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colombia? to go or not to go?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean colombia? to go or not to go?

1. Posted by joey22 (Travel Guru 561 posts) 11y

apparently a beautiful country and rewarding destination. also home to some of the world's most beautiful women... sounds awesome. but also nicknamed "locombia" as it is completely mad, full of drug smugglers, gangsters, kidnappers, cowboys, tricksters, junkies and the kinds of people that execute their national team footballers when they concede own goals.

i have recently discovered that it is infinitely cheaper to fly from panama to colombia as opposed to fly over colombia to ecuador. i can save myself $150+ dollars. but will i be foolishly endangering my life for the sake of some money???

what experiences do people have of colombia? if i end up there what should i do, where should i go and how can i stay alive? are there likely to be safe options for overland travel onwards into ecuador, or should i just avoid colombia altogether?


a slightly apprehensive joey

2. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 11y

If you took the time to do a search here youd see all kinds of Colombia info that not a C&P from the Lonely Planet.

3. Posted by mim (Travel Guru 1276 posts) 11y

dude!! GO!!

my bro was there last year and said it was the best place he went to out of all of SAmerica and SE Asia!

you only live once ;)


4. Posted by joey22 (Travel Guru 561 posts) 11y

Firstly, Mr Salmon I can only extend my hand and offer you an apology for not performing a search before i posted my question about colombia.

Secondly, Mim, thanks for the positive response! more the kind of response i was after. i do adhere to the only live once motto... i spent a lot of time roaming around the furthest corners of both laos and cambodia on my recent trip to asia. the touristed areas are not the only reasons i like to travel. i just wasn't sure about how many people visited colombia. the episode with that posh english chap who narrowly escaped with his life on his gapyear still springs to mind when i think of the country. and the drug-violence is unlikely to affect me i realise... but there are a lot of kidnappings annually.

bugger it though, its months away yet and i reckon i'll have a look when i'm in the region.


5. Posted by argie22 (Budding Member 40 posts) 11y

You know, i've heard all sorts of things. Someone who's been there advised me to not go at all, and some backpackers have said they had an amazing experience. I'm skipping it this time, especially because i'm a girl travelling alone and i don't wanna give my mom a heart attack.
I think that if you go, you should stick to the rules everybody seems to give. Try to find a companion, especially a local. Don't get out of cities and venture into the jungles/mountains by yourself. And you'll probably be ok.
Good luck!
:) Daniela.

6. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 11y

Sure, a lot of horror stories doing the media about Colombia. I'm not saying it is a safe country now, but then again, there are many other countries I have visited that are just as, if not more unsafe.

Colombia was the highlight of my travels in Central/South America last year. friendly and open people, a beautiful country, beautiful people. Lots of historic places to see, things to do and nature reserves to check out.

Cartagena and Santa Marta are probably the best places to start and while you are in the area wht not check out Parque Tayrhonna.

Stick to the cities and don't travel overland then you should be fine.

For a different Colombia experience why not check out Bogota or Cali in the mountains, as opposed to the above 2 cities I mentioned which are on the coast. Cali is a very beautiful city.

Yes, go to Colombia (I have lived to tell the tale, check out my pics of me in Caratgena on this website). But always be careful when you travel and heed travel warnings, and don't get paranoid about the place. Just make sure you stay very alert when you are there. Then you should be fine;)

7. Posted by Rraven (Travel Guru 5924 posts) 11y

Numero1 - how long did you stay there ??

My boyfriend and I are thinking of starting there in Nov this year, travelling around South america for 6 months approx..... the original reason for us was similar to Joey - its cheaper to fly there, after a bit of research it looks like an amazing visit to stay.......

8. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 11y

Quoting Giggler

Numero1 - how long did you stay there ??

My boyfriend and I are thinking of starting there in Nov this year, travelling around South america for 6 months approx..... the original reason for us was similar to Joey - its cheaper to fly there, after a bit of research it looks like an amazing visit to stay.......

I stayed there 27 days exactly.

It's a lovely country do visit, but do be careful.

When I got off the plane the first time I stepped foot in the country, at Cartagena Airport, I literally started to tremble not knowing what the hell was going to happen to me and why the hell was I going to a country like Colombia.

I had arranged a hotel stay in Cartagena over the net (needed my luxuries at the time) and I organised for the hotel to do an airport pickup. I remember the day very well.

I was standing outside the airport (after clearing customs) in a really heavy tropical downpour of rain on my own, trembling in fear. My flight on Copa had arrived about 30 minutes early, and the pickup had not arrived yet. Lots of cabbies hasseling me to take a cab instead, but I flat out refused, speaking to them in the Spanish I know.

Anyway, my hotel pickup arrived, and on the way to the hotel they pointed out the old city to me and where I could go to eat, get drinks after hours, entertainment spots etc.

Looking around I then realised that all was going to be just fine, the place looked very normal, just like any other I had ever visited. I slowly lost my fear. I then got game to travel to other cities in Colombia (by plane only, as I heeded travel warnings).

My advice is to do it! But do be careful and exercise caution as shit can happen when you travel in ANY foreign country, and not just in Colombia.

9. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 11y

Some visitors go to Costa Rica, beleiving it is a crime free paradise, walk around with the tourist uniform and fanny pack and wind up getting robbed in broad daylight. They return home shocked and unbeleiving. When the same folks come here to El Salvador and of course Colombia, they are in a state of perpetual paranoia for the first couple of days until they begin to relax and unwind and start getting treated as an honored guest instead of another blank face with a camera around it's neck spending dollars or euros. Plan your trip well and do message me if you wish to join online one of our hospitality clubs where you can stay with locals and be taken places travellers would never find. Just have to use common sense and don't wander in remote areas by day or large cities at night by yourself if you don't speak the language.