It’s the first question travellers to Colombia are asked, and probably ask themselves: ‘Is it safe?’
Changing a reputation for violence, drugs and kidnapping is not easy – but most independent advisors now agree Colombia is getting safer for visitors. But it’s a difficult sell to tourists.
The new Global Peace Index 2010 (GPI) suggests that Colombia is one of the world’s least peaceful nations – 138th out of 149, sandwiched between Nigeria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Yet closer analysis reveals these type of indexs are probably not as significant for tourists who want to see the sites of Colombia, rather than the front line of military action.
To provide a bit of contect, the GPI ranks the USA at 85th, making it less peaceful than Brazil, Vietnam and Egypt. The UK is 31st which means it’s less safe than Chile, Costa Rica and Oman. If you’re not convinced about these type of reports – and many aren’t – then there are plenty of other ways to make a judgement about safety.
Aside from the offical sources, there’s always the blogging world and websites which often provide very personal stories about towns, cities and the travel situation.
Before it closed its forums Poor But Happy was an excellent place to chat to other travellers and Colombians about visiting. Unfortunately this part of the site has now closed, but there’s still loads of really useful tips about getting around and what to expect.
Some of the safety advice is a touch out of date, but if you’re sitting in your office or home researching a trip then it’s a great place to start. We like the guide to arriving at Bogota airport. A simple google search will also reveal a host of people chatting about safety in Colombia, but it’s hard to get a grasp of what is trustworthy, reliable content. We’ve found that latinworld.com and is-colombia-safe.com seem to be updated more than most. Another useful point of contact is Kelvin at The Black Sheep hostel in Medellin which is packed with travel safety tips, bus timetables and tips on what to do in Colombia.
The other alternative is to buy your tickets and see for yourself, you will probably be pleasently surprised.
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