Apr 24

Safety in Colombia Week: Frequently Asked Questions

Safety Week continues at Colombia Travel Blog! Today we are going to be answering some ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ about safe travel in Colombia.

Bogotá by night
Bogotá by night

1. Is it safe to travel to Colombia?

Yes! In the past 10 years Colombian security has increased to the point the where more and more tourists are visiting every year. Thousands of people now come to Colombia to travel and have an amazing time without experiencing any problems. However, travellers are often more prone to indiscretion and on the whole more likely to be carrying valuables, making them more likely to be targeted by thieves, so caution is needed. This is the same in many countries, and is by no means restricted to Colombia.

2. Is it safe to travel as a solo female?

Absolutely. Whilst there is still a ‘macho’ element to Colombian society, which may result in increased attention in clubs and bars and a few long stares in the street, there is no serious reason to be afraid of travelling as a solo female. Extra caution should be employed in rural or isolated areas. See our previous blog on travelling in Colombia as a solo female for more information.

3. Is a guide required?

As far as security goes, there is absolutely no need to hire a guide. It is completely safe to travel around the country without one. However, certain trips will require you to have a guide or go as part of an organised tour: hiking the 6-day trail in El Cocuy, The Lost City Trek in Tayrona National Park, most Amazon tours. Guides are offered in most major cities or tourist attractions, and can often be the key to really discovering what a place has to offer. Examples include Bogotá Bike Tours, which offers a fascinating insight in to the city and a healthy day out, and walking tours of Cartagena.

El Cocuy National Park is completely safe for trekking trips
El Cocuy National Park is completely safe for trekking trips

4. Can I take a camera out with me in cities?

You would be foolish not to! Colombian cities are fascinating mixtures of modernity and tradition, and cities like Cartagena are some of the most beautiful on the continent. However, caution is certainly required. Try not to be too conspicuous with your camera and have a subtle bag to put it in (the same goes with money and using ATMs). Also, make sure to always ask permission before taking someone’s photograph.

5. Is it safe to take night buses?

Almost always. The days of regular guerrilla roadblocks in the night are a thing of the past and the majority of major journeys can easily be done in a safe and comfortable environment overnight with one of Colombia’s many bus companies. It is still recommended not to take night buses near to the border with Ecuador as there have been reports of bandit activity.

Cartagena - The Jewel of the Indies
Cartagena – The Jewel of the Indies

6. How safe are taxis?

It is generally considered safe to take taxis throughout Colombia. If there is a meter make sure it starts at the correct point (25 in Bogotá) and remember that tipping drivers is not expected. It is always recommended to call for a taxi, or to ask your hotel/hostel to call one for you.

7. Are there any areas I should not visit?

The majority of Colombia is now firmly on the tourist map, however there are still some areas not recommended for travellers. Some of the eastern departments near to the border with Venezuela are still considered dangerous, and the Darién Gap on the Panamanian border is a no-go zone. This area has virtually no roads and is considered very unsafe. Those wishing to travel between Colombia and Panama should fly or take the boat from Cartagena or Capurgana to Panama via San Blas, an amazing trip in itself.

If you have any more questions regarding travelling in Colombia please don’t hesitate to contact any of us here at See Colombia Travel.


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