Climates and Landscapes

Rich diversity of landscapes and climates, Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Andes Cordillera (3 cordilleras in the country), Amazon jungle, Darien jungle, deserts of Gujira and of Tatacoa. All the climates of Latin America are in one country. Climate varies a lot depending on the altitude: we can go from the steaming hot plains to the fresh mountains in less than an hour drive.

Faune et Flore en Colombie


Time difference with Europe: -7hrs in summer, -6hrs in winter.

Population: 49 millions in 2017, for a size of 1140000 km2 (about twice the size of France). The mountains regions being the most populated areas.

Currency: Colombian Pesos (COP). In the last 10 years, we have seen the exchange rate vary between 1E=2400COP and 1E=3600COP. In 2018, the exchange rate was at 1E=3300COP. According to our observations, the price of petrol has an influence on the exchange rate (low petrol price = low Peso rate, and vice versa). To know if you are paying the “right” price in Colombia, we tend to apply the rule of 1E=1000COP, it works with different situations (hotels, restaurants, pubs, hand-made as well as industrials goods..). But it does not work all the time, always compare if you would buy for that same price in your country, if it is worth the price asked.

The Population

Colombian people are welcoming, easy to talk to and friendly. They will always be willing to help with your enquiries or if you need any assistance. They are a warm and festive people, everything is an opportunity to celebrate, and you often find yourself invited to a party to dance salsa, cumbia, meringue, vallenato. Those sounds are a mix of cultures and rhythms from different origins: Latinos, Africans, indigenous. During those nights, “aguardiente” and rhum flow in abundance too, and provide opportunities to meet unforgettable people. If you speak a bit of Spanish, these moments will truly be a sharing experience.

Faune et Flore en Colombie

The Transport

Transport is always a bit complicated in such a mountainous country. You have to be patient to go from point A to point B as bridges, tunnels, or multi-lanes roads are scarce. You end up tagging along behind trucks and trailers going up and down the mountains at the average speed of 30km/hr. Buses are comfortable, but you might find yourself a bit scared if you look at road during the drive…as bus drivers tend to cut turns and use the whole road to themselves to do the drive quicker… On the other side, Colombia has an important number of airports and small landing stripes. The cost can be really low if you book ahead. You will find low-cost companies, but be careful if you book late or have big luggage; plus, you have to arrange transport to and from airports…the budget rises rapidly.

Faune et Flore en Colombie

When To Travel?

Generally speaking, we can say there are 2 seasons in Colombia: Dry season (December to May), Wet season (June to November). But in the mountain region they experience 2 dry seasons (December to March, and July to September) and 2 wet seasons (April to June, and October to November). Keep in mind you can also have a sunny week in the wet season, or a stormy week in the dry season. Generally speaking, it rains every day in Colombia, but it tends to be short and intense showers.

In term of tourist flow, the high season for locals in Colombia is between Christmas and end of January (their summer holidays), Easter holidays, and a lot of weekends with public holiday Mondays. According to your preferences, you can choose the time and places to visit, to be with the crowd, or avoid it;) Prices during those periods are usually higher, and make sure you book in advance for popular sites.

Also, the best time to travel depends on what you want to do. In the regions we go through, you will be able to: Spot Luth turtles (giant sea turtle) coming to shore in Playona to lay their eggs between beginning of March and end of May,…the babies hatch 2 months later. Wales on the Pacific side in August (between Nuqui and Bahaia Solano). Fowers Fest in Medellin, beginning of August. Christmas illuminations in the city. Watch the processions of the Holy Week (Easter) in the colonial villages of Antioquia. Discover the magnificent 5 colours river in Cano Cristales from June to November (this river being dry the rest of the year). Party at the carnival in Barranquilla in February. Some travellers want to escape the European winter to come to a warmer weather; others want to avoid touristy places or take advantage of cheaper flight tickets when travelling in low season.

Things To Do Before Leaving?

Passport: valid for 6 months after the return date. If you stay more than 90 days, you will need a visa, or exit the country and re-enter (for instance in Panama).

Vaccines / Immunisation: against the yellow fever (international certificate of vaccination, yellow booklet). You must have it to be able to visit certain areas, such as Cano Cristales or Amazionia. You will be asked to present it to board domestic flight. It is not compulsory, but it is highly advised to have it in areas under the altitude of 1000m, in swamp and jungle areas, such as the Darien. You can as well consider an anti-paludism treatment.

Advised Vaccines: Universal vaccines (DTCP, Hepatitis B), fever, typhoid and hepatitis A in case of long stays, close encounters with the population. For children and young adults in particular: Menengitis A and C; For expats, rural visits…get immunised against rage.

Money: Call your bank and unblock you bank card limits. In Colombia you will easily find ATMs to get some cash out. Despite withdrawing fees, it is always more advantageous to get pesos on the spot, rather than converting money ahead. (You will only be able to change money in the big cities and airports, and the exchange rate they apply is really bad. I advise you to use Davivienda and BBVA to withdraw money, as they apply no or very low fees. Also, if you want to avoid fees with your home bank, we advise you to open an account in the German bank N26; transfer money onto that account, it is free, the bank card as well is free, and fees are 1.8% when you take cash out, and no fees when you pay by card. So if you have that on a great adventure with friends or family, it can save you a considerable amount of money.

Language: Learn or refresh your Spanish. The Colombian population is very friendly and will enjoy sharing a conversation with you, but generally speaking, they are not that good at English.

Faune et Flore en Colombie

The Security

Safety is a big issue that everybody is wondering about before travelling to Colombia. Unsurprisingly, Colombia suffered of its reputation in the media. Over 50 years of internal conflicts between the national army, guerrillas from extreme left, and paramilitary groups from extreme right. Added to that is narco-trafficking with its famous cartels, but also basic urban crime. Wether you are in favour of or against Alvaro Uribe, everybody agrees the country is safer since his last 2 terms (from 2002 to 2010). He worked on safety like no other did before him, believing that without safety there would be no foreign investment or tourism. More recently, the peace treaty made with the FARC (in 2016) and the general new tendency to fight back narco-trafficking are also proofs of the desire to clean up and make Colombia a safer place everyday.

Today, the biggest risk is urban crime, as in most big cities around the world, and a tourist is always the easiest target. Lately, the most common risk is getting your phone snatched from you in the streets. You just have to be clever and alert, and respect simple rules (the same you would follow in other countries):

– Don’t show off your money: clothes, jewellery, accessories, smartphone, high-tech… Keep it low profile.

– Don’t walk around with too much money on you. Take only what you need for the day, and avoid carrying all your bank cards with you.

– Make a copy of your passport; and keep originals and other items of value in your room, or your car, if not exposed.

– Avoid keeping cameras and smartphones in your hands. Keep them in your bags if you are not using them, especially in big cities.

– Do not go wondering alone at night in less touristy places or isolated areas. If you want to go out, take a taxi. If you really want to walk, stay on the busy avenues, with other people walking around, stay in groups, stay alert, and try to go out early instead of too late during the night.

– When travelling by bus, keep on eye on your luggage and bags, especially if you are travelling at night, put your bags at your feet for instance.

– If you want to take a taxi, don’t just hail one in the street. Even if problems are rare, ask your hotel or place where you are at (restaurant, bar…) to call one for you. In the main cities, you can also use mobile apps (Tappsi, Easy Taxi, DroidTaxi) to order one yourself; or even Uber. In most small places they have a trusted driver, so ask them his number and you will be able to call him directly whenever you need.

– In the unfortunate case something happens to you, do not fight back, give them what you have, those are just material things that are not worth risking your life for.

In 2017, over 5 millions people came to visit Colombia, and this country is now depicted as THE place with exceptional potential in the future. Pointless to say the government is taking advantage of that position to try to make Colombia a top destination at the same time as enjoying the boost in economy it will provide (that Colombia has been deprived of for so long). Today, compared to other Latin countries, Colombia is globally a safe place. So go without any worries, Colombia is a destination like any others. All the travellers we have met felt safe in Colombia, with no exception.

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Fauna and Flora in Colombia

The wildlife is one of the richest of the world with a high diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects… But it is nothing like the big African plains, in order to observe the animals you have to walk and walk more through the jungle, and search through the rich vegetation, paying attention to the tiniest sound or movement. Realistically, we tend to see a lot of monkeys (various species), reptiles (iguanas, lizards, monitors), some snakes (but they are not easy to observe during the day), and lots of birds (parrots, macaws, toucans, eagles…). We can see small mammals like coatis, cabials, tatous. To see big mammals like tapirs, ant eaters, pumas, jaguars, panthers, bears, you really need to go to very isolated locations with a guide,…and with a bit of luck, they will show up!

The flora and vegetation in general is diverse. Colombia is the country with the biggest variety of orchids or bromelias, and contrary to the animals, they are much easier to observe. There is also a large variety of fruit trees, which gives us an abundance of fruits and tropical juices to enjoy.

Faune et Flore en Colombie

Travelers Testimony

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