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Colombia

  • Colombia

  • Colombia

  • Colombia

COLOMBIA COUNTRY INFORMATION

Country Name: Republic of Colombia
Area: 442.537 Square Miles (1.141.748 Square Km.)
Population: 45.000.000 (growth rate: 1.6% aprox)
Capital City: Bogota
Capital Population: 7.500.000 (aprox).
Colombia Country Code: (57) Bogota (1)

Language: Spanish predominates throughout Colombia with most of the population speaking the language. There are over 60 native languages and dialects, spoken by the diverse, yet not very numerous in population, ethnic groups in several parts of the country. English is widely spoken in major hotels and the main tourist centers and facilities throughout the country.

Religion: Widely predominant Roman Catholic, followed by Evangelical

Currency: The official currency is the Colombian Peso

Time Zones: All of Colombia: GMT – 5 (No Daylight Saving Time anytime)

Measures System: Decimal Metric System. 1 meter equals to 3.3 feet. 1.6 kilometers equals to 1 mile; 1 Kilo equals to 2.2 pounds and 1 liter equals to 0.26 gallons. Temperatures are measured in Celsius Degrees: 0 Celsius equals to 32 Farenheit and 100 C equals to 212 F.

 

USEFUL INFORMATION
Passports and Documentation: A valid Passport is necessary for travelling as tourists to Colombia. The validity must extend to six months after travel is completed. Nationals of the United States, Canada and most European and Latin American countries do NOT need visas for tourism activities in Colombia. For other nationalities, please ask us or contact the nearest Colombian Embassy or Consulate.

Electricity: 110V AC, square plugs.

Water: Tap water in Bogota is considered safe to drink: However, it is recommended, especially for sensitive stomachs, to drink bottled water. Elsewhere, it is better to drink bottled water only, available throughout the country.

Transportation: Colombia is easily accessible by its main International Airport, located in the country’s capital city of Bogota. Other international, regional and local airports serve all of the country’s geographical regions. Cartagena, Barranquilla and other sea ports on the Caribbean seaboard are a popular way of access for visitors arriving on cruise ships. An ample network of roads provides the facilities for land travel in Colombia. The modern Trans Millenio Rapid Bus System, plus a wide system of taxis and public bus services in Bogota as well as between cities and in the other major cities complement the transportation facilities available throughout most of Colombia.

Communications: Telephone communications for local, national and international calls are available at public cabins and booths, as well as hotels (some surcharges may apply) and other tourist venues. Prepaid phone cards are also available, it is recommended to make sure to use reliable and compatible carriers. Cell or mobile phones are also available and can be rented by tourists. Internet services are also widely offered at hotels (usually free for guests); Wi-Fi zones at most tourist venues and on cyber cafes.

Opening Hours: Offices are mostly open 09:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday. Banks open from 09:00 to 15:00, Monday to Friday.

Currency Exchange, Credit Cards & Banking Facilities: Foreign exchange transactions can be made at banks, exchange houses or authorized hotels, restaurants and clubs. Visitors are not recommended to be tempted by the premiums offered by street black marketers.

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at most tourist locations and facilities. Do check with your credit or debit card companies for details about acceptability and possible restrictions.

Shopping and Souvenirs: Most shops open Monday to Friday from 09:30 am until up to 19:00 pm. The Colombian textile industry is well recognized, particularly in South America and Europe. Clothing, including lingerie, is considered as high quality and very affordable. Leather garments, shoes and accessories are also interesting for travelers. The best place to buy is, reputedly, Medellin, known as the fashion capital of Colombia, where you can buy high quality goods at great prices. Colombian emeralds and 18k gold jewelry are also traditional and good buys, most of them bearing attractive pre-Columbian designs. Handicrafts and jewelry are commonly found in markets and street corners, in addition to stores.

Tipping: Tipping, even though customary, is a personal matter, related to your impressions of how you were served. To express your satisfaction, the following international guidelines, per person, can be followed:
$ 10, per day, for guide
$ 5, per day, for driver

In restaurants, bars and beauty parlors it is customary to give 10% of the total charge, if not already included in the bill.

Restaurants and bars add 16% to the bill and a 10% for hotels. However, waiters will usually expect a 10% cash tip, in addition.

SAFETY AND HEALTH
Security, Valuables: Just like anywhere in the world, normal precautions to be taken are not to venture alone or even in couples into solitary, marginal or poorly illuminated areas; not to accept offers, gifts or unrequested assistance from strangers and not to carry flashy objects such as jewelry, electronic gadgets and others that might tempt thieves. In wild or nature areas, the main hazard is getting lost if walking or hiking alone. The company of a certified and reliable guide, ranger or similar is recommended and, otherwise, to advice the nearest authorities or your lodging place what your exploration plans are. Your valuables are best kept at the hotels and lodgings’ safety boxes. A photocopy of your passport or other photo ID is useful to carry handy with you.

Health and Medical Facilities: Bogota, the capital, as well as other major cities, do have high-level hospitals and medical facilities. The major hotels offer on-call medical assistance on the main cities and in the most developed tourist centers. Travelers are suggested to seek the advice of their physicians prior to travelling for dietary restrictions; altitude precautions; vaccines, etc. The local tour operator should be informed in advance of dietary restrictions and medical conditions which might require special care.

CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
Climate and weather conditions vary widely according to seasonal factors; regional and ecological characteristics; altitude and other elements. Thus, it is recommended to look for specific advice regarding climate, weather and appropriate clothing, depending on the places you are planning to visit and the time of the year your trip is being planned for. Please ask us for details.

GASTRONOMY AND CUISINE
Colombia’s cuisine is, like in many of the neighboring South American countries, heavily influenced by the Spanish and indigenous populations. The diversity of habitats, from the coast to the high Andes and the Amazon region, provide a large supply of vegetables, fruits, cereals, grains and meats, from fish to pork, poultry or beef and thus delightful combinations and regional specialties. The Caribbean and Pacific areas focus highly on fish and sea food, with other local produce; whilst the Andes and Amazonia rely more on meats and grains and vegetable combinations. Colombia’s cuisine is not as widely known as that of other South American countries, but for the adventurous travelers there are plenty of delectable dishes to try.

A world-renowned country symbol of Colombia is its famous coffee; as well as the popular aguardientes and rums.

RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS
BOGOTA

  • Club Colombia – Typical Cuisine
  • Casa Vieja – Typical Cuisine
  • La Biferia – Steak House
  • La Fragata – Sea food
  • 80 Sillas – Sea food
  • Andres DC – Typical Cuisine
  • Casa San Isidro – French Cuisine

CARTAGENA

  • La Vitrola – Sea Food
  • El Santisimo – Typical Cuisine
  • Juan del Mar – Sea Food
  • Club de Pesca – Sea Food
  • El Muelle del Chef – Sea Food

COFFE REGION

  • Estacion Paraiso – Typical Cuisine
  • Restaurante Palo Grande – BBQ
  • El Meson Espanol – Spanish Cuisine
  • Don Frijoles – Typical Cuisine

SAN AGUSTIN

  • Donde Richard – BBQ
  • Italiano – Italian Cuisine

SANTA MARTA

  • Toro Negro – Mediterranean Cuisine
  • Agave Azul – International Cuisine
  • Basilea Gourmet – French Cuisine
  • El Santo – International Cuisine

MEDELLIN

  • La Provincia – Fusion Cuisine
  • Al Patio – Fusion Cuisine
  • Montmar – Sea Food
  • Herbario – Fusion Cuisine

SANTANDER

  • Restaurante La Niebla – Typical Cuisine
  • Mar Adentro Sea – Sea Food
  • Food Gril – Sea Food
RECOMMENDED READING
Colombia Secreta.
By Andrés Hurtado García
Cafés de Colombia
By Liliana Villegas
Culture and Customs of Colombia
By Raymond Leslie Williams
The Colombian Caribbean:  A Regional History
By Eduardo Posada
CALENDAR OF FESTIVITIES
01 Jan – New Year
09 Jan – Kings Day
19 Mar – Saint Joseph’s Day
01 Apr – Easter Sunday
05 Apr – Maundy Thursday
06 Apr – Good Friday
08 Apr – Sunday of Resurrection
01 May – Labor day
21 May – Ascension of Jesus
11 Jun – Corpus Christi
18 Jun – Sacred Heart
02 Jul – Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
20 Jul – Independence Day
07 Aug – Boyaca Battle
20 Aug – Assumption of Mary
15 Oct – Columbus Day
05 Nov – All Saints Day
14 Nov – Independence of Cartagena
08 Dec – Immaculate Conception
25 Dec – Christmas