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Is Colombia Safe to Travel?

Written by Peter Lauffer
February 12, 2021

When it comes to choosing a travel destination, Colombia is rarely one of the first choices, mainly due to its poor image in terms of crime and security. Foreign travelers still believe that there is crime everywhere in Colombia, making it dangerous for travel. Indeed, there are still a few areas in the country where it is wise not to travel. Realistically speaking, however, Colombia has made great progress in this regard, and travelers can safely enjoy most of the beauties of the country unhindered.

How safe is it to travel to Colombia?

The security situation in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years. 

Rail South America has never encountered dangerous or uncomfortable situations during our travels in Colombia. Our tour guides know their region like the back of their hand and make sure that all our travelers feel safe and secure at all times. 

The Colombian Government has invested considerably in changing the country's image and improving the infrastructure in conflicted areas. A good example is Medellín, formerly marked by fights between guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the army. Medellin today has developed into a showcase city. To make this happen, the city invested large sums in the education system in populous parts of the city. Chaotic slums were organized and people living in these areas began to see a future for themselves. Public transport has also improved significantly in Medellin. The city built Colombia's first Metro system, and cable cars connect the high parts of the city to downtown.  

It can’t be denied that crime is still present in Colombia (as it is everywhere else in the world). However, Colombia's reputation of being a country full of "drugs, kidnappings, guerrillas, mafia ..." is definitely outdated.

The statistics of the "Global Peace Index" confirm this positive impression: Colombia is no longer among the most dangerous countries in the world, and in the last three years it has improved its ranking on the index by 16 positions.

View from Peñol Rock near Guatapé near Medellin
View from Peñol Rock near Guatapé near Medellin

Is it safe to travel to Colombia alone?

If you are traveling on your own in Colombia, it would be advantageous to be able to speak some basic phrases in Spanish, because only a few locals speak English. But even if you don't speak a single word of Spanish, communicating with your hands and feet is just as fun! Colombians are always warm, open, and helpful.

As in any other South American country, inquire before you travel alone to remote regions. Visit areas where tourist infrastructure is available, and inquire in advance with the responsible authorities about the current security situation.

Coffee Hacienda "El Balso" near Armenia
Coffee Hacienda "El Balso" near Armenia

Colombia Travel Tips

Those who travel with common sense, respect, and caution will have a great time and will no doubt make unforgettable memories on their trip to Colombia. Some common-sense travel tips:

  • Travel overland whenever possible during daylight.
  • Use registered taxis when driving to or from the airport on your own.
  • Avoid displaying jewelry or keeping your camera out in full view.
  • Pay special attention to your important documents.
  • Don't take things from strangers in the streets.
  • Don’t leave drinks open in restaurants, bars, or discos.
  • Travel with less luggage to be able to keep an eye on it anytime, anywhere.
  • Don't discuss Colombian politics when talking to locals.
  • Never go with strangers.
  • In big cities, avoid lonely streets where as a tourist you would stand out.
  • Avoid large crowds of people.

Its location on the equator gives Colombia an incredible range of different landscapes and ecosystems. No matter if you are a beach lover, hiker, mountaineer, railfan, or outdoor sports enthusiast, you are guaranteed to find something to fit your taste.

Has reading this put you in the mood to experience Colombia’s rich nature and the contagious joie de vivre of its residents? Then we have the perfect trip for you!

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