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Braybuddy
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Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:36 am

We're stuck for somewhere to go for our big hols this November and are thinking of Colombia. How does it rate compared to other South American countries? Any tips from Colombian citizens or recent tourists to the country would be much appreciated.
 
jwenting
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:50 am

Murder capitol of the world, 2nd place for kidnappings.

Unless you like to travel in armoured cars with a convoy of armed bodyguards whereever you go, avoid Colombia.

My father's been there several times on business, and that's the way it was. Permanent armed protection whereever you go (which isn't a lot of places, essentially the only trips were from his hotel to their offices and back and to and from the airport) is essential for foreigners (and any local with any money or family ties with people who have money.
I wish I were flying
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:00 am



Quoting Jwenting (Reply 1):
Murder capitol of the world, 2nd place for kidnappings.

Unless you like to travel in armoured cars with a convoy of armed bodyguards whereever you go, avoid Colombia.

My father's been there several times on business, and that's the way it was. Permanent armed protection whereever you go (which isn't a lot of places, essentially the only trips were from his hotel to their offices and back and to and from the airport) is essential for foreigners (and any local with any money or family ties with people who have money.

That's completely at odds with what I've been reading online. Your dad was on business, so maybe that's a different ball-game. Foreign businessmen=lucrative kidnap ransom. From what I gather, there are certain no-go areas, particularly around the borders. When was your dad there, Jwenting? All the information I've been getting says that security has improved enormously over the last few years. We were in Venezuela in '02 and spoke to a Dutch guy who had just come from Colombia and reckoned Venezuela was more dangerous.

Thanks for your input, btw.
 
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OA260
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:17 am



Quoting Braybuddy (Thread starter):
We're stuck for somewhere to go for our big hols this November and are thinking of Colombia.

Ive heard its alot safer now and just use your normal streetwise precautions as with anywhere else. I have heard Brazil of worse in some areas than Colombia. I saw a trip report last year so maybe try to dig it out and have a read. It made me want to go also. I always wanted to go to San Andres Island Via BOG.

If the worst happens we will launch an appeal to free the Colombia 2  Big grin  Wink
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:00 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 3):
If the worst happens we will launch an appeal to free the Colombia 2

 rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl 

At least we'll be travelling on our own passports . . . .
 
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OA260
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:20 pm



Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 4):
At least we'll be travelling on our own passports . . . .

lol... I knew you would appreciate the joke !! You could always say you were taking up cooking classes with the FARC.
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:07 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 5):
You could always say you were taking up cooking classes with the FARC

Was it not bird-watching?
 
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OA260
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:15 pm



Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 6):
Was it not bird-watching?

Youd never get away with that one LOL...

On a serious note buy the Lonely Planet Guide to Colombia. I always found them great and full of real information and do's and dont's etc... When I was in Iran I got the Lonely Planet guide to Iran and it was literally my Bible or Quran  Big grin
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:03 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 7):
On a serious note buy the Lonely Planet Guide to Colombia. I always found them great and full of real information and do's and dont's etc...

If we decide to go I'll get either it or the Rough Guide. As you say, they are very helpful, but I just wanted to get a idea if it's worth going there in the first place, and where better to find out than on here?
 
usflyer msp
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:16 pm

I am going on vacation to Colombia next year! I'm visiting Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena de las Indias, and San Andres island. I think its going to be alot of fun and its really quite affordable. Colombia is perfectly safe as long as you stay out of the rural areas that still have FARC fighting and kidnappings going on and the slums of the cities. The tourist areas are pefectly safe and interesting! Colombia has cleaned up alot since the 1990's.
 
PacNWjet
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:19 pm

About ten years ago Conde Nast Traveler magazine summed up Colombia in this way: "Not even for thrill-seekers." Since that time, however, the situation has improved markedly. Obviously there are certain destinations that are unwise for tourists to visit, but my understanding is that the tourist industry has been revived with an improvement of the political situation in the country.
 
Southamerica
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:06 pm



Quoting Jwenting (Reply 1):
My father's been there several times on business, and that's the way it was. Permanent armed protection whereever you go

This post is right down insulting. Please, just avoid posting such nonsense about a country that has been hurting for more than 50 years and is currently in one of its best moments in history and trying to leave an obscure past behind. So, according to you, all 2.5 MILLION foreign tourists who visited Colombia in 2008 got around in armoured cars with bodyguards?  rotfl  no comments, really.

The international media usually makes me sick because they just can't get over talking bad things about Colombia over and over again, but many foreigners' ignorance about the whole situation is what really makes want to vomit. I must admit, though, the general perception is changing and now I find more people with an actual idea of how things are, like OA260.

Quoting Braybuddy (Thread starter):
Any tips from Colombian citizens or recent tourists to the country would be much appreciated.

As OA260 posted, in the vast majority of the country, using common sense will get you around with no problem. Avoid getting into lower-income areas, walking in lonely areas late at night, and the usual major-city basics and you'll be fine.

Unlike other Latin countries, Colombia is not as cetralized around its capital city, with only around 20% of its people living in Bogota. This translates in many options when it comes to tourism.

I would obviously recommend a few days in Bogota, large city, great nightlife, many interesting things to see. Cartagena is obviously a must-see if you are interested in visiting the Caribbean coast. The central coffee-growing region is very beautiful as well with many tourist-oriented attractions. Search for the city of Armenia if you are interested in this zone. Visiting Medellin (where I live), second city after Bogota, is also an interesting possibility and I could show you around if you decide to come.

Trips between cities should be done by air, and Avianca is a great option covering basically the entire country with good and realiable service.

Contact me if you need more help.


SA.
 
jwenting
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:25 pm

It's been a few years, and that's the way it was back then.
Maybe things have improved, but with FARC and drugs cartels battling it out both with each other and the government it's not a place I'd want to visit.
I wish I were flying
 
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OA260
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:37 pm



Quoting Jwenting (Reply 12):
Maybe things have improved, but with FARC and drugs cartels battling it out both with each other and the government it's not a place I'd want to visit.

But you wouldnt be in those areas either. There are parts of London,Amsterdam and Dublin I wouldnt go to on my own or late at night. Its all over the world. Most people/ tourists dont go into the Jungle . Colombia has had a rough time in the past but so have many areas.

Colombia is still on my to do list.
 
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LAXintl
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:49 pm

Colombia in my book is as safe as any Latin American country, as long as you dont plan to drive or take busses into rural areas betweren the cities.

The country has lots to be seen, from history, to Eco tourism to tropical beaches. I would second SouthAmerica's recommondations and would make sure to include both Bogota and Cartagena and its surroundings on a visit.

Dont worry, and enjoy the trip. Things have definately changed this decade. I'd be more worried about my personal safety in places like Rio, or parts of other cities such as Lima or Mexico City.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
airtrainer
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:59 pm

I've also heard that the overall situation has improved a lot. Last year I read a trip report from a couple who was travelling from N to S America and they had of course to drive in Colombia. They said they were quite nervous at the border but finally had a really great experience... This is the kind of things I'd like to read more often about this country. This is a place I'd really love to visit one day, however I have no experience with South American countries and I don't speak a single word of spanish so I won't visit alone. Maybe it's time to organize a meeting there  Smile
Have a good time anyway.
Life is short : eat dessert first !
 
desertjets
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:15 pm

Anthony Bourdain has a travel show on the Travel Channel called "No Reservations" and he recently did a show on Colombia. I don't know if you can get it where you are but it provided a nice view of the improving situation in Colombia.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
ual777
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:30 pm



Quoting Braybuddy (Thread starter):
We're stuck for somewhere to go for our big hols this November and are thinking of Colombia. How does it rate compared to other South American countries? Any tips from Colombian citizens or recent tourists to the country would be much appreciated.

Ive been down quite a few times. Its great if you speak spanish. If not, you will not find many people who speak English. The people are really nice though.
It is always darkest before the sun comes up.
 
JT8DJET
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:27 am

I leave for Colombia in a couple of days, and I can't wait!

I have been to Medellin, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Quibdo, and San Andres.

Listen to SOUTHAMERICA.

You will have a great time!!!
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:48 am



Quoting SOUTHAMERICA (Reply 11):
As OA260 posted, in the vast majority of the country, using common sense will get you around with no problem. Avoid getting into lower-income areas, walking in lonely areas late at night, and the usual major-city basics and you'll be fine.

This is basic common sense and applies to almost everywhere nowadays. We don't believe in going around looking like stuffed wallets. Your post is very reassuring SOUTHAMERICA: we've been around long enough to know that dangers tend to be greatly exaggerated, and have been around most of South America with only one bad experience, an attempted robbery in Lima. Colombia looks an interesting place to visit, so if we do decide to go (and after reading your post I'd say it's more than likely) I will contact you if we have any questions. When you say travel between cities should be done by air, are there any trips you could recommend by bus? We've nothing against air travel, but we love getting on a bus not knowing where we're going to spend the night.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 14):
I'd be more worried about my personal safety in places like Rio, or parts of other cities such as Lima or Mexico City.

Most big (and interesting) cities have their dodgy areas. We had no problems in Rio or Mexico City, and only a minor incident in Lima, as I mentioned above.

Quoting Airtrainer (Reply 15):
hey said they were quite nervous at the border but finally had a really great experience... This is the kind of things I'd like to read more often about this country. This is a place I'd really love to visit one day, however I have no experience with South American countries and I don't speak a single word of spanish so I won't visit alone

This is usually the case: we had heard so many horror stories about Mexico City, yet had no trouble at all, even if either of us was walking around on our own at night. We don't speak Spanish either, but have had no trouble travelling around Latin America at all. You can usually get by on Spanglish.  Smile

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 16):
Anthony Bourdain has a travel show on the Travel Channel called "No Reservations" and he recently did a show on Colombia. I don't know if you can get it where you are but it provided a nice view of the improving situation in Colombia.

Don't know to be honest, but I don't have a TV so the only chance I have of seeing it is in a mate's.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Any other input or advice (where to visit. what not to miss) is welcome.
 
Southamerica
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:17 am



Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 19):
When you say travel between cities should be done by air, are there any trips you could recommend by bus? We've nothing against air travel, but we love getting on a bus not knowing where we're going to spend the night.

The possibility of traveling by road is obviously there, and by the comments you have made I reckon you'd love several small colonial villages located in a region known as Boyacá, about 3hrs north of Bogota by road. They are beautiful, the countryside is stunning, and I'm almost positive you'd be fine going by road (I have done that trip by road myself and wouldn't hesitate in doing it again). But it's just that I would like to minimize any possible risk for foreigners and therefore I usually recommend air travel.

Traveling by road within the towns of the coffee-growing region is also a pretty good option, the countryside is extremely beautiful as well and distances between towns are short.

Again, I usually suggest air travel, even if it means missing all these small secondary towns which can be fascinating, just to avoid any remote risk of insecurity. Though I admit many backpackers finally end up taking all these trips by bus.

There are many other trips by road that I would discourage, because they mean going through areas that are not too hot to be in. So if you are indeed planning in doing a road trip, get informed first. There are many safe routes, but there are others that are not.

For travel within major cities, for example between Bogota and Cartagena, air travel is almost the only option. By road it's a very long and exhausting journey (14+hrs), and remember that with such a rough geography, cities which seem close in a map can be pretty far away from each other by road.


SA.
 
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OA260
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:10 am

Some nice pics of San Andres :









Bogota:

http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/anetpics2009/bogota31.jpg





http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/anetpics2009/Bogota-skyline.jpg
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:06 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 21):
Some nice pics of San Andres :

Looks great! But I'm sure someone will point out some FARC terrorists in the mountains . . .  Yeah sure
 
AM744
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:35 pm

My South American to do list:

- Buenos Aires
- Lima
- Bogotá

I'd go there in a hearbeat if airline tickets didn't cost nearly as much as a MEX-Europe and twice as much as a USA bound ticket.

I've read and heard from Colombians living here that the situation has indeed improved. All the Colombians that migrated to Venezuela are going back, and that says a lot.
 
IBERIA747
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:49 pm



Quoting AM744 (Reply 23):
My South American to do list:

- Buenos Aires
- Lima
- Bogotá

I would add Quito to this list. The rest, I agree with you although I have been to Buenos Aires already.

A close friend of mine goes to Colombia often. He works for a big Spanish company which has some projects there and he flies between Madrid and Bogotá about once every 2-3 months.

I can tell that my friend is absolutely in love with Colombia. He loves Bogotá, the city itself, it's "athmosphere", the people...and he also says that Colombian girls are the most beautiful.

So far he has no complaints, not even about security so I guess the place is worth a visit.
¡¡VIVA ESPAÑA!!
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:06 pm



Quoting IBERIA747 (Reply 24):
I would add Quito to this list.

Definitely on the "to do" list.

Quoting IBERIA747 (Reply 24):
and he also says that Colombian girls are the most beautiful.

Well we won't be too worried about that, that's for sure .. . Wink
 
JT8DJET
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:43 pm

Some pics I took.

Medellin:

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/Picture945.jpg

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/Picture501.jpg

Cartagena:

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/Picture029.jpg

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/Picture031.jpg

San Andres:

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/207.jpg

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/209.jpg

Here is a video I took, Landing in San Andres:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdyRWLP2fHE
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:59 pm



Quoting JT8DJET (Reply 26):
Some pics I took

Very nice! Here's an idea of what we'll be looking for:

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y193/Braybuddy/a-2.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y193/Braybuddy/b-3.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y193/Braybuddy/c-3.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y193/Braybuddy/d-4.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y193/Braybuddy/e.jpg

http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y193/Braybuddy/f.jpg

Anyone point us towards similar destinations in Colombia?
 
IBERIA747
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:08 pm



Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 27):

Ohhh you posted a picture of Antigua Guatemala. One of the most amazing places I have ever seen.

BTW I would highly recommend a visit to Guatemala to all those interested in going to Latin America. That little country has it all.
¡¡VIVA ESPAÑA!!
 
AM744
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:33 pm



Quoting IBERIA747 (Reply 28):
Ohhh you posted a picture of Antigua Guatemala. One of the most amazing places I have ever seen.

BTW I would highly recommend a visit to Guatemala to all those interested in going to Latin America. That little country has it all.

I have to second that. Go to Guatemala people.
 
victrola
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:13 pm

As a frequent business traveler to Colombia over the last 2 decades, I would say that the security situation in that country has improved greatly in the last few years. I have always enjoyed my visits to Colombia and have found the people to be very friendly and helpful.

Generally if you use common sense you should not have any problems. I have always felt comfortable going out at night to the bars and restaurants in Bogota, Medellin, Cali, and Cartagena. There seems to be a good security presence on the streets and lots of people out and about for a good night on the town. The old town in Cartagena is stunningly beautiful and a great place to wander around.

As a tourist destination, I would highly recommend Colombia. There is lot's to see and do.
 
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ClassicLover
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:23 pm



Quoting JT8DJET (Reply 26):
Cartagena:

Stunning!

There's a Spanish course I want to do and I want to do it in Cartagena. The literature I've read says Colombian Spanish is very clearly spoken, and Cartagena looks gorgeous, so I am itching to go along for 6 months and just learn the language and see the country. I don't know why I am so drawn to Colombia, but it seems like it would be amazing!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
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OA260
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:30 pm



Quoting JT8DJET (Reply 26):
Some pics I took.

Lovely pics. I want to be there NOW
 
Southamerica
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:59 pm



Quoting ClassicLover (Reply 31):
I am itching to go along for 6 months and just learn the language and see the country.

The city is lovely, but I'm afraid it is not the appropriate place to learn some -neutral- Spanish. The Caribbean accent is pretty strong and I'm not sure there would be a good variety of academies.

Any of the cities in the interior would be a much better choice for that.


SA.
 
AM744
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:52 pm



Quoting ClassicLover (Reply 31):
The literature I've read says Colombian Spanish is very clearly spoken, and Cartagena looks gorgeous

I'd think Bogotá would fit your interests better. At the risk of overgeneralizing, in the tropics, the higher the ground, the clearer the language. i.e. San José C.R. , Bogotá and Mexico City better than Cartagena, Veracruz, Santo Domingo...
 
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aerorobnz
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:20 am



Quoting Braybuddy (Thread starter):
We're stuck for somewhere to go for our big hols this November and are thinking of Colombia. How does it rate compared to other South American countries? Any tips from Colombian citizens or recent tourists to the country would be much appreciated.

Colombia is beautiful - even Bogota. I was by myself, I hopped in taxis everywhere and was out after dark quite happily - I felt very safe to be honest . People have these misconceptions of Colombia, and they are very wrong....Ignore them and have a wonderful time. The Colombian people are kind, understanding & genuine.
Flown to 147 Airports in 62 Countries on 83 Operators and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:53 pm



Quoting Aerorobnz (Reply 35):
Ignore them and have a wonderful time.

We did, and hopefully we will! Checking flights during the week we got a fare of 592 euro with Iberia via Madrid and Caracas, which isn't bad at all, so we took the plunge. Avianca also do a pass for three flights for something like 200 dollars, which would be a great way to cover the longer distances.

Thanks everyone for all your contributions and recommendations; we're really looking forward to going and taking in Bogota, maybe Medellin or Cali, one or two colonial towns and then a few days relaxing on the beach. Any recommendations for colonial towns accessible by bus from any of the large cities?
 
JT8DJET
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RE: Colombia As A Tourist Destination

Fri Jul 03, 2009 5:26 am

Hi all,

I just arrived home last night. I had a great time in Medellin. Here are a few photos from this trip.

Downtown Medellin:

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN376.jpg


Olaya Herrera Airport:

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN385.jpg


We tool a nice 2 hour drive to see a rock, El Peñon de Guatape. The drive and the view of the country is awesome!


El Peñon de Guatape:

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN152.jpg

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN125.jpg


View of Lake Guatape:

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN114.jpg

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN113.jpg

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN112.jpg

http://i632.photobucket.com/albums/uu41/jt8djet/MEDELLIN111.jpg

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