COLOMBIA

It’s brew-ti-ful.

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Colombia was named after Christopher Colombus, the explorer who sailed to the Americas.

Colombia is GMT -5 hours, meaning that it’s 1 hour ahead of New York and 6 hours ahead of London. Without calculating for daylight savings.

US Citizens will need: 

  • A passport with validity of at least six months upon entry. 
  • All U.S. citizens who do not also hold Colombian citizenship must present a valid U.S. passport to enter and leave Colombia. 
  • U.S. citizens do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less. 

Visa not required: 

Germany, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Bhutan, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Korea (Republic of), Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, United States of America, Estonia, Fiji, Philippines, Finland, France, Georgia, Grenada, Greece , Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Iceland, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro , Norway, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Dominican Republic, Romania, Russia (Federation of), San Cristobal and Snow, Samoa, San Marin or, Saint Lucia, Holy See, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Holders of passports from Hong Kong , SARG China, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Taiwan-China.

Visa Required: 

Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Benin, Belarus, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau , Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lesotho, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, Thailand, Tanzania, Tajikistan, East Timor, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

For more detailed info, check out Colombia Travel

These are 3 popular international airports in Colombia: El Dorado Luis Carlos Galan Sarmiento International Airport (BOG) in Bogotá, Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG) in Bolivar, and José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) in Rionegro, Colombia.

El Dorado Luis Carlos Galan Sarmiento International Airport (BOG) is an international airport in the Fontibón district of Bogotá, Colombia. El Dorado is the third busiest airport in Latin America when it comes to passenger traffic- but is the busiest in terms of cargo. However, it is the most important airport in Colombia- with 49% of Colombia’s air traffic coming from El Dorado.

Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG) is an international airport in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. When it comes to the amount of passenger movement, Rafael Núñez International Airport is the busiest in Colombia. The airport is named after the former Colombian president, Rafael Núñez.

José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) is the second largest airport in Colombia after El Dorado. The airport is located in Rionegro, around 12 miles from the famous city of Medellín in Colombia. José María Córdova International Airport is the main airport in Colombia for low-cost airlines. The airport has service to destinations in Europe.

Colombia has a few modes of public transport that are easily accessible. Popular cities within Colombia like Bogotá or Medellin have reliable transit options. Within these cities, there should be public transit such as taxis and buses.

Uber is currently available in major cities, including: Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellín.

The bus/subway system in Bogotá is called TranMileno, which are red buses. The buses have their own lanes so they don’t get stuck in traffic. A one-way ticket is $1,600 pesos of $0.75 USD.

Every city in Colombia has a taxi service- all are the classic yellow and have the company number on the side of the car. Calling a taxi is considered safer than hailing a cab from the side of the street. The minimum cost for a taxi ride is $3,600 pesos ($2.00 USD). Expect to be charged a little extra at night, on Sunday, or a holiday.

Colombia requires a few safety precautions to have a safe and enjoyable visit. Theft and scams are common in the country so it’s important to be vigilant and wary of your surroundings.

The emergency number in Colombia is 123.

Safety tips:
Don’t leave valuable possessions in your back pockets.
Don’t bring valuables with you.
Be vigilant in bustling, crowded places.
Avoid going anywhere remote alone.

Safety Tips for the Night-Owls:
Try to avoid taxis at night as taxi scams are quite common.
Travel in groups- especially if you are a solo female traveler.

Countries the U.S. government says not to travel to in Colombia: Arauca, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño and Norte de Santander Departments

The U.S. State Department has safety guidelines for most countries, if you would like their information click on the link: U.S. Gov Travel

Colombian climate is warm and tropical on the coast and in the north. However, there is a rainy season from May to November. The temperature varies little throughout the year due to Colombia’s proximity to the equator.

  • December, January, February (Winter): BEST TIME TO VISIT. 
  • March, April, May (Spring): Dry and warm. 
  • June, July, August (Summer): Warm and rainy. 
  • September, October, November (Autumn): Warm and end of the rainy season.

Spanish is the official language of Colombia. It is spoken by more than 99.2% of Colombians. However, it is important to note that the Spanish spoken in Colombia varies slightly from the Spanish in Spain and other-Spanish speaking countries. Other Spanish dialects are also spoken in certain regions of the country and English is considered an official language in some parts of Colombia.

Here’s a few basic words and phrases:

Hello: Hola

Thank you: Gracias

You’re welcome: De nada

Excuse me: Perdóneme

I’m sorry: Lo siento

Please: Por favor

Good morning: Buenos días

Goodnight: Buenas noches

My name is…: Me llamo…

Check, please: La cuenta por favor

I don’t understand: No entiendo

Do you speak English?: ¿Hablas inglés?

Where is…?: ¿Dónde está…?

Call the police: Llama la policía

Colombia has a rich history and culture and certain etiquette is looked upon favorably. These tips are helpful to avoid any misunderstandings with locals.

Social settings:

  • Family is considered the most important thing in Colombian society.
  • Position and age are important in terms of respect.
  • Always refer to people by their title and surname.
  • When going to a Colombian’s home it is nice to bring wine, chocolate, or flowers.

Wine and Dine:

  • Wait to be seated by the host.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table.
  • Do not use a toothpick at the table.
  • It is polite to try everything the host offers.

Colombia’s unit of currency is the Colombian Peso (COP$). Approximately COP$ 3190.51 equates to USD $1.

Exchanging money is best done at the airports in Colombia. Most banks don’t exchange money unless it is an exchange money. It is recommended to not exchange money at ATMs on the streets.

Tipping! Restaurants typically include a service charge so tipping isn’t necessary. Always check the bill and you can always tip more for excellent service!

Colombia’s electricity outlets are compatible with U.S. type plugs. Electricity in Colombia run at 110 volts. Tourists from the US will therefore not be required to bring transformers. The outlets contain two vertical slots.

Your converter may look like this if it is the three prong version- however in some places it doesn’t include the top prong:

 

Drinking water straight from the faucet is safe to do in major Colombian cities like Bogota, Cartagena, Cali, Medellin. But in other cities it would be safest to buy bottled water.

Here’s how to get a SIM card in Colombia:

  • Claro is the recommended network as it has the most extensive network in Colombia.
  • Unfortunately, the airports in Colombia do not carry SIM cards you have to purchase them at Oxxo which is a convenience store all over Colombia.
  • SIM Cards cost around $3,000 COP ($ 0.94 USD). Depending on the amount of MB you want certain plans for the SIM card cost more than others.

Colombia is one of the most advanced Latin American countries when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. Consensual homosexual activity was decriminalized in 1981- making it an advanced country when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights legislation.

However, laws are one thing. Unfortunately, discrimination and harassment is still quite commonplace in Colombia. A record 109 LGBTQ+ people were murdered in 2017. For these reasons displays of affection are safer within private venues rather than public.
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While recycling isn’t common in Colombia they are making strides to become more environmentally conscious. The Colombian Government’s most recent venture has been in renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power. 

Must See Highlights for Eco-Travelers:

  • Paramillo del Quindio- three day trek through jungles, rivers and hills. 
  • Nevado del Ruiz a volcano on the border of the departments of Caldas and Tolima in Colombia. 
  • Go bird-watching in the Cauca Valley.
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A TIMELINE OF COLOMBIA'S HISTORY

Spain begins its conquest of Colombia.

Map showing the shrinking territory of Gran Colombia from 1824 to 1890 (red line). Panama declared its independence from Colombia in 1903.
Wikipedia
1525

Simon Bolivar defeats the Spanish and forms the Republic of Gran Colombia which includes Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela.

1819

Gran Colombia is dissolved when Venezuela and Ecuador split off. Making Colombia and Panama a state known as Nueva Granada.

Flags of Gran Colombia's successor states today
Wikipedia
1829-30

The civil war between Liberals and Conservatives called, “The War of the Thousand Days” takes place. An estimated 120,000 people die and Panama becomes an independent state.

1899-1903

250,000-300,000 killed in second civil war after assasination of left-wing mayor of Bogota.

1948-1957

Both Conservatives and Liberals form the National Front in an attempt to end the civil war.

Location of the Granadine Confederation
Wikipedia
1958

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is set up.

1966

Pablo Escobar, a Medellin drug-cartel leader, was killed while trying to evade arrest.

A mug shot taken by the regional Colombia control agency in Medellín in 1976.
Wikipedia
1993

Andres Pastrana Arango, a Conservative president, begins peace talks with guerrillas.

1998

Pastrana’s “Plan Colombia”, which is meant to fight drug-trafficking, wins around US$1 billion in military aid from the US.

U.S. President George W. Bush in Bogotá with Colombian President Álvaro Uribe
Wikipedia
2000

Congress approves a law to set up guidelines for peace talks with left-wing rebels, like FARC.

2012

FARC rebels continue to take hostages.

FARC guerrillas marching in formation during the Caguan peace talks (1998–2002)
Wikipedia
2012

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