When people hear the word “Colombia,” most people immediately conjure up images of and thoughts connected to Pablo Escobar, drug trafficking, terrorism, and civil war, and would never dream of spending their holidays here. However, Colombia is much more than her exaggerated past, and, contrary to what many people believe, Colombia is a safe travel destination that is becoming increasingly popular in South America.
For many years, Colombia was the “avoided” country in South America—backpackers didn’t include on their list of countries to visit, embassies issued harsh travel warnings, and foreigners contemplating it as a destination for the family vacation was almost unheard of. However, while Colombia still struggles with illegal drug trafficking (like Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, etc.), poverty and other inequalities faced by developing countries around the world, it has made incredible strides in security, development, and tourism infrastructure and has started to receive an influx of travellers from all over the world. Travel to any major city in Colombia nowadays and you are bound to see backpackers, families, and tour groups on holiday.
Major cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, and Barranquilla, for instance, have become hot spots for foreign travellers. These and other major cities, are taking advantage of the increasing flow of tourists by promoting their amazing landscapes, historical sites, incredibly diverse flora and fauna, and regional festivals to tempt tourists’ tastes. Likewise, what has drawn many of them to Colombia is the fact that for many years Colombia was a forbidden destination. Being cut off from the tourism market in South American for so many years helped to preserve and cultivate unique and traditional regional cultures, which now serve as one of the principal reasons many tourists, especially backpackers, are flocking to the amazing country. Why, you might ask are so many tourists beginning to consider Colombia as a primary holiday destination? Because Colombia has become a safe, unique, and inviting destination.
Not only are the cities working constantly to improve their tourism infrastructure, but the Colombian people are also becoming themselves part of this tourism infrastructure. Many Colombians are filled with pride when they encounter tourists and do everything they can to make sure tourists have a safe and enjoyable time in Colombia.
Even so, to ensure a pleasurable time, there are a few precautions you must keep in mind. First, make sure that you are travelling in well-known areas of the country. While in some places straying from the beaten path can be exciting, in Colombia, it’s best to travel to places already on the “tourist circuit”. If you do decide to venture off, make sure you have a trustworthy local guide, as some paths and destinations can be hard to reach and easy to get lost on. Secondly, as on any trip to a foreign country, make sure your valuables are safely stowed and don’t keep more money than necessary on your person. Also, when take public transportation (buses, both within and between cities and towns, taxis, etc.) make sure you use registered taxis (easily called for from any cell or landline) and when taking buses between cities, make sure you catch them from the bus terminals or official company offices. In other words, be a smart traveller. Keep your wits about you, don’t flaunt expensive goods, and be always aware of your surroundings.
If you follow the abovementioned advice, we have no doubt that you will have an incredible and safe experience in Colombia. Don’t let Colombia’s tarnished image or exacerbated past keep you from exploring this constantly growing world-class destination.
So, what are you waiting for? What’s holding you back?
The Uncover Colombia Team
- Uncover Colombia Interview: Erin’s experience in Colombia (uncovercolombia.wordpress.com)
- Uncover Colombia Interview: Chris’ experience in Colombia (uncovercolombia.wordpress.com)