MaverickM11
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BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 7:34 am

I'm hoping to visit Colombia in the very near future and I wanted to know how safe Bogota and Cali were for foreigners. I understand the actual cities are relatively safe but the countryside can be a bit dodgy? What about road travel around Cali, such as to Popayan or San Agustin?
E pur si muove -Galileo
 
gocaps16
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 10:49 am

I spent 2 weeks in Bogota when I was 15 years old and I felt completely safe being around the people. We stayed at a family friend's house and everyday we'll go out and see the city. We also had plans to go to Cali to see the beautiful women there, but never had to since driving around Colombia isn't the very best. A trip that's like 30 miles will take an hour or two to get there. I wouldn't go to Colombia alone, usually if you bring a friend or know someone who lives there, then you are good to go. I do hear a lot of american tourist being kidnapped or being mugged, so I'll watch your back. I noticed most colombians do look like americans, so sometimes I'll be hard to determine if they're american or colombian unless when they talk.

You should be fine in the big cities, just stay away from the drug lords and have a great time.

Kevin
 
Newark777
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 10:57 am

Quoting MaverickM11 (Thread starter):
BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Probably, but I don't know if it would do very good business.  Wink



Harry
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BAxMAN
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 11:26 am

I was in Colombia for a few weeks in Nov 2004. I travelled alone and stayed in cheap hotels. I felt perfectly safe at all times. On one occasion I feared the worst, but this was due to my own paranoia and doubting the kindness of a fellow man who felt concerned that I had not eaten properly on bus journey to Bucaramanga.

I didn't venture over towards Cali and essentially travelled in a straight line from Cartagena down to Leticia. It was wonderful and I enjoyed it immensely. In any country where there is a such a big gulf between the rich and poor (no different to any large American city), there is always a slight element of risk, but exercise common sense and you'll be fine. I doubt that any kidnapper worth their salt would wish to waste their time with a non-descript tourist (obviously, exceptions have occured), so this should have zero effect on your travel plans. The only place where I encountered any hassle on my trip happened to be in the airport in Lima after I crossed through to Peru where some scruffy urchin stole my bag and caused me a minor inconvenience getting home.
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757MDE
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 12:14 pm

What BAxMAN said is basically how things are.

In the cities you're mostly hassle free but there you have the dangers of any city in the world, mostly muggers and pickpocketers. Using common sense you can avoid most of the risk, just don't go around showing your expensive camera or jewelry, don't act like you're lost or you're foreigner, don't go venture neighborhoods you don't really know or that are far away from where you're staying unless you know what you're doing, try not to walk alone in dark alleys in the night... the usual stuff. It's not like something is going to happen to you, but as said, with our current circumstances you still have a chance of something happening to you even if you use common sense... but I don't think that chance is much bigger that in some cities of the US or some parts of London or Rome. Just beware: This is Latin America and traffic and things related to transportation can be VERY messy compared with other places (except for Airplanes), not necesarily bad but with a little more... adrenaline, heheh.

About the race, there's not much problem, we have some variety here and 100% native Colombians are black, white caucasian, tanned, fat, slim, tall, small... nobody will think you're not from here because of your race (maybe if you're a marked Asian, and not that much either).

Kidnappings have decreased lots, but the menace still exists.
Travelling by road from Cali to Popayan is usually hassle free, and the distance is not really much. Going a little more to the south can be a little dangerous, not only for the guerrilla but because of constant manifestations held in that road for whatever reason (I mean the Carretera Panamericana from Cali to Pasto).

San Agustín is also a little dangerous depending on certain circumstances (mostly political). Still, there's some times (mostly in vacations) when the Army, the Police and the Air Force arrange caravans in given routes (mostly between big cities and between big cities and turistic hotspots, like San Agustin, Santa Marta, Eje Cafetero) where they escort the traffic during the WHOLE route and keep an eye on the WHOLE road. Try to get informed about the circumstances of the place you want to go and travel by in the exact time you're going to do that. Travelling by road is not even the shadow of what it used to be in the worst times, but don't take any chances, always be informed.
Some roads are closed at night time because of possible menaces (those roads in the day are guarded by the army), also take that into account.

Enjoy your trip to Colombia, if you have any other question and I can help I'll do it gladly.
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aa757first
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 1:55 pm

The US Department of State has a travel warning issued for Colombia. American Embassy employees are required to fly between major cities, instead of driving or using buses.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_941.html

Quoting Frommer's Colombia:
Although many a seasoned globetrotter will scoff at these warnings as exaggerations, there's no denying that these are dangerous times for Colombia-bound travelers. This is especially true if you're an American, due to the United States's Plan Colombia and the perception that money used to eradicate drugs kills legitimate crops in the process, and might be used to fund paramilitary death squads or other nefarious political activities.



Quoting Frommer's Colombia:
By Car -- Avis, Hertz, and Dollar have car-rental desks at the airport, but it is not recommended that you drive anywhere in Colombia, due to hold-ups, hijackings, and shady roadblocks. Additionally, the nation's highways and roads are in a wretched state.



Quoting Frommer's Colombia:
By Bus -- Bus service in Colombia is comfortable, plentiful, and cheap, and you'll often see a backpacker or two traveling from place to place using this form of transportation. However, we really wouldn't recommend that you travel by bus -- and neither does the U.S. State Department. The element of danger is lower than if you were driving your own vehicle, but air travel is still the recommended form of domestic travel.

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/colombia/

AAndrew
 
757MDE
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:18 pm

I read Frommers' Colombia advice, and though not inaccurate, it's sort of outdated in some matters.
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MaverickM11
Topic Author
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 11:14 pm

Quoting Aa757first (Reply 5):
Additionally, the nation's highways and roads are in a wretched state.

Interesting...I was just in El Salvador and the roads were 100 times nicer than those in Colorado.

Quoting 757MDE (Reply 4):
About the race, there's not much problem

I'm not so concerned about the race as looking like a turista. I can blend in pretty well just about anywhere in Latin America, but my Nordic-looking friends, not so much.

Quoting 757MDE (Reply 4):
This is Latin America and traffic and things related to transportation can be VERY messy compared with other places

Once you ride a colectivo in Subsaharan Africa, Latin America seems like a piece of cake  Silly.

Quoting BAxMAN (Reply 3):
I doubt that any kidnapper worth their salt would wish to waste their time with a non-descript tourist

Wherever we travel we do end up looking pretty poor but we still have everything we need in a backpack... Smile
E pur si muove -Galileo
 
Derico
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Tue Jun 13, 2006 11:23 pm

Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 7):
Once you ride a colectivo in Subsaharan Africa, Latin America seems like a piece of ca

Actually North Americans and Europeans who ride the long distance bus system in Argentina return home, and they all say the same thing about how it is in Europea and N. America that the buses look 3rd world compared to ARG!
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757MDE
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:55 am

Well, the wretched roads is not the general rule, there's some roads at works and some that are limited to single-lane pass due to landfalls derived of the heavy rains we've had lately. Remember they don't go through any plateau... pure mountains here. Regarding of the state of the roads themselves... some are better than others, and even though they're no autobahn, most of them are transitable.
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RCS763AV
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:00 am

Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 7):
I'm not so concerned about the race as looking like a turista. I can blend in pretty well just about anywhere in Latin America, but my Nordic-looking friends, not so much.

There´s people who look nordic here too. Its really not a problem.

In Bogota, we have a very developed transport system called TransMilenio, which can take you to many parts of the city very fast. But, this city is huge so you have to watch it because if you end up somewhere where you dont know where you are, it might be difficult to get back home, unless you want to pay an US$15 cab.

Travelling by road is not a hassle anymore and most of the countryside in the country is well guarde, there are some isolated areas but nothing to worry abut, as those are mostly very obscure routes.

The roads in Colombia are not in a bad state, its only that they are small and very curvy because of the andean mountains. It would be very expensive to make straight highways in the cordillear, and we dont have the money for that now. When Colombia sorts out the FARC/ELN situation, it willl be another story.

Hope you come to this country, which is a blending of all he developed country facilities and the couriosities of the third world. If you need more info, send a personal message.
 
JGPH1A
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RE: BOG And CLO Safe For Gringos?

Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:51 am

I spent a few days in Bogota last December, it was perfectly fine - you might get killed by a kamikaze cab driver, but I never felt remotely unsafe walking around.
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