Travel Safety: How Dangerous is Bogota?

Deciding to visit Bogota is deciding to enter a wealth of history and culture not only of Colombia, but of many of its neighboring South American countries. Located just a few hours from the United States, Bogota is well known for its people’s diplomacy and education.


Unfortunately, it is also known for its violence and the country as a whole is colored by the war on drugs and all that stems from that, including guerrilla movements, bombings, kidnappings, etc. However, many people travel to Bogota for pleasure or business and come away unharmed and having spent a wonderful time. To make your trip to Colombia enjoyable and fun, read below for a few traveling tips.

Pickpockets:

As most major cities, Bogota is plagued with people ready to create a distraction and pick your pocket, robbing you of your cash, cards and other belongings. Avoid this by buying a money belt (not a fanny pack) to carry any cash you don’t need for getting around. Preferably, leave cash and passports locked up in a safe at the hotel if possible. Using your credit or debit cards is a good idea, but remember to keep copies of the foreign customer service numbers somewhere in case you need to call should your wallet disappear. Ladies should remember to use purses with a tight closing.

Drugs:

This continues to be a problem for the Colombian government and drugs continue to be readily available. Do not put yourself in a place or situation in which you may become entangled in a drug deal. Always walk briskly and avoid any shifty people. When in doubt, just ignore someone who may be selling drugs and keep walking. Obviously, offering to transport any packages to or from Bogota, or even within the city is not advisable.

Altitude:

Bogota’s altitude may be hard on your system, which is why it also represents a danger when travelling to the city. If you suffer from any cardiac conditions, or are otherwise medically advised to avoid high altitudes, keep in mind before booking your ticket to Bogota. Consult with your physician before departing on your trip if you are at all concerned.

 

Walking While Distracted:

This beautiful city has developed many areas ideal for strolling and admiring its architecture. However, many streets are older and in varying states of disrepair. Keep this in mind when choosing your shoes and always walk very carefully to avoid tripping on a cobblestone street, or on a manhole that is not flush with street level. The last thing you want to do is to have to visit a hospital because of a broken bone or sprain.

Sight-Seeing in Sketchy Areas:

Exploring Bogota is a lovely experience, but make sure you only venture out to places that have been recommended by a trusted local and/or hotel staff. Ending up in the wrong neighborhood can place you in an awkward and unsafe situation which could turn dramatic pretty easily. Doing research before leaving your hometown and finding recommendations from trusted sources is your best course of action to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Visiting Bogota certainly comes with many dangers, but visiting this beautiful city is well worth it. Proper preparation and planning, along with keen awareness of one’s surroundings will help avoid dangerous situations during your trip. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and move yourself out of harm’s way.

January 16, 2014