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Trip to Colombia - Safe to travel in Bogota?

I'm planning to have a trip in Bogota Colombia as backpackers is it safe to travel in Bogota?

I had some very serious problems in Bogota this last trip. Within a two week span, I was robbed once and woke up in the hospital, and two more times taxis almost got me but I figured out what was happening and I got out of it.

Three times in two weeks.

There are things to see and do in Bogota. But nothing worth dying for or worth the amount of anguish that I suffered after being robbed.

But I don't know your circumstances. I'm a very white looking guy. I look like a professional man, and it makes me a juicy target.

Perhaps you won't have any trouble. I didn't think I'd have any trouble either. I've been to some horrible places in the world and never got robbed. But Bogota got me. And it wasn't nice.

Send me a PM or even post here. I'll tell you where to go. There are very safe places in Colombia. But Bogota ain't one.

BrandonBP :

Bogota this last trip. Within a two week span, I was robbed once and woke up in the hospital, and two more times taxis almost got me but I figured out what was happening and I got out of it.

I’m glad you made it through that robbery/hospital episode, Brandon.

You have mentioned the taxi problems on another recent post.  What did happen, and how did you get out of it those two times?

cccmedia from Medellín [/b]

Shiue,

If you decide to reduce your time in Bogotá, consider as an alternative the Coffee Axis, which includes the cities of Armenia and Manizales .. and the pueblos of Salento and Filandia.

None of the places I mention above has the crime problems that plague areas of the capital.  And the Cafetero area has some of the most beautiful countryside you’ll find in South America.

cccmedia from Medellín

cccmedia :

You have mentioned the taxi problems on another recent post.  What did happen, and how did you get out of it those two times?

I was at a hostel in Chapinero. If you're unfamiliar, Chapinero is a very nice area of Bogota full of great shops and restaurants. It's very clean and feels very safe. But that's how they get you. When I went for my replacement passport after getting robbed, the case officer at the US Embassy told me that most gringos get robbed in Chapinero because it's where the rich people hang out. So that's where the robbers go.

So, at this hostel I had met some Europeans in Canadians and the whole group was going out for beers. And ironically I told them, "Hey the scopolamine druggings here are very real. I've heard too many personal stories about getting drugged, and I hung out with a Canadian guy last week that told me it had happened to him twice in Medellin. And he was an honest guy and I believed him, so watch your beers. It's a real threat."

So 9 or 10 of us travelers go to a bar with three floors. We get beers and go to the third floor. People are dancing and having a huge time, but it's very hot and the air is thick. So I tell my traveler companions I'm going downstairs to get some fresh air and have a smoke (I realize the irony in that statement).

I go downstairs outside on the street and meet some Colombian guys hanging out on the street drinking and smoking. I'm used to Colombians being hospitable, and these people were welcoming. They said have a seat and hang out. So I did. We're outside a bar in a major street, so I'm safe. Right?

I was watching my drink like I always do. The only thing I can figure is that one time I set my beer down. The guy on my left introduced me to a man, and I set my beer down to shake his hand. The guy on my right must have swapped our beers. It only takes a second.

The next few minutes, they're trying to talk me into going to a party. And I know better, and I politely decline. They were like, "Man, my sister and her friends are at this party and let's go have some drinks and a good time and meet some chicas." And I still know better and say, "Thanks, but I'm here with friends from my hotel."

But then the roofy takes effect. They're trying to talk me into leaving still, and suddenly I said, "Yeah, let's go!" And the last thing I remember is getting into a cab with them. And I NEVER would have done that, not even drunk out of my mind. I would NEVER EVER get into a car with some guys in Bogota! I was scopolamined and had no self control. I'm surprised I even remember getting into the cab. But there was a taxi involved. They weren't robbing me in the back of a taxi without the driver being in on it.

I awoke the next day in a hospital bed with a catheter setting my d+ck on fire. I still had on all my clothes and even was still wearing my boots. But I immediately realized what had happened to me. The nurses said I was lying in the street unconscious and someone called an ambulance. I had a black eye and road rash on my cheek. I wasn't beaten up, but they had shoved me out of the car onto the sidewalk onto my face, I think.

They took everything. To wake up in a foreign country without any money or credit cards or a phone or a passport is not fun. It didn't ruin my 3 month vacation, but it was a lot of stress. If I hadn't known a Bogota girl that took me in, then I would have been homeless in Colombia sleeping in the streets without anything to eat.

Many Bogotenos after that al told me stories about being drugged or of friends being drugged. It's not a wive's tale.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article … -will.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToQ8PWYnu04
"The Most Dangerous Drug in the World"

I'll tell you about the other two almost robberies later. I'm going to go watch some more Netflix. :)

Great post, Brandon. :top:   That is the ultimate cautionary tale for Latin America travelers.

Reminds me of my visit to San José, Costa Rica, years ago when I foolishly walked alone on a deserted street in a known ‘bad area’ at midnight.  Two men approached me from different directions, one from the rear.

That guy got hold of me, knocked me out -- scopolamine?, maybe, or another drug, I don’t know -- and I woke up lying in the street, woozy, almost half an hour later.  My watch and $55 in cash were gone.  I reported the crime but did not need to go to the hospital.

I imagine Brandon already knows the following, but it bears repeating for others....

1.  Do not carry your original passport if you’re going out at night (nor most other times).  I have been routinely stopped various times during my years visiting Latin American cities... and have never had a problem showing a copy of my passport -- not the original -- to policía.

2.  Do not carry all your cash in your pockets.  Use a secret-hiding-device or keep some cash in the hotel such as in your guest-room security box or the reception safe.

3.  Do not carry both (or all) of your Visa / MasterCards at the same time if you can keep at least one at the hotel.

Naturally, some of these rules can’t be followed if you’re traveling between cities on a given day.  Still, divide and hide cash .. avoid drinking scenarios in unsecured areas .. and make things as hard as possible for ladrones, delincuentes y malditos.

Thanks again, Brandon, for assisting your fellow travelers, going forward.

cccmedia

The rules above that CCC give are golden and I almost always follow them. But I had just checked into a new hostel and there were other bags in my room. So I knew someone else was staying in my room, I hadn't met them, and there were no places to put my lock on my locker.

And I know this will sound horrible, but travelers familiar with hostels in Colombia will tell you... you're normally fine with other gringos and European, Aussies, etc. in your room. They tend to be honest. But if you have Colombians in your room, then they may go through your things. And that's a stereotype and a generalization, but I had seen some Colombian guests downstairs and didn't know if they were my roomies. So it was a crapshoot. Carry my things or leave them in an unsecured room. Else, I always carry copies of my ID and leave my cards at the hotel.

I was with 10 other gringos and usually you're safe in numbers. But I had separated myself from the group. I consider myself to be a guy that can take care of myself. And I can sniff out danger and get out of trouble. But if you get the roofy, it only takes 2 or 3 minutes, and there is NOTHING you can do for yourself.  The jerks can just tell you what to do, and you'll do it. I'm lucky they didn't take me to the ATM and have me withdraw the limit on my cash. That's what they normally do. So, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. And it's good, I guess, that I was in fact roofied and pacified, else I may have fought them and they WILL stab you if you resist.

Maybe I'm just unlucky. Some people live in Bogota for years and never have trouble. But I had three bad experiences with crime in 2 weeks.

Hi! We heard the same story as this from two locals who got drugged. They hosted us when we were in Botoga and warned us of how prolific this drug is at the moment.

Use your senses basically and dont risk getting really pissed. Colombians are incredible people BUT they know they have this reputation and tey will use it against you and make uyou feel so comfortable that you let your guard down. Please dont trust randoms you meet in bars.

We have been backpacking around colombia for a month and have one month left and we have not had any problems at all but we are cautious are not not crazy party goers. We have been offered FAR more drugs in this country than all of the other countries we have travelled through over the last 12 months, drugs are still an issue here.

Have fun, dont take risks and dont befriend strangers.

flyonthewall :

Have fun, dont take risks and dont befriend strangers.

If I didn't befriend strangers, I'd never have any friends. :)

I'm sure you catch my drift!

flyonthewall :

I'm sure you catch my drift!

Yeah, I knew what you meant. But I travel to meet people. And if I'm so scared as to not talk to anyone, then that defeats the purpose of my travels.

And the difficult thing is... when you first meet Colombians, you WILL feel like, "Man, this has to be a scam or these guys must robbers." But the Colombians are just that nice. They're that friendly and great. So, that also makes it hard to discern who's good and bad.

A good start in weeding out the criminals is just to hang out with good Colombians. They will run off a guy if they sense he's a nere-do-well. They tend to know who's bad. And the good Colombians will absolutely take care of their gringo buddy if they think someone is messing with you. I've experienced it. The Colombians are honorable. You just have to figure out which are which.

Salud!

Yes and no really. I've been travelling for 18 months, I know all about wanting to meet people, but there are certain places where being a bit more on the defensive is just safer, perhaps especially for girls. Colombians are the nicest people I have met on my travels, that's for sure but they are also the people I have heard he most horror stories about and I've heard quite a few. So i guess it's just a case of using your intuition.

But don't "dar papaya". 
https://www.google.com/search?q=dar+pap … p;oe=utf-8

Or as the saying goes, Trust but Verify.  Blind trust will get you into trouble, not with the good guys but with the bad guys.  Don't place yourself at a disadvantage any more than you have to, otherwise there are plenty of pillos who will take advantage.

It's OK to open up with people.  But don't go overboard and let them start pouring your drinks and taking you for a ride...

Maybe another explanation is, don't leave yourself open to where people have a choice between doing the right thing to you and for you, and doing the wrong thing.  Too many will take advantage and do the wrong thing, especially if they think they can get away with it.

OsageArcher :

It's OK to open up with people.  But don't ... let them start pouring your drinks and taking you for a ride...

There are some things I typically won’t “open up” about, especially if a desconocido is asking me about these subjects....

-- I won’t tell them how long I’ll be in town.

-- I won’t tell them where I’m staying.

-- I won’t tell them if I own my own home.

-- I won’t tell them if I own a car.

-- I won’t tell them about my source(s) of income.

-- I won’t tell them my last name.

You can find plenty to talk about without giving out these details, which IMO they don’t need to know.

If they get too nosy, I might ask: ¿Estás conectado con la fiscalía? (Are you connected with the DA’s office?)

That usually gets a smile, and they instantly shape up.

cccmedia

That's scary🙈

If that’s your take, Shiue -- “That’s scary” -- I don’t think you should be spending time in Bogotá.  If the idea of concealing your financial information from strangers scares you, you might be better off in a more tranquil place.

Colombia has plenty of them.  In alphabetical order, here are a few... Armenia, Manizales, the Poblado section of Medellín, Popayán and Salento.

All of the places I mention are at lower altitudes than Bogotá -- meaning more oxygen in the air you would breathe.  Except possibly for Poblado, air pollution is less at these places.  Those would be additional advantages for you in avoiding the capital as more than a connection point.

cccmedia

I was in college in the 90's and I took a class on international terrorism as a law class credit. My professor always warned us, "Bogota, Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world for an American."

So I'm walking around the streets of Bogota enjoying it. I'm in Chapinero and just ate fish and chips at a nice pub. And I'm thinking, "Dr. Quarles would be happy to know that Bogota is better now."

Then a few hours later I woke up in the hospital with all my s++t missing. Hehe.

Yeah guys, just stay out of that city. I won't say I didn't have any fun there. I did. But the rest of the country is so great that there's no reason to stay in Bogota. There's trash and graffiti all over. It's just a massive, dirty, dangerous city.

Just remember these three words: Salento.

When was this experience?

February.

It's frustrating because this country is sooooo awesome but this kind of thing does put me on living in Bogota... As an blonde blue eyed British girl, I stick out quick a lot. But I loved the week I spent there a few weeks ago. However I didn't use public transport once and only walked in daylight... Which perhaps isn't realistic when you're living somewhere.

Me too like the original poster plan a trip to Bogota. I will stay in Chapinero area likely around zona T or Parque 93 and stay inside after dark and only come out in daytime and will always call for a taxi (not flag one on street). Will order food (delivery). I don't take much cash with me when walking outside and will never carry any bank card with me.  This is basically it to minimize the risk.

tourist2016 :

Me too like the original poster plan a trip to Bogota. I will stay in Chapinero area likely around zona T or Parque 93 and stay inside after dark and only come out in daytime and will always call for a taxi (not flag one on street). Will order food (delivery). I don't take much cash with me when walking outside and will never carry any bank card with me.  This is basically it to minimize the risk.

That sort of makes it sound like you're going to be in 1980's Beirut, but that's absolutely the attitude you need to have in Bogota. The Bogotenos have that attitude, and it's for a reason. They grew up there and know what can happen.

And I promised quite a while back to give you guys the deets (that's what the cool kids say for 'details' these days, I think) on my two almost taxi robberies.

The first issue I had was leaving a club. I had followed two German guys from my hostel to a club late at night in Chapinero, and this place was massive. I don't remember the name but it had five floors of party. And I usually hate those places, but I'm having fun. I hit it off with this nice Colombian girl and the German guys go to another part of the club since I was talking. The girl invited me to come back to their apartment for a party but her roommate put the kabosh on that, so I got c0ckblocked. But the Bogotenos tend to be more careful about bringing random people back to the house.

So, the girls leave and now I can't find the German guys, so I decide to go back to the hostel. It's only 12 blocks away, but I figure a cab is safer than walking through Bogota at 3 AM. There are taxis outside, and I KNOW BETTER, but I'm a bit tipsy and hail one off the curb because I guess I'm a dumbass. The taxis will sit and wait on dumb gringos to leave the club.

I get in the car and he's taking me away from the hotel. I'd been in Chapinero for a few days and knew my hotel was the opposite direction. I was yelling at the guy to let me out, and he just kept saying, "NO amigo! I'm taking you to a great party! Lots of nice chicas!" If they ever say they're taking you to a party, GET THE F+CK OUT OF THE TAXI. I finally told the guy I was going to hit him as hard as I could if he didn't either turn around or let me out. "Yo voy a pegarte lo mas fuerte que puedo si no me llevas a mi hotel, marica!" Maybe that's not grammatically correct, but he seemed to get the message because he finally turns around and goes to my hotel. Then he wants 20mil pesos for taking me 12 blocks the wrong way. I throw 5mil into the front seat and get out onto the sidewalk. I ask, "You wanna call the policia?" He said, "No senor" and drove away. Because we both knew damn well he was taking me to his buddies to rob me.

So the next night I get robbed and woke up in the hospital, and you already know that story. A girl I had dated took me in and let me stay at her apartment in Bogota. Thank god for that or else I would have been homeless. And that's not me being dramatic, I would have had to live on the streets with no money or cards if this girl didn't save me.

So, she lives in Fontibon. I liked Fontibon. Except for the airplanes always flying overhead, I felt welcome there and it seemed pretty laid back. So, Fed Ex calls and says they have my packages with my new debit and credit cards from my bank in the US. They can't apparently bring it to the house because they're incompetent and refused to come try and deliver the sh1t.

So the girl tells me she has to go to sign some loan contracts or something for work but to wait and she'll walk with me to Fed Ex later. I say, "Nah, it's 10AM. I'll just go. It'll be fine." And she insists that she wants to go and I say no. Another mistake on my part.

I cut out walking through Fontibon and can't find the damn Fed Ex place. So I stop at a farmacia and the phamacist tells me, "You're on the right street, but it's 32 blocks that way." I don't want to walk 32 blocks, so I hail a cab off the street (yes, you see the theme here. I'm an idiot).

The driver is in his early 20's, and as soon as I get in he makes a phone call. I can't understand what he's saying. And then he's texting the entire time. It makes me very nervous. If this happens, you SHOULD be very nervous.

Now he's driving in a direction that doesn't seem like the right way. I don't know for sure, but it's 10 in the morning and I'm twice the driver's size, so I keep riding. We get off onto the highway and start going towards downtown. This doesn't seem right. We finally get off the highway and now I can see the addresses on the buildings. We're 42 blocks farther away from Fed Ex than when I got into the taxi. So I've decided to get out, but I just want to see what the guy would say, so I ask him, "Are we close to Fed Ex now?" And he says, "No senor. We still have about another 20 minutes through the barrios." I was like holy sh1t and told him to let me out.

I hail another cab, and this man is older, perhaps 65ish, so I feel better. He seems like a mild little fellow, and now I'm more relaxed. I'm a nervous wreck because I know what just almost happened. I told him to take me to Fed Ex and he turns around and takes me 42 blocks back the other direction from where we had just driven. I told the man what just happened and said, "Do you think that other driver was mistaken?" He gave me a sad look in the rearview mirror and said, "No senor. I don't think he was mistaken."

So, my problem is is that I tend to be complacent sometimes. I'm a fairly fit guy with past defense training. I've been all over the world and have always gotten out of trouble when it presented itself. Like these two almost taxi robberies, I figured out what was happening and got out of it. But if you set down your beer and they swap it out with theirs that has a roofy, it only takes a split second, and then you have no way to fend for yourself. The drug takes effect very quickly, and you'll do whatever you're told.

So, I know this all sounds like some sort of documentary special on what NOT to do in Bogota, and I guess my own arrogance and complacency put myself in these situations. So, the moral of the story is... don't go to Bogota. If you do, then hang on! It may be a helluva ride.

BrandonBP :

That sort of makes it sound like you're going to be in 1980's Beirut, but that's absolutely the attitude you need to have in Bogota. The Bogotenos have that attitude, and it's for a reason. They grew up there and know what can happen.

Yeah, that is unfortunate since I hear it is a beautiful country with great climate and nice kind welcoming people (well most are) and beautiful ladies. My plan is to meet some people in Zona T (if I dare to go out) but will be calling for taxis every time with little cash in my pocket and no credit card on me and will be constantly watching my drinks. I hope I can still enjoy my time.

What's the airport in Bogota? Is there any other airport than Eldorado?

Ever heard of the Guaymaral airport?  Didn’t think so.  It’s in the northwest part of metro Bogotá -- and is for so-called general aviation and pilot training.

El Dorado aka BOG is the third busiest airport in passenger traffic in Latin America*.  Opened in 1959, enormous El Dorado can handle as many as 6,000 connections a day in the modern época.

If you’re flying from outside Colombia to Medellín, the Coffee Axis, Popayán, Cali or a lot of the other COL cities, you’re probably changing planes at El Dorado.

Source:  Wikipedia


*Passenger traffic leaders among Latin America airports: 
    1.  Mexico City International Airport
    2.  The international airport that serves Sao Paolo, Brazil
    3.  El Dorado, Bogotá

Anybody knows as a rough estimate how many percent of tourists face any kind of problems? I  know that about 4 million tourists visiting Colombia every year but we don't hear about those who travel safely and walk on streets and take taxis safely but only read about those who are robbed (not all) or shot dead (all) so any idea? This gives a gauge of how safe or unsafe Colombia is. And for me anything above 1 percent is too risky to take chances no matter how good the trip would be.

Seriously, with all your worrying it sounds as if you'd be better off not going to Colombia.  Your attitude alone would make you stand out as a potential victim.  Predators can smell fear, they can spot a prey animal from a long distance.

I've been traveling to Colombia since 1996 and have never had any problems whatsoever.  Maybe I've just been lucky - others have had problems, heck, even the natives get robbed - it happens.   

You could go to many parts of any major US city and be in just as much danger.   Just as in the US, if you take care not to put yourself in dicey situations, if you don't do stupid things, your odds of never having a problem go way up in your favor.

You can get some statistics here, for what it's worth, and compare Colombian cities as well as US cities (try Detroit, for instance):
https://www.numbeo.com/crime/country_re … y=Colombia

tourist2016 :

Anybody knows as a rough estimate how many percent of tourists face any kind of problems? I  know that about 4 million tourists visiting Colombia every year but we don't hear about those who travel safely and walk on streets and take taxis safely but only read about those who are robbed (not all) or shot dead (all) so any idea? This gives a gauge of how safe or unsafe Colombia is. And for me anything above 1 percent is too risky to take chances no matter how good the trip would be.

Well, it's sort of like plane crashes. They don't happen all that much, but when they do, you will hear about them.

That being said, I've traveled extensively through Colombia, and I've experienced bad things and I've heard bad things from other gringos. I've also run across many gringos that have had the best of luck in Colombia.

But if your standard is 1%, then yeah, there's at the VERY least a 1% chance you'll have some troubles.  People try to compare Colombia to Memphis or Detroit, and that's fair I guess. But I don't hang out in Memphis or Detroit because I know they're sh1tholes full of criminals. And Bogota or Medellin can give you a world of grief, too.

It's up to you. Just stay the hell out of Bogota, and you'll likely be fine. Keep your wallet in some different pocket besides your right back trouser pocket. Don't put your bag under your chair at the bus station unless you have your bag strap hooked around your ankle. Don't stand on the street corner using your i-Phone or some motorcycle will ride by and grab it. Don't get lured anywhere by anyone you don't know. Don't walk down dark alleys alone. DON'T DRINK BEVERAGES THAT YOU HAVEN'T KEPT CHECK WITH.

You will likely be ok. But if 1% trouble bothers you, then Colombia ain't your spot.

Thanks both for the advice and your posts.

Yeah likely should avoid though so tempted. If I do come I rent near Parque 93 (safest area) in a building with several security guards and only come out daytime and very rarely for absolute essential things like grocery once a week (so twice only) and will order food delivery. Likely try to hire a private (UBER) driver if I decide to g out after dark but very unlikely.

Some rough calculations based on available data tells me chances are lower than 1% for a rwo weeks visit. Why?

There has been 2500 robberies/muggings in Chapinero in 2013. Chapinero's population is 155000.
http://colombiareports.com/bogota-crime-statistics/

This means one in every 68 person in Chapinero gets robbed in a year (about 1.33% chance over 52 weeks). For someone being there for two weeks then chances are 1.33/52% or roughly 0.027% for a native Colombian in Chapinero. Multiply that by a factor of 10 for a vistitor still under 1% around 0.3%.

Strange that when I tried Airbnb the landlords all told me Chapinero is the safest area but statistics shows it has the highest robbery rate in the entire Bogota!!!!!!.

tourist2016 :

Chapinero is the safest area but statistics shows it has the highest robbery rate in the entire Bogota!!!!!!.

Yeah, well... I found out the hard way.

When I showed up to my embassy with a bruised face, the case officer told me Chapinero was the worst place for robberies. And I said, "But it feels like the nice part of town. I felt like it was the safest spot in Bogota."

The embassy case officer said, "Yep, and that's why the bad guys hang out in Chapinero. Because there's where the rich people hang out."

BrandonBP :
tourist2016 :

Chapinero is the safest area but statistics shows it has the highest robbery rate in the entire Bogota!!!!!!.

Yeah, well... I found out the hard way.

When I showed up to my embassy with a bruised face, the case officer told me Chapinero was the worst place for robberies. And I said, "But it feels like the nice part of town. I felt like it was the safest spot in Bogota."

The embassy case officer said, "Yep, and that's why the bad guys hang out in Chapinero. Because there's where the rich people hang out."

Chapinero too is a large area. I am guessing that areas around Parque 93 or Zona T which are crowded with people is safer and with fewer incidents of robbery/mugging than say the central and southern parts but just guessing as I have never been there. I am having my eyes on Lloyds hotel which is near Parque 93. I hope it would be safer.

tourist2016 :
BrandonBP :
tourist2016 :

Chapinero is the safest area but statistics shows it has the highest robbery rate in the entire Bogota!!!!!!.

Yeah, well... I found out the hard way.

When I showed up to my embassy with a bruised face, the case officer told me Chapinero was the worst place for robberies. And I said, "But it feels like the nice part of town. I felt like it was the safest spot in Bogota."

The embassy case officer said, "Yep, and that's why the bad guys hang out in Chapinero. Because there's where the rich people hang out."

Chapinero too is a large area. I am guessing that areas around Parque 93 or Zona T which are crowded with people is safer and with fewer incidents of robbery/mugging than say the central and southern parts but just guessing as I have never been there. I am having my eyes on Lloyds hotel which is near Parque 93. I hope it would be safer.

I was on a main street with lots of bars and people and cars. :/

Holla friends:

I am trying to Google search Colombia immigration requirements as a possibility to live there permanently after retirement (though many years away so just curious) but to my surprise I can't find anything!!!!. What do I require to immigrate to Colombia? Where can I find the rules? Is there such thing as immigration or Colombia only permits temporary visit to those not born there not permanent residency?

Thanks in advance.

The Colombia cancillería site describing types of visas is at:

http://www.cancilleria.gov.co/en/proced … ices/visas

Migración Colombia is at:

http://migracioncolombia.gov.co/index.php/es/

You can also do searches for 'colombia visa' ,  'colombia immigration' and 'colombia migración'.  There are a number of firms in the USA and in Colombia who will assist with visas.  I do not have any pecuniary interest or any other affiliation with any of these:

https://colombia.visahq.com/

http://colombiavisas.com/

https://www.traveldocs.com/expedited-vi … -country49

http://langoncolombia.com/immigration-law/

Thank you very much OsageArcher. The links were very useful.

The colombiavisas site posted above by Brother Archer is for a company run by James Lindzey, a U.S. Expat.  He supervises a number of attorneys at his office in Poblado sector, Medellín, which has received a lot of praise from Expats posting their experiences on the Internet.

My take on said website is that they understand that many Expats need to have the immigration / visa processes simplified for them.  The company can provide apostille/certification/translation services for documents demonstrating U.S. Social Security income, for example, eliminating the need for an Expat to search around town for individual providers of these three sub-services.

Another excellent site for simplified yet apparently accurate information for your quest is www.medellinliving.com.... Although Medellín is in the site name, the information on visas -- temporary, tourist/extension visas and residency visas -- is suitable for Expats moving to other places in COL as well .. and will be worth your time to read.

cccmedia

Thank you too very much cccmedia.

I'm reading your original post and putting it together with the latest revised US DOS travel warnings which involve the entire country.  You can read it for yourself, but bombings stand out.  I'm not a backpacker now (used to be, a long 'used to be" ago), instead a retiree looking a Colombia as a possibility. I've lived and worked in Puerto Rico long ago before it was the drug capital of the Caribbean and in economic shambles and Mexico and never once had any untoward incident. I speak, read and write Spanish.

However, to the point, not thinking about Bogota, but rather coastal towns like Cartagena, Cali. So, the same deal with crime in these locations, less or more?

Thanks

D Martin

I too lived and worked in PR when it was on its way downhill, 2001-2003 and it's a wonderful place with wonderful people but as you say an economic disaster.  Even then anyone with eyes open could see what was coming, with then 30% of the people who were employed, employed by government at one level or another (and thus producing nothing) and with consumer prices high and going always higher, and government spending going up and up without regard to debt or revenues.

Just one point - Cali is not a coastal city.  It's several hours away from Buenaventura which is Colombia's major port city.  And it's hot, not just in weather but in ambience and presence.  It's known as the home of salsa, and "la sucursal del cielo".

Cali has crime but I've always felt fairly safe there, depending on where you go.  In general if you are in the higher-class areas say estratos 4-6 there is more security but that's no guarantee, because the robbers also go to those places because that's where the money is!  But in poorer neighborhoods that are classified as estratos 1-2 you may stand out as a target especially if you look like a gringo.  At night it is of course more dangerous than during the day.

I would not give much credence to travel warnings for the entire country at this time.  The Colombian people are as warm and welcoming as the Puerto Ricans or even more so, and crime occurs mostly in the bigger cities - but as a gringo you must always remember, people think you're rich just because you are a gringo so to the bad guys you will always be a possible target.

During the day you can be pretty safe anywhere in Cali but if you stand out as a gringo and do stupid stuff like display your wealth or appear confused and uncertain, the bad guys will take notice and plan accordingly.  Most crimes on the street are crimes of opportunity - they can strike in seconds and be away.  This is true of criminals anywhere but you should always practice situational awareness and always have a plan.

That said, I've been going to Colombia since the 1990s and have never had any crime problem - but I've also generally been in the company of Colombian family members or a larger group.  When I've been alone, I just go about my business, have not hesitated to speak to strangers (much to the dismay of my Colombian family members), and have so far been OK.

I feel safe in most parts of Cali, as safe or safer than areas like Santurce in San Juan, PR.   There are thousands of gringo expats in Colombia all over the country and I think most of them would agree that yes, there's crime, but it is by no means a show-stopper for visiting or living almost anywhere you please - but it is very helpful to speak the language fluently and also to have Colombian family or friend connections that can help guide you.

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