Colombia escorted tours
Language: The official language in Columbia is Spanish.
Currency: Colombian Peso
Time Zone: North American Eastern Time = GMT-5
Tipping: Most Colombians tip little or not at all, however sometimes people leave up to 10% if good service and occasionally a 15% service charge is added onto bills in restaurants.
Colombia - an introduction
After years of civil unrest, Colombia is finally back on the tourist map attracting visitors to its stunning beaches and laid-back way of life. Although it is technically safe to holiday in Colombia, an element of caution is wise and never venture alone from the group you are travelling with on your tour of Colombia.
If you've never considered taking a tour of Colombia during your travels to South America, you may be amazed at the landscapes that greet you from modern cities with sky-high office blocks to secluded Caribbean coves and the spectacular Amazon all vying for your attention. There's a multitude of Colonial cities to explore with the majority housing archaeological finds to marvel at. Head towards the coast for a spot of whale watching or venture inland to see the wondrous coffee plantations home to the formidable Colombian coffee beans.
To really unearth the essence of Colombia, join a tour that takes you up into the mountains where you can explore cities such as Bogotá, Medellin and Cali, all unaffected by the world outside and where Spanish is still the native tongue. However, you'll find as you venture closer to the Colombian coast, the Caribbean takes over and the Spanish language is temporarily exchanged for a Caribbean drawl. Nevertheless when visiting these fascinating cities, make sure you sample Colombian food such as Ajiaco (a soup made with chicken, corn, potatoes and avocado), coconut rice, Ceviche (a seafood dish) and Tomales.
The Colombian weather varies according to altitude but as a rule of thumb, the closer you are to the coast, the hotter it will be. Average temperatures by the coast can exceed 30°C but as you climb up into the mountains, this is likely to fall by 6°C for every 1000m. But it doesn't matter what the weather is doing as there's no end to the places to visit and things to do come rain or shine. Enjoy fabulous hiking and biking opportunities in the Villa de Leyva or visit the lush volcanic island of Providencia. Discover your very own 'Lost City' in Ciudad Perdida whose landscape looks as though it has come straight from the 'Indiana Jones' movie franchise. Explore tranquil bays and pristine white sandy beaches of Parque Nacional Tayrona but if you're seeking something a little more energetic make tracks for San Gil, the adventure capital of Colombia.
Colombia escorted tours typically include; return flights, accommodation, meals and a variety of included or optional excursions so you can really experience the very best of the resort.
Things to do
There are a variety of interesting places to visit whilst holidaying in Colombia. However, advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office changes all the time so be sure to check before you travel to see if any further advisories are in place for any of the destinations you wish to visit during your holiday.
Parque National Tayrona
In a protected area of the Caribbean region, Tayrona National Park is famed for its beautiful white sandy beaches. The park covers approximately 150 kilometres and has a diverse landscape with mountains, beaches and rivers. There are a number of different species of wildlife living in the park, from deer to bats, you are bound to see some fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
Located in Sierra Nevada, Ciudad Perdida gives you a chance to experience your very own 'Lost City'. This archaeological site is believed to have been founded around 800 AD and was only rediscovered in 1972. The site was reconstructed between 1976-1982 and now tourists are welcome to hike to see the spectacular remains of this ancient city. It will take around 6 days to hike to the 'Lost City' and back, and will require a very good level of fitness.
This mountainous Caribbean island belongs to Colombia and lies between Jamaica and Costa Rica. The island holds a strong history of treasure hunting and it is rumoured that the infamous pirate Henry Morgan used the island of Providencia as a hiding place for his treasure! This is one of Colombia's best scuba-diving locations with a large barrier reef on the Eastern coast of the Island.
Tips & Advice
The beauty of travelling in an escorted tour is that you'll be in the safest hands when it comes to holidaying in foreign lands.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in Colombia, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Before travelling to Colombia you should contact your GP to check whether you will need any vaccinations or other preventative measures. In addition to this, you should ensure that you have adequate health and travel insurance which will cover you in case of an emergency. You should also ensure that you have access to additional funds in case you do have to pay for treatment or in extreme cases, require medical repatriation. Most tours offer the chance to purchase one-trip travel insurance at the time of booking.
Should you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, you should dial 123 and ask for an ambulance. If you are transferred to a medical facility for treatment, you should always contact your insurance company/medical provider immediately.
Despite improvements over recent years, crime levels are still high in Colombia. The drugs trade is particularly serious and there have been several cases of kidnap (for a ransom or for political means) in addition to money laundering and extortion.
Street crime is a major problem in the cities, mugging and pickpocketing are more likely to be associated with violence. Avoid visiting deprived areas of the city. Be careful if you are out when it is dark and never carry large amounts of money or wear valuable watches and jewellery. It is probably best to leave valuable items in your hotel safe or leave them at home before you travel. Always try to be vigilant, especially in areas associated with tourists, and avoid using mobile phones in the street.
Try to organise your trip and have taxis pre-booked, be wary of any stranger who approaches. Never accept food, drink or cigarettes from a stranger, no matter how well turned-out they appear to be.
Local Laws and Customs
Never get involved with illegal drugs, the Colombian methods of tracking are sophisticated and anyone caught attempting drug trafficking will be arrested. Always pack your own luggage and never carry items for other people.
Always carry a photocopy of the photo page from your passport, in addition, a copy of the Colombian Visa page as you never know when you will be required to present these documents.
Same sex relationships are not illegal in Columbia, however it isn't always widely accepted in rural parts of the country.
Never photograph military or strategic sites, when visiting Colombia.
British Nationals can enter Colombia, for a period of up to 90 days, without a visa at the discretion of the Immigration Officer on arrival. However, you may have to provide proof of return flights or onward travel plans at the time.
You can extend your length of stay once in Colombia for up to 120 days by applying at the immigration office, Migracion Colombia.
If you are a dual national (British and Colombian), you must enter and leave using your Colombian passport and identification card (Cedula).
If you enter Colombia by land from Venezuela or Ecuador, ensure that your passport is stamped. Failure to do so could result in a fine upon departure from the country. If the immigration office on the border is closed, you must go to the nearest Migracion Colombia for advice.
When entering Colombia, your passport must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the day you enter the country.
You will have to pay an airport tax when departing Colombia. If you have stayed less than three months, it is $35 USD. If your stay has been longer than three months, your tax will be $72 USD. This can vary depending on the type of visa you are issued. Call the Colombian Embassy on 0207 637 9893 for more information.
Children who are under the age of 18 who are residents of Colombia and are travelling on a British passport, need to have written consent when leaving the country without both parents. The non-accompanying parent should write a letter giving consent for their child to leave Colombia. The letter needs to be authenticated by a notary or Colombia Consolate. The letter should mention the destination, purpose and dates of the trip.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry and exit in Colombia, in addition to airside transit.
Any other nationality looking to visit Columbia, must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
For more information about Colombia, you can visit the Pro Export Website at colombia.travel