Colombia travel guide

Colombia Travel Guide

Why Travel To Colombia?

Colombia is usually overlooked by South American travelers because of its obvious political and crime issues. But good news! The days of gun wielding drug cartel are over. Colombia is becoming more stable than ever and a thriving tourist industry in its primitive state is emerging. Turquoise coast line with empty beaches, untouched amazon jungle and a unique culture unlike anywhere to South America. Colombia is now. Jump in before the wave gets here.

The Basics

Language – Spanish
Visa – On arrival for most nationalities
Religion – Catholic
Currency – Colombian Peso COP
1 USD – 3250 COP

Typical Costs and Getting Around Colombia

Accommodation – Colombia is a bargain destination but to save money on accommodation you will more than likely have to put up with some discomfort. A basic dorm bed will cost you around 10 – 15 USD, but these are very basic and not recommended in some areas. More often than usual you will spend around 15 – 30 USD, this will land you a private bedroom or a more than comfortable dorm. If you are looking for the higher end Colombia has many resorts dotting its coastline and business class hotels in the larger centres, I have also seen some great historic buildings where you can live out those desires to be a Colonialist Spanish Conquistador.

Food – If you are a carnivore you have come to the right place, Colombia is famous for its plates of large assorted fried meat heaping over rice and beans ready to send you off to the ER, a more than filling plate will cost around 5 – 10 USD depending on location. If you are on a budget you can head to the market and eat cheap local street food, one plate for about 2 USD. Local fruit is available everywhere and is incredibly cheap to save money and not to mention it’s amazing! Colombia also has a great selection of high end restaurant usually consisting of seafood and European style cuisine, plan to spend 30-50 USD per person on a night out.

Transportation – Colombia’s transportation network consists of larger air con buses and small Busetas which are an over packed minivan. The minivan option is more consistent and definitely cheaper but for long distances is not a good option. The larger air con buses are affordable and cost around 2-3 USD per hour depending on the company. In the more off the beaten track communities you may only be left with the mini bus option.

My Favourite Places In Colombia

Cartagena – If you are to only go one place in Colombia make it Cartagena. Cartagena with its beautiful coastline, old colonial centre and great food is Colombia’s shining jewel. Spend the hot part of the day on the nearby white sands, the afternoon exploring its colonial heart and the night partying your face off on its rum bus tours.

Barichara – It’s small, and far away from everything but Barichara definitely deserves to be recognized as one of the best places in Colombia. It’s a quaint colonial village that has not changed its face in hundreds of year. The locals are famed for eating a large ant and making steak sauce from it. If you want to see the more traditional side of Colombia here it is.

San Gil – San Gil the adventure capital. You can paraglide above the beautiful countryside and brave the rapids with some white water rafting. For me I spent my time crawling through caves that would make a claustrophobic simply die. I will never forget my guide saying “yes you have to go underwater to get to the next cave”!

Bogota – Colombia’s capital, its big, its mean, and frankly it’s kind of scary. But it’s the new Colombia. Walking its university district and talking with Colombians about the future is an interesting experience. Bogota also hosts some of the best clubs pubs and discos that Colombia can boast, so get ready to party!

Top Experiences In Colombia

Caving in San Gil – Exploring the guano filled caves around San Gil are not for the faint hearted. They require crawling through small crevasses and sometimes even swimming under water filled caverns. But if you’re up for the challenge it’s a real adrenaline rush that will leave you with some of the best bar stories for home.

Riding the clouds San Gil to Bogota – The mini bus between San Gil to Bogota is a long and dangerous journey. But if you risk it you will be rewarded with the climb from the dense humid Amazon to way high above in the clouds on some of the most scary mountain roads imaginable…. I promise it was great!

Scuba Diving Cartagena – Colombia is not known for its Scuba Diving, and that’s precisely why it was so enjoyable, we were the only divers in sight. Colombia’s marine life is also something to brag about and you have it all to yourself.

Colombian people – Colombian are a unique bunch, weather you speak Spanish or not the will communicate with you and ultimately become your best friend within moments of meeting. There smiles will leave you feeling that this just might be the happiest country in the world. Be prepared to drink, Colombians don’t like to hear no!

Top Travel Tips For Colombia

  • Learn some Spanish… learn some Spanish!!
  • Have your hangover cure ready
  • Drink bottled water
  • Bogota is cold but the sun is still scorching SPF is good
  • Don’t look up in the caves…
  • Guano is bat poo
  • In the cities never walk at night, take a cab
  • Everyone is friendly but beware of people offering help in the cities
  • Bring a jacket and sweater, the mountains get cold.
  • Be careful in the amazon area, I was robbed by a police officer
Stephen Gollan

Uncharted Backpacker is a glimpse at the past eleven years of globetrotting I have done. Now at over ninety countries I share my travel knowledge for you so you too can travel the world and see what wonders it has to offer.

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