The dangers in Colombia are very serious especially if you choose to ignore them. The strides taken by the Colombian government and other parties have been enormous in eradicating crime from city streets. I can personally attest to the fact that Colombia is much safer in comparison to the drug war days.
While it is safer it is not 100% safe. The drug trade is still there you just don’t see it or hear about it. Corruption is still there you just don’t notice it.
There is a specific bus company in Colombia that everyone prefers to use since they have cameras recording everyone that gets on and off the bus. They also have an additional GPS tracking feature so in the rare event that a bus is hijacked or robbed they are able to see where it is going. What does that tell you about the security in the country?
Colombia is safe, but not United States Safe.
It is nowhere near as dangerous as other cities in Latin America (Buenos Aires for example), but you still have to take extra precautions to ensure that you do stay safe. I don’t mean to scare you when I write about the things that have happened because in any big city things will always happen.
As recently as a month ago a friend was robbed in a taxi and roughly 3 months ago another friend was drugged and taken “for a ride”.
It’s not that these kinds of things happen every day but if you take the proper precautions then they are less likely to happen. Colombia is becoming safer and safer by the day but there are always flare ups that will remind you that it isn’t as safe as you think.
I’ve listed a few things you want to keep in mind when traveling to the major cities in the country below:
**Warning**: Do Not Travel near or around the coastal region of Turbo as that’s where you will find the paramilitaries and very dangerous people you don’t want to mess with.
Is Bogota dangerous:
Bogota is the most dangerous city on the tourist trail in my opinion, period.
This has been confirmed by talking to friends that have lived in Colombia for two years and experiencing the city myself. I can tell you that Bogota is more dangerous than any other major city in the country. Aside from being the largest city in the country by nearly double, corruption is rampant and its completely chaotic.
There have been news by ColombiaReports.com that hostels in the Candelario district have been completely taken over and robbed. Inside job anyone? What did the police do when a girl stated she had an attempted rape in one of these hostels? They sent her out of the country.
- Be careful going out at night: only bring enough cash that you need and ID (not your passport)
- Try to avoid the Candelario area for accommodation: there have been entire hostels that have been robbed
- When going out at night go out in groups and never leave your drink
Is Cali dangerous:
The 2nd most dangerous city in Colombia. The only reason I placed Bogota ahead of Cali is because Bogota is more than three times larger. The crime rate is roughly the same and if you walk into an area you don’t want to be in, you will quickly be in a situation that you can’t get yourself out of. A very popular reporter recently had to leave a country house near Cali, Colombia because he personally received a call from the FBI stating that there was going to be an attempt on his life.
Didn’t think kidnappings still happened in Colombia did you?
The most dangerous side of any city comes out at night. Cali has a great advantage because it’s so much smaller and the nightlife is so big. Many times you will be walking the streets and you will find a ton of people around you. Make sure you use common sense and stay in groups and always watch your drink. Only situation I had in Cali was a few run ins with taxi drivers.
A city I would recommend using extra caution is the pueblo of Popayan, ironically on the outskirts of Cali. As stated by Adriaan of ColombiaReports.com, ” it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the country but the area around it is dodgy, so to be super safe you should take a plane”.
Is Cartagena dangerous:
Cartagena may look dangerous but it’s bite is about as tough as a poodle. Don’t get me wrong if a poodle really wants to bite you it will take your arm off. That means that if you walk away from the tourist area you’re going to find trouble. Inside the old city walls you have nothing to worry about. There are some areas that are dark and seem a bit off in the tourist area outside of the old city walls, but you don’t generally have to worry about any danger there.
There is a park in the center of the city that I would walk through every night that was extremely dark and there were some people trying to aggressively ask for money. I was offered prostitutes and cocaine on the streets from very well mannered men that weren’t aggressive at all. Just because its offered doesn’t mean it’s dangerous, keep walking from these situations and you will be fine. (Read about it here)
Is Medellin dangerous:
The lovely city of Medellin. What can I say about this place? Its home. I lived in Medellin for 4 months and fell in love with it.
Medellin will fool you into thinking that its safe, it’s what I call a false sense of security especially in the tourist areas. Let your guard down and Medellin will swallow you up and spit you up faster than food poisoning everyone gets in India. I walk around with my blackberry all the time and never had a problem. I have been specifically trained after living in Buenos Aires to have eyes in the back of my head to make sure no one else is watching me.
In Medellin, just use common sense. When you go out don’t leave your drink unattended. If you are walking alone be extra mindful of your surroundings. When you are in a taxi don’t flash your iphone and blackberry, sit behind the taxi driver instead so the taxi driver can’t see you. You are always going to be watched especially if you look like a foreigner.
It’s a different story when someone is following you. Pueblos around the city are safe. Just pay extra attention and you will be alright.