Colombia is the only country in South America with borders on the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. With an area of 1 140 000 square kilometers it is the fourth biggest country in South America, just smaller than Peru. It shares borders with Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. It is a country of large geographical contrasts from the Andean chain in the west which includes the highest mountain, Pico Cristobal Colon (5775m/18,950ft ) to the tropical rainforests and tropical plans in the south and east.
The population is concentrated around the capital city of Bogota, the mountainous regions and the coastline, and sparse populations in the southern and eastern areas.
The time in Colombia is GMT -5 hours
The national language of Colombia is Spanish, spoken by the great majority of the population. There are also significant numbers of people for whom one or other of a range of American Indian languages is their mother tongue. English is not widely spoken, though Colombians who have dealings with tourists and restaurant staff in Bogota and in Villa de Leyva will usually have fairly good English. We recommend that you take a pocket phrase book and learn some basic Spanish.
With the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean to the west and the great basin of the Amazon to the south-east, Colombia has a complex pattern of weather. In the northern Andean region cloud and rain can occur at any time of year, with the most settled weather being during the period from late November through to March. We can expect daytime temperatures whilst trekking of between 10ºC and 20ºC (50ºF and 68°F). Evenings can be chilly, with the night-time temperatures falling below freezing at our highest camps.
The unit of currency is the Colombian Peso (col$). For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
It is possible to use credit and bank cards to withdraw cash from ATM's in Bogota. If you intend to bring your spending money in the form of cash, you should bring US dollars in small denominations (tens and twenties). Credit and debit cards can also be used in restaurants in Bogota and are particularly useful for more expensive souvenirs.
At the present time, nationals of countries that are members of the European Union and nationals of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, visiting Colombia for the purpose of tourism, need only a valid passport (with at least 6 months of validity) and a return or onward journey ticket for entry into Colombia. An entry permit is issued on arrival in Bogota. Nationals of other countries should contact the relevant in their own countries for information on how to obtain their visa.
<Passengers intending to travel via
the USA, please note the following:
Your passport must have a machine readable bar code if you are transiting through the US. You must complete an online application form to travel to, or transit through the USA.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, & Hepatitis ‘A'. Malaria prophylaxis is not recommended for this trip unless you intend to visit the rainforest as an extension to your trip.
A good online resource is the UK National Health Travellers website at fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
The South American Handbook.
Lonely Planet. Colombia.
Bradt Travel Guide. Colombia.
Footprint Guides. Colombia.
The Andes - A Guide For Climbers. John Biggar.
Columbia ITMB (International Travel Country Maps). 1:2,000,000 scale.