinas (+)
It’s the northernmost point of South America and a desert. You can’t go on your own because it’s far from everything and there is no road. The cheapest option is to book a tour from Cabo de la Vela. They organize two-day trips with jeeps to explore the area.
Price: Between 100 – 150 000 COP per pers. Only for the transports.
It’s a fantastic five colors river. And It is one of the most beautiful things you could observe in your life.
For a long time, it’s was not accessible to the tourists because of the FARC. But now it’s possible!
Many tours are starting from Bogota. However, you can reduce the price by going on your own to La Macarena and look for a local travel agency over there. You need to have a guide to visit Caño Cristales. It can be expensive if you’re alone because you can’t share the price for the guide. It will be one of your highlights if you’re backpacking in Colombia
To arrive in La Macarena, you have to fly from Bogota, Cali, Medellin or Villavicencio. Or you can take a shared-jeep from San Vincente.
Price for the tour on site: Around 250 – 280 000 COP per day per pers.
The 2nd day is cheaper as you don¿t have to pay the taxes again
The Best prices from Bogota are around 550 USD 4D/3N
The national park is open from Mid-June to End of November
Price with a good Local travel agency: Around 350 000 COP per day per person (All included)
The Lost city trek (+)
Lost city trek is the most famous multi-day hike in Colombia.
The tour lasts 4 or 5 days into the Sierra Nevada, a national park on the Caribbean Coast. You hike to some ruins – only terraces – then you walk back. You can book the tour from Santa Marta, Palomino, Minca, etc.
Price: Around 850 000 COP per person (All included)
The numerous natural national parks (+)
Colombia puts lots of efforts to protect its National Parks. And They can limit the number of visitors every day. Moreover, some of them are not even open to the public. Or you have to hire a guide for hiking – Like in Cocuy.
Colombia is a vast and beautiful country. Don’t be afraid and jump ahead.
During your adventure, you will learn some valuable lessons like “family is important” or “each day is unique, you should spend it with a smile on your face.”
Moreover, it’s an excellent playground for backpackers. There are fantastic hostels, cheap night buses and every landscape you could think of.
And, it’s also a developed country. Don’t imagine that Colombians are people leaving in the jungle with a bone through their nose and donkeys. Medellin was elected the most innovative city of the year in 2013.
You can travel quickly and comfortably if it’s what you’re looking for.
If you have got 2 weeks, I recommend you to focus on 4 – 5 places maximum. To truly appreciate a backpacking experience in Colombia, you have to take the time and not being just a spectator.
Try new things.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde
Create easily a stunning Colombia itinerary
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Colombians are curious by nature. They don’t hesitate to observe you without embarrassment. And if you meet their look, they will smile at you – sometimes with their eyes too. It’s funny how the “I look at you” culture is different from one country to another. In China, they’re faking to take pictures all around them to have a secret snapshot of your face. In France, they… just don’t care and look at their feet in the subway.
2. Visit Colombia and Become friends with the locals
After a few days backpacking through Colombia, you will be “shocked” by the kindness of the people. At first, you are suspicious – And it’s normal, how can you imagine a world like that. You avoid answering their smile or questions and refuse to listen to their advice or invitation. Then, you start being used to it. Step by step, you open a little more your heart to all this kindness. At the end of your trip to Colombia, it seems natural for you to share an Ajiaco (traditional meal from Bogota) with people you met 1 hour ago.
3. Communicate with sign language if you speak English only while visiting Colombia
Colombians are not the best persons to talk in English with – Except some youths from Bogota or Medellin. But, they are very patient to try to understand you. Take your time, a deep breath, use the 2-3 words that you’ve learned from a Spanish book – Si, Por Favor, and Cerveza – and translate all the other words with your hands. It’s always funny to observe an Australian trying to speak another language. But you know what? It’s the best way to learn 😉
4. Learn some slang during your trip to Colombia to show off with your friends
Like in any country, Colombians are using their slang – Chilians are the Nb 1, it’s not even Spanish anymore. It’s perfect to impress your friends and to make Colombians smile. They will love you in less than 30.4 seconds. I’m a big fan of “Que Chimba” (super cool), “Parcero” (Friends, Medellin expression), “Chevere” (super cool), “Marica” (Gay, friendly expression between friends).
5. You never have the feeling to be lost if you Travel to Colombia
You always find someone to help you during your trip to Colombia. Once, I arrived in San Antero without knowing anything about the town. I was planning to go to Capurgana, and I wanted to discover some other parts of the Caribbean Coast on my way. The shuttle drops me in the center, and I decide to have lunch before looking for a place. In 10 min, the owner speaks with me, advises me a hotel and calls a friend with a bike to pick me up.
I arrived at Manglecolorao hotel. I ate delicious seafood, surrounded by a lovely family vibe. In 3 days, I’ve been asked to play “je l’aime à mourir” with a ukulele minimum 5 times – I had the feeling to be a rockstar -, went to a mud volcano and received 34 mangos for free – That I couldn’t finish.
6. Colombians call you Corazon, Papy, Mi Amor, A la Orden all the time
I’m not coming from a place where you receive a thank you for every good service. Most of the time, it seems natural that you have to do it. It’s fabulous to hear a “Corazon” or a “Mi Amor” when you say good morning or thank you to a lady. Would you like to know my favorite?
” A la Orden mi Amor” – Oh my gosh, you’re killing me Mamita. (At your service my love)
7. Travel to Colombia to Sleep in amazing hostels
There are plenty of hostels in Colombia. It became a business because more and more travelers are falling in love with this country. They take their chance to establish some atypical places to welcome the new backpackers. And the result is astonishing! Casa Loma in Minca, Casa En El Aire near Medellin, The Dreamer in Palomino, The Wandering paisa in Medellin, La Serranain Salento, Casa En El Agua(San Bernardo) and many others. They all have a different energy and awesome vibe to offer.
Create easily a stunning Colombia itinerary
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8. Live within the Darien Gap – A great Colombia Experience
Near the border with Panama, two towns will remain in my heart. With my guide job on San Blas, I’ve been living there for 1 year. I’ve learned to love – and sometimes hate – this place. It’s a little far away from everything, and you can only reach it by boat. There is no car, and for me, it’s like a TeleNovela where everyone knows the dirty secrets of everyone. Not touristy yet – Except by Colombians -, there are cool beaches, waterfalls, fruit juices, homemade ice creams – I miss you Chila! Ah yes, the towns are Capurganaand Sapzurro.
You should try to get there if you plan a trip to Colombia!
9. Travel to Colombia to Chill on islands in the Caribbean Sea
Fortunately for us, only Cartagena,Rosario islands, and Santa Marta are famouson the Caribbean coast. If you travel to Colombia, you will have access to incredible islands where almost nobody goes – Except during the Colombian holidays. I swear, I had the feeling to be like Richard Branson with less hair. Go and have a look at unusual trees on Isla Fuerte, play ping pong onIsla Mucuraand swim in the 7 colors sea in Providencia.
10. Kitesurfing in the desert of La Guajira, a magical Colombia destination
Yep, There are also deserts in Colombia. La Guajira desert is in the North. The northern city is Cabo de la Vela. It’s an adventure to arrive, but it’s part of the fun – You should do it by yourself. But Cabo is not only famous for its geographic location. It’s also the Mecca if you want to do Kitesurfing and Windsurfing. It never rains, and the wind is omnipresent. There are plenty of schools just waiting for you. Travel to Colombia and become a flying superstar!
11. Travel to Colombia to visit the most northern point of South America
From Cabo de la Vela, you can book a 2-days tour to go to Punta Gallinas(Jeep and boat). There are flamingos, a fantastic landscape made of dunes, different blue waters, sandy rocks and you can try the best hammocks of your life. They called it Chinchorro. OMG, you have to try it, it’s better than a bed. I made a mistake by choosing a “simple” hammock the first time. I was so jealous of Dom (my travel buddy).
12. Watch the whales on the Pacific coast with a Colombia travel guide
You can have access to the Pacific Coast by boat or flight only. And the inhabitants refuse to build a road to their hometown. Black sand, cliffs, intense nature and music. It’s all you need. You can forget the internet on the Pacific Coast if you travel to Colombia. You go fishing, dancing in rhythm with percussions and running naked in the jungle – optional. Then you can observe the whales from a tiny boat.
13. Travel to Colombia to Discover the Amazon
Did you know there is a town on the border with 3 countries? That you can observe pink dolphins, piranhas, parrots, monkeys, Mowgly – Ok for him, I’m not sure yet – easily? Take a flight from Bogota to Leticia and come to live a unique experience. Treks in the jungle, Ecological park, hostel surrounded by animals – mosquitos included – and learn about the indigenous culture. You should stay 5 days minimum, and if you’re researching by the police, you can escape to Brazil or Peru through the river.
There are 3 branches of the Andes crossing all Colombia. These mountains cover 33 % of the country! As a result, there is the possibility to hike through amazing and unusual landscapes like the Paramo (a unique ecosystem between the treeline and the glaciers in Colombia), relax in natural hot springs and climb 5000 m altitude summits. Most of them are protected and sometimes you need the authorization to explore them (booking in advance or with a guide). I went to the Paramo of Los Nevados. It was cold and muddy. We have been lost in the area called “The lost valley” – What a coincidence! It was an adventure I will never forget.
15. Live in a National Park without A Colombian guide
16. The tallest palm trees in the world, a fantastic Colombia tourist attraction
They can be up to 60 m high. I tried to size them myself, but I’m way too short to be efficient. So I’ve decided to use my fingers. We all have a mate saying “You know buddy, the gap between my thumb and my pinky is a perfect 20 cm“. After 5 attempts, I failed with this technique too. So I invite you to come to Valle de Cocora and do the experience yourself – Instead of laughing behind your screen :D.
17. Birdwatching in the best spots in Colombia
There are 1900 species of birds in Colombia. It’s 20% of the total number of species on the planet. Be ready to observe Parrots, Hummingbirds, Andean Condor, Colombian Woodpecker, Quetzal… – You have to be lucky to spot the more rare ones. All Colombia is a playground for Birds lover, especially the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Los Nevados, the rainforest in Antioquia, the Amazon and the Pacific coast.
18. Visit a peaceful and splendid Colombian colonial town
The sun is going up quickly from behind the mountains. Now, the sunlight reaches the white walls of the houses. Two kids wearing the same uniform, brother and sister I suppose, are walking on the cobblestones of the street. It’s Monday, and it’s time to go to school. Both are smiling and join their friends in the main square. Around, in the shade of the balconies, some men are already drinking coffee, sitting on their colorful chairs.
20. Travel to Colombia to Visit a typical coffee farm
Colombian coffee is famous in all the world. An effective marketing campaign (Juan Valdez’s Character) took place around the 30’s to promote the quality of their beans. They select all the good seeds for the exportation and keep the bad ones in the country – more or less. Some Finca/Hacienda – Farm – are open to the public. You can learn more about the coffee history and the different processes. You will find most of them in the coffee triangle (Armenia; Manizales; Pereira).
21. Learn Salsa in Cali, A unique Colombia Experience
Every night, there is a party somewhere. The game is always the same. First, they glance at each other, evaluating their skills and wondering how it would be together. The music stops, another one starts, and he takes the occasion to grab her wrist. Their bodies are flying on the stage, their eyes half closed to feel the music. They are beautiful, and the other dancers stop dancing to observe them. You think they are falling in love, that in the end, they will run away from the club to take a taxi. But the music stops, another one starts again, and another man takes her hand. Without any last look, the alchemy between these two ephemeral lovers disappeared. Welcome to Cali.
22. Be drunk with happiness and dance, dance, dance
There are many different kinds of sounds and dances in Colombia. Colombians spend their days in music, dancing with life without any worries. Ok, they have an advantage, they have rhythm in their blood. Boys are dancing with their mum since they are kids. Stand up from your chair, smile and let your body speaks instead of your mouth
23. To discover that in the end, you like Reggaeton
I can already hear people saying: “Heresy! This Tom has no taste”. First, you’re partly right. I have a preference for old rock/indie or Deep techno, but I’m able to listen to any music if I like the rhythm. I agree, the lyrics are shit and degrading for women. But you have to admit one thing, when there is a Reggaeton song at a party, you only want to do one thing, moving your body like Enrique!
24. Sunday is a party day with Vallenato
Ok, this one is a special one, and you need to go to Capurgana to understand it. I’m always amazed how Colombians think about Sunday as a party day. Most of us (Europeans, Americans, etc.) are crying on Sunday – most of the time with a hangover – because the next day is Monday. But during my travels to Colombia, it was the day to put out speakers, beers, tables, and dominos to play and gamble.
25. Electronic music in Bogota, best Colombia city for partying at night
Bored with Colombian music? You want to dance alone, only moving your head and shoulders from left to right. I agree it can be relaxing. In Bogota, there is a significant electronic music culture. Skip Medellin or Cartagena if you want to enjoy an excellent electronic party in a club. And travel to the capital of Colombia!
26. The carnival in Barranquilla and Feria de Las Flores in Medellin
Barranquilla in Colombia is the third biggest carnival in the world. There are parades and foam fights every day but what I’ve really enjoyed is the vibe in the streets at night!!! Speakers are out – as usual – at every street corners, youths and old people dance together, and the birds can hear the laughs of the Colombian Grandma. Tomorrow doesn’t matter. Tonight the music is on and everyone dances to celebrate it.
The Feria de Las Flores in Medellin is one of the events you don’t want to miss if you travel to Colombia in August. Every year, the city organizes a HUGE festival where the inhabitants are competing to build the most impressive floral designs. And with Colombia being one of the main producers of flowers in the world, let me tell you they’ve got the talent for creating fantastic work of arts made with billions of petals.
27. Settle in Colombia, A perfect place for digital nomads
Before, people who wanted to travel the world had to set up for a time in big cities and look for a job (waiter, teacher, etc.). Thanks to the technology, there is another alternative now. You can work remotely from your computer. Welcome to the digital nomad world. Colombia -especially Medellin – is a perfect destination for that.
28. Attend a Football game at the Stadium when you travel to Colombia
I’m receiving buckets of water on my head for 20 min. It seems the weather is not happy tonight. Whatever it is, I’m waiting in line with my group of friends. The Security guard checks us; I guess we don’t look like bad boys as it’s done quickly. We take our seat – which looks more like a small bath now -, and I wave a guy to get a beer. My friend stops me before I commit a horrible crime. It’s without alcohol. I’m thinking “whaaat da fu***ck” but say “no I’m fine. Thank you”. I hear a whistle, the game starts. People are all standing, in the rain with their green plastic poncho. They sing, jump, applause, yell at the referee. It gonna be a fun football match.
29. Play Tejo, a Colombian national sport
One day, a smart guy wakes up with a brilliant idea. He decides to create a game where the goal is to throw metal disks into a box full of clay, iron circles, and papers with small quantities of gunpowder inside them to make some explosions.
Ok, It’s not the real story, but it gives you a rough idea of what Tejo is.
30. Take a nap in the hammocks while visiting Colombia
I have a fusional relationship with hammocks. I had to use them many times at my job, and I think nobody can feel sad about it. It’s a cozy cocoon that can swing. It’s hard to do better, no? Colombia has perfect weather all year long for hammocks. It’s always the best time to visit Colombia
31. Drink a cold Aguila to escape the heat in Colombia
Aguila is like Reggaeton. First, you’re not a fan, then you don’t care, and in the end, you like it. If you travel to Colombia, you will quickly notice the weather is humid and warm. You will be happy to get a cold beer in your hands.
32. Drink amazing juices and eat weird/unknown fruits
I tried a fruit which supposed to be like viagra, I ate another one with a cheese taste – Disgusting – but what I remember the most are the delicious fruit juices that I could have every morning, every lunch, every afternoon. Sellers are everywhere, be curious, try them all!
33. Eat amazing homemade spicy sauces with your Colombian meals
Colombians don’t like spices. But they make AMAZING homemade spicy sauces. They mix chilly, garlic, spring onions, and some secret ingredients. I always camp in front of the stand with my empañadas. The spoon of the spicy sauce stays in my hand until my snack is over – Except when someone is waiting. In this case, I’m sad.
34. Eat hundreds of different arepas, A Colombian food specialty
I’m not a big fan of arepas – My friends know that quite enough. But arepas are part of the Colombian culture, and you can eat many different ones. It’s like when Tom Hanks explains what we can do with shrimps. You can find Arepas with eggs, with cheese, for breakfast, for hamburgers, from Medellin, from Venezuela, with butter, dry, not dry etc.
35. Time doesn’t matter when you travel to Colombia
“The soldier’s minute. In a battle that’s all you get. One minute of everything… at once. And anything before is nothing. Everything after… nothing. Nothing in comparison to that one minute” – Thomas – Peaky Blinders.
Colombians have a different relationship with time. They just don’t care as much as we do. It’s why they can’t answer you correctly to the question: – And, how long does it take? I’m still pissed of when I have to wait 30 min at the cashier in a supermarket, but I’m learning 🙂
36. Plans are made to be changed during your trip to Colombia
We all like to make plans, bestand it’s normal. It’s reassuring. Do you remember how annoying it is when you have to change your plans sometimes? Ok, this situation will happen all the time in Colombia. But you don’t care because there is always a solution and someone to help you during your trip to Colombia. It’s magical but true. Like Woody Allen said, whatever works 😉
37. Learn to do nothing during your adventure in Colombia
You will have plenty of time doing nothing while traveling to Colombia: Because you have to wait for a flight, because you are on a bus or because you’re fucking lost, with no battery and you’re expecting that someone comes to help you. In any case, take the example of this old grandpa on his chair in front of his door. He’s chill and happy to do nothing. Try, it’s not so easy to do!
38. Travel to Colombia now because It’s not touristy yet
Colombia is not touristy yet – Except few places like Tayrona,Santa Marta, Cartagena, Poblado, and Salento. It’s a chance for us because it’s more authentic. Many travelers are spreading the words that Colombia is incredible – like me -, so hurry up! But you have to promise me one thing. Respect the country and the people! Let’s keep this fantastic vibe of dance and kindness. Don’t be the stupid vacuum guy coming for his white powder.
39. You can see the smile of the moon and the shade of a rabbit
As the moon is only the reflecting light of the sun, we see it differently according to where we are on earth. In Colombia, the moon is smiling at us. You can even see the shape of a rabbit when it’s full moon. And I swear I wasn’t drunk!
40. Make your own opinion of Colombia
This point will be the last, and it will serve as a conclusion. Many people have a terrible idea of Colombia because they see it only through the headlines in the newspaper and the Narco’s series. It’s true that Colombia had a bloody history and the country is not perfect. There are still drug problems and paramilitaries in the country. But you know what, they don’t give a shit about the tourists.
I have got a survey online asking the travelers who have been to Colombia to give their opinion. For now, 35 travelers have answered. I let you read the results.
Everyone loves cheap flight tickets. The problem is nobody likes shitty flights.
But now buddy, I’m asking you one question: Do you prefer to spend 200/300$ more to have a direct flight at 10 am?
Do you prefer to take the flight at 6 am, have a layover of 4 hours before taking another plane and spend the 200/300 $ saved in alcohol extra activities?
Like diving in the Caribbean sea, paragliding above Chicamocha Canyon, Trekking 5 days to the Lost City, take one week of Spanish lessons, doing a non-stop party weekend in Medellin, etc.
I’m not asking you to be happy to take a shitty flight, but you just don’t care. You’re saving 200/300 $ if you travel alone. But Imagine if you’re a family with 4 persons? Yes, it’s 1 200 $ you can save.
Important: you should always check if you have enough time with the layover if it’s not the same airline companies [As they have no obligation to find you another flight if you miss your correspondence because of a delay with the 1st flight]. It’s especially the case with the USA (boring immigration system).
I would say 2 hoursminimum for a layover and 3 hours minimum if it’s in the USA.
Concept 2: Travel to Colombia during the low tourist season
It can be complicated if you have kids. Otherwise, you have no excuse. Remember, there are two summer vacations in the world:
End of June to End of August [USA, Europe, Canada]
Mid-December to End of January [Australia, South America]
To get a better price, you should avoid travelingduring this period in Colombia. However, if you’re from Europe, it’s possible to get a cheap flight to Colombia in January and vice versa for the Americans
Concept 3: Be flexible
To get a cheap flight to Colombia [like everywhere else], you should fly on a weekday (Best are Tuesday and Wednesday generally). Keep that in mind when you start your research.
Also, if you take an internal flight to Colombia, you should always be aware of the public holidays [The prices increase]. You have the list here
I know it can be a little complicated with your job, but the price difference can be huge! Stop doing like everyone else, be smarter.
Concept 4: Navigate Incognito
Did you hear about the cookies?
They are little text files following you everywhere on the internet. In this files, there is your “Internet Profil” [Browser history, how many times did you come on this page, etc.]. It’s handy for the marketers, as they can retarget their potential customers. [Yep like the ads you see on your Facebook or Google side]
Unfortunately, some websites use them to increase the prices of their productsevery time you come back to their page. It’s mostly the case of the flight booking websites.
By this way, they push you to buy quicker (As you’re scared the price could increase again)
To be protected from this evil technique, you just have to open EVERY TIME a new window with the incognito mode (in case you are using Google Chrome) when you’re looking for flight tickets. [It’s Private Browsing for Safari and Internet Explorer; It’s new private window for Mozilla]
I’m going to take my hometown as an example. I’m living in a small town named Prades [France], a secret place only famous for its Macdonald. However, it has a great location between the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean Sea and the border with Spain.
I love to think about my plans at the last minute. I wish to leave the next month (October) to Colombia. I’m always doing more or less 3 weeks to coincide with my different itineraries for Colombia
Simulation has been done on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.
1) We use Google flights
Google flight is necessary to help us to have a cheap flight to Colombia. It will give us a general idea of where it’s cheaper to take off, land in and for what dates.
a) The discover destination mode (on the main page of google flights)
Where it’s cheaper to Takeoff
First, we want to check where it’s cheaper to take off to go to Colombia. For this reason, I’m gonna say to Google that I’m leaving the capital of Colombia to go to France.
Yep, I’m doing the research backward.
For me, it could be interesting to leave from Barcelona, Paris or London. I know I have to pay more or less 80 euros more to get to London or Paris [in comparison with Barcelona]. So I should consider that too.
TIP: Always take into consideration the cost to get to the airport[/box]
Anyway, the flight is cheaper from Barcelona, so it’s perfect for me. [Image A]
Where it’s cheaper to Land in
Now, I need to know where it’s cheaper to land in. I’m still using the discover destination mode, and I’m doing the simulations with Barcelona and Paris [as 2nd choice]
The result confirms it’s cheaper to land in Bogota [Image B & C]
b) The calendar function to find the best dates
Once you’ve written the departure and the arrival, you can select the dates. The advantage with Google flights is that you can have an overlook about the best prices for this trip [Barcelona – Bogota in our case]
The goal is to get the green prices. They indicate which days are the best to leave and come back.
For us, we can plan 3 weeks from the 4th to the 25th.
Most of the time, google flights never finds the best prices, but it’s perfect to find the places and the dates.
We should still have a look at the different flight it proposes us.
Indeed, it can be cheaper to book 2 or 3 different flights yourself than paying a “flight package.” However, it’s only interesting if you’re traveling in one way as round trips are always a lot cheaper than 2 “one way.”
With Kiwi, we are checking:
A first estimation of the price
If we have the best dates.
You can notice that [Image A] the flight return on the 24th is still the best option.
We have a flight for 609 Euros [With a long Layover, 17 hours in Frankfurt, Image B]. Take this occasion to visit the city by night [Beers and Brezels!!!].
We check the departure from Paris [Image C] again. It’s more expensive 686 Euros, and we still have to pay our train or flight ticket to go to Paris.
b) Hopper, the app which tells you when you should buy your flight ticket
The definition of Hopper on their website: Since Hopper launched, our data-science team has collected a huge historical archive of trillions of flight prices. We analyze that data to share with our users through insightful predictions that consistently perform with 95% accuracy.
It means they can predict when the price of your flight ticket should increase or decrease thanks to the Big data
We launch the application, and we fill in the form with the dates 04/10 and 24/10
In the image A, we remark that once again, we have a green date.
In the image B, Hopper tells us that we can wait until the 17th (maximum) because maybe we can get a lower price The best price we have with Hopper, for now, is 645 Euros and it thinks we can save maybe 48 Euros more. (645 – 48 = 597). We had 609$ with Kiwi. In my opinion, I will not wait as we only have one month left.
But you can set up an alert in case you want to be informed of the price evolution.
It’s always useful to check again with Hopper if we have the best dates and cities [Image C]
It confirms we have the best cities, but we could save 26 Euros [Image D] if we are leaving on the 5th. It’s still more expensive than Kiwi but let’s check
Now, Hopper advises us to book our flight immediately (it makes more sense). We should check the dates for the 4th and the 5th for the last step.