Colombia , South America - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Colombia

Colombia

Colombia

Continent: South America  

Capital: Bogota

Population: 48,786,100 (2016 estimate)                                                                         

Dialing Code: +57

Currency: Peso (COP)

Time zone: COT (UTC−5b)+-

Language: Spanish

Colombia is a country at the northern tip of South America. It's landscape is marked by rainforests, Andes mountains and numerous coffee plantations. In the high-altitude capital, Bogotá, the Zona Rosa district is known for its restaurants and shops. Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, has a walled colonial Old Town, a 16th-century castle and nearby coral reefs.

Since emerging from decades of civil unrest, Colombia has established itself as one of the world’s top destinations. And rightly so: this exquisite South American nation is blessed with natural beauty – think high Andean peaks, Caribbean beaches, pristine Amazon jungle – not to mention mysterious archaeological sites, colonial treasures and thriving cities. It’s a joy to travel around.

At the heart of it all is Bogota, the pulsating capital. Once synonymous with drug cartels and gangs, the city has recast itself as one of South America’s trendiest destinations; a place of hip bars and street art, vibrant markets and colourful architecture. Sprawled across the Andean plateau, Bogota offers a fabulous mix of old and new; the cobbled streets of La Candelaria offer a stark contrast to the urban chic of Zona Rosa. But it works.

Discover what it means to explore and wander in one of the worlds most ecologically and culturally diverse showing on offer in this country. Experience the highly energetic city life filled with lots of music and dance infused with the friendly inhabitants waiting for you on arrival. Welcome to Colombia 

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

If you want Adventure, then Colombia is for you. Whether you choose to explore the country by land, air or by sea there is no shortage of fun activities to keep you busy on your visit.

Drift through the amazon by taking a jungle tour which covers almost one third of the country’s territory or explore the jungle and beaches of Trayona National Park with its stunning carribbean location, sheltered bays, reefs, beautiful beaches and wildlife rich Jungle

Visitors can also look for pirate treasure in the Caribbean, the islands of San Andreas and Providencia were once strongholds of the famous English pirate; Captain Henry Morgan.

Art lovers will marvel at the works on display at Botero’s artwork in Bogota. The Virgilio barco Library should also not be missed

Part lovers can partake in one of the worlds biggest carnivals in Barranquilla which attracts visitors from all over the globe once a year. The main parades take place on the four days preceding Ash Wednesday. See thousands of costumed dancers having the time of their lives.

 

Other notable destinations to visit include: Popayan, San Aufustins Statues, Zona Cafetera, La Tatacota desert, Santa marta and Santa cruz de mompox.

Business

Latin Americans take care over their clothes and overall appearance, and those doing business in Colombia are advised to do the same. A business trip that spans several days is likely to include an invitation for drinks or dinner. Many Colombian businesspeople speak English but any effort to speak Spanish is greatly appreciated. The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an official translation service, and there are a number of commercial interpreter services.

The best months for business visits to Colombia are March to November. The business community generally takes holidays from September to February, the driest months. It is advisable to avoid Barranquilla in June and July.

While coffee is Colombia's main agricultural export, the country has significant mineral and energy resources, particularly coal and natural gas. According to current projections, Colombia is expected to continue exporting oil until 2010 or 2011.

Climate

From warm to freezing Colombia is privileged in having all known climate zones, making the country a destination with a wide variety of landscapes. You can see different wildlife and ecosystems by travelling short distances over land, making this one of the best travel experiences enjoyed by many people including birdwatchers.

The best time of year to visit is at either of the drier times: December to March or July and August.Bear in mind that major religious holidays will also play a part in the best time of year to visit: Santa Semana is a stunning time to travel to Colombia due to the ostentatious celebrations, but the hotels book up fast and double their rates.

Generally, Colombia requires light clothing suitable for warm to hot weather. However, Bogotá and other places of high altitude get cold at night and even in the shade during the day, particularly in the cooler times of year. You’ll definitely need at least a warm sweater and trousers for this, preferably a jacket.

If you are hiking you’ll need good boots in the colder mountainous regions and good walking sandals for the Zona Cafetera to let your feet air but still give support. Very light clothing for the Amazon Basin is required, but having long sleeves and trousers for the evenings to prevent mosquito bites is a good idea. For the rainy season, have something waterproof such as a light jacket to fend off the downpours

Communications

Internet Cafes have international phone booths while roaming agreements exists with a few international mobile phone companies. Post service is not reliable and travelers are advised to use couriers. As a journalist visiting you may be intimidated by the local forces on ground so be careful.

Customs

Named after Christopher Columbus and rife with a history of drug cartels the culture of the natives is represented well in its style and language. The joyous, colourful cultural heritage of the Colombian people is visible in festivals and carnivals where music plays a leading role. Our roots are also reflected in crafts and archaeological sites, as well as paintings and sculptures by great artists.

Experience the joy of Colombians while dancing Salsa, Vallenato & Cumbia while sipping on their world famous coffee. Majority of the population is roman catholice with small protestant and Jewish minorities.

Duty Free

The following items may be taken into Colombia by travellers 18 years of age and older without incurring customs duty:

• 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars and up to 50g of tobacco.

• 2 bottles of alcoholic beverages.

• Goods for personal use to the value of US$1, 500.

Banned imports:

Ammunition and firearms (unless prior authorisation has been obtained), vegetables, plants or plant material, and meat and animal food products.

Banned exports:

Taking cultural artefacts out of the country is prohibited, so if tour guides offer to sell you goods from tombs, politely decline. Colombian coffee is not prohibited, but will most likely be opened and checked. Drugs are absolutely forbidden, with harsh penalties for non-compliance.

Electricity

Domestic power is 110 volts AC at 60 Hz (110V AC, 60Hz). For industrial facilities it is 220 volts AC at 60 Hz (220V AC, 60Hz). Electrical connectors or plugs are used with two flat input pins or with a third round pin and it easy to buy adapters and voltage regulators. It is advisable to check the technical specifications of the devices that will be used in Colombia

Getting Around

There is an excellent internal air network connecting major cities, including those in the Caribbean coastal area. There are also local helicopter flights

Bogotá's bus service, TransMilenio (www.transmilenio.gov.co), is the most efficient way to travel round the capital. There are also buseta (shared taxis) which are not expensive and stop on demand. Medellín, Colombia's second largest city, has a metro train service and cable-car lines to hillside suburbs. Travelling on public transport in Colombia is safer than you might assume, but you should always exercise vigilance.

Cargo ships from Cartagena to San Andrés occasionally take passengers, but the trip takes several days. You can obtain information from the Maritima San Andrés office.

The Magdalena River is the main artery of Colombia. Some cargo boats take passengers, though this is a slow way to travel. Paddle steamers no longer run services up and down the river and hiring can be expensive.

Health

The most common illnesses in Colombia are acute altitude sickness, stomach problems, and in jungle areas malaria and yellow fever. You must be vaccinated against yellow fever at least 15 days before departure to these departments: Santander, Norte de Santander, Bolivar, Boyaca, Huila, Arauca, Caquetá, Casanare, Cesar, Guainía, Guaviare, La Guajira, Meta, Putumayo, Vichada, Amazonas and Vaupés. Those wishing to visit Colombia should buy travel insurance giving them medical and emergency hospital care coverage.

Tap water is only safe to drink and use for cooking in Bogota. Other capital cities have very good water supply services, with water that can be used for bathing. In rural areas and small towns it is advisable to buy bottled water or in treatment plants.

Language

The official language is Spanish, though there are more than 80 other languages and dialects recognised in the country, belonging to various indigenous peoples. In the San Andrés and Providence Islands, English is also an official language.

Money

The currency in Colombia is the peso.

Passport Visa

Passengers from countries that have restrictions must apply for a tourist visa at the Colombian consulate in their home country.

Safety

Colombia is not as bad as it once was, but you need to use common sense and caution to stay safe.

In February 2010 the French government declared parts of Colombia to be "safe": adding Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Bogota, Tunja, Bucaramanga, as well as the Zona Cafetero departments of Quindio, Risaralda and Caldas to Cartagena and San Andres as destinations approved for travel. It's beautiful and it's safer than other South American countries as long as you stick to the popular tourist destinations. 

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