Im attempting to decide between peru and colombia as a destination to move to and find work as an english teacher. Unfortunatly after my flights and the TEFL course I wont have enough cash do do much traveling before I need to find a job.
I know that generally speaking the cities in colombia are just as safe as cities in peru. Unfortunatly, most of my hobbies (hiking, rock climbing, etc.) require leaving the city...infact they are almost excuses to get into nature. So my question to anyone who has first hand knowlege is this:
Is it irresponcible for a white american with descent spanish skills to go hiking around the colombian countryside on the weekends?
I can't speak from personal experience, but from what I know, staying away from known high-risk areas should be sufficient.
However, the US state dept. has recently issued a new travel warning concerning Colombia, both for rural areas and the cities. Also, this is what I found online (WorldNomads; I find their information is generally quite reliable):
Many regions may be unsafe for travel. The entire area east of the Andes (except Leticia and its environs) should be avoided as it’s the guerrilla heartland. Parts of Cundinamarca, eastern Antioquia, Chocó, Córdoba, Magdalena, Bolívar, La Guajira, Cesar, southern Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Huila, Cauca and Nariño are considered high-risk areas due to the presence of guerrillas and paramilitaries. Kidnapping for ransom has been part of guerrilla activity for quite a while, although actual incidents are on the decrease. What’s important to note is that kidnappers are a very sophisticated group and acts of kidnapping are almost never random. The main targets are well-off locals and foreign executives and the ransoms start from US$1 million. Foreign tourists are not a target, mostly because they are not insured against kidnapping. From the kidnappers’ point of view, Colombian, Japanese or European businessmen are more worthwhile, as they are likely to fetch a US$5 million ransom. Americans are not targeted – the US government does not deal with kidnappers and will freeze the bank accounts of the victim and the victim’s family.
There’s no need to be paranoid, but you should be aware of the potential risks, and avoid the regions that are notorious for guerrilla activity.
If it's at all important to you Colombian women are much more attractive than Peruvians.