I plan to ship my van into Cartagena and then drive to Cali, Bogata, and then south though Medellin into Equador! Can any one give me any recent info on reasons why or why not to do this. I really want to do this but greatly fear being Americans with a nice van we would be a target!
Please post any links and any thing you know!
You should be fine. The Colombian government has taken great pains in recent years to secure the main roadways. I still wouldn't recommend driving at night, but that's true anywhere in Latin America.
Your ought to be more concerned about the traffic. That's your biggest risk anywhere in South America (except maybe Venezuela, I'd say, where bandits probably rank higher on the danger scale). Driving the mountain roads will be a hair-raising adventure if you have no experience here. I suggest limiting the number of hours you spend on the road each day - it's stressful, and you need to stay focused. With experience it'll get easier, but at least at first, plan on taking it easy.
Unless you already have a compelling reason to go there, I'd recommend skipping Cali - it's a bit more dangerous and there's nothing terribly impressive about it. Go from Cartagena to Medellin, and then to Bogota, and then down to Ecuador. There's plenty of other places to see in Colombia as well, but you'll find out more as you go.
Hey i c e I live in Cali, and it's not that dangerous as described by GooseKirk, but it's surely not impressive, the city it's a mess right now and there isn't anything memorable for you to see, unless you want to go and dance or something like that, otherwise I would recommend you drive to Armenia, and go to the nearby towns like salento and all that, there's a looot to see over there.
If you need any help, just ask
It is tempting to say that you should skip Colombia, if only to keep it preserved an beautiful for the rest of us. Colombia is absolutely the victim of an undeserved reputation for violent crime. Just as the last poster says, don't miss the Coffee region, towns like Salento, Armenia and everything around are peacuful and filled with things to do. Since you have a car, you will be well served to pick up a travel guide called "rutas por Colombia" or somehting like that. It is cheap, around $5 US, and you can find it in almost bookstores. It will give you deatiled maps, destination ideas, and loads of info on placves to camp, hike, horseback riding etc..
For me the cities are fine, but the colombian cuntryside is the main draw. To each their own though. Good luck
BTW: If you speak spanish, be ready to spend a few days forgetting your C.A. spanish, and learning Colombian Spanish
Se la van a pasar muy chevere!