“Is Colombia safe for travelers?”
This is the first question that our Colombia travel specialists often get when planning travel there. Americans in particular have concerns about traveling to a country so recently known for its centrality to the drug trade, and the violence that was born of it. I’m going to be honest with you. There’s part of us here at Global Basecamps that wants to lie to you. Part of us wants to say “wait 10 more years for things to settle down,” or “the security is not quite there yet.” There seems to be an exclusive club of travelers these days, a secret cabal of people in the know. They know Colombia has been safe for years. They know its beaches are top notch. They know it is absolutely one of the best countries to travel in almost because so few people go there.
Really, this is no secret if you’ve been paying attention. In 2008, The New York Times officially declared Cartagena a foodie destination. Travel + Leisure called Cartagena a Hidden Retreat in the same year. Last year, the Times seemed to still be on the Colombia-train, moving onto the great eats in Bogota and its tourist revival. It’s a common topic of conversation in our office. How do we get the message across that Colombia is safe, when the New York Times can’t seem to do it? Consider us stumped. The best we can do is describe the perfect vacation setting as best we can, and travelers can make up their own minds.
When preparing for your next ecotourism vacation it’s good to consider the country’s cultural norms and social etiquette. This is important so we can maintain a good, positive and sustainable tourist-host relationship. As we have mentioned in our previous Know Before You Go blogs, a great way to do this is by taking just a little time before your travels to read up on your host country’s culture, social norms, and codes of conduct. A little effort goes a long way! Locals will recognize your efforts, because that shows them respect and tells them that you care to learn about their country and culture.
The cultural norms of Colombia are bits of info and social tips for visitors from all over the world that will help you further enjoy the vacation.
Language in Colombia
The official language is Spanish, spoken by around 43 million people. In addition there are approximately 500,000 speakers of different American Indian languages. Colombians are very polite and are proud to speak in proper Castilian (Spanish). Even though Spanish is spoken all over South America, each country has its own set of local Spanish slang terms.
“A LA ORDEN” : This is probably the single most heard and used phrase in Colombia. It literally means “at your order”. You will encounter numerous different situations where they use the phrase.
- You can use it to substitute “thank you” (gracias)
- It is used to ask “may I help you?” (a la orden?)
Colombia is making a come back. After years of civil unrest, Colombia is now safe for travelers to visit. The country’s diversity offers terrain and experiences to please any type of traveler. One of the major appeals of Colombia is the beaches, as mentioned in our recent blog post on Cartagena and the Caribbean Coast. Colombia has some of the best beaches in South America, especially on the Caribbean coastline and islands. Here I’ll highlight some of the best beaches the country has to offer.
Providencia Island is one of the few remaining Caribbean Islands that is untouched by mass tourism. The pristine beaches are largely uncrowded making it the perfect place for a relaxing vacation. The native language is Creole, though most locals speak English. With the world’s third largest barrier reef Providencia is a scuba divers dream. Also, the crystal clear, calm waters make the island excellent for snorkeling. Lying midway between Costa Rica and Jamaica, the island culture is similar to the laidback lifestyle in Jamaica. With a friendly population of just 5,000, few hotels, and beautifully undeveloped landscape Colombia’s Providencia offers a unique experience not found on most other Caribbean Islands.
Colombia offers a wide variety of travel adventures and terrain to experience with its tropical beaches on the Pacific and the Caribbean coastlines, snow covered peaks in the Andes, humid rainforests in the Amazon, dry savannahs in “Los Llanos”, and lush valleys that produce some of the best coffee in the world. In recent years Colombia has made a drastic turn around, once a place deemed too unsafe to travel for tourists the beautiful country’s tourism industry is flourishing. Colombia is ideal for those looking to explore historic cities, visit pristine tropical beaches, or simply relax in beautiful colonial villages full of Spanish architecture and history.
The historic city of Cartagena has long been a favorite vacation spot for many. The city offers unique festivals, colonial architecture, delicious restaurants, and beautiful hotels. Global Basecamps offers a Cartagena and the Caribbean Coast itinerary filled with visits to untouched islands, historic cities listed as UNESCO world heritage sites, local indigenous communities, night clubs, amazing National Parks, and isolated beaches perfect for relaxing. Some of the trip highlights include a Cartagena City tour, Tayrona National Park, Pink Flamingo Sanctuary, and the breath taking beaches of San Andres and Providencia Island.