Is it safe to travel to Colombia? The South American country has been fashionable among travelers for several years. It is not uncommon. It has incredible natural and cultural attractions. From colonial cities such as Cartagena de Indias to places of scenic beauty such as the Coffee Region or the islands of San Andrés, Colombia will conquer you. However, unfortunately, it is not a country that enjoys a good reputation in terms of security, so you may be worried if it is dangerous to travel to Colombia. At IATI Travel Insurance, we want to provide you with all the necessary information so that you can assess whether it is safe to travel to Colombia and give you some advice so that your trip goes perfectly.
In addition, since we are at such a different time, we will also talk about security in Colombia during coronavirus.
What does the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation say about whether it is safe to travel to Colombia?
In the travel recommendations for Colombia from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the first thing that stands out is that it indicates that in some areas of the country, there is a climate of violence and insecurity due to common violence, drug trafficking, and other irregular groups. However, tourists are not the target of the Colombian guerrillas, although they must proceed with caution in the more peripheral departments, where they are more critical.
The MAEC indicates that you should avoid road traveling in rural and mountainous areas at night. The Eastern Plains are high-risk areas and should be avoided, especially the departments of Meta, Guaviare, Casanare, and Caquetá; the Montes de María, in the Colombian Caribbean sub-region, located between the departments of Sucre and Bolívar; the northwest area, around the border with Panama and the Gulf of Urabá; the department of Norte de Santander (especially the Catatumbo region); the Department of Arauca; the Department of Cauca; the Department of Nariño, especially the city of Tumaco; the Department of Putumayo and the Department of Chocó.
The rest of the country indicates that almost all of them are areas of medium danger, especially the big cities, where you must be careful because of ordinary crime. But, on the other hand, they are zones without problems; although an accident is probable, the most important tourist destinations in the country: are Cartagena de Indias, the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, Popayán, Leticia, Medellín, Cali, and parts of Bogotá.
Regarding health issues, due to its geography, it is possible to contract vector-borne diseases such as dengue, zika, or chikungunya. Therefore, when visiting the Amazon jungle, it is recommended to pay attention to malaria. Therefore, it is essential to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
On the other hand, it is indicated that the health system in Colombia is not comparable to the Spanish one and that the private system has to be resorted to in case of problems, which can be very expensive. For this reason, the Ministry states emphatically: “it is strongly recommended to have valid international medical insurance when traveling to Colombia and that it has broad coverage.”
There is no Colombia-Spain health agreement, so it is essential to take travel insurance to Colombia at the height of this trip; in this case, the IATI Backpacker will be your perfect ally. With up to €500,000 of medical expenses coverage, which includes those derived from covid-19 and the practice of adventure sports such as snorkeling or hiking, we will assist you 24 hours a day and in your language.
But then, is it safe to travel to Colombia?
Although Colombia’s image abroad is still significantly deteriorated, the shadow of Pablo Escobar and drug trafficking have remained in the past. Therefore, it is evident that you must take precautions, as in many South American countries, but we can say that, in general, it is safe to travel to Colombia.
Colombia received more than 4.5 million tourists in 2019. So, of course, you have to be careful in some neighborhoods of big cities like Bogotá and be cautious in cities as touristy as Cartagena or Santa Marta. Still, it is possible to travel around Colombia on your own without feeling insecure.
Regarding health issues, it is recommended to have been vaccinated with the yellow fever vaccine in case you are going to visit certain places such as jungle areas, tropical areas of the Amazon river basins, as well as the following places: Catatumbo, Guaviare, Meta, Vaupés, Apaporis, Orinoco and Magdalena as well as the Catatumbo region, the Perijá mountain range, the natural parks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Tairona, Salamanca Island and the flora and fauna sanctuaries of the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and Los Flamencos, departments of Norte de Santander, Magdalena, Guajira, Cesar and in general the region of the Atlantic Coast, as well as the departments of El Guaviare, Casanare, Vichada, Vaupes, Arauca, and Meta.
To eliminate any doubts, it is best to go to an international vaccination center in advance and ask your doctor. The recommended vaccines to travel safely to Colombia are usually hepatitis A and B and triple viral. Your doctor will also tell you if you need to be cautious about malaria, depending on where you’re going.
On the other hand, as mentioned in previous lines, medical centers in large cities usually have good infrastructure. Still, it is more difficult in rural areas to receive care with all guarantees. Moreover, you will likely have to pay large sums of money in private hospitals if you need a doctor; since it is not covered by Colombian social security, you will likely have to spend a lot of money in private hospitals.
Hire your IATI Backpacker policy, the best travel insurance to Colombia, and enjoy the country in peace. You will have up to €500,000 covered in medical expenses (including covid-19), repatriation, or early return due to illness or death of a family member. In addition, you will also be protected against theft or damage to luggage, flight delays, or civil liability cases, among many other issues.
Thus, it is safe to travel to Colombia but always follow some basic precautions. Unfortunately, as in other South American countries, there are sometimes crimes of theft, robbery, and robbery against tourists, but keep in mind the recommendations we will give you at the end of this article to minimize your risks and enjoy this wonderful country.
Safe travel to Colombia despite the coronavirus, is it possible?
On September 21, 2020, flights to Colombia resumed, so this is one of the destinations you can travel to from Spain now.
What do you have to do to be able to enter Colombia in times of coronavirus? On May 1, 2022, you must complete the Check-Mig form 72 hours before the flight. International travelers not vaccinated against covid can travel if they have a PCR done 72 hours before the trip or an antigen test 48 hours.
In other words, if you are not vaccinated, you can travel to Colombia if you take a test within the time requirements mentioned. You can read more about this topic in our article on Documents and requirements to travel to Colombia, which we constantly update.
But is it safe to travel to Colombia despite the coronavirus? How is the situation?
Unfortunately, we can already speak of Colombia’s fifth wave of covid. Experts point out that cases will rise throughout July and encourage the population to continue vaccinating and wearing masks indoors.
Regarding vaccination, Colombia is quite advanced in its National Vaccination Plan. More than 85.8 million doses have already been administered, implying that approximately 71.1% of the population is fully immunized. In addition, vaccination posts have been set up at the bus, metro, and metro cable stations in the main cities and in the central parks of many municipalities.
Currently, the population is encouraged to vaccinate with the booster dose. More or less 40% of Colombians have the booster dose. Moreover, since November 2021, children over three years of age are already being vaccinated.
But then, is it safe to travel to Colombia? Unfortunately, as in almost all the countries in the world you can travel to now, the numbers of infections are still present, so the risk of getting the coronavirus is present on any trip. If you dare to travel to Colombia, we encourage you to do so with the appropriate precautions and consult the information from Colombia Tourism and the Government of Colombia to see which areas are safer. Biosecurity protocols have been installed in all hotel establishments, airports, and stations to return to normality in tourism.
Of course, you must travel accompanied by good travel insurance that protects you in case of an accident or illness. The IATI Backpacker will provide you with coverage of up to €500,000 in medical expenses, including those derived from the coronavirus (assistance, hospitalization, PCR, quarantine…); it is the best travel insurance for Colombia. Get hold of it now and travel with the safety you deserve:
What awaits you if you travel to Colombia now despite COVID-19?
A climate of almost absolute normality. There are no restrictions on moving within the country. However, you should remember that the vaccination certificate is required for those over 18 years of age to attend and enter nightclubs and hotels. It is not a rule that is complied with regularly by the owners.
The use of a mask is no longer mandatory indoors. Instead, wearing is only necessary on public transport and in health centers.
A stamp called “Check In Certificate” has been created to promote tourism. This serves to reward tourism service providers that comply with sanitary measures. You can check all the actions taken at this link.
Traveling alone to Colombia, is it safe?
Want to travel alone to Colombia or are tired of waiting for someone to join you? Then, go ahead. Then, you will be able to travel alone through the South American country and feel very comfortable, although, as everywhere, you will need to do it with caution.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to try not to walk alone at night, especially in areas with few people. Talk to locals and let yourself be guided by their safety tips. Colombians are open and friendly people, and they are the ones who best know the situation in certain areas. It will also make you feel more comfortable if you ask other travelers, who in many cases are those who have been to that place recently and are more impartial.
On the other hand, some men will likely look at you more than you are used to or even call you or make a gesture. In those cases, lots of patience and ignoring usually work best.
Finally, among the indications of the MAEC was the following warning has spread: In some tourist areas, the use of “burundanga” or scopolamine in a cigarette or drink to break the will of tourists and rob or abuse them. Many of these acts occur in bars and nightclubs, with solo female travelers being the most common targets. For this reason, it is advisable to watch the drink and not accept invitations from strangers.
Take a look at the tips to travel safely to Colombia that we tell you below to feel much more comfortable. Information is the key!
Some tips for traveling safely in Colombia
As you can see, traveling through Colombia is safe, but there are indeed some dangers to avoid. Here is a detailed list of the recommendations that we would have liked to receive on our first trip to the South American country:
Travel protected thanks to the coverage of the best travel insurance for Colombia, the IATI Backpacker.
Be discreet or, as they say in Colombia, “don’t give papaya.” Do not show any valuables; try to use your mobile phone inside establishments and not on the street.
Do not carry large amounts of money. If you can, divide it between different pockets. Thefts are frequent in tourist areas or with a high concentration of people.
There have been cases of computer crimes such as card cloning. Use ATMs inside banks, shopping centers, and supermarkets, and do not leave your card unattended if you pay with it in a store or restaurant.
Use insect repellants. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in heavily vegetated areas at dawn and dusk.
Although it is safe to travel to Colombia, avoid areas designated as high risk by the Ministry.
In Bogotá, avoid the neighborhoods of Rafael Uribe, Ciudad Bolívar, San Cristóbal and Usme. It is also not advisable to go to La Candelaria at night.
Do not walk in lonely places, especially at night. The historical centers of the big cities (except for Cartagena de Indias) are empty; it is better to avoid them.
If you can, do not take taxis on the street. Instead, ask for them by phone from official companies, write down the license plate number, and verify it when it arrives, even if they know your name. Apps like EasyTaxi, Tappsi, or Uber are also widely used and safer.
If you take a taxi on the street, try to take it in areas where there are not many tourists and check that the license plate matches the number on the doors and the windows of the rear side doors. Also, check that the license is displayed and that no one else is inside. Although the “millionaire walks,” in which they stop you at ATMs to withdraw money, do not happen so often, it is better not to give rise to them.
More tips to travel safely to Colombia
Drink bottled water. The water is only considered drinkable in Bogotá and the country’s main cities.
Food portions in Colombia are generous and high in fat. Adapt your body to the country’s food type since indigestion is not unknown to travelers. Avoid eating fish or shellfish from street stalls. The fruit is delicious, but stick to what you have to peel.
Although it is best to go to an international vaccination center in Spain before traveling to Colombia, you should know that it is advisable to be vaccinated against yellow fever before traveling to the country. In addition, many doctors also advise getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid. On the other hand, depending on the country you are visiting, you may want to bring treatment for malaria. In short, a specialist doctor should advise you on the most appropriate way to travel safely to Colombia.
Watch your luggage and do not accept anything from strangers, especially at the airport. The penalties for drug possession in Colombia are very harsh.
If you rent a car, try to leave it in guarded parking lots and take out good insurance.
Demand the documentation if someone approaches you saying he is a policeman; there have been fraud cases.
Although it may seem safe to travel to Colombia, if you are going to do risky sports, take out travel insurance with such coverage. The IATI Backpacker is your best ally in these cases.
If you are unlucky enough to be mugged in Colombia, never resist. Deliver the objects they ask for, and the possession of firearms is common.
If you have any problem on your trip to Colombia, report it to the country’s authorities and keep all the documentation. Then, notify your country’s Consulate or Embassy.
Avoid using your mobile phone when traveling by bus and stay alert, as robberies and thefts sometimes occur.
Ask your hotel or trusted people to find out which areas to avoid. They are the ones who know the situation best, which can change in weeks.
Sign up for the Travelers Registry to receive notifications from the embassy in cases of urgency.
As we always say, it is safe to travel to Colombia, but it is vital to use common sense. Follow the precautions you would take on any other trip. Enjoy your trip consistently.
Travel safely in Colombia
As you can see, traveling to Colombia is safe, but, as everywhere, there are some dangers to avoid. Remember that one of the keys to everything going smoothly is to travel safely with a good travel policy. Thanks to the IATI Backpacker, the best insurance for this destination, you will be covered with up to 500,000 euros, including coverage for covid-19 and adventure sports, with the best market price. So don’t wait any longer and hire the travel insurance now that will allow you to enjoy this beautiful country with the greatest peace of mind: