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Colombia - Traveling

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Entry requirements

Visa: Visa for Colombia
Diplomatic representations: Colombian Embassies

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

Getting around town is usually by bus or taxi. Big cities have a fast lane bus service, quicker and safer than the traditional bus network. The urban bus system Transmilenio, in Bogota, has had a lot of success over the last few years.
Maps of urban networks: Maporama

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

Airlines
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
Avianca Major Yes Yes

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: You are advised to drive very carefully or, even better, to take a taxi booked by telephone. The highway code being not fully respected, the rule of the strongest prevails. It is strongly recommended not to drive at night. An international driving license is required.
Traveling between cities is generally by bus or by airplane according to the distance. Since the setting up of policies to make the country more secure, road journeys between cities are relatively safe.
Getting fuel is suitably and regularly assured all over the country.

Visiting

Different forms of tourism

Historical: -Museum of Gold in Bogota
-The Caribbean Sea coasts and San Andres y Providenzia Islands, off Nicaragua
Beach: Colombia, the fourth country of the sub-continent in area, has an extremely diverse relief. In addition, it is the only country bordered by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, nearly 3 000 km of coastline. The landscapes of western Colombia are characterized by the mountains of the Cordillera of the Andes. Several summits rise to about 5 000 m; the highest summits in the country are in the Sierra de Santa Marta, the highest coastal range in the world. The Andes are divided into two chains: the western Cordillera and the central Cordillera. Two great rivers irrigate the valleys, the Magdalena and the Cauca. The east of the country is composed of two large regions: the Llanos, the vast plains of the Orinoco, and in the south, the Amazonian region, bordering Peru and Brazil.

Colombia offers tourists all possible climates, from the tropical beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, the mountains of the Cordillera of the Andes, and many other curiosities. For further information about tourism in Colombia, consult the website of the Colombian Tourism Office.

Tourism organizations: Aviatur

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: MAIN HEALTH RISKS
-
All rural areas situated under 1 800 meters altitude are malaria infected. The strains present in the country are resistant to chloroquine.
- Dengue fever is present in the country.
- Yellow fever is endemic in the Magdalena valley, the eastern Cordillera, the Uraba region, the Orinoco, Amazonia and the Sierra Nevada.
- People who suffer from respiratory or heart illnesses, or high blood pressure may be affected by altitude sickness.
- Tuberculosis is common in the country.
- Rabies exists in the country.
- Diarrheic illnesses are widespread.

Systematically:
-
Hepatitis A: for persons born before 1945, who spent their childhood in a developing country, or who have a medical history of icterus, a prior testing for serum antibodies (Ig  G) may avoid an unnecessary vaccination. Hepatitis B.
- Diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis.

For further information on sanitary conditions: Health Information for Travelers to Colombia.

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Bogotá (GMT-5)
Summer time period: The summer and winter seasons merge.
Climate: Colombia only has two seasons; summer corresponds to the dry season (December - January and July - August) and winter to the rainy season (April - May and October - November). The climate varies according to region and altitude with a relative stability of temperatures all year round. From the humid tropical climate of Amazonia or the Caribbean, the desert climate of Guajija, to the glacial temperatures of the Paramos (more than 3 000 meters altitude), Colombia offers all variations of climate and temperature, to their very extremes. The average temperature is from 25°C to 35°C in the country. There are 12 hours of daylight a day.

Eating

Food specialties: Colombian gastronomy is like its people, a mix of Spanish, Amerindian and African cuisines. Meals most often start with a vegetable or meat-based soup, the main course is generally beef, pork or chicken accompanied by rice, plantains, red beans, manioc or potatoes and a salad. On the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, meals consist of a soup of fish and guinea bananas or plantains, and fish, most often fried, accompanied by coconut rice and fried plantains. Desserts consist of all sorts of fruit (apples, citrus fruit, bananas, strawberries...) including many tropical fruits, unknown or almost in our latitudes (curuba, zapote, uchuva, guanabana...). As for pastries, you can find coconut flans and cakes, as well as other specialties...

For further information about Colombian gastronomy (typical dishes and recipes) click here.

Drinks: Meals are accompanied by tropical fruit juices, with fabulous tastes (lulo, passion fruit, papaya, tamarindo...) or sodas of different flavors. Coffee is, of course, the national drink, and it is served everywhere. Black, it is "tinto" and with a little milk "pintado". It is generally quite sweet unless you ask otherwise, and it is more or less strong according to the region. There are several cheap local beers; Aguila, Costeña and Poker are those drunk most. As for strong spirits, aguardiente is drunk without too much moderation by the middle classes, as well as rum on the Caribbean coast.
Dietary taboos: There are no food restrictions in Colombia.

Speaking

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