Why Visit Colombia?

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 ranging from hot to cool. Everything is very affordable and with a good service structure already in place, tourism is overdue.

  • 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.
The departments of Colombia

Who Visits Colombia?

Colombia received 1 million foreign visitors in 2020, down from 4.5 million in 2019 according to the country’s trade ministry. The President of Colombia was optimistic Colombia would see 6 million foreign visitors in 2020 but then covid hit. They are hoping tourism will help kick start the country’s economy in the post-covid era.

Some Stats:

The contribution of tourism to Colombia’s GDP is nearly $6 billion or 2% of the country’s GDP in 2016.  Tourism then generated 600,000 jobs or 2.5% of the country’s total employment.

  •  France, tops the list of Colombian visitors 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  and Peru’s  3.4 million (2017 stats).
  • Foreign tourism had been increasing in Colombia around 13%  every  year.
  • Having  increased over 300% since 2006 when only 1 million foreign tourists visited the country.

  • Other nationalities to visit Colombia are the USA and Venezuela followed by Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Spain and  Chile. 
  • Each internatonal tourist spends on the average around $1,187 during their Colombian travels.

Major Destinations:

The cities of Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin are the most visited sites. But foreign tourist hear the call. Many return again and again. Colombia is a complex, fascinating country meriting  further investigation.

With passenger ships in Cartagena’s harbor discharging a flood of  tourists into into the town every morning,  it would seem 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?

A finca or coffee farm in the hills of Colombia

With a land mass as large as France and Spain combined, Colombia is the fourth largest nation in Latin America (440,800 square miles),  the third most populous in South America. And 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. Once the most notoriously violent epicenter of drugs and kidnappings, Colombia has been considered safe for travel since 2015. Unfortunately, it has become known for cartels and cocaine instead of coffee and eco-tourism.

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.

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 FARC has turned over its weapons and is in the process of reorganizing a political movement.  The government of the USA has removed the group for its list of terrorists organizations. 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.

Today, the tourist office's promotional slogan is:  
"Colombia - the only risk is wanting to stay!"

Colombia's Pacific Coast

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. 

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to supply more information to people contemplating a trip to Colombia. There are a number of updated articles with photos in this blog. Just tap on “Destinations Colombia – Articles and Photos”  a button on the top of the page for a full  list of  easily accessible articles.