Before you go to Colombia make sure you will be well prepared. In this blog my tips and inspirations that will help you to plan your holiday to Colombia.
Is it safe to travel to Colombia?
I have written a special blog on this, because this is the main topic when traveling to Colombia. But in my opinion it is not more dangerous than other South American countries, you just have to be aware and travel conscious. Please check the Safe Travel blog on Colombia here.
As a Dutch citizen we don’t need to request a Visa, we get one in our passport for 3 months when we arrive in the country. Although there was a long waiting line before entering the border at the airport in Bogotá; I waited more than 1 hour to get my stamp. Please check your visa status when traveling to Colombia.
Several websites show different recommendations for vaccinations. No essential vaccinations are required when entering Colombia. The recommended vaccinations are Yellow Fever, Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Optional vaccinations are Hepatitis B and Rabies. Please check if you go to a Malaria area, if you follow my route, you don’t need to take malaria pills.
In Colombia it is easy to get money out of the Cash Machine/ATM.
Tip: I always bring some cash USD with me; just in case and emergency situations. For example in Palomino there is no ATM, so bring your Pesos or USD.
The hotels where I stayed accepted my Credit Card even American Express, so didn’t need to bring a lot of cash with me. But please check in advance. Palomino was the only place where I traveled in Colombia where there was no ATM, but if you go more off the beaten track you can run into more places without ATM. Ask the locals beforehand that could help preventing that you will not be able to pay. The Colombian Peso (COP) is worth around the 2900-2800 per USD. Compared to Europe Colombia is cheap, but not very cheap. For every budget you have accommodation, food and transport.
Transport in Colombia
Local buses are cheap, 1/1,5 USD per hour in the bus. Buses will take a lot of time but are comfortable and have a good air-condition on board, so bring a warm sweater in your hand luggage. Colombia’s Andes is right in the middle so you pass it at least ones, be prepared when you pass it you could get carsick if you are not used to it. Colombia’s traffic is growing and they are building more roads to meet the demand of cars, but I was stuck in a couple of traffic jams and road blocks.
Download the Uber app. I used an Uber for the first time in Bogotá. It is safe, cheap and fast. You don’t need cash is all goes via your account attached to your Uber account (Paypal) Finding the location was a bit more difficult but I was very enthusiastic about this experience!
Internal flights are cheap too, but book in advance for the best prices and timeframes. I even booked a Business class by coincidence…. bought a flexible ticket no idea it was a royal chair up front!
Go local and rent a horse as one of the transportations or tours in your travels.
Other Tips for Colombia
At my first day in Colombia I bought a phone and internet sim card from the telephone provider Claro. This is a famous provider in South America. People in the streets of Bogotá were selling these and they even helped me installing the card. I pay around 45,000 COP for 1 month durance and 200 GB of data, which was sufficient for me to use it in the bus and streets (Uber), where there was no or slow Wi-Fi available. Big recommendation!
Before I left to Colombia I already downloaded the app; Maps.me. This is an off-line map provider. You download parts of a country in advance where you intent to go. This was very helpful by walking in the city streets or the hike in Salento where there was no reception and you still can find your way!