Is Colombia Actually Safe? (A Scaremongering-Free Guide) • Indie Traveller

Of all of the nations that I’ve traveled, Colombia absolutely has by far essentially the most misconceptions about security.

The misconceptions go each methods. Some folks’s minds are clearly nonetheless caught prior to now, associating Colombia solely with drug cartels or Pablo Escobar, despite the fact that Colombia of at this time is nothing prefer it was within the Nineteen Nineties.

However then there are additionally these on journey boards or blogs who, in attempting to appropriate the outdated picture, will overcompensate means an excessive amount of. They declare Colombia is ‘fully protected’ or ‘safer than most Western nations’.

This too is sadly incorrect. The reality is someplace within the center.

That can assist you put together for your Colombia journey, let me clarify each the great and the dangerous about security in Colombia.

(Yeah, prepare for some uncooked and unfiltered NUANCE!)

Security in Colombia: what you actually need to listen to

Earlier than I get misplaced within the particulars about security in Colombia, I believe it’s crucial to begin with the positives. Lots of security guides skip over this half and so I consider they find yourself giving a very fallacious impression.

The underside line is that Colombia is principally a protected nation (however with an emphasis on ‘principally’). You may journey round Colombia as a vacationer simply nice, however it does include a little bit of an instruction handbook, so to talk.

To be clear: Colombia is an superb journey vacation spot. Colombians are extraordinarily pleasant, the ambiance is tremendous enjoyable, and you’ll discover most components with comparatively few worries. Vacationers in Colombia are sometimes shocked by simply how straightforward and welcoming it’s.

Colombia occurs to be one in every of my prime favourite nations out of the 60+ I’ve been. It has a few of the most fascinating cities in South America, its biodiversity is the world’s second-highest making it unbelievable for ecotourism, and there’s a lot selection inside Colombia that it’s tremendous enjoyable to journey by way of. The vibe is nice, the latin music is ever-present, and it’s an reasonably priced vacation spot as well.

Please preserve these factors in thoughts whilst you learn concerning the security features!

An issue with offering security info is that you simply at all times have to be fairly detailed. It’s important to point out all the pieces simply in case. However you may shortly get misplaced in all these ‘useful particulars’ which might then start to overwhelm all of the positives.

In Colombia, the numerous positives positively outweigh the small negatives, so please don’t hesitate and ebook your airplane tickets. The truth is, don’t come again to this web page till you might have your journey all booked and locked in.


Alright. Now let’s speak some extra.

How Colombia has modified

The principle cause why so many individuals surprise about security in Colombia is clearly that it has had fairly a darkish previous.

It’s true: for a lot of the twentieth century, Colombia was torn aside by drug cartel violence and a brutal inner battle that lasted for over 5 many years (sure, half a century!).

It’s not so unusual that many detrimental associations persist due to this terrible historical past. And in case you’re from an older era, these associations will certainly nonetheless be etched into your thoughts.


However Colombia has modified. Whereas it had a few of its worst years within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, the state of affairs started to enhance. The infamous crime boss Pablo Escobar died in a police raid in 1993. Over time, long-simmering conflicts had been resolved. Cities had been reinvigorated with new public transit techniques and security slowly improved.

I first travelled in Colombia again in 2013 when it was already being found by many backpackers. Not in every single place was protected on the time, however the normal recommendation was that you simply had been nice as long as you caught to the primary journey path.

In 2016, the Colombian authorities signed a peace accord with the FARC rebels, prompting them to put down their weapons. This lastly opened up many different areas for tourism.

After I travelled in Colombia once more in 2022, I seen the way it’s being found now by common vacationers and never simply backpackers. The phrase is certainly getting out!

Whereas there are nonetheless some areas in Colombia with a worse security repute, there are a lot fewer than there was.

Simply evaluate this security map from 2013 (which is from the UK Ministry of International Affairs)…

… to what this identical security map seems like in 2022:

I ought to point out that nearly all of the vacationer websites are within the inexperienced areas of the nation. The orange components are principally deep within the impenetrable rainforests alongside the borders and within the Amazon the place only a few folks go.

Within the areas that vacationers truly go to, the safety state of affairs is absolutely not a lot totally different from different standard vacationer locations in South America akin to Ecuador or Peru.

Security precautions in Colombia

Having mentioned this, Colombia is actually not a crime-free paradise. It’s best to nonetheless take heed of journey security recommendation for Colombia to make sure your journey can have a decrease degree of threat.

If you’re an inexperienced traveller, make sure you do some looking out round for normal journey security suggestions. Typical recommendation akin to “don’t flash costly jewelry” or “don’t wander the streets drunk alone at evening” are helpful anyplace, however positively in Colombia.

If you’re well-travelled, then you might already be conversant in all of the widespread recommendation for accountable and protected journey.

Apart from the fundamental precautions, you may as well:

  • Keep away from areas with a foul repute. You’ll find these in security guides or in maps just like the one proven earlier. The ‘dangerous areas’ in Colombia are principally areas near the borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama, or very deep within the Amazon. Please don’t freak out by lengthy textual lists of departments or municipalities that it’s best to keep away from, which might appear intimidating at first. Simply have a look at the maps and keep out of the sketchy areas (except you recognize what you’re doing). You’ll have immediately made your journey a lot safer. Yay!
  • Do take a bit extra care within the cities; don’t showcase costly gear and carry solely the money you want for the day. Ask your hostel or lodge employees if there are any dangerous neighborhoods, simply to make certain. It’s at all times good to keep up some situational consciousness; don’t stroll across the streets together with your cellphone in hand with out paying any consideration, for instance. There’s an expression in Colombia, “no dar papaya”, which mainly means “don’t make issues straightforward for a prison”. That is at all times good recommendation to dwell by.
  • Contained in the cities and significantly at evening, make sure you take official taxis (or use ride-hailing apps akin to Uber, Cabify, Beat, or Didi that are protected). Official taxis could be discovered at taxi stands. Don’t get right into a random automotive you’ve hailed on the road.
  • When it’s worthwhile to take cash out, it’s value doing so inside a financial institution or inside a shopping center through the day the place there are many cameras and safety employees round. Then stash most of your money at your lodging till you want it.
  • Do take further care within the nightlife (within the huge cities) if you’ll be going out. Exit along with some buddies and don’t settle for drinks or cigarettes from strangers. Drugging/spiking is unfortunately recognized to happen; it’s vital to know for girls, but in addition for males who’re typically ‘seduced’ by a Colombian girl who finally ends up being a prison. The nightlife is tremendous enjoyable, by the way in which, particularly in case you like Latin music like salsa, however it’s good to not be naive and to maintain your wits about you.

By following security recommendation, you may have a enjoyable and rather more worry-free journey in Colombia.

Travelling within the areas of Colombia with a greater security repute will already make an enormous distinction. Give attention to the locations that get really useful on blogs, that seem in revealed journey guides, or that many individuals like to go to. These are positive to have a relaxed ambiance — actually, they’ll most likely make you surprise what the fuss was all about.

You completely received’t miss out by avoiding the areas with a foul security repute. I travelled in Colombia for 3 months (even going a good bit ‘off the crushed path’) with out ever venturing into the extra questionable areas.

The dangerous areas are irrelevant to 99% of tourists anyway as they are going to merely not find yourself there.

Do you want journey insurance coverage for Colombia?

Insurance coverage will not be a requirement to enter Colombia and having journey insurance coverage received’t in itself preserve you protected. Nevertheless, it does cowl you financially must you be so unluck to face sure points throughout your journey, so I do suggest getting journey insurance coverage for a visit to Colombia.

In conditions like theft, delay, illness, or accident it means you’ll be coated financially. Additionally, you will have a hotline (or a assist app) to make use of for recommendation in these conditions.

I personally use and suggest Heymondo, which provides nice worth and good customer support. You may get a quote to your Colombia journey right here. If you’re a bit of adventurous, it’s good to know they’ll cowl actitivies akin to ziplining, kayaking, paragliding, and rather more.

Whereas sure features of security you may’t in the end management, having insurance coverage is at the least one field you may simply tick that will provide you with elevated peace of thoughts.

Insurance coverage for Colombia

Journey Recommendation

Journey insurance coverage will cowl you for theft, medical bills, cancellation, and extra. Heymondo provides nice protection, COVID-19 included, zero deductibles, and an app with 24/7 help & physician chat.

Are the cities in Colombia protected?

Largely, sure, however as at all times it relies upon. Some cities, like Cali and Barranquilla, don’t have the perfect repute. However the important thing cities that the majority vacationers wish to go to — like Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena — are protected in most areas and positively protected sufficient to do your typical sightseeing actions.

As in lots of cities around the globe, there could be good neighborhoods and dangerous ones. You’ll want to ask at your lodge or learn your journey information to know extra.


For instance, within the stunning colonial metropolis of Cartagena, all of the vacationer areas have a excessive degree of security, making Cartagena relatively worry-free general. The outdated metropolis is kind of on an ‘island’ and this complete space may be very protected, as is the Miami-like seashore space of Bocagrande. However in case you go into the suburbs the state of affairs could also be totally different and there it’s normally suggested to take taxis and never wander the streets.

That mentioned, I can inform you that you simply’re 99.9% prone to spend all of your time within the vacationer areas of Cartagena anyway.

If you’re planning on doing something very totally different from the standard vacationer actions, doing a fast verify concerning the totally different areas of a metropolis will clue you in simply.

By the way in which, the locations the place I at all times felt most secure in Colombia had been the smaller cities, the character resorts, and nationwide parks. Security is barely on my thoughts in these locations. The cities are a bit totally different and will require a bit extra care.

To offer you an thought, within the outdated city of Bogota or El Centro in Medellin, I normally wish to preserve my digital camera inside my backpack till I actually need it. In smaller cities or on nature trails, my digital camera is out more often than not as I really feel little or no cause to cover it.

What about courting or nightlife?

To be sincere, the nightlife is a little bit of a separate difficulty from doing regular vacationer actions through the day.

In case you’re going to bars and golf equipment in Colombia, it’s smart to keep up a bit extra consciousness. That is primarily as a result of folks are usually off guard or do silly issues when drunk or on medicine.

A very powerful tip is absolutely this: solely drink what’s come from the bar and went straight into your palms. Spiking is a factor in Colombia so don’t settle for drinks or cigarettes from strangers. It is a security concern for girls but in addition for males. There have been reviews of males getting drugged by Colombian ladies and waking up the subsequent morning of their lodge room with all their belongings stolen.

In case you go on Tinder dates watch out and perhaps don’t invite a stranger into your lodge room. If you actually need to get busy, go to a “love lodge”. Since numerous Colombians dwell with their households (i.e. with not a lot privateness) it’s regular for them to go to those locations to have some enjoyable. They’ll know the place to seek out them.

Don’t go overboard with ingesting and take taxis or use ride-hailing apps to get house. Truthfully numerous the (nonetheless uncommon) questions of safety I hear of from the journey group for Colombia relate to the nightlife.

Don’t let that make you paranoid although: I beloved going out in Colombia and even acquired invited to native events the place I made some nice new buddies. The salsa dancing scene is superb. Simply keep sensible when going out.

Is Colombia protected for Individuals?

It’s perhaps an odd query, however I do see it pop up in my search queries loads, so I needed to reply it.

There aren’t any particular causes for Individuals to be protected or unsafe in Colombia — it’s similar to some other nationality touring there. So sure, in case you take the conventional precautions, it’s protected for Individuals.

Maybe the rationale this query comes up loads is the US State Division security report for Colombia. Their reviews are recognized to sound fairly intense and paranoid.

Perhaps that is simply me talking as a European however I believe the US State Division security reviews are sometimes actually not very balanced or truthful. Maybe there’s nonetheless typically a normal notion within the US (fed by sensationalized information media) that anyplace that isn’t America of America™ is definitely a wilderness crammed with savages and/or terrorists. The way in which the State Division reviews are written simply doesn’t mirror the precise expertise of going there, particularly as a vacationer.

I like to recommend additionally consulting the journey advisories of the UK or Australia, amongst different nations, that are much more level-headed.

Remaining ideas about security in Colombia

Having traveled for 3 months in Colombia, my fundamental thought is that I want extra folks realized how superb this nation is, having had nothing however constructive experiences.

Thoughts you, this submit is not simply primarily based on my first-hand experiences. For this text, my aim was to kind a extra full image than only one particular person’s expertise. I preserve my ear near the bottom within the journey group, seek the advice of official assets, and speak with as many locals as I can throughout my journeys.

Nonetheless, primarily based on my subjective view, I’d price the security in Colombia as mainly the identical as in different standard locations in Latin America akin to Ecuador, Peru, or Costa Rica. In case you’re nice with these nations, you need to be nice doing the conventional vacationer stuff in Colombia too.

That goes particularly in case you’re utilizing public transport (buses, planes, and many others.) or excursions to maneuver between recognized vacationer locations and also you’re not planning some type of wild bike journey by way of random distant components of Colombia that nobody has ever heard of.

Individuals’s perceptions of Colombia not often match the truth of travelling there. Most who journey there agree that it doesn’t really feel harmful, just a bit tough across the edges at instances.

I’ve been to locations the place I needed to get contained in the fenced perimeter of my lodge as quickly because it acquired darkish, locations the place I might solely stroll for 10 minutes down a seashore as a result of ‘after that it will get too harmful’, or the place non-public guards armed with shotguns needed to safe lots of the native companies. NONE of those had been in Colombia. And in almost all my time in Colombia, I’ve not needed to fear very a lot in any respect. (In case you’re curious, these locations had been in Honduras, South Africa, and The Philippines).

So is Colombia an ultra-safe nation like Japan or Norway? Hell no. Is it among the many actually unsafe nations of the world? Additionally no. It’s actually someplace within the center.

However as I mentioned earlier than, merely discussing security can already have an effect on our notion, as detrimental statements make a much bigger impression than constructive ones. (Thanks loads, human evolution!) After studying all this, maybe what you possibly can use is a bit of palette cleanser.

I like the climbing movies by Kraig Adams that are at all times so peaceable and tranquil… and he did one in Colombia. Watch this to get your nerves to calm 😉

Then shut all these different tabs you absolutely have open for “security in Colombia” and know that you simply’ll have executed the analysis that you simply wanted to do. Be protected and above all get pleasure from your journey in Colombia!

Some hyperlinks could also be affiliate hyperlinks, that means I could earn fee from services or products I like to recommend. For extra, see web site insurance policies.

Posted OCT 11, 2022 (Up to date Oct 18, 2022)

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