Is Colombia safe? Times have changed and tourists are coming
In November 2015 the Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued a list of 18 places to which Britons should not travel to, and a further 45 in which travel to certain parts should be avoided. Although Colombia fell on the latter, it did so along with some of the most popular travel destinations in the world, such as Kenya, India, Jordan and Thailand. The secret about Colombia has been out for a while now and the country has gained worldwide acceptance as a bona-fide destination. However, you should of course exercise the same caution as you would before and whilst travelling to anywhere in the world, to help reduce risks and allow you to look forward to and enjoy your time there.
In recent years the Colombian government & the FARC rebel group signing an historic peace agreement earlier in the year. This is a somewhat fragile process though, liable to change and so some areas of the country are best avoided - particularly those on the borders with Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela. Veloso takes great care in researching and visiting each destination and establishing strong links with local suppliers and guides before deciding whether we feel confident in sending our clients there. The places selected by Veloso in Colombia - Cartagena, Tayrona National Park, Cocora Valley, Villa de Leyva, Bogotá and the Pereira coffee region - are those which we consider to be as safe (and interesting!) as any other of our destinations in more established countries such as Brazil, Peru or Mexico.
As with most major cities, such as Bogotá, Cali and Medellin, street crime can be an issue. The same rules of safety apply as to when visiting any large metropolis; remain vigilant and try to keep a low profile, stay in groups where possible, do not venture away from the main areas, take extra care after dark and do not display valuable jewellery or carry large amounts of money. Travellers should also take an extremely cautious approach to taxis, where possible travelling in groups and asking hotels to pre-book them. Political demonstrations can, from time-to-time, pop up in the main square of a city and can occasionally turn violent, however they are usually confined to this small area. Whilst the majority are harmless, it is best to maintain a safe distance if you sense any unrest.
When travelling to Colombia, employing the services of an experienced tour operator who has strong relationships with trusted local guides and hotels can keep you safe and help you get the most out of your experience.
Colombia’s reputation will probably take years to completely shake off, but it should not put you off discovering what is genuinely one of the most beautiful, vibrant and still underexplored countries in Latin America and full of delightfully friendly locals famous for their hospitality and warmth.
Visit the Gov.uk website for the most up-to-date information.