We advise that you speak to a travel clinic about your specific travel plans before you set off. Dengue Fever is another mosquito-borne disease present in Colombia, for which there is no vaccination. This was mainly due to the responses I received from friends and family.
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Reading government warnings online did not make me feel any better:. Mugging and pickpocketing can be accompanied by violence.
UK website. Having travelled extensively in Southeast Asia an extremely safe region to travel , making the jump to South America, I was aware that I would need to readjust my approach to safety in Colombia. Arriving off the plane in Cartagena in the early hours of the morning, a well-dressed Colombian woman started chatting with me.
I was immediately on my guard. My jet-lagged brain was in paranoid mode and I was almost rude to the woman as we waited for our bags at the luggage carousel. When we got to the taxi rank, I stupidly had no spare change for the taxi and the ATMs were not working. She wanted nothing in return and simply wished me a pleasant journey. The next day, I realised how my pre-conceptions had caused me to be suspicious of the woman and I was already in awe of the friendliness of the Colombian people.
Throughout my time in Colombia, travelling just myself and a female friend, there was only one time when I felt in danger. For some reason, I just found this city more dodgy than other parts of Colombia with a few suspicious characters lurking in doorways…. I think I was more on guard here, as it was in Santa Marta where I watched, from the rooftop of our hostel, a fellow traveller have her camera grabbed from her by a kid on a bicycle.
We were also warned by fellow backpackers about nearby Taganga. As safety is such a difficult topic to summarise it depends on just being in the wrong place at the wrong time anywhere in the world! Here are a few tips on staying safe in Colombia…. To dar papaya is to give a thief an easy opportunity to steal something from you.
Travel Insurance is essential when backpacking to Colombia and other parts of South America. We always use World Nomads as they make travel insurance with backpackers and adventurous travellers in mind. For advice on safety in South America check out their range of articles here. Having some knowledge of Spanish will definitely help you to blend in during your travels in Colombia, and if you throw in some of the following Colombian slang words you might even pass for being a local!
When it comes to accommodation, Colombia has it all — luxury hotels, Airbnb, long-term apartments for rent, and lucky for us, cheap backpacker hostels. The quality of hostels is very high and backpackers have come to expect spacious rooms, dorm beds with privacy curtains, fast WIFI, free breakfast, sociable common areas with a pool table, ping pong and even a swimming pool as fairly standard!
Many of the hostels in Colombia are part of an association known as the Colombian Hostels Association. This is a team of hostels across the country who have joined together to support each other. They also get together to support social projects in the local communities where the hostels are located. There are some awesome hostels on this list! Some of our favourites are…. Their hostels are consistently fun and sociable places to be and are often located in some beautiful buildings.
All of the hostels have nightly events to help backpackers to meet and mingle, such as free salsa classes, live music, yoga and even coffee courses at their Salento hostel… We spent a fun evening at their hostel in Cartagena watching a bizarre magic show! With three floors, THREE swimming pools, a TV room, a rooftop bar and terrace with nightly social events, a restaurant, dorm rooms and privates, a social vibe and knowledgeable staff — what more could a backpacker ask for?
They also have an all-you-can-eat breakfast from 7. A delicious breakfast is included in the price and there are dorms and private rooms.
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Their Santa Marta hostel gets amazing reviews and they even have a jacuzzi! All hostels have a sociable vibe and free events like dance classes, theatre and shows. All in all, a fun place to stay! This of, course, depends on the activities that you do, how much you travel around and how much alcohol you drink! See below for an idea of how much accommodation, food, transport and activities cost in Colombia…. However, this depends on how much you eat and what you have cravings for!
Something like a pizza will set you back more. There is no efficient train system in the country at the moment. Compare prices on Skyscanner. Trekking, diving, mountain biking, rafting and other activities will cost a lot more than your accommodation and food put together. How can you complain! We had these lunches at local restaurants almost every day in Colombia. Stay in hostel dorm rooms — Hostels in Colombia are excellent quality and great value for money. Travel on local transport — Local buses and collectivos are the cheapest forms of transport in Colombia.
Use Skyscanner to compare prices across the whole month our favourite Skyscanner feature!
Forward, Upward, Onward: Life Lessons from 48 Mountains about Friendship, Discipline,
Threats of kidnapping, robbery, and terroris I was immediately drawn into this book about Ms. Threats of kidnapping, robbery, and terrorism were met with Ms. She wrote about the great food she ate, the out of the way places she traveled to, and the many friends she made. Feb 20, Susan Moore rated it it was amazing. I absolutely loved this book. It touches your heart and soul in so many ways. When you read her story, it's like you are there with her in Colombia experiencing everything with her. I highly recommend this book. Woodard has written a special book that will be important to anyone who longs to experience another culture.
It is also an individual account of those turbulent years in Colombian history, told up-close and personal.
Molly Conan the Librarian Crumbley rated it really liked it Jul 16, KateWerners rated it really liked it Dec 16, Kristin rated it liked it Jan 13, Katie Schenkkan rated it really liked it May 25, Aimee rated it liked it Apr 14, Srwilliams rated it liked it Aug 26, Brandi marked it as to-read Jun 05, Tracy marked it as to-read Oct 17, German Aleman marked it as to-read Nov 27, Back when the guerrillas lorded over this region, our excursion would have been a kamikaze mission, and there were plenty of reminders of the bad old days.
In Tenza, another gem of a hamlet, Mayor Fanny Coca recalled how rebels stormed into the town hall in and demanded part of the municipal budget. Officials could either comply or be kidnapped. Coca credited the law-and-order polices of President Alvaro Uribe, who was first elected in , with turning things around. Whether in Tenza or on a patch of asphalt in the middle of the countryside, we were constantly stopping to fill our tanks.
Colombia ranks nowhere near the top of overseas destinations for serious foodies and we had two in our group — David Carr , the media columnist for The New York Times, and Brett Anderson , the restaurant critic for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Yet they discovered some enticing dishes.
Neither had spent a whole lot of time on their bikes and they struggled a bit in the mountains.
But at one point, after pedaling through a cloud of succulent smoke, Carr and Anderson abruptly pulled to a halt, found their second wind, then backtracked five kilometers to sample an outdoor chicken joint. One evening, we tucked into another Colombian specialty, lomo al trapo — beef tenderloin packed with salt then wrapped in a wet rag and tossed into the ashes of a barbeque pit. We also carb-loaded at roadside stands that sold simple fare like roasted corn-on-the-cob garnished with lime and arepas — corn-flour pancakes stuffed with cheese.
Any deficiencies in the cuisine were made up for by the massive selection of fruits.
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We washed down our meals with juices made from blackberries, passion fruit, guavas, soursop, lulo, feijoa and tree tomatoes. Back on the road, the few motorists we encountered gave us a wide berth. Partly due to its mountainous contours, Colombia produces more world-class cyclists than any other Latin American nation. Yes, we often wussed out on the climbs but we tried to make up for it on the last full day of the trip when we began a leg-crunching hike to the top of a 3,meter mesa for a picnic lunch at the sacred lagoon of Iguaque Park, another largely unknown treasure just outside Villa de Leyva.
Founded in , Villa de Leyva is one of the oldest and prettiest towns in Colombia. But even here, we had the whitewashed colonial buildings, the bustling market and the cobblestone streets pretty much to ourselves. As we boarded our sag wagon for the two-and-a-half hour ride back to Bogota, we wondered how long Colombia would remain off the tourist trail. We also smiled about the only real disappointment of the trip: Colombian coffee. Though a growing number of upscale Juan Valdez shops in the big cities serve Starbucks-strength espresso, my friends were appalled by the weak brew served in most backcountry restaurants.
The taste brought to mind that old Peanuts cartoon in which Linus serves Lucy hot chocolate made from warm water with a brown crayon dipped in it. The full-blown caffeine addicts in our group took to ordering Coca-Cola for breakfast. But that was OK.