Travel to Colombia with Absolute Latin America
Colombia tours take in plenty of her amazing attractions: her striking 1600km long Caribbean coastline, the exquisite flavors of her local cuisine, the rhythms of cumbia and a famous tradition for producing excellent coffee. The rich history of Cartagena de las Indias, Colombia, is felt in every corner, as its walls and buildings are living testimony to colonial times. The historic center of Cartagena de Indias was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In addition to offering many historical attractions, the Bay of Cartagena de Indias features stunning tropical lagoons and exotic islands.
No Colombia vacation is complete without visiting the Amazon basin which comprises the south eastern part of the country. Largely populated by indigenous tribes, the Amazon makes up one third of the country. The Spanish architecture of the national capital, Bogota is a highlight of any Colombia tour. 50km from the capital lie the Salt mines of Zipaquirá, home to the Salt Cathedral big enough to accommodate 8,400 people.
Colombia stands out not only for the hospitality of its people, its gastronomy, biodiversity, the beauty of its landscapes and its rich cultural legacy, but also for the joy and color of her many festivals. Contact us now about designing your perfect Colombia vacation.
Language: Spanish (official), indigenous languages in tribal regions.
Voltage: Electricity in Colombia is 110 Volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second.
Colombia has a long history going back before the Spanish Conquest, and there are several sites that bear testimony to its fascinating Indian past. In San Agustín, in the southern part of the Colombian Andes, monoliths of volcanic stone representing gods and warriors are preserved, and nearby, in the area of Tierra dentro, the visitor can enter a complex of underground burial chambers. From one of the bays of Tayrona National Park, on the Caribbean coast, you can ascend the foothills of the Sierra, following a path of stone slabs that leads to the ruins of Pueblito, a settlement built by the Tayrona people, one of the most advanced cultures of pre-Hispanic America, which left an invaluable inheritance of objects fashioned in gold that can be admired, together with a wealth of articles from different cultures, in the different branches of the Gold Museum and other museums in different towns around the country.
Pre-hispanic Colombia Over twelve cultures inhabited Colombian territory before the Spanish Conquest and left vestiges of the surprising level of development they had attained. Towns and stone paths, enigmatic statues, burial urns and impressive gold and pottery objects, constitute part of an inheritance that allows us to learn about their beliefs and way of life. The Muisca Indians were farmers on the highland plains that they inhabited. They were excellent goldsmiths and potters who left invaluable treasures. The myth of El Dorado that inspired the Conquest of the continent, had its origin in the investiture of the new Cacique, who covered in gold dust, went out on a raft towards the center of the lake of Guatavita accompanied by his priests. Pottery and gold working was also notable among the Quimbaya, Sinu, Tayrona and Calima tribes. Their work can be admired in Bogota at the Gold Museum of the Banco de la Republica, the Archeological Museum Casa del Marqués de San Jorge and the National Museum; at the Museum of Quimbaya Culture in Armenia; at the Museum of the Tayrona Culture in Santa Marta and at the Museum of Sinú Culture in Cartagena.
You can buy perfect reproductions in specialized stores made with the very same techniques employed by the cultures that created them. Colombia became independent from Spain in 1810. It was one of the five countries liberated by Simon Bolivar (the others being Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia). Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama then formed the first Republic of Colombia. Ecuador and Venezuela declared their independence from Colombia in 1830. Panama declared its independence from Colombia in 1903 with the support of the United States of America.
GETTING TO COLOMBIA
Avianca is the Colombian national airline that operates internationally. Airlines that frequently fly to Colombia include Air France, Iberia, Air Plus Comet, Continental Airlines, American Airlines, Varig, Mexicana de Aviación and Aerolíneas Argentinas, among others. Consult your travel agency. Approximate flight time to Bogota from some world capitals:
· Buenos Aires: 6 hours 10 minutes
· Mexico City: 4 hours 15 minutes
· Caracas: 1 hour 25 minutes
· Los Angeles: 8 hours 15 minutes
· New York: 4 hours 15 minutes
· Miami: 3 hours 30 minutes
· Madrid: 10 hours 30 minutes
· Paris: 12 hours.
· Bogotá – El Dorado (BOG) is located in the city. There are buses that leave every 20 minutes for the city center (traveling time: 30 minutes).
· Barranquilla – Ernesto Cortissoz (BAQ) is located 7 km from the city.
· Cali – Palmaseca (CLO) is located 18 km from the city.
· Cartagena Crespo (CTG) is located in the city.
· Medellín – Rionegro (MDE) is located 45 km from the city.
By land Railway:
There is no international rail connection.
The Pan American Way is interrupted at the Darien Gap, a jungle region between Colombia and Panama. Cars are generally shipped from Panama to a Colombian port. There are roads between Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Both borders are served by several national and international bus services. A driving license, national obligatory insurance and car ownership card is normally required at border crossings.
There are shipping companies that dock in Colombia, both passenger ships and cargo ships that also take passengers. Delta Cruise Lines ships leave from United States ports in the Gulf of Mexico, and cruise lines of the French Line, Italian Line, Pacific Steam Navigation and Royal Netherlands SS leave from different European ports. Cartagena is quite an important port in the Caribbean and ships of the Sun Line, Princess Cruises, Delta Norwegian American, Holland America, Wetours, Sitmar and Costa dock there. There is a short sea passage between Puerto Obaldía in Panamá and Sapzurro on the Colombian Caribbean coast that can be crossed by launch.
Passengers from countries that have a restriction need to apply for a tourist visa in the Colombian consulate of their country of origin to be able to travel to Colombia. There is no nationality restriction to travel to Colombia. A visa is required, except for citizens of the following countries (who stay strictly for tourism purposes and for a maximum of 90 days): Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, United States, Finland, France, Great Britain, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Mexico, Norway, The Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and foreign residents of Canada and the United States.
Foreigners of countries that have no restriction when they travel to Colombia, if they travel only for tourism, may stay in the country for up to 90 days from the date of entry that is indicated on the immigration seal, which is stamped on the passport by the official at the port of entry. Those who wish to visit the country for work or study must apply for a visa or permit at Colombian consulates abroad. The visas may be temporary or resident. The former are given to people who enter with no intention of living in the country, the second is given to those who intend to live there permanently. Before traveling you should consult the nearest consular or diplomatic agent concerning the procedures and requirements of Colombian law of each case. For further information, consult the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The official currency of Colombia is the peso ($). Entering or taking out money, in this denomination or in any other, is restricted and should be declared on entering or leaving the country. Currency exchange The exchange of foreign currency should be made exclusively in hotels, banks and bureaux de change, never on the street. The exchange rate fluctuates from day to day and has the U.S. dollar as the official reference rate, which is also the currency most used in the market. Payment is made on the basis of the official daily rate, after discounting commissions and services, which vary between 2 and 3%. Cash points The capital cities of the country have an extensive network of cash points. The majority are in service 24 hours and provide the option of the English language.
The transactions generally permitted are: credit/debit balance, withdrawals, transfers and cash advances. Avoid giving the card to strangers or revealing your personal PIN code. Cash points are strategically located, particularly on thoroughfares and in shopping malls. Some, such as Cirrus, Visa and Master Card, permit international debit and credit transactions. Debit cards: The larger stores and shops, supermarkets, and higher-class hotels and restaurants accept such cards. Credit cards: The majority of hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments accept international credit cards. The most frequent are Visa and Master Card.
Only some places accept American Express and Diners Club. Traveler’s checks: Before acquiring them in the country of origin, it is advisable to check on the existence of representations or branches in Colombia. The traveler’s checks most used are those of American Express and Citicorp. In the more exclusive hotels you can make payments with them but they are not commonly used in commercial establishments.
An exit tax of US$ 66 must be paid by all Colombian citizens and foreigners whose stay in Colombia was longer than two months. In the case of shorter stays, the exit tax for foreigners is US$ 33. Depending on the itinerary, some airlines, such as Air France, American Airlines and Avianca, include the cost of the tax in the cost of the ticket. The exit tax must be paid at the airport, at the time of departure, in cash and in only one currency (Colombian pesos or US dollars, excluding US$ 100 bills).
Most frequent illnesses are mountain sickness, stomach problems, malaria and yellow fever in some forest areas. Before travelling to jungle regions, you must have the yellow fever and tetanus vaccines at least 15 days in advance. Drinking water Although major cities have excellent running water services, we recommend you to avoid taps, and rather drink bottled water.
By metro: The only metro system of Colombia is in Medellín. The metro system also has two cable car lines
By taxi: The taxi networks in big cities such as in Bogota are extensive and very cheap.
By urban bus: Around the turn of this century urban centers in Colombia saw the development of a highly efficient and neat bus transit systems that are spreading to other countries Road and rail transport The country has a 145.000 km (90 099 miles) network of roads that connects the main cities with the sea ports, Venezuela and Ecuador, which are served by excellent bus and freight lines.
A road has been planned to connect Colombia with Panama to complete the Pan-American Way, and the Marginal de la Selva, a road that will connect Colombia with Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru along the foothills of the Andes. 3.140 km (1 951 miles) of rail track is being rebuilt and two railroads transport coal to private ports that ship 27 million tons per year. SAFETY The security situation is better than its reputation, as long as common rules are respected and certain areas are avoided. To discover the forest, ask somebody to stay with you. Walk relatively free during the day, but during night take precautions and from time to time observe who’s around you.
Colombia’s tropical climate is equally pleasant the year round. Temperature changes are determined by altitude above sea level – the higher the altitude, the lower the temperature. The seasons have to do with rainfall, and are bimodal. There are two rainy seasons: the first one, from April to June; the second one, from September to November. Likewise, there are two dry seasons: one from November to March; the other, from July to August. Luminosity is constant throughout the year, with an equal duration of days and nights. “Textos extraidos de el Portal Oficial de Turismo de Colombia: www.colombia.travel