If you tell people that you are going to Colombia, they at least look at you as if you have just eaten a spider. Because seriously: Colombia, who goes there? I mean, surely a visit to this infamous South American country means a 200% chance of being robbed, and if that’s not enough you’re also spending the whole day looking around to see if you don’t see guerrillas walking behind you. And then the drugs: that’s even worse, of course. You can buy it on every street corner and before you know it you end up as an addict on the Bogotan street. Is this a slight exaggeration or is it just better to skip Colombia? How dangerous is Colombia? Find out what risks you really face here!
10. The least risk: robbery and kidnapping in Colombia
Surely the best advice when visiting Colombia is: no dar papaya. In other words, don’t give papaya. This means that you should not show what you have and take unnecessary risks. Because yes, that there are still problems after the improvements of recent years is true. As in any country, you run a small risk of being robbed or kidnapped. So stay out of the guerrilla areas, leave your expensive jewelry at home and don’t walk down the street waving your phone. Here you can read the current travel advice Colombia. Are you going to capital Bogotá? Then read these 10 tips for staying safe.
9. Fruit addiction
You’ve been warned: you step into any fruit store or market, see all those bright colors and you’re amazed. After a few days, you’ll be completely addicted to that delicious papaya, the sweet mango or that weird granadilla. Resulting in severe withdrawal symptoms upon returning home. Just saying.
Really annoying: you land on Colombian grounds, it turns out the people here are beautiful. Like magic, you fall in love with a dark beauty. Really, you won’t be the first person this happened to. So if you come here as a single you may be careful. After all, your family already sees you coming home with a Colombian partner….
7. Resist odd eating habits
A slightly greater risk is that you will encounter many people who want to give you anything to get familiar with their food. Those things that you look at and think: should I really take that? I mean: who drinks hot chocolate milk with cheese? And even worse are foods we would rather see walking the streets or flying through the air. Deep-fried ants, for example. The specialty in Barichara. And rejection is very rude. So be prepared.
6. Weight gain
More on food: you wouldn’t expect it, but in Colombia you can fantastic food (even veg!). It’s cheap, easy and the service is great. Beans, lentils, rice, plantain, puff pastry appetizers, pounds of meat and lots of sweets. And Colombians want you to taste everything. Before you know it, you’ll be 3 pounds heavier. I speak from experience. And try to get that off at home: it took me at least five weeks after I first arrived in Colombia. So beware.
5. Adaptation fatigue
If you decide to book fun four domestic flights, it turns out that just every few days you find yourself in a totally different culture and climate. The people suddenly look different, you don’t understand much of Spanish, and you really don’t understand how it can be that the temperature has suddenly risen 15 degrees after those 20 minutes of flying. So even while packing, you automatically get a pounding headache from thinking about what to bring to a country where you actually need everything. And then once you get there you can start adjusting again and again. Really exhausting.
4. Extreme sports: endangering one’s life
Any idea what you can do here in terms of extreme sports? Rafting, paragliding, paragliding, climbing on towering cliffs, clambering down from high waterfalls, bungee diving, ziplining, rock climbing, surfing. To name a few. Very nice of course, but do you know how dangerous this is?
3. Culture shock in Colombia
The risk of being totally amazed immediately upon arrival by the incredible friendliness, hospitality and helpfulness of the Colombian people is truly insane. So: culture shock alert! And then they also have tremendous energy and zest for life and really don’t worry about anything. To go crazy.
The nature in Colombia, which is a story of its own. Beautiful green mountains, snow-capped peaks, white sandy beaches, hummingbirds, blue seas, amazing coffee plantations and red deserts. Everywhere you look it is so beautiful, it makes your eyes spontaneously hurt. After all, this was not what you expected from Colombia! You get totally captivated by all that splendor. Resulting in symptoms such as dejection and homesickness as soon as you return home.
1. The biggest risk of traveling in Colombia: you don’t want to leave
That leaves only the greatest risk of all. Something that can turn your whole life upside down. So think carefully about what you are getting into before booking a ticket. Really: it happened to me too. And I know more of them. It suddenly turns out to be such a surprising country after all these negative reports. You immediately fall in love: with the incredibly kind and hospitable people, with the versatility of the country, its cultures and climates, with the beautiful nature and with the energy and zest for life the country exudes. Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay. Or at the very least, you want to get back as soon as possible. Just so you know.
Colombia dangerous? Who dares?
Do you have a Colombia itinerary in your head, but don’t want to arrange everything on your own? Then get help from a local, discover the best places and make your trip exactly the way you want it. Enter your requirements here and arrange your trip with a local from Local Hero Travel!
* Update: This article first appeared June 16, 2016, and was updated Sept. 24, 2020, with new links and information about security in Colombia.
** This article contains an affiliate link. Click here for more information.