Health Advice for Colombia

Countries  »  Colombia  »  Health Advice

Health Advice for Colombia

Drink only bottled water outside the major cities. The water in major cities is safe. Anywhere else, never get drinks with ice cubes in them, and always make sure that the water you are served in restaurants comes from a bottle (they should open it in front of you). Doing anything else may result in health problems.

If you're staying with relatives or friends especially you could ask for boiled water since families are used to having it around.

In cities like Bogotá, Pereira, Manizales or Medellin, the quality of the water is optimum. On the other hand, Cali, Santa Marta, and other low-land cities lack this quality. In Pereira or Manizales for example, the water, besides being processed, comes from pristine natural sources near a nevado. In Bogotá, the water comes from the high mountains, 3,330 meters above sea level.

Stay Safe

Colombia has suffered from a terrible reputation as a dangerous and violent country but the situation has since improved a lot in recent times. In the last five years safety has improved significantly and Colombia no longer has the highest rate of kidnappings in the world. Tourists will only face problems if they decide to fool around in certain neighborhoods of the main cities. Of course it pays to think safe, just as you would in any other large metropolitan city. 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.

In recent years, there have been reports of scopolamine, a date-rape drug, being used on unwary tourists. Scopolamine makes the victim highly open to suggestion, allowing the attacker to confiscate your wallet, keys, or anything else they may want. Always be cautious, especially when approached by strangers. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota advises their government employees and any other Americans traveling through the country to always watch their drinks in any bar or other establishment.

Colombia is on the path to recovery currently, and Colombians are very proud of the progress they have made. The security situation is different for many parts of the country currently. Parts of the jungle are patrolled by the army, (particularly in the area around Leticia, see Amazonia) which makes some parts safe. Other parts are not patrolled by the army, particularly Putumayo and Caqueta and hence should be avoided by the traveller. In Bogota follow standard global safety precautions for other nations recovering from war. Avoid the Darien gap which is like Caqueta a haven for drug traffickers. Check region sections because security varies widely between different regions.

The content on this page is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. It has been written by the users of WikiTravel and gapyear.com cannot not accept any responsibility for its accuracy. For any critical information you require, please be sure to check with the relevant embassy for the most up to date information before you travel.