Health & Wellbeing
- Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance offers a great deal of peace of mind for relatively little outlay. Not only for medical assistance using a foreign country’s healthcare system but also for missed connections, lost documents, damaged luggage and any other annoyance that can take the shine off your trip.
We’d urge you to confirm beforehand that your travel insurance provider specifically states that the cover extends to Colombia. If you are travelling from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands, we recommend Columbus Direct.
- What is Colombian healthcare like?
Colombia has an excellent regulated semi-public health system that affords economical healthcare to its residents. As an international visitor without a Colombian healthcare policy you will be charged for accessing the system. Although by European and US standards it is very affordable, we urge you nonetheless to take out a travel insurance policy.
- What about vaccinations and malaria pills
We are not doctors and urge you to do your own research, generally speaking you do not require any vaccinations if you are at altitude (e.g. Bogotá, Medellín Manizales, Pereira etc.)
At lower elevations you may want to consider malaria tablets but in common tourist destinations such as Cartagena and Santa Marta, many travellers consider the risk to be low and not worthy of the side effects that malaria tablets can have.
Ultimately you should seek your physician’s advice and decide for yourself.
You should also think about dengue fever, there were small outbreaks of dengue in 2010 in Santa Marta and Cali. In tropical climates at low elevations the yellow fever vaccination is recommended. This will not only prevent you contracting yellow fever but will also prevent your passing yellow fever on to a third party. The vaccine is economical and effective and vaccinating yourself before visiting a tropical climate is the responsible thing to do. Contact us if you need further advice.
- What about the altitude?
There is no hard and fast rule about acclimatising to life in the Andes, some people are affected by the altitude, others don’t even notice it. Our advice is to take it easy for the first couple of days. Bogotá is 2640m above sea level, this is about the same altitude to which an aircraft is pressurised, so if you don’t get sick on a flight then the chances are that Bogotá will not adversely affect you.
- How much will I need for day to day expenses?
That depends on what your tastes are, if you are on a shoestring then as a minimum you could probably live on 20€ per day. A cheap Colombian lunch can be had for about 3€ and a cheap beer is yours for less than 1€
- What is the tipping culture in Colombia
Tipping is not common practice in Colombia, Taxis do not expect a tip but feel free to round the fare up by a few hundred pesos. Cheap bars and restaurants do not expect to be tipped. More expensive bars will add a service charge onto the bill if that is their policy
- What is the best way to get Colombian Pesos to spend in Colombia?
Travellers cheques are notoriously difficult to use in Colombia and my well leave you high and dry if you depend solely upon them. If you can get Colombian Pesos in your own country then by all means bring some with you. An ATM card is your best friend here, check out your own bank’s transaction fees before you travel. US Dollars, UK Sterling and Euros are not great currencies to bring to Colombia as they are traded for well below the official spot rate in the exchange houses.
- Can I collect frequent flyer miles on internal Colombian flights booked on my behalf by The Colombian Way?
YES! Any Colombian domestic flights we book for you will be standard eligible fares which will accrue frequent flyer miles if the airline has a frequent flyer programme. We will normally book the best fares available on Avianca, Copa Colombia, Satena or LAN Colombia. Just remember to provide your frequent flyer details at check in. If you have a preference for any particular airline or alliance then let us know and we will try to accommodate your wishes. Check your own airline’s frequent flyer programme to see on which Colombian airline you can accrue miles. LAN is a member of the OneWorld Alliance and Avianca and Copa Colombia are members of the Star Alliance
- Can I collect frequent guest points for hotel stays included in my package?
Normally NO. Most of our hotels are independent and not part of any international chain. If we book you into an international chain hotel such as Hilton or Starwood then we will be booking it for you at great value travel industry rates which do not normally allow you to earn points or stay credits. Each individual hotel may have their own policy and may offer you something, you should ask at check in.
- Do you sell Colombian domestic flights?
YES: If your tour with The Colombian Way includes flights then naturally we will book these flights on your behalf.
NO: We no longer offer to book Colombian domestic flights on behalf of independent travellers. We have taken this decision for operational reasons as Colombian airlines frequently and unpredictably change their itineraries. If we do not know where you are then we can not communicate these changes to you. Flights will only be booked alongside hotel reservations and transfers so that we can communicate changes to you and change your transfer proactively.
- Do you sell international flights?
Selling international flights is not our core business. We are travel agents and do have access to a “Global Distribution System” but will only ticket international air itineraries for clients using our Colombian tour and package services that require end to end billing originating from and returning to international destinations.
If you want to book one of our tours and need help putting together international air travel itineraries, open jaw ticketing, multi city flights and creative routing then we will happily help you.
- Do you offer long-term vacation rentals?
YES, if you would prefer the privacy of your own place for a long term rental, or even just for a week or two, we maintain a database of privately owned apartments and houses in all of Colombia’s main tourist destinations. Contact us for details.
- What are the Colombian travel essentials?
Although Colombia is rainy, it also straddles the equator and when the clouds clear it only takes 30 minutes to burn you to a crisp. We recommend you bring a high SPF sun block. Depending on where you are and what time of the year it is, you should also invest in some insect repellent, especially if you are visiting destinations closer to sea level. A pack of tissues comes in handy as not everywhere in Colombia seems to provide toilet paper.
Colombia has plenty of pharmacies where you can pick up over the counter drugs and remedies, personal hygiene supplies and sun protection.
- What about the weather?
The weather in Colombia certainly can be a bit of a nuisance, especially if you have ground transportation booked as part of your travel. The last few years Colombia has experienced particularly wet rainy seasons which have caused mobility problems throughout the country, especially the coffee zone. If you have booked a package with The Colombian Way that includes ground transport then we will do our best to ease the inconvenience caused by bad weather including contacting guides and accommodation providers to revise your itinerary as necessary. If you understand Spanish you can view the current ground transport situation here.
- What is the voltage in Colombia?
Colombia is 110v AC and uses USA style plugs with 2 flat pins, higher rated appliances use USA style 3 pin plugs with two flat pins and one round one.
Most consumer electronics now have variable voltage transformers (e.g. laptops, ipods, mobile phones, camera battery rechargers) so you will only need an adaptor to plug it into the wall.
Appliances using 220-250v such as hairdryers and shavers may well be damaged by using the incorrect voltage.
- Will my mobile phone work in Colombia?
Colombia’s mobile phone networks use GSM 850/1900 frequencies so a tri-band phone will work here, a US dual band phone will also work here. Colombia has no CDMA networks so US mobile phones that don’t use the GSM protocol will not work.
If your network supports roaming with a Colombian carrier then the above phones will roam in Colombia, if you have an unlocked GSM mobile phone that uses GSM850/1900 then you can buy a local SIM and it will work.
The Colombian Way can supply prepaid SIM cards and micro SIM cards with low international call & text rates and non-contract data services. Ask us for more details
- I want to volunteer
Then you came to the right place, we offer genuine volunteering opportunities in a jungle lodge or with a social project in Ibagué
We have vast experience of Colombia, advice from us is always free of charge and without obligation. If you have specific questions about Colombia that are not covered here then please use one of our contact forms and we will do our best to answer it.