Safety in Colombia?

Jul 17th, 2019, 11:52 AM
  #1  
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Safety in Colombia?

Hi Fodorites,

I have a trip planned with my immediate family + grandparents in late August. We plan to go to Medellin, Armenia (hacienda bambusa) & Cartagena.
My mother just watched a news report on PBS indicating increasing levels of strife related to the Venezuelan crisis as well as increased FARC and drug activity. She then did further research which led her to believe that the more problematic regions are further South in the country.

If you have recently traveled to these regions or live there -- can you please provide any feedback on safety?

I do know that the US State Department has the country listed as level 2 risk and that we should obviously be prudent re not wearing flashy jewelry, limiting travel on remote roads at night etc. If you feel that any of the 3 regions we plan to visit should be knocked off the list or we should reroute our entire trip, I would like to hear your opinions. We are seasoned global travelers but don't want to be overly naive about the risks.

Many thanks, in advance.

Musetta
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Jul 17th, 2019, 03:57 PM
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I wouldn't be overly concerned in any of those areas. In cities like Medellin and Cartagena, you might wish to ask your lodging to arrange taxis or use the larger white taxis from the airport. Apparently Uber works okay within Medelllin (no personal experience with it though). There is also an EasyTaxi ap for yellow taxis. When I needed a taxi I asked my hotel to arrange it. But I mostly walked and also used the excellent public transit in Medellin. Only used taxis a few times. Once your luggage is stored there would be few worries. For a large city, I didn't feel insecure at all. Most of the risk would be petty theft when careless or in crowded places. Normal precautions.

I was only in Cartagena for a day, but our tour leader told us it was one of the safest cities in Colombia. The bigger issue in Cartagena is heat, so you're likely to want some way to get around other than walking. A tour with air conditioned van might be a good idea if you want to see some sights.

I would keep the passports securely in the hotel and have emergency money and a credit card in a money belt or bra pouch Just what you need for the day in a small crossbody purse. I think likely the only time I needed it was when buying a SIM card, and at the airport or when checking in to hotels. But not for using a credit card. The latter are widely accepted. The cellphone service in Colombia is excellent (Claro is the best).

You will want some smaller bills to use for taxis if not using Uber, so make a small purchase at the airport if you need to break some larger bills. Credit cards widely accepted.


Last edited by mlgb; Jul 17th, 2019 at 04:01 PM.
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Jul 17th, 2019, 04:00 PM
  #3  
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Some excellent tips here - thanks so much for the sage advice & rapid response!
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Jul 18th, 2019, 03:28 AM
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I have responded to your personal messages musetta, but just to reiterate my comments there and reinforce what Mlgb has said; Colombia is a pretty safe place these days.2 month’s wandering around the country an we felt as safe, if not safer than many other parts of the world. Just observe the usual precautions you would anywhere - take out only what you need. I always take cash and cards in a wallet in a zipped FRONT pocket - never felt the need for a money belt and "bra pouches" probably wouldn’t work with the shirts I wear
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Jul 18th, 2019, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
i have responded to your personal messages musetta, but just to reiterate my comments there and reinforce what mlgb has said; colombia is a pretty safe place these days.2 month’s wandering around the country an we felt as safe, if not safer than many other parts of the world. Just observe the usual precautions you would anywhere - take out only what you need. I always take cash and cards in a wallet in a zipped front pocket - never felt the need for a money belt and "bra pouches" probably wouldn’t work with the shirts i wear
lol

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Jul 18th, 2019, 05:20 PM
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Hi Musetta, I have lived on and off outside of Armenia in the cafetero for the past 5 years and I go to Armenia often to shop and visit friends, but I don't like it. Armenia is not an attractive city however it is safe. You are actually staying in La Tebaida which is near the airport, aprox 20 minutes south from the centre of Armenia. In order to travel to the Cafetero which I imagine you will plan to do, you will need to go through the ugliest part of Armenia to get there. My preference when I am located where you are and I want to get to the cafetero is to detour through Calarca thereby avoiding Armenia.
Even better, find a place in Salento for a few days- Hacienda Bambusa looks absolutely charming if you want to hang out in your hotel all day but the location is very poor for seeing the magical places farther north. If you do decide to keep your reservation in La Tebaida make sure you get up to Buenavista for lunch one day. A refreshing change from Armenia. It is a stunning side trip and you can actually do a loop drive.
As to FARC they are non-existent in Quindio at this time. The Venezuelans are here and there around the country and you will see them in Armenia but they are a sad sight- always young families with children and begging for any help they can get. Please be kind when you see them as they are in a very bad situation. Certainly more desperate for food than dangerous or threatening.
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Jul 18th, 2019, 06:34 PM
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Bellalinda makes a good point re Armenia. We only passed through on the bus and so weren’t there long enough to form an opinion but it did not seem the sort of place wh would want to stay. We did stay for a while in Salento and really liked it, especially the Cocora Valley . Phome photos on our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/2016/06...cocora-valley/
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Aug 6th, 2019, 06:52 PM
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I live in what is currently considered one of the most violent states in Mexico. Colombia I felt was quite civilized. First world.
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Aug 7th, 2019, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by baldone View Post
I live in what is currently considered one of the most violent states in Mexico. Colombia I felt was quite civilized. First world.
It is interesting that you equate violence with being non-first world which I think is a normal perception for many of us. I travel in Mexico 3-4 times a year, usually to Cabo San Lucas which I consider to be quite a civilized and modern place based on the infrastructure there- the condition of the roads, the sophistication of the food which can be found in restaurants, the international shopping and the new buildings and subdivisions popping up constantly. I was surprised to learn that Los Cabos is considered to be the most dangerous place in Mexico based on the annual murder rate. Colombia does have similar areas of wealth and in general I agree that the quality of life in Colombia is much better than it was 30 years ago, with a strong emerging middle class, however there is still an overwhelming amount of poverty here. The original poster makes a valid point when asking about how the Venezuelan situation is affecting the peace in Colombia or about the presence of FARC as it was this guerrilla movement in Colombia which was the cause of the terrible violence in the past and in Mexico the violence in Los Cabos and elsewhere is blamed on the cartels. It is never really about class.

Last edited by bellalinda; Aug 7th, 2019 at 06:30 AM.
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Aug 13th, 2019, 11:36 AM
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Colombia is a safe country to travel so long visitors stay on a tourists trail and stick to certain unwritten rules such as not flashing valuables or not wondering streets in big cities late at night.

I spent 6 weeks criss-crossing the country last year and never felt even remotely threatened.

On top of it, if you are visiting with a tour company, its even safer as your guides will keep you out of trouble.

Colombia is a lot fun - you will enjoy it.
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