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Traveling Colombia 2021 Is it Safe to Travel to Colombia? Updated 2023.

For the latest update on Covid in Colombia Click here

Is it Safe to Travel to Colombia.

I wrote this back in 2021 when covid rules were at their most destructive.

So let’s see what has changed for the visitor to Colombia.

The Barranquilla carnival has just ended, and it was by all accounts a raging success.

For the first time in 3 years, visitors from overseas arrived en mass.

Nearly 700,000 came from overseas to enjoy one of the great carnivals of the world.

Dancers on the street at the Barranquilla carnival. Used in the article traveling Colombia 2021.
Photo credit: Carnival.com studios (flickr)

Over the month of the carnival, there were 5 million visitors to the city.


Gustavo Petro, elected President of Colombia in 2022. Used in the article traveling colombia 2021
Gustavo Petro.

What else in Colombia is New?

There is a New president.

Gustavo Petro a left-of-center politician, took office last August after a close-fought battle with little-known Bucaramanga engineer and businessman Rodolfo Hernández Suárez he scraped in with 50.4% of the popular vote.

Without going into too much political commentary (of which I know little here), his plans for Colombia are more focused on the basics of government- health, education, and employment, with some green ideology for reducing the country’s reliance on income from oil and gas. I guess that means higher taxes on everything else.

Crime: The evergreen topic around BBQs and coffee shops when someone mentions Colombia.

The heady days of billionaire drug lords, has long since passed most are now deceased.

These days those trying to emulate Escobar have a short career, sometimes a short lifespan.

Some areas have a proactive police force. Other areas?… their days are spent texting on WhatsApp

The crims here are not very smart, most(all?) are uneducated, but they have worked out that you don’t have to be very bright to make crime pay. A least for a little while.

Just acquire a gun, steal a motorbike, find someone else who is not very bright but can hold a gun, and go around stealing mobile phones from women with kids.

The rules I have below are still relevant.

A quick statistic. there were only about 50 arrests for various minor offenses in the carnival precincts during the Barranquilla carnival period.

That should be good news for tourists.

The bad news is, life in the barrios went on as per-normal. But there is no reason for tourists to go to those areas.


My first visit to Colombia was in 2016. Even then, traveling Colombia was looked upon as dangerous, as it was still carrying the stigma of drug cartels and political terrorists.

Although it was basically old news, like over 20-year-old news and the country had moved on since those days.

Travel advisories for Colombia in 2016 were good, although crime is still a problem in some cities, the consensus is if you don’t do risky things in your own cities, then don’t do them here.

Visas:- For residents of many countries no Visa is required to enter Colombia if you are only here for 90 days or less. Check the Colombian Immigration site Here for eligibility.

However, always check your government’s travel advice.

Note:- understand governments like to err on the side of extreme caution.

At this time of writing the US has over 100 countries on its “do not travel to” list. Including Japan, France, Mexico and a stack of others.

News outlets always highlight the extreme events of any social unrest. The reality is any extreme social disorder is usually confined to a very small area or group and does not represent the overall picture of a country.

Traveling Colombia 2023

Safety Tips for Visitors to Colombia.

Colombia is generally considered safe to visit (even during protests), if you use common sense and take some precautions, like avoiding protests !

Below are a number of basic precautions you can take to be vigilant about your personal safety and improve your security while in Colombia.

These tips should reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime, and improve your overall safety during a visit to not only Colombia, but Latin America / Sth, America in general.

Actually, it would be wise for any traveler to follow these tips no matter which countries they visit.

21 Safety Tips When Traveling Colombia.

  1. Don’t flash your cell phones, cameras, jewelry, or money around. In addition, pickpocketing and purse snatching is common in some public places. Distraction is frequently the strategy, so be alert and keep an eye on your belongings. Also, be aware of your surroundings when using your cell phone, as cell phones are the most commonly stolen items in the country. See motorbikes above.
  2. Avoid protests. Stay away from protests and if you see one walk the other way. Also, I don’t recommend travel to Bogotá or Cali due to more extensive protests in these two cities.
  3. Never resist if you are a robbery victim. Many homicide victims in Colombia resisted robberies. It’s not worth risking your life for some money and/or possessions. Don’t try to be a hero. If you do resist and beat up the criminal he can sue you for any injuries he sustains. If you shoot one you can be jailed if you are not licensed to have a firearm.
  4. Take care, even in upscale neighborhoods. Take care even in upscale neighborhoods like El Poblado in Medellín; Chapinero in Bogotá; the historical El Centro (walled city) and the beach barrios of Bocagrande and El Laguito in Cartagena. Wealthy neighborhoods in several cities in Colombia have the highest robbery rates.
  5. Be careful on public transportation systems. Robberies are common on public transportation such as the Medellín Metro, TransMilenio in Bogotá and MIO system in Cali. Don’t become involved in any fights at metro stations. There is a percentage of the population here who feel entitled to travel for free and they will attack the ticketing clerk to try and gain a free ride on the buses. Be careful of pickpockets during rush hour. And you may not even realize you have been a victim until you arrive at your destination.
  6. Stay away from drugs, sex tourism and illegal activities. Participating in shady activities increases your likelihood of becoming a crime victim and historically many of the foreigner homicides in Colombia have been related to these activities.
  7. Be especially careful with your cell phone. Try not to be such an obvious foreign tourist. An expat in shorts and flip-flops in Colombia speaking English loudly on an iPhone is likely to attract some unwanted attention.
  8. Use ATMs in malls and grocery stores. If you can avoid ATMs on the street or in areas with few people around. And be aware of your surroundings, who else is nearby?
  9. Avoid bad neighborhoods. The poorest neighborhoods in cities are not really places for expats, even during the day. You aren’t missing anything – there is nothing for tourists to see in these neighborhoods.
  10. Never leave your drink unattended. It takes almost no time for someone to drug your drink with something like Scopolamine (aka Devil’s Breath), which can wipe the memory of its victims and can affect the ability to resist criminal aggression.
  11. Be careful of fake police asking to check your money for counterfeits. This is obviously a scam and sometimes happens in Colombia. Real police will never do this.
  12. Don’t carry lots of cash with you. Only carry what you need for the day or night with you.
  13. Put your bag, purse or backpack in front of you. In busy areas it’s common for snatching of bags, purses or backpacks.
  14. Late at night call for a taxi. During the day, hailing a taxi on the street will usually be fine. But at night calling for a taxi or using an app like Cabify, Indriver, or Uber is safer and will ensure you are getting a legitimate driver.
  15. Don’t walk alone at night. It’s safer in groups. And if walking alone, stick to well-lit streets where there are plenty of people.
  16. Try to keep a low profile. If you keep a low profile you are less likely to become a target. And never give out information about where you live to strangers.
  17. Watch out for motorcycles. A disproportionate number of robberies and crimes in cities in Colombia take place by criminals on motorcycles due to the ability for a quick getaway. So, take care brandishing phones in taxis or on the street as you may attract unwanted attention from a criminal on a motorcycle.
  18. Don’t carry your passport with you. Carry a copy of your passport with another ID like a driver’s license. Only bring ATM and credit cards which you plan to use. Leave your passport and other cards locked up in a safe location.
  19. Don’t invite strangers to your home or hotel. And if you are meeting someone you don’t know, always do this in a public area like a mall, restaurant or café.
  20. Change locks and buy a security door. When you are living in a place long-term in Colombia always change the locks. No telling who else will have keys. And for even better piece of mind change the door to a security door reinforced with steel inside and around the frame. Most people here install a steel grated door on the external side of their home.
  21. No Dar Papaya. Don’t give papaya. This is a famous quote in Colombia, which means essentially don’t put yourself in a position where you become vulnerable to be taken advantage of. Many of the above tips are ways to “No Dar Papaya”.

Thanks to Medellin Guru for these tips which includes some of my observations.

One More Thing ( tip no. 22).

A common sight in Colombia is people (mostly women) wearing small backpacks on the front of their bodies.

The reason is not so that their purse is more easily accessible from the front, but for protection from those who would attempt to steal belongings if the backpack were worn in the normal way (on your back).

Where you can, observe, and take hints from the locals.

Why Travel Colombia

barefootaffiliatetravel.com Icon used in the article Traveling Colombia 2021
Colombia’s theme

Probably better known for all the wrong reasons, Colombia however does offers the traveler some of the most amazing experiences anywhere on the planet.

Suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, Colombia is often called the most diverse country on earth.

It is a photographer’s paradise, ideal for the young and adventurous, wilderness trekkers, and everyone in between.

Colombia has the most bird species in the world, and an amazing variety of animals.

Perhaps those flowers you gave (or received), on Valentine’s day, came from Colombia. It supplies up to 70% of the world’s flowers for Valentine’s day.

Medellin has an annual flower festival in November.

There is so much available for the tourist and less than 4 hours from the USA.

The tours I recommend are more of a personalized nature, so you can experience Colombia from a different perspective than the average visitor.

Not only that, the ones I recommend have multilingual staff, to help you with planning your trip, accommodation, and tour packages. As well when you are on tour the language barrier is not an issue as the driver/guide will be multilingual

To See the tours I have Partnered with Click Here.

There is so much to enjoy in Colombia. Coffee tours, Ancient cities, Historical towns, Historical sites that are part of modern metropolises, Stunning Caribbean beaches and Islands.

Indian tribes still living in the traditional manner of their ancestors.

At Santa Marta diving accreditations are some of the least expensive in the world. Plus, you can also gain accreditation as a reef monitoring eco diver which opens up opportunities around the world.

A couple of hours up from Santa Marta you are in a totally different environment Alternating between cool mountain rivers, Indian Villages, snow capped mountains, and lonely beaches.

Ohh and coffee, Colombia is well known for its range of coffees. Coffee tours are a must-do when visiting Colombia.

note book and coffee https://barefootaffiliatetravel.com/ used in the article Traveling Colombia 2021
Coffee Beans and travel notes

Colombia is the only American Nation that is named for Christopher Columbus, the “discoverer” of the New World.

It is a study of contrasts, in both its geography and its society. The lofty snow-tipped peaks of the country’s interior cordilleras tower high above equatorial forests.

In the cooler mountain areas, at intermediate elevations, modern cities contrast sharply with traditional rural landscapes where Mestizo farmers cultivate their small plots of coffee, corn (maize), and other crops.

The more accessible Atlantic lowlands, dominated by large livestock haciendas and a tri-ethnic population, have a distinctively different character.

A wide range of features characterizes the country’s two coastlines. Steep and articulated bays, inlets, capes, and promontories accentuate the shoreline on the Pacific side toward the Panama border.

On the Caribbean side where the sea beats against the base of the Santa Marta Mountains.

These features are interspersed with sandy beaches, along with barrier islands and brackish lagoons.

To read more on Colombia please go Here.

Bookmark this blog for more tips and tours on traveling Colombia.

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  1. Ann June 3, 2021
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  2. Daniella June 5, 2021
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