Colombia: The Only Risk is Not Wanting to Leave.

By Morgan Pettersson.

Colombia is not a country on the top of most travellers wish lists, in fact it is most probably near the top of their do not travel to list.

The countries reputation precedes it, of cocaine barons, violence, kidnapping and general political and social unrest and wide-spread poverty.

Yet what most people don’t know is that Colombia is a lot safer than it used to be and the passion and culture of the country is some of the best in South America.

The capital of the country is Bogotá, situated at an altitude of over two thousand metres above sea level, which can take some getting used to when you first arrive with some travellers reporting altitude sickness.

I experienced a Colombia in full celebration mode when I arrived during the Christmas and New Year period.

I visited Bogotá and Cali during my brief stay in the country, and was able to experience a unique Colombian Christmas which was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

 Imagine one hundred people (and that was just the close family), salsa dancing, amazing food, rum, celebratory shouting and bonding with countless Aunties who spoke no English and a traditional Colombian midnight mass.

The streets of Cali pulsed with passion and flavour, salsa dancing spilled out onto the streets and stalls were set up along the road with all sorts of local cuisines.

I was also able to witness the yearly Salsa Festival, with dancers taking over the streets and what felt like all of the city out in the streets.

Meanwhile the elite of Bogotá helped me to celebrate the New Year in style at some of the top bars in the capital, where salsa was the order of the day.

I was told that the amount of Salsa and Reggaeton being played in all of the bars and clubs was usual for that time of the year, so make sure you brush up on your dance skills before you arrive.

But don’t worry if you don’t, there is always some lovely charming Colombian local ready to help a helpless foreigner in distress on the dance floor.

Colombia is situated in the North of South America bordering with Ecuador and Peru to the south and Venezuela and Brazil to the East.

The official national language is Spanish, Latin American Spanish that is, and while most of the younger generation speak English you will need some basic Spanish skills to navigate your way around the country.

The country is one of the richest in South America thanks to its oil fields, which is the cause of a lot of the conflict in the region, although the divide between rich and poor is monumental.

The country is much safer than it was ten years ago, for foreigners and locals alike, but crime is still a big issue, especially in the large cities, so keep your street smarts about you.

The general rule is to do as the locals do, you will notice the streets become almost deserted in Bogotá after the sun sets, it’s a sure sign that the locals will not even walk a few minutes down the road at night, so why would you think its safe to do so?

The streets may pulse with the Colombian passion, but there is always an inherent level of danger in the air, with constant daily safety precautions and living in compounds the norm for many. 

 The culture is such an intense mix of traditional Colombian culture and passion and the Spanish/European influences from the old trading routes and large population who immigrated from Europe to the continent.

Colombia is a country that I fell in love with almost instantly upon arrival and the mix between such a laid back and positive lifestyle that reflects the Mediterranean and the passionate and theatrical South American way of having fun is infectious.

It certainly is not the travel destination for everyone yet, but if you thrive off adventure and have common sense you are guaranteed to meet some unique people and have some un forgettable experiences in a country where you may be one of the only gringos in town.

The time to travel to Colombia is now, before the rest of the world follows and it becomes the new Mexico or Costa Rica, over flowing with rich, drunk tourists.

Image:Marcelo Soto Montes

3 Responses to “Colombia: The Only Risk is Not Wanting to Leave.”
  1. Tanja Orzell says:

    Thank you very much for this good content. Great work!

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