Colombia is not as bad as it once was, but you need to use common sense and caution to stay safe.
The bad news first:
3 foreign tourists were among the 146 people kidnapped (for ransom) so far this year, they've since been released.
The number of kidnappings is down hugely from a few years ago, but there's been a surge in 2010... 25% more than the same time last year.
The south of the country is especially dangerous and many foreign governments recommend against any travel to that region because of the risk of kidnap or being caught in the crossfire of a gun battle.
The US State department reissued its warning that it considers Colombia "dangerous" in March 2010 and said: "...violence by narco-terrorist groups continues to affect some rural areas as well as large cities."
The Australian government (mine) says Do Not Travel to the south - at all. it recommends you Reconsider Your Need To Travel to: provinces of Cesar, La Guajira and Antioquia (excluding Medellin), the cities of Cali and Popayan, and most rural areas. Of Colombia as a whole it says Exercise A High Degree of Caution. (It says the same thing about Brazil.)
The good news now:
In February 2010 the French government declared parts of Colombia to be "safe": adding Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Bogota, Tunja, Bucaramanga, as well as the Zona Cafetero departments of Quindio, Risaralda and Caldas to Cartagena and San Andres as destinations approved for travel.
Traveller forums (people who've actually been there - this year) overwhelmingly rave about the place; they say it's beautiful and it's safer than other Sth Am countries.... as long as you stick to the popular tourist destinations.
Which seems to be the key: Going off the beaten path might not be the best idea, and when you're in the cities ask locals or other travellers which are the areas to avoid.
The city of Cali continues to be troublesome and best avoided, as are most rural areas, and the whole of the south.
And as always use care on your travels. Phil about 10 years ago
other South American countries haven't been as successful as Colombia at reducing kidnap.... in fact it's getting worse in some place - like Ecuador, where Express Kidnap (Sucuestro express) is rife.
You get kidnapped for an hour or so... as long as it takes for them to drive you around town visiting ATMs to empty your bank account and max-out your credit card.
It usually begins when the victim gets into a taxi. It drives around the corner and the bandits jump in. They 'persuade' you to cooperate with knives, guns, a punch or two and unfortunately for women, sexual assault.
In June 2010, depending on whose figures you believe, there were between 194 and 363 express kidnaps... that's in one month.
Middle class locals are the main target, but wealthy ex-pats who aren't vigilant are also common victims.
If this happens to you, your travel insurance will cover medical expenses for injuries they give you, and you'll have access to an emergency assistance helpline which will put you in touch with consular officials and other agencies. You'll have to argue with your bank about the credit card bill.
Perhaps you should take a second credit card with a low limit for Ecuador, and leave the main card at home, or locked in the hotel safe (not the room safe, they might take you back there and force you to open it).
Try to keep a low profile in Ecuador, don't flash your money or valuables. Don't use illegal taxis. Buses are also a problem, as are rural roads where a single car with 4 occupants is an easy target. Don't drive on rural roads at night at all. Lock the doors of the car, and keep at least a half a tank of fuel. Don't travel alone. Watch out for drink spiking at bars and clubs. And finally if you are kidnapped - hand over what they want, fighting back will only make them more demanding and violent.
One other warning; don't go to the top of the volcano west of Quito. Several tourists have been robbed and raped at gunpoint. Some countries have added the spot to their Do Not Travel alert lists.
Follow those safety tips and you should be able to enjoy what I'm told is a beautiful and fascinating country. about 10 years ago
There are many undiscovered reasons why foreigners should visit Colombia .
The weather averages about 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit year round in Cali. There is rarely a need for air-conditioning or heat. Medellin is similar, but a little cooler. Bogotá is cool to cold at night; Not what you would expect close to the equator.
Colombia is not as dangerous as it was a few years ago, or as bad as you view on TV.
There are many beautiful beaches; many of the most popular on the mainland are located near Cartagena and Santa Marta, and on the offshore Island of San Andreas.
Colombia is known for its beautiful women.
Colombia’s cost of living is less than most countries.
Colombia is known for its rich biodiversity. It ranks in the top 2 or 3 countries in the world for species of birds and butterflies. The national tree, the Quindío Wax Palm, grows in the Andean high altitude valley of Cocora. Over 160 feet tall, it towers over other vegetation, making a very unique landscape scene.
There are many reasons to visit Colombia. If you visit once, you will want to come back.
Josefina! - a href="http://www.seecolombia.travel/">Colombia travel over 9 years agoAnswered by Josefina via WorldNomads.com
Colombia is a rally beautiful place... You have nothing to be afriad of.... Colombia has changed a lot this last years. Every myth existing of that country should be ended. Is a really nice place to live in and to travel to. There are many important cities, where you can not only enjoy, but learn history.... And off course! You should try to taste colombian coffee, dance colombian music, see the beautiful colombian women, and buy the nice jewerly they have! about 9 years ago
Danny, I think everyone here is saying it IS safe, if you take sensible precautions.
Of course there are plenty of other countries which are less safe, but this isn't a comparison, it's an absolute, ie is Colombia safe (not "is it safer than Pakistan/Mali/USA")
Here are a few articles from the World Nomads Safety Hub about Colombia.
Let me know what you think of them.
Phil about 9 years ago
with all respect back to you Danny, but I don't care if Colombian people "appreciate it" or not, I'm doing my best to inform travellers of the real situation there.
By the way, where have I said in these answers that Colombia is unsafe? I've said "it's a lot better than it used to be", I've said it's generally safe "if you stick to the tourist areas", I've said travellers report that Colombia is "safer than other Sth Am countries".
I've named the areas that at least one government (France) has declared safe for tourists, but pointed out that FARC and other criminal elements are still operating in the south and in some parts of some cities, such as Cali (its also recommended to stay away from the Venezuelan border).
Which part of what I've said is untrue?
Phil about 9 years ago
Traveling to Columbia is not that much unsafe as it used to be. It is a beautiful city offering many sites that worth seeing. Some of the best travel destinations of the Columbia are:
• Visit Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden
• South Carolina State House
• Historic Home
• Lake Murray
• Congaree National Park
You can find more information at http://www.usacitylink.com/state/south-carolina. almost 9 years ago
usacitylink the question is about the country Colombia (two O's) not the US city of Columbia, SC (an O and an U). almost 9 years agoAnswered by lucky via WorldNomads.com