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Practical information about Colombia

Practical information about Colombia

Practical information about Colombia

1. Climate

Colombia is a large country with a varied landscape, and the climate depends very much on where you travel to in the country. Colombia has tropical climate with a rainy season and a dry season. The temperatures do not vary much during the year as Colombia is close to the equator. Here, is it the altitude that determines the temperature. The country can be divided into three geographical zones:

  • In northern Colombia and on the Caribbean coast (Santa Marta, Cartagena), the temperature is on average 30–32 degrees all year. The rainy season is from around May–November. But there is nothing to stop you visiting the area in the rainy season, as the rain falls in the form of brief, heavy showers in the afternoon.
    The dry season is from around December–April.
  • In the Andes Mountains (Bogotá, the Coffee Region, Medellín), the temperature depends on how high up you are. Please note that it can get really cold in Bogotá, for example, at night. In this area, there are two rainy seasons from around April–May and again from around September–November.
    The dry season is from around December–March and again from around June–August.
  • In the Amazon jungle in south-eastern Colombia, the seasons are not experienced in the same way. Here, it is hot, wet and humid all year round.

Weather statistics for Cartagena:

Daytime temp. 30 31 31 31 31 32 32 32 32 31 31 31
Night-time temp. 23 23 24 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 24
Rain mm 8 2 6 34 102 110 98 130 140 218 129 35

Weather statistics for Bogotá (2,600 metres):

Daytime temp. 16 17 17 16 16 16 15 15 16 16 16 16
Night-time temp. 5 6 7 8 8 8 8 7 7 8 8 6
Rain mm 30 40 50 90 80 40 40 40 70 110 70 50

Weather statistics for Armenia, the Coffee Region (1,500 metres):

Daytime temp. 27 27 27 27 26 26 27 27 27 26 26 27
Night-time temp. 15 16 16 16 16 15 15 15 15 15 15 15
Rain mm 115 124 174 250 253 173 120 136 167 260 242 150

Weather statistics for Amazonas:

Daytime temp. 28 29 29 31 31 30 31 32 30 30 30 29
Night-time temp. 23 23 26 26 27 26 25 27 25 25 25 23
Rain mm 471 248 445 318 242 133 47 114 226 153 220 272
2. Form of travel

Excursions and transfers take place in small international groups. Excursions are with English-speaking guides.
The arrival transfer is also with an English-speaking guide.

3. When is the best time to travel to Colombia?

The best time to visit Colombia is considered to be in the dry season from December to March and July to August. December and January are when the Colombians themselves are on holiday, and during this period, the hotels sell out quickly, especially on the Caribbean coast.

4. Travel terms and conditions

Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your package purchased from llamatours.co.uk. Click here to read our terms and conditions.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to:www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

5. Travel insurance

We are an ATOL protected agency giving you complete peace of mind. It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their trip.
In cooperation with our partner we can offer advantageous travel insurances. 

Learn more here.

6. Language

Spanish is spoken in Colombia, but the Colombians are very nice and helpful in helping and communicating in spite of the language barrier. On our tours and excursions, you will be accompanied by English-speaking guides.

In the more touristy areas of Colombia, you will find more people who speak English, at hotels and restaurants, for example.

Finishing your sentences with “por favor”, which means “please”, or “gracias” meaning “thank you”, will do much to ingratiate you with the locals.

7. Vaccinations

We always advise that you contact a specialist, your GP or an authorized vaccination clinic. You can also read more about the rules for travel & vaccinations at the central NHS Fit for Travel website: here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another South or Central American country where yellow fever is present.

Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. So be sure to bring your vaccination certificate with you in these cases.

8. Passport/Visa

As a British citizen, you are not required to have a visa to visit Colombia for up to 90 days.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your return.

As these rules may change from time to time, we urge you to visit the website of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
If you are in doubt about visa conditions, please contact the Colombian Embassy in London.
Please remember that it is your own responsibility to comply with entry and exit rules.

If you are travelling via the US, the following applies to British citizens:

To travel via the United States, you must apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Without ESTA, you will not be allowed to travel through the United States. Apply for the travel authorisation in good time at least 72 hours before your departure to the US. ESTA costs 14 USD per person and all travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply via the following link: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. You should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 2 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your ESTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.

If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new ESTA.

If you have you travelled in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on 1 March 2011 or later, you must apply for a visa at the American Embassy. You cannot apply for ESTA. The same applies if you have dual nationality in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.

If you are travelling via Canada, the following applies to British citizens:

To travel via Canada, you must apply for an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Without eTA, you will not be allowed to travel through Canada. Apply for the travel authorisation in good time. eTA costs 7 CAD per person and all travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply via the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.aspYou should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 5 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your eTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.

If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new eTA.

9. Currency

The currency in Colombia is the Colombian pesos (COP). At www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ you can check the exact exchange rate at any time.
Bring credit cards such as VISA and/or MasterCard, as cash machines, “cajeros automáticos” (ATM), are widespread. This is the easiest way to withdraw the local currency.

On your arrival at El Dorado Airport in Bogotá, you will find a cash machine by the luggage carousels before you leave the airport. There is also a bureau de change here.

10. Price level

Generally speaking, the price of food and drinks is somewhat lower in Colombia than in the UK.

A bottle of water in the supermarket: approx. 2,000 COP

A local beer in the supermarket: approx. 4,000 COP

A local beer at a bar: approx. 6,000–10,000 COP

A meal at a local restaurant: approx. 15,000–20,000 COP

A meal at a tourist restaurant: approx. 25,000–50,000 COP

Prices on the Caribbean coast, especially in Cartagena, can be almost double what they are in the rest of the country.

11. Tipping

At most restaurants, a 10% service charge is included in the bill, so no additional tip is expected.

Tipping is becoming more and more common in Colombia, and below you can see our guide on how much to tip.

  • Guide per day: 5–10 USD per person
  • Guide per day on the Lost City trek: 10–15 USD per person
  • Driver per day: 3–7 USD per person
  • Porter: 1 USD per bag/suitcase
  • Maid: 1–2 USD per room per day

Our tipping guideline is in USD, but tips should be calculated in the local currency at the destination.

12. Time difference

The time difference between the UK and Colombia varies according to whether it is summer or winter in the UK.
BST: -6 hours.
GMT: -5 hours.

13. Electricity

110 V Typical American 2-pin plug. Remember to bring an adapter.

14. Telephone and internet

The International country code for Colombia is +57. It can be expensive to call home from Colombia, so check with your own mobile phone company regarding coverage and call rates.
Wi-Fi is widely used in hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists, especially in major cities such as Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena.

15. Safety

Safety in Colombia has improved considerably in recent years, so visitors can finally experience this amazing country. But as in all other countries where there is poverty, precautions should be taken. Be discreet and don’t flash your valuables on the street. After taking a picture with your camera or phone, put it back in your bag or pocket.

Only carry the cash with you that you will need to use and leave passports and other valuables in the safe at your hotel. You should always carry a copy of your passport with you, which you can show as ID.

We only work with qualified, experienced guides, who are always willing to advise you on safety, and who know exactly where it is safe to be. Always follow the guide’s advice and you will be in no danger.

Our partner in Colombia can be contacted 24 hours a day if urgent issues arise.

16. Food & drink

Colombian cuisine is influenced by the country’s multicultural background and inspired by Spanish, African and Turkish cuisine. The country does not have a special national dish as such but is rather characterised by local regional dishes. Colombians are generally fond of meat, but particularly in coastal areas, you will find a good selection of fish and seafood. Wherever you go, you will find a wide selection of fresh fruit.

Breakfast is a hearty meal of eggs, fruit and bread. Lunch is the main meal of the day and often consists of a soup, a main course and a sweet dessert. Dinner is often more like a snack in the form of arepas, for example, which come with different fillings such as egg or cheese, and is eaten at around 8–9 pm.

17. Public holidays

It is always special to experience the traditions and celebrations of other countries. Below is a list of public holidays, important festivals and other special occasions.

Please note that some museums and attractions may be closed on these days.

18. Flight reservations and airline tickets

We will send you your flight reservation as soon as you book your trip. You can see times and routes on the itinerary. It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. Your name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport. If you find any mistakes in the names, please contact us immediately.

Today, there are only electronic airline tickets (e-tickets), so you do not receive a physical ticket for use at the airport check-in. When you check in at the airport, you use your passport and a booking reference. The booking reference is on your itinerary.

19. Service letter

Once you have purchased a tour through us, you will receive our service letter before your departure. The service letter contains important information about online check-in, what to do in the event of a delay, our agreed guidelines for tips, etc. In addition, you will find important telephone numbers for our local agents as well as our emergency telephone number.

So, it is important that you print out the service letter and bring it with you.

20. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

The airline will assign you a seat on board the aircraft upon check-in. If you have specific wishes, you can make a seat reservation via the airline’s website. Most airlines have an area on their website named “manage my booking” or similar. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation, so it’s a good idea to have your payment card ready when starting a seat reservation. Airline seat reservations vary from company to company, but as a general rule, you can book seats from around 48 hours before departure.

Many airlines also offer upgrades with extra legroom or comfort seating, such as Economy Comfort with KLM and Premium Voyageur with Air France. You can check these details through the airline’s own website, along with payment information.

Please kindly note that airlines have full access to all seats on the aircraft and therefore always reserve the right to alter a reservation.

If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will issues your seating upon check-in at the airport.

21. Your luggage

We use many different airlines to Colombia, so it may vary how much and how many kg you can carry in both checked luggage and hand luggage. See information on this at www.checkmytrip.com or contact us if you have any questions.

You should also make sure you carry all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

It might also be chilly on the plane due to the air conditioning, so bring a sweater or wind cheater with you in your hand baggage.

22. Transfers to and from airports

Upon your arrival in Colombia, you will be picked up by our local representative, who will be holding up a sign with your name on it in the Arrivals Hall. On departure, you will be driven to the airport again. Upon your arrival in Colombia, you will be given vouchers showing you the pick-up times for the various excursions and transfers.

23. Recommended packing list for the Lost City trek

You have to carry your own bags on the Lost City trek, so be sure to leave excess baggage at the hotel in Santa Marta.
Please note that there is no phone signal in the jungle, so remember to inform your family that you will be off-line for a few days.

  • A backpack (20 l) for carrying your personal luggage
  • Good walking boots
  • Sandals or other comfortable footwear to walk around in in the evening at the camp
  • Waterproof jacket or rain poncho
  • Comfortable, fast-drying clothes, 1 set per day
  • Lots of socks. It is important to keep your feet dry to avoid blisters
  • Warm, long-sleeve tops and trousers for chilly evenings/nights
  • Water bottle and water for the first day
  • Camera (a waterproof case is a good idea)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun cream
  • Hat
  • Head lamp
  • Swimwear and towel
  • Binoculars
  • Earplugs
  • Sponge bag and toilet paper
  • Small first aid kit containing headache pills, pills against diarrhoea, plasters and blister plasters
  • Powerbank for charging your mobile if you use it to take photos. There is NOT power in all camps
  • Money – for tips and any drinks and snacks along the way
  • Photocopy of your travel documents such as passports, airline tickets and travel insurance

Tip: Bring two plastic bags. One for your wet clothes and one to keep your dry clothes in so that they don’t get wet in the event of rain.

24. Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

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