Dangers of travel to Bogota, Columbia

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of July 3-9, 1997
Dangers of travel to Bogota, Columbia
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Dangers of travel to Bogota, Columbia
Question: I am interested in obtaining specific outdoor adventures (backpacking, paddling, or other worthwhile endeavors) near Bogota, Colombia.

Ron Brown
Philadelphia, PA
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Forgive the sermon approach, but Colombia is not a country you can roam freely without fear of losing your life. In fact, I'm not aware of any major travel company that offers adventure travel to mainland Colombia because the country is currently ranked the most dangerous in the Western Hemisphere.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Colombia. Violence continues to affect all parts of the country. Kidnapping, killings, and robberies are daily occurrences, and violence is the leading cause of death for individuals over 10 years old.

Keep in mind also, violence is not contained to the big cities. Guerrillas, coca growers, and drug traffickers run rampant in the mountains, jungles, and coastal areas. Even in Bogota, the city looks fast-paced and cosmopolitan, but at a closer glance, you'll see machine-gun toting guards on suburban street corners, and a police substation on virtually every corner.

With all of that in mind, Colombia is a gorgeous country of lush jungles and verdant mountainous regions. It is very tempting to explore, but unless you have been in the country for a while and have your finger on the pulse of the political situation, I'd opt for traveling to an equally beautiful, safer South American destination.

If you must go to Colombia, try a diving trip to Malpelo Island off the coast. It's a 10-day expedition for advanced divers aboard a luxury yacht to view huge populations of hammerhead sharks and giant manta rays. The boat trip is 30 hours, so if seasickness is a concern, you may be out of luck. Call See & Sea Travel for prices (800-348-9778).

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