Colombia

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Overview

Rapidly emerging from years of conflict, Colombia has many alluring experiences and attractions and ten percent of the world’s flora and fauna. The only risk these days is that once here, you won’t want to leave! Bordering five countries, be one of the first to explore Colombia’s diverse landscapes, including scenic mountains, cloudforest, barrier reefs, rugged jungles, fragrant coffee plantations and secluded beaches. There’s much to captivate travellers of all ages and interests. Spend some time in cosmopolitan cities like Bogota and Cartagena, relax in colonial hillside towns and immerse yourself in the emerald hills of Colombia’s coffee plantations. You can even zip line over the plantations before enjoying a refreshing brew!

Tayrona National Park sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and is a tropical paradise of untouched jungle, sweeping down onto palm-fringed beaches. Many birds and mammals live within the protected forest, including black howler monkeys, iguanas, bats and even jaguar – however, you would be very lucky to spot one.

Amacayacu National Park is on the Amazon River in the South of Colombia and can be reached from the city of Leticia by boats that take you up river to the national park. Explore the Amazon river and visit islands like Isla de los Micos with hundreds of monkeys, Mocagua’s Island for lotus flowers and Tarapoto Lake to see the Amazon river dolphins botos; a primitive form of freshwater dolphin that is endemic to the Amazon basin.

Los Nevados National Park is dominated by the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano and a richly rewarding area to explore. Relax in thermal springs after invigorating days out hiking and discover the many endemic flora and fauna in the area, like the bearded helmet crested hummingbird.

Think of Colombia and you’ll probably think of coffee. The verdant coffee region is a welcoming place to enjoy a rich brew and can be reached in 35 minutes on flights from Bogota. Located around the towns of Pereira and Armenia, visitors can enjoy authentic stays in traditional fincas and haciendas and take part in guided nature walks, hiking, horse riding and birdwatching among picturesque coffee plantations. Corcora Valley is best reached from Solento in the coffee region. Solento itself is a charming town, where most of the residents work in the coffee industry. Look out for their Willy Jeeps while you’re there. Heading into Corcora Valley, you’ll experience the natural wonders, with huge palm trees, beautiful wild orchids and hummingbirds.

 

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Quick Facts - Colombia

Travel Seasons

  • Oct-Nov Low Season. Lowest prices. The Andean region can experience flash floods which can wash out roads.
    Cartagena and the Caribbean coast are wet in October. The Amazon low water levels mean excellent hiking and white-sand beaches.
  • Mar-Sep Shoulder Season. On the Pacific coast the best whale-watching is from July to October. Cartagena has sun in April, with rain coming in May. Bogotá, Medellín and Cali suffer a secondary rainy season in April/May.
  • Dec-Feb High Season. Highest prices throughout the country. Dry everywhere except the Amazon. The Andes, San Andrés and Providencia all enjoy warm, sunny days.
     

General Information

  • Capital - Bogotá
  • Currency - Colombian peso
  • Languages - Spanish, 68 local dialects
  • Size - 1,141,748 km, twice the size of France
  • Population: 49,996,445 (2018 estimate)


Health and Safety

  • Travel insurance is essential for all international travel. Click below to find out more:



  • The CDC recommends the following vaccinations for Colombia: hepatitis A and typhoid. Check with your doctor which other vaccinations you might need and make sure your routine vaccinations are all up-to-date.
  • Malaria is a risk in areas higher than 1,700 m (5,577 ft) so talk to your doctor about the best prophylaxis to take. There is no malaria in Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellin.
  • A yellow fever certificate may be required to enter some national parks - check before you travel. 


Tourist Information

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Wealth of national parks covering diverse landscapes 
  • Beautiful beaches, Andean mountains
  • Amazon jungle wildlife, Pacific coast marine life, fantastic birdlife 
  • Rich cultural history, ancient cities
  • Range of hiking opportunities

Cons

  • Past reputation of being a dangerous country in the 1980s & 90s, but its changed dramatically and is well on the road to recovery with much progress being been made 
  • Land mines in the countryside - don't walk around without guidance from locals

Travel Info

Arriving in Colombia

  • There are good connections with South and Central America and major destinations in the USA, Canada and Europe.
  • The largest airport is the recently upgraded Aeropuerto Internacional El Dorado in Bogotá.

Getting Around

  • The best way to cover large distances is by air - nearly all cities and many smaller remote towns have airports.
  • There are several budget airlines to choose from. Buying tickets in advance can make it a reasonable way to travel, shop around and buy online rather than via an agency or airline offices.

Visas

  • Most visitors don't need visas including those from Western Europe, the Americas, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Some do need a visa so check before you travel.
  • Canadian visitors need to pay a reciprocity fee of C$85 upon arrival, which can be paid in cash in Colombian pesos or with an international debit or credit card.
  • All visitors receive a a 90-day tourist visa stamp - double check your entry stamp in your passport as soon as it's given to you as sometimes errors are made.

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