Jess Buchan

Colombia is a country whose reputation precedes it. It instantly goes into the ‘too dangerous’ box when mentioned by potential visitors because of stories of its drug-infused past. However these days, the people of Colombia have overcome past hardships relatively unscathed and welcome visitors to prove that it’s not like it used to be.

The majority of travellers I met whilst travelling through South America claimed that Colombia is a must-visit, and named it their favourite country. I was sceptical that a country could entice every visitor, but once I spent time there, I was swept under its spell as well. Below are a few tips that may come in handy when you’re travelling in this incredible country.

Medellin Colombia 

Comuna 13, one of the neighbourhoods in Medellin – One of the surprises of Colombia

Be prepared to stay longer than you intended

Colombia is one of those countries that draws you in and won’t let you go. Many travellers I’ve met (myself included) plan to spend a certain amount of time in this country however that plan flies out the window once you get past customs. To experience Colombia properly I suggest a month, however if you travel true Colombian style you better stay two. 

Say Hola!

Excellent – now that you’ve planned to stay longer, get to know the locals. Colombians are some of the friendliest people on the planet. Their never-ending positive attitude is admirable, considering the hardships they have had to endure but they welcome visitors with open arms. Embrace their friendliness and say hola - you will probably end up with an invite for lunch.

 Colombian food

Bandeja Paisa - a local dish, tastes better than it looks!

It’s safer thank you think

If you you’ve seen the TV show “Narcos”, you will get an idea of what Colombia used to be like. Since the days of Pablo Escobar however, the country has transformed itself into a much safer place. The government works hard to make the country the polar opposite of what it once was. Even the locals get on board, reminding tourists to watch their belongings or helping with directions. Of course, if you’re out looking for trouble, it will definitely come and find you. Treat it like any other developing country and you will be fine. 

Plan for all climates

Colombia has every sort of possible landscape on offer, from beaches to mountains, to volcanoes and deserts; there is no shortage of things to see. However this means that packing for this country does require something from every corner of your wardrobe. A waterproof jacket and boots will go a long way, as will sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

 Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park - stunning, but bring the mozzie spray!

When in doubt – fly

Take this from someone who learnt first hand. Buses in Colombia aren’t awful, but the roads are. 16-hour trips can turn into 24 and the smell of vomit caused by the windy roads will infiltrate your every possession. Luckily flying domestic throughout Colombia is cheap as chips thanks to the budget airline Viva Colombia. It may cost a tiny bit more than the bus but wouldn’t you rather spend your time exploring instead of being stuck in a human sardine tin?

Stay on top of the football

Colombians are passionate people, whether it is about family, romance or food they don’t do things by halves. This goes for football as well. The entire country comes alive when the Colombia plays and the streets turn yellow from thousands of people wearing the national colours. Definitely make it a priority to see a live game – the crowds are more entertaining than the game itself – just make sure you’re wearing the right colours, you’ll make more friends that way.

 Football game colombia

The atmosphere is so electric at the football that even the sky gets involved!

Pack the mosquito spray

If you’re planning to head to the north coast – and you should - make packing mozzie spray your number one priority. The idyllic views and laidback vibes can be ruined by the hordes of mosquitoes that plague the area. A heavy dose of Deet put on regularly will help keep the little suckers away so you can concentrate on working on your tan, plus most hostels will offer mosquito nets so you can get a good night sleep.

Go where no-one goes

Colombia does have a pretty well trodden backpacker trail already, however the roads less travelled are packed full of hidden gems. The Pacific Coast, Providencia and Riohacha are some of the names you should ask locals about. You’ll be thankful you did (and a little smug that you went where most don’t!)

 Waterfalls

There are plenty of waterfalls to discover around Colombia

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Colombians are the friendliest and happiest people of South America. They’re open, warm-hearted and love to spread their positivity to everyone. They’ll happily dance in the street, cheer passionately and look at the bright side of life. Live like the Colombians and share a joke or two, your experience will be better because of it. 

 

Jess Buchan is an Aussie travel blogger who has lived in Europe and loves to share her travel stories on her blog http://ablondeandherpassport.com Instagram: @ablondeandherpassport Twitter @ablondeandher

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.