Colombia: Is it safe?

Street scene in Cartagena

When we booked a trip to Colombia, almost everyone asked “Is it safe to travel there?”. This question is, in some ways, the inspiration behind the BroHawk Adventures site. We love to share our travel stories and want to help dispel the myth that Colombia is a dangerous country to be avoided in your travel plans.

Despite how Colombia is portrayed in popular media – such as the television show Narcos and the movie Collateral Damage – the reality of life in Colombia is very different. It is true that at one time – especially in the early 90’s – Colombia was one of the most dangerous countries in the world, rife with cartel violence and political corruption. However, things have changed drastically since then. Drug production has plummeted and the country has made major strides toward peace. Unfortunately, the perception of Colombia has been slower to change.

Bogota Street Scene

Coming from a country like Canada that has a reputation of having no crime at all (which is another inaccurate perception), we felt no less safe in Colombia than we normally do in Canada. Sure, if you go searching for trouble, you will find it, and you might encounter some shady individuals (we didn’t). The same could be said of just about every country on earth.

In more densely populated areas, like Bogotá and Cartagena, there is a notable presence of security personnel, some of which are heavily armed.  In many countries this would indicate a potential security problem, but in this case it is primarily preventative. Although it may initially be frightening, it is something you get used to, especially knowing it is not an indication of a threat.

A little common sense and respect goes a long way no matter where you travel and there are things you can do to protect yourself. In simple terms, if you do not flash fancy electronic gizmos, are open minded and friendly to the locals, and follow advice from the locals about where to stay away from (yes, there still are slums in the big cities that tourists should stay out of), the chances of ever even feeling unsafe are extremely low.

While you still have to exercise caution and regular common sense while travelling in Colombia, we could not speak higher of Colombia as a nation, or the Colombian people. They will do everything possible to welcome you and put you at ease. Colombia is a beautiful country worthy of any travel bucket list.

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