According to Trip Advisor, Colombia is #4 on the list of top places to travel in South America as voted on by travelers. Do you agree? Then you certainly aren’t alone, which is why we’re bringing you this guide to backpacking Colombia.
As an independent traveler, you prefer to place your trips the old fashioned way: by yourself. But scouring the internet for all the tips you need to know about backpacking through Colombia has proved itself a serious endeavor.
No worries, travelers, because today we’re giving you a hand. While we may not be around to help you up the Colombia Mountains, we are here with this guide to the 7 things every backpacker needs to know.
Curious about how much money you should bring with you and whether you should take a few self-defense classes before you jet off? Then keep reading for the answer to those questions and so much more.
Backpacking Colombia? The 7 Things You Need to Know
So, why Colombia? If you know anything about this beautiful country, you know the question is more like, why not Colombia? This country isn’t just brimming with scenic landscapes and picturesque towns, it’s also home to some of the friendliest people on earth.
Combine that fact with the party capital of the world (Bogota) and amazing jungles to get lost in and you’ve got yourself the perfect backpacking trip.
Yet you may be wondering: what is backpacking in the first place? Check out the link to get a quick primer on backpacking to help you decide whether it’s the right move for your upcoming trip to Colombia.
All read up? Good. Now, let’s explore the 7 things every backpacker needs to know when traveling through Colombia.
1. It’s Safe (Now)
Colombia may be known for being the drug capital of the Southern hemisphere, but that reputation is changing fast. With Pablo Escobar out of commission and the infamous drug cartels breaking up more quickly than boy bands in the ’90s, this country has been safe for travelers since 2016.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can go walking around late at night without a care in the world. Always be cautious and practice common sense when traveling through big cities or at night. As long as you do, you’ll discover why backpackers and tourists alike say Colombia is quickly becoming the most popular destination in South America.
2. Two Prime Backpacking Seasons
All the experts know not to go to Colombia during the rainy season. Instead, seasoned Colombia travelers know to plan their trips during the dry seasons. Since one occurs from December to March and the other is in July and August, you’ll have plenty of time to fit in your trip.
3. Hablas Español?
If you’re planning on backpacking through Colombia alone, we highly recommend you have command of at least the basics of Spanish. That’s because you’ll likely be traveling through rural locations, where only the rarest of locals can speak even a lick of English.
For those who plan to stick to the roads more traveled, you may be able to find English speakers in the more touristy locales. Yet, if you want the true Colombian experience, we highly recommend picking up a few Spanish basics and heading down the roads less traveled. By tourists, anyway.
4. Flights are Relatively Cheap
The only country that costs less to travel to in South America than Colombia is Bolivia. Keep in mind that holiday seasons are more expensive than others. If you plan your trip during the dry season, though, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find a less expensive flight.
5. The Cost of Living is Really Cheap
Not only are flights to Colombia cheap, but you’ll also find a low cost of living once you get there. One US dollar equates to more than 30,000 Colombian pesos. Considering that a hostel will only cost you less than 100 Colombian pesos, you can find even more high-end lodgings for the equivalent of mere pennies.
6. Travel Through 3 Different Climates
One of the most unique aspects of Colombia is that it stretches across 3 different climate zones. While this may make packing a little more difficult, it makes for a backpacking adventure like no other.
The Caribbean climate zone of Colombia typically sees temperatures no lower than around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Colombia’s so-called temperate zone, on the other hand, averages weather in the high 60s all year round.
Bogota, among other cities, sits in the country’s cold zone. Despite its name, this area sees average temperature in the 50s Fahrenheit.
The only locales you can truly call cold are the mountainous regions of the cold zone. These places reach 3000 meters of elevation and above. Here, temperatures hardly get higher than 50 degrees, with averages typically below freezing.
7. Backpacking Colombia as a Tourist
Tourism in Colombia used to be a completely stagnant industry. Yet since the country has cleaned up its act, tourists have been flocking here in hordes. Meanwhile, the country’s infrastructure has responded in kind.
Each year, available accommodations for tourists improve. Even Airbnb has made it into Colombia, boasting some of the cheapest rates among lodgings in bigger cities. Plus, Bed and Breakfasts are huge in Colombia, offering a little taste of home with every night you book to stay.
More Colombia Travel Tips and Tricks
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