The weather in Colombia: that’s just tropical, right? Not really. Like its people, landscapes and cultures, Colombia’s climate also varies by region. A lot. While traveling through this beautiful country, you can encounter just about any climate that exists. Something that makes a visit to Colombia even more enjoyable. In this article you will read all about Colombia’s special climate as well as the best time to travel.
15 facts about Colombia’s weather
In Colombia you will find two places that are among the wettest on earth: Lloró (over 13,000 mm per year) and López de Micay (almost 13,000 mm per year). Just for comparison, in the Netherlands falls about 800 mm of water every year.
Colombia does not have seasons like The Netherlands or US, you will only find two rainy seasons a year. When exactly, varies by region.
In Bogotá people find it very cold: in the morning you see people walking with gloves and hats. Many Colombians have never experienced real cold. By the way, ground frost is not unthinkable in Bogotá, just as temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees at night are quite normal. Read all about the weather in Bogota and what to wear.
The weather even differs between north and south Bogotá. Leaving work in heavy rain and thunderstorms and arriving home in the sun is no exception.
Colombia’s climate depends on the altitude you are at.
While in the Netherlands one checks the weather forecast all day long, in Colombia it makes no sense: the forecasts are never correct. The Colombian weather is also not the talk of the day, like in many other countries.
Heavy rain, clear blue skies, 20 degrees, 15 degrees, 5 degrees, wind and thunderstorms: it can all happen in one day.
In Bogotá, you have a 100% chance of rain every day. Usually these are a few showers or just rain in the afternoon or morning. Those showers can be quite heavy, often leaving me with wet socks after only a few minutes.
Due to its location on the equator, the sun rises and sets at approximately the same time throughout the year: between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
A little more rainfall than usual immediately floods the whole place, even in Bogotá.
After a few hours of driving, you end up in a totally different world, including a different climate. An hour drive down the mountain from Bogotá, for example, means a lovely temperature of above 25 degrees.
Despite the rain and dry seasons, the temperature remains the same in all places throughout the year. I also never have to think about what to wear: every day the temperature is the same.
Throughout Colombia, the UV index is very high at 17. By comparison, in the Dutch summer the UV index is at its highest, 7 to 8. So in Colombia, you are even more likely to get sunburned. So, use a lot of suncream!
Colombia has everything: from arid deserts to snow-capped mountain peaks.
Because of the fine temperatures in Bogotá, I find the climate much nicer than the Dutch one. But did you know that as far as rain goes, it doesn’t matter? In fact, Bogotá receives as much rain annually as the Netherlands: about 800 mm.
The weather in Colombia
Traveling through Colombia means traveling through four distinct climate zones:
- 83% of the country belongs to the lowlands, also called tierra caliente, (up to 1,000 meters altitude) with an average temperature above 25 degrees Celsius (hot);
- 9% of Colombia has a temperate climate, tierra templada, (1000 to 2000 meters altitude) with average temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius (comfortable);
- 6% of the country has a colder climate, tierra fría, (from 2000 meters altitude) with an average temperature below 17 degrees Celsius (not hot not cold);
- That leaves the high mountain peaks above 4,000 meters altitude: tierra helada (cold). This is a zone characterized by low sub-zero temperatures, where the mountains are always covered with snow and ice.
So despite its location almost on the equator, Colombia is not just tropical and the temperature depends more on the country’s elevation. These different climate zones help make Colombia the second most biodiverse country in the world: read which animal species you’ll find here.
When is the rainy season in Colombia?
Colombia has neither seasons nor temperature changes over the year. Colombia’s climate is characterized more by rainfall: the dry season and rainy season. Where and when in Colombia is the rainy season?
- On the Caribbean coast (northern Colombia), the dry season is from December to March. The rainy season runs from May through November. This does not mean that it rains all the time, only that there is more rainfall in those months.
- Along the Pacific Ocean (the Pacific coast in the west of the country), it rains a lot throughout the year, making it one of the wettest regions of Colombia.
- In central Colombia, which includes Bogotá, there are two dry periods: from December to March and from June to August. Although the start of the rainy season varies regularly, it can begin as early as late February. Although it is (much) wetter during the rainy season, it rains often in this area anyway.
- The Amazon region has a period of drier months between June and September. However, even in these months there is still quite a lot of rain compared to the dry months in the rest of the country.
So, this does not mean that it is always dry outside the rainy season, nor does it mean that it always rains during the rainy season. It depends very much by year and also by period, for example, it usually rains more in May than in November, but it can be different per year. It can also rain a lot during the dry season; for example, the 2017/2018 dry season was particularly wet compared to other years.
What is the best month to travel Colombia?
Finally, when is the best month to travel Colombia for the best weather? Generally, the best travel month for Colombia is between December and March and July and August. Keep in mind that it can rain even during these periods, especially in Eje Cafetero, Cundinamarca, Bogotáand Boyacá. Although you are most guaranteed good weather in the specified months, you can actually travel well through Colombia all year round.
Keep in mind, however, that in the months when it rains more, there is also more chance of flooding and closed roads. The months of December and January (especially between Christmas and the end of January), July and August also is the high season in Colombia, with prices rising and Colombians traveling domestically. As a result, many places are much busier and it is wise to arrange a hotel in advance. Personally, I would advise traveling outside that high season. Read all about the best travel months Colombia by vacations, high season and public holidays + tips!
Colombia sounds very tropical, but secretly I live due to the high altitude of the capital city Bogotáand later Sopó(2600 meters) in a place where it is surprisingly chilly and also rains a lot. Do I mind? Most of the time I don’t. I love this climate, where it is never too hot and never too cold, where an hour or two driving downhill gets me in the heart of summer, and an hour’s flight takes me to the tropical beach. Delicious! By the way, did you know that living at this high altitude has more consequences? Read here which ones exactly!
In which month would you like to travel around Colombia?