Be grateful for any information from members regarding travelling to and staying in Colombia.
Foreign Government Websites always advise against travel there and stress extreme danger, but I prefer to get an opinion from members who have been there.
I shall be travelling by bus from Quito Ecuador and staying in Neiva (Huila province)
I have recently returned from Colombia. I was there just 7 weeks ago. I traveled around a fair bit of Colombia but I caught flights everywhere as I was warned about getting buses.
I only went into city areas. I went to Cartagena, Barranquilla and Cali.
I was told while I was there by many locals (tour guides included) that the rebel troops don't come looking for you in the cities, the only way to encounter them is if you go off the beaten track looking for them.
Colombian people I found to be open, helpful and extremely friendly (even more so if your spanish is good, luckily mine is).
I found all the cities I visited to be safe and at no time did I feel threatened, excpet for the odd person trying to sell me a shirt or watch on the street.
Cartagena is a beautiful city, it is very safe, and a must see place for anyone traveling through South America. It's colourful archictecture in the Old City and a vibrant nightlife. There is a lot of history about the city as well and is well worth checking out. Also, check out the Islas de Rosario - some of the most beautiful island paradises I found anywhere in the world. Barranquilla is not much more than just a vibrant port city, but Cali is also worth checking out for a different Colombian experience to Cartagena.
Generally speaking, if you use common sense in Colombia you will be fine. Don't wander off to see things that look like they may spell trouble. I had no problems, because I never went looking for trouble.
In my opinion, travel warnings are generally only there to scare people, but don't let them stop you from seeing a beautiful and vibrant country in Colombia with hospitable and open hosts. Use common sense in Colombia and you will be fine
I went Columbia this year travelling from Mex by bus through to Panama then flight into Cartagena for 4days then Bogota for a while and Columbia was probally the friendist place on my travels.
It was very hard to keep travelling as the people where so friendly and lots to see for a townbum like myself.
All I can say is dont miss it on your travels as "I WISH" is to late.
Have a good time on your travels.
al de bes
[ Edit: Cartagena link. ]
In a few years if there is cessation of hostilities in Colombia, as beautiful as it is shall become a major tourist attraction and the odd traveller will just be another foreign face, so travel there now and experience genuine Colombian hospitality, in the 1970s and early 1980s in war time Guatemala the situation was nearly the same, now Antigua, Lake Atitlan and Quetzaltenango are overrun with travelers and spanish students who go to the same schools, drink in the same bars and travel the same places together on weekends. The better your spanish is the better time you'll have...just don't go out drinking alone or with strangers late at night in cities, you may meet old "Mickey Finn".
I was going to ask a similar question. I am considering taking a teaching job in a town called Ibague (any info on this city would be nice too). Anyway, I am just looking for recent accounts from people who have actually been to Colombia. I know that it is dangerous, I have composed essays at school about the situation, and yet I find that almost all the first hand accounts I find are all positive. So if I can have some more personal stories (the good and the bad) I would really be grateful. Thanks you.
I just asked a friend, who visits Colombia regularly because he's married to a Colombian girl. He advised me to not go, especially because i'm travelling alone. He said the landscapes and people are simply amazing, but it's too risky, especially if you get off the beaten track...who knows? i'm skipping Colombia this time, maybe i'll go when i ahve someone to go with me.
I am seeking an expert on the dangers of travel to Colombia. Please if you are such an expert or know of an expert, please contact me directly at -snip-. Thank you.
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[ Edit: Removed e-mail address. ]
I live in Latin America and have been to Colombia, but I am not an "expert". Try the information pages and forums on:
http://poorbuthappy.com/colombia ..the best source on living, working and travelling Colombia on the Internet.. (in English and some Spanish)..
The cities are now very safe if you use common sense..the most dangerous thing in any Latin American city is the traffic, watch out either driving or as a pedestrian, 56 pedestrians died last year in Bogota from being hit by vehicles, as well many Latin drivers tend to "hit and run" unless cornered, as many drive without insurance..and if caught by police their vehicle is impounded and they are jailed unless they pay damages or large bribes in some areas. If you are out alone at night in cities take radio taxis to and from destinations. Many rural areas in Colombia still considered unsafe for travel. If taking buses between cities, take day buses if possible. If going alone, mastery of at least basic Spanish recommended. Colombia boasts some of the most beautiful cities, towns and countryside anywhere in the world, friendly, helpful and outgoing people.
http://www.travelnotes.org/LatinAmerica/colombia.htm Travel Site
http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Colombia Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/south-america/colombia Lonely Planet Colombia Page
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1090.html US Dept. State Travel Advisory
we travelled through colombia, took the regular precautions, and found it just as safe, if not safer than anywhere else in south america. We even did some hiking in the countryside. We stayed in a small town. Walked out to a coffee plantation.
A lot that you hear on the news is hype. Also, a lot of people have left Colombia because of things in the past and therefore they tell people not to go. The people who really know are the people living there day to day right now, and the travellers who are hanging out there too. Ask around. Talk to the right people. and you'll get the real story on Colombia.