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1. Posted by plidste (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y

Hi, me and a friend may be travelling through colombia and i was wondering if anyone has any tips or advice on doing this? we are mostly concerned with the safety.

thanks
paul

2. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

Will message you a good Colombian based website with travel forums in English. Travelling in certain remote areas of Colombia can be dangerous. If you use common sense the cities are quite safe and best to travel between cities by air or express first class buses. Aside from that the country well worth a visit.

3. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 10y

Hi dbloom,

Could you please also send the website to me. I was thinking of visiting Cartagenia. Is Cartagenia a totally safe place? I don't know a lot about Columbia but somehow I picture the dangerous areas being the 3 main cities and parts of the countryside.

Thanks, Travel100

4. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

No place in the world is "totally safe" but Cartagena and the other big Colombian cities are quite safe for travelers nowadays if you use common sense..travel still a bit unsafe in some remote areas, especially in second class buses, in rural Colombia things often tend to flare up in one area, then another.

One word of advice traveling Latin America..if you are a drinker and traveling alone don't accept free drinks from strangers (whether they speak or don't speak your language) in bars or clubs, stick to the the "tourist" or "pub" type places. Rohypnol is very common and you may wake up hours later penniless or worse. Females should never go out at night drinking alone.

5. Posted by Travel100 (Travel Guru 1556 posts) 10y

dbloom, Thanks for the good advice. I thought maybe they still did the "kidnapping for money" thing in the big cities. Sounds like Cartegena would be a nice vacation.

6. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 10y

For express coaches between cities in Colombia, Expreso Brasilia or Copetran are two of the better services between Cartagena and Bogota.

You can also get first class pullman coaches from Cartagena to Medellin.

I don't know how good your Spanish is, but a good website for information on Cartagena, albeit in Spanish, is http://www.turismocartagenadeindias.com/

It should give you some nice pictures about the place anyway even if you don't understand the spanish, but you can always use a translation tool online if you're not sure.

Otherwise Dave's ESL cafe http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/job/viewforum.php?f=33 is an English forum for ESL teachers in Latin America. Often there are posts there relating to travel in general around countries in the region.

Good luck. Don't be scared. I've travelled around Colombia by myself last year and survived without any major problems. I only visited some of the cities and I flew between them as opposed to taking the coach, but express coach is a good option if going overland. It's not as bad as it's made out to be, but you still need to be careful and use common sense. And of course, enjoy Colombia!

7. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 10y

I had to bump this thread back up to the front page for any foreigners who may be thinking of traveling in Colombia at this present time in a coach - express or not express coach. I believe I have a duty being a member of this site to advise when certain things may be right or wrong, dangerous or safe.

I was just speaking with a good friend of mine yesterday on the phone, who I was dating for a little while in Colombia last year. She lives in Cartagena, she is Colombian, a local and native Spanish speaker. I told her I'll be flying back to visit around November via Bogota and she warned me against getting the coach from Bogota to Cartagena when I'm there. She advised me to fly instead. She said the journey is now very dangerous.

So for the moment I would disregard some of what I mentioned in my previous post and if you're thinking of doing it make sure you stick to the way I did it last time - that is flying between the cities in Colombia to be the safest way of travel especially for foreigners.

I had no issues with personal safety whatsoever when I was in Colombia last year as I heeded the advise of locals. I would strongly advise anyone traveling in Colombia to do the same. And I'm sure you'll have a great time when you're there, I know I did!

Looking forward to going back in November to visit some good friends over there and I can't wait!

[ Edit: Edited at Aug 21, 2006 4:05 AM by numero1 ]

8. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

As a long term resident of Central America, this is excellent advice for travelers to Colombia in my opinion. All the guide books, maps, GPS's and internet travel sites and forums in the world cannot take the place of timely (up to date - today)suggestions given by those who live and work in a particular country or region, for example in Colombia one area or stretch of highway may be a conflict zone today and peaceful tommorow. One must be aware and cautious, never paranoid. Most travelers using common sense will never experience serious security issues, especially those with a local novia, the best bodyguards in the world! In fact the worst security issues affecting budget travelers in Latin America are pickpocketing and bag snatching so be especially aware at second/third class bus stations (usually no security), city bus stops and the ever crowded outdoor markets, especially the "tourist" markets..never display too much cash or cameras, nor use a fanny pack outside your clothes in these locations. Expresso (first class and luxury) bus stations always have security, take your passport along if purchasing an international ticket. Don't fear the ever present armed security guards at banks, stores and malls, they are there for a reason, if you have ever witnesssed an armed assualt and robbery in Latin America. When staying in a hotel, make friends with staff and let the people working at night know when you will be returning late..small propinas (tips) go a long way. Never never go out alone late at night 'partying' and accept drinks from strangers, especially lone females and take a taxi back to lodging place late night, even if only a few blocks. If taking public transport during daytime hours never carry much cash, your passport, valuables or cameras, in Bogota where the elevation is over 2600 metres s.n.m. it gets very chilly at night so shorts are not recommended.