Why Visit Colombia?
Seasoned travelers agree, while often misunderstood, Colombia is South America’s best kept secret – beautiful, affordable and mostly undiscovered by foreign tourists. The country is easy to travel with plenty of low cost internal flights, comfortable cross-country buses and inexpensive taxis literally everywhere.
The country is beautiful, the people friendly and the climate is perfect. Everything is very affordable and with a good service structure already in place, tourism is overdue.
- Colombia is rated as one of the 10 most affordable countries in the world for foreign travelers.
- It’s one of the five friendliest
- And one of the top 10 countries for expats to live in.
- It is the only country in South America with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
- It has been ranked #22 out of 140 countries for its quality of health care by the World Health Organization. Lasik surgery was invented here in 1963 as was the pacemaker in 1958.
Who Visits Colombia?
Colombia received 3 million foreign visitors in 2017 according to the country’s trade ministry.
That might not seem like a lot when compared to the world’s top tourist destinations for foreigners. But when compared to tourism in South America, Colombia is gaining momentum.
- France, tops the list, with 84 million foreign visitors followed by the USA with 77 million.
- On the Latin continent, Colombian only lags behind Brazil’s 6.3 million foreign tourists last year and Chile’s – 5.6 million
- Colombia is keeping pace with Cuba’s 3.5 million foreign tourists in 2017 and Peru’s 3.4 million.
- Foreign tourism is increasing in Colombia around 13% every year.
- Having increased over 300% since 2006 when only 1 million foreign tourists visited the country.
The top nationalities to visit Colombia are the USA and Venezuela followed by Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Spain, Chile and Panama
The cities of Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin are the most visited sites. But foreign tourist hear the call, returning again and again. Colombia is a complex, fascinating country meriting further investigation.
Outside of the passenger ships in Cartagena’s harbor discharging a flood of tourists into into the towns’ historic center every morning, it seems the world has yet to discover the more remote areas of Colombia. Corporate tourism barely exists here and tour buses are a rarity. Colombia has remained relatively unchanged for the last 40 years.
How Big is It?
With a land mass area larger than France and Spain combined, Colombia is the fourth largest nation in Latin America (440,800 square miles), the third most populous in South America.. With an unequaled habitat, Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country in the world with more than 2,000 different bird species.
Even though it is one of the larger countries of South America, travelers can easily visit more than 2-3 destinations in a week. And there are dozens of destinations for travelers with the luxury of time to spare. An inexpensive country, money for extended travel is usually not a major concern. Cheap eats abound as do inexpensive buses, hotels and hostels. Colombia, never boring, never gets old.
Is Colombia Safe?
Prior reputation as a violent and unsafe country is for the most part unfounded today. Colombia, once the most notoriously violent epicenter of drugs and kidnappings has seen the murder rate fall from 70 people per 100,000 people to just 26 per 100,000 in 2015.
Peace is at hand after five decades of conflict involving two rebel movements, the Colombian army and right-wing paramilitary groups. The dark days of violence resulted in more than 260,000 deaths, the disappearance of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of 6 million people.
In the last decade the Colombian government has killed or imprisoned most of the notorious narco-traffickers and the drug trade has been pushed out of the cities and into the jungle and the country’s most remote areas.
Peace accords have been struck with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a revolutionary group which financed itself through involvement in Colombia’s drug trade. The group has turned over its weapons and is in the process of reorganizing a political movement. A cease-fire was also signed with the ELN (the National Liberation Army).
Colombians tell me they feel safe walking the streets and country roads once again. Rather than look back, they choose to look ahead to a hopefully promising future. Just don’t talk to them about Pablo Escobar or drugs as the country is trying to forget the dark era of the 1980s and 1990s.
Colombians are genuinely happy to see tourists slowly returning. It’s a good sign, they say.
Today, the tourist office’s promotional slogan is: “Colombia – the only risk is wanting to stay!”
Up-to-date information on Travel in Colombia
Todays travelers are finding there’s not the right information out there about Colombia. What is essential to see? How do I get there? What will I find? How long does it take? How much does it cost? Is it safe?
While there’s decent coverage on the history, geography and politics of the country, there’s not enough on the nuts and bolts of traveling in Colombia. For the most part, travel in Colombia is still a leap into adventure.
Travelers in Colombia want and need more information on these places before and during their trips. Even with the internet, updated information is often hard to find. Travel experiences and information are still for the most part being shared via word of mouth, in hostels, huddled over maps, traveler to traveler.
This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to supply more information to people contemplating a trip to Colombia.
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Travel To – Destinations Colombia –
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Coming in 2020: medical tourism, gateways to the Colombian Amazon, Florencia, more Caribbean beaches