Colombia Travel Information

You are planning a trip to Colombia? To make sure you can start you tour in a relaxed way, we listed all important information for you. Get to know everything about entry and visa requirements, currency and climate, locals and  culture. Start planning your Colombia vacation now with SC Travel Adventures.

Entry & Exit

Visa & Entry Requirements

For Canadian and UK citizens a valid passport is required. The passport needs to be valid for 6 month after your planned departure. You don't need a visa for stays up to 90 days. You can extend this stay for another 90 days at the Migración Colombia office.

Make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport at your arrival. If you don't you might get problems at your departure.

Caution: People are disadvised (if not necessary) to travel to the following regions, due to risk of crimes (last updated 09.09.2019):

  • within 20 km of the borders with Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador
  • ports of Buenaventura and Tumaco
  • Antioquia (excluding the cities of Carmen de Viboral, Medellín and Rionegro, José María Córdova International Airport)
  • Arauca
  • Caquetá
  • Cauca (excl. Popoyán)
  • Chocó (excl. the capital, Quibdó, Bania Solano, Capurganá, Nuquí)
  • Córodba (excl. the capital, Montería)
  • Guainía
  • Guaviare
  • Meta (excl. the capital, Villavicencio)
  • Nariño (excl. the capital, Pasto)
  • Norte de Santander
  • Putumayo
  • Tolima (excl. the city of Ibagué)
  • Valle del Cauca (excl. the capital, Cali)
  • Vichada

For the custom regulations at your reentry to Canada/UK please see special regulations at Global Affairs Canada or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It's recommendable to get standard vaccinations before travelling to Colombia:

  • tetanus
  • diphteria
  • pertussis
  • mumps
  • measles
  • pneumococcus
  • influenza

Especially for travelling its recommendable to get vaccination for:

  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • canine madness
  • typhus

Colombia is not requiring a certificate for Yellow Fever vaccination but it's highly recommended. Endangered areas are all region below 2.300 m of altitude.

Zika virus
There is an increasing number of infections of the disease, which is transmitted by mosquitos. The course of disease is similar to the Dengue fever. It's dangerous for unborn children. There is no vaccination or other measure of protection. Pregnant women are disencouraged to travel to endangered regions.
The virus is mostly transmitted by mosquitos. A sexual transmission is also possible.

Chikungunya
There are more cases of the disease. Symptoms are similiar to the Dengue Fever and is also transmitted by the Aedes mosquito.

Dengue
Dengue is transmitted by diurnal mosquitos in most parts of the country. Typical symptoms are fever, rashes and growing pains. Due to the lack of vaccination or other protection, its recommendable to use repellents and other measures to protect yourself from mosquitos.

Malaria
There is a small risk for Malaria in all areas beneath 1600 m of altitude. Malaria free are all big cities and the islands San Andres and Providencia. Malaria is trasmitted by the nocturnal Anopheles-mosquito. Without treatment the disease can end in death.

Most of the above listed diseases are transmitted by mosquitos. Therefore the following protection measures are recommended:

  • Use insect repellents for skin and clothing
  • wear brighter colors and long sleeves
  • if possible, use mosquito nets for sleeping.

Diarrhea
Most diarrheal diseases are avoidable with a good hygiene. Drink only bottled water (no tab water). Also use this water for brushing your teeth. For foods: always wash or peel your foods.

The medical healthcare system is good in bigger cities. In rural areas there can be hygienic and technical differences.

Travel Facts for Colombia

The climate is tropical due to the location close to the equator. The different temperatures across the country are due to the differences in height and not only due to seasonal changes.

In the lowlands and coastal region the average temperature is 24°C. In higher grounds the average temperature is getting lower. In the capital Bogotá (2.600m) the average temperature is only 12°C.

In Colombia its usual to have two dry and two rainy seasons. The months December to March and July to August are dry. Rainy months are April to June and October to November. 

The best time to travel in Colombia are usually Januar to March and July to September. Due to the comfortable temperatures you can travel the country the whole year.

Colombia is falling into UTC -5 time zone and doesn't make use of Daylight Saving time changes.

The official currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso (COP). Bank notes are available for the amounts of 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000 and 50.000 COP. There are 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 COP coins.

In Colombia you can find ATMs in all bigger cities to withdraw money from credit cards. You can also pay with credit card in almost all locations. In rural areas the amount of ATMs is much smaller and payments by credit card is not always possible. Make sure you always have enough cash with you.

Exchange rates
1 CAD = 2551,22 COP (last updated 09.09.2019)
1 £ = 4150,65 COP (last updated 09.09.2019)

The line voltage in Colombia is 110 v. You can find plug sockets of Types A and B.

The mobile network is relatively good. In the cities you can get telephone cards easily, however, the phone boxes are not working often. On the streets or markets you can often find people, who are renting cell phones to make calls. This is most of the times cheaper than using your own phone.

Embassy of Canada (Bogotá)
Cra. 7, No. 114-33, Piso 14, Bogotá, Colombia
Tel.: +57 1 657 9800
Internet: www.colombia.gc.ca

Consulate of Canada (Cartagena)
Edificio Centro Ejecutivo Bocagrande, Carrera 3, No. 8-129, Oficina No. 1103, Cartagena, Colombia
Tel.: +57 5 665 5838

British Embassy (Bogotá)
Carrera 9, No 76-49, Piso 8, Edificio ING Barings, Bogotá, Colombia
Tel.: +57 1 326 8300
Internet: www.gov.uk/contact-consulate-bogota

 

Important Numbers:
Ambulance: 156
Police: 132
Firefighters: 119

People & Landscape

Colombia has about 49 million habitants and is therefore the second most populated country of South America. Most of them are living in the coastal regions or the Andes. About half of the country is barely inhabited. The population consists of diverse ethnic groups. A lot of  them are Europeans (offsprings of the Spanish), Africans (offsprings of the slaves) and indigenous groups.

The official language of Colombia is Spanisch. Most of the Colombians, especially the habitants of the Andes, are speaking a very understandable and clear Spanish. Only people in the far north or south of the country developed dialects to match the neighbour countries. The languages of indigenous groups are also acknowledged as official languages in the particular region. There are about 65 indigenous languages (e.g. wayúu, páez or misak) and two Creole languages. On the island San Andrés English is also an official language.

The capital and administrative center of the country is Bogotá. With a population of 6,8 million people Bogotá is the biggest city of Colombia and one of the fastes growing cities in South America. Nevertheless Colombia is less centralized than other South American country. Other cities with more than one million habitants are Cali, Medellin and Baranquilla.

There are still civil wars, crimes from Guerilla-Groups and political tensions and the country still needs to fight for peace. However, in general the safety and stability was highly improved in Colombia. The country developed into one of the fastest growing emerging markets. This upswing is mainly due to the rich raw material deposits. The export of coffee is not as important anymore.

About 93% of the population is part of the Catholic community. The rest of the population is Protestant, Muslim or Jewish. Religious celebrations are usually taken very seriously. A famous example is the Holy Week in Popayan. It's one of the biggest Catholic events in the world.

Also carnival is an important celebration, especially in the coastal regions. The most popular celebrations are in Barranquilla in February or March of every year. The celebration is one of the biggest in the world and has an enormous importance for the culture of Colombia and was declared a cultural heritage.

Colombia is the only country in South America that has a coast on the Pacific and Caribbean Sea. The geographical conditions are creating the most diverse landscapes. The country can be devided into four regions: the mountainous Andes in the West and the center, the Caribbean coast in the North, the Pacific coast in the West and the lowlands in the east.

The western half of Colombia is dominated by the Andes, which are devided into three big mountain ranges. This is where most of the population of the country is living. In the mountains you can still find active volcanos and the highest peeks of the country. In the north, the Andes are merging into the biggest coastal mountains of the world - the Sierra de Nevada de Santa Marta.

The Caribbean coast of Colombia is mostly flat and less populated. Huge parts of the lowlands are dominated by marshes. The most pupular islands in the Atlantic are the archipels of San Andrés and Providencia (770 km north-west of Colombia.

The Pacific lowlands is only populated in a few ports, which is mostly due to the hot and humid climate. There are up to 10.000 mm rainfall per year. The region is covered in tropical rainforest with a lot of diversity in flora and fauna. The only traffic routes are the natural water ways.

The eastern half of the country is charecterized by forested lowlands with many rivers. It can be devided into two greater areas. The main distinction of them is the direction of flow of the rivers. The area, where rivers are flowin in direction of Orionoco is named Orinoquien or Llanos Orientales. The lands are mostly a flat wet savanna and barely populated. The south-eastern areas are consisting of the Colombian part of the Amazon. It has a extremly high biodiversity and only populated by some indigenous groups. All smaller rivers are flowing into the Amazon river.

The cuisine of Colombia is as diverse as the country itself. Tropical rainforest, Caribbean islands and the highlands in the Andes - all this is also part of the Colombian cuisine, which is dominated by meat, fish, seafood and maize meal dishes.

The typical "comida corriente" can be found in the whole coutry and consists of a piece of meat (beef or chicken) with some vegetables and rice. Other typical dishes are "sancocho", a soup of plantains, and "arepa", a flat cake from corn with a bit of "salsa de aji" (famous pepper sauce). These dishes are popular in almost all parts of Colombia. Other famous ingredients are maize meal, plantains, yuca and avocado.

Despite all of the above named dishes, the Colombian cuisine is greatly influences by the different regions. In the coastal areas dishes with fish are very populated. In the inlands people are using more meat. In the mountainous regions you can find a lot of river trouts.

Alway fresh and delicious are the fruits of Colombia. Here you can find tropical types like mangos, passion fruits and papayas but also less known fruits like mamoncillos, grandillas, tree tomatos, lulo or borojó. You can get fresh juices and milkshakes almost everywhere.

The classical beverages are the "tinto", a black and mild coffee (with sugar) or the "agua de panela", hot water with sugar (sometimes you can find it with lemon). Famous in the all country is the "chocolate con queso": drinkable chocolate with a piece of cheese. The Colombian national drink is the "aguardiente", a sugar cane schnapps with aniseed.

If you are well informed about Colombia now, have a look at our Trips to Colombia or contact our team.

Current Situation
Please keep in mind, that the security situation at place can change at any time. Therefore we recommend to have a look at the current safety information at Global Affairs Canada or Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Exclusion of Liability
Those who choose to travel do so entirely at their own risk. SC Travel Adventures endeavours to inform tourists of the risks involved with travelling but cannot be held liable for any events which occur outside of their direct control. Tourists are advised to avoid areas considered unsafe, remain vigilant and cautious at all times throughout their stay, and heed the advice of local authorities.