May 30

The Anglophone World: Don’t Come to Colombia!

Caño Cristales, photo courtesy of Chris Allen


The featured photo is of one of the most incredible, beautiful and unique natural phenomena in the entire world. Caño Cristales, the River of Seven Colours, has to be seen to be believed. No other place in the world comes close to it.



The beautiful, mysterious San Agustin.
The beautiful, mysterious San Agustin.


Here’s an enigmatic, millenia-old statue in the Archeological Park at San Agustin. Nobody knows too much about the exact origins or meaning of these treasures of the past, set in their stunning surrounds. UNESCO thinks this site is so important that they made it a World Heritage Site way back in 1995.



The Santuario de las Lajas
The Santuario de las Lajas


This church, just outside Ipiales, is one of the most stunningly conceived and set structures in the world. It is visited by thousands of pilgrims and happy-snappers every year.


Sorry, guys, but your governments have spoken.

Before arriving here in Colombia, I was terrified about my upcoming trip. One of the reasons for this was having a look at the travel advice my Government kindly has up on the interwebs. Exercise a high degree of caution overall. Don’t go to the above wonders of the world. Don’t go to Santa Fe de Antioquia, the Carnivale in Pasto, La Guajira, or Cali. What a fool I was to even consider coming here.

Just before you accuse me of self-hate-fuelled Aussie-bashing, Poms, Canucks and Kiwis would also get the Bejeebus scared out of them if they had a gander at their governmental advice. Even the Irish are told to stay away from Pasto’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Treasure. The site for US citizens offers the only fairly sensible advice among the lot of them. What’s wrong with the rest of us, are we a bunch of whimps or something?

I first came across this Bombshell from Bizarro Land in an amazing Smack-Down of the UK Government’s travel advice in a post by Johnny Bogota on Tripadvisor. I suggest you have a peek at it, as, if nothing else, it’s an entertaining read. Good old Johnny takes you through a step-by-step rebuttal of a whole bunch of rubbish spewed forth there. Ooh baby. He ends with a lovely little flourish:

I am by no means suggesting that because I have been to such places and nothing “bad” happened to me then it must be safe. What I am suggesting is that the FCO’s travel advice is out of date or simply does not make sense for many of the areas listed above. I know that the FCO has to collate incidents and issue its travel advice accordingly, but when is this information due for an update?


Hear, hear Johnny! Keep on fighting the good fight!

I’d like to broaden the focus a little, taking up his theme. What the hell’s going on, guys? Although we wouldn’t guarantee absolute safety anywhere in the world, every single place mentioned in this blog’s security has dramatically improved. Like, ten years ago!!!! Maybe, we’ll reluctantly cede, it’s alright to tell us to exercise caution in Colombia – it’s good to exercise caution wherever you’re traveling; whether it’s La Macarena or Mount Druitt. Are you having a laugh, Governments of the World, or just not doing your research? I know it’s better to be safe than sorry, but to advise your citizens to categorically avoid such unique, amazing, recognised and (we’d say) unmissable tourist attractions is to help unnecessarily narrow their horizons and make their world a little – hang that, a LOT – less amazing. Maybe it’s time to have a real good, proper rethink of such advice? Who do you want to side with; National Geographic, Gadling and the Guardianor Hollywood? Isn’t it time you joined the rest of the sane world?



4 thoughts on “The Anglophone World: Don’t Come to Colombia!

  1. Joelle on

    Totally agree. I have been to all of the above places against my government’s best advice and never felt threatened or unsafe. Ok I understand that others may have had bad experiences, and maybe it is better that some of these places remain unspoilt (eg Caño Cristales), but the advice is just out of date, puts people off travelling to these places and makes relatives of those who do unnecessarily anxious!


      Paul Giles on

      Damn straight! I really don’t understand it: a number of these sites say that the information was current *this month.* I feel like I’ve been taking crazy pills!!!


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