Colombia: Health and safety - The Traveller


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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Colombia: Health and safety

Health and Vaccinations

While no vaccination is required, several are strongly recommended. It should be up to date of its universal vaccination (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B). It is also advisable to be vaccinated against hepatitis A (which remains the most common illness of the traveler as it is spread through food), and possibly against meningococcal meningitis.

- Antimalarial treatment: again, everything will depend on zones traveled. This treatment is highly recommended if you visit Amazon (classified in zone 3) and in the Llanos, in the departments of Choco and Guajira, in regions of Orinoquia, Pacifico and Uraba-Bajo Cauca. Use the preventive anti-malarial drugs, and protect yourself by applying repellent containing Deet at sunset (there also to impregnate clothing). Finally, sleep under a mosquito net.

The issue of malaria does not arise for the Andean region, or in the cities of Bogota, Cali and Medellin.

- Typhoid: for the Amazon region. Health authorities recommend vaccination "triple viral" and / or "antisarampiosa" (measles).

- Rabies: Vaccination recommended for travelers staying in rural areas. Urabá-Bajo Cauca.
- Yellow fever: useful for coastal regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, in the Amazon region, in the Llanos region and in the department of La Guajira. This vaccination is required in most parks in Colombia, and also by airlines serving the departments of Putumayo, Meta and Caquetá. It is useless at altitude.

Mountain sickness or altitude sickness

Caused by a rise in altitude too sudden, it results in most cases by a simple headache, but can also cause respiratory problems to pulmonary edema. It should therefore follow a few rules: eat little, ban alcohol and cigarette, household and physically for the more energetic, wait a few days before starting the ascent of summits.


The usual precautions should be enough to avoid too much inconvenience. Do not drink much safer than bottled water, be careful with ice, fruit and vegetables, eat well-cooked meat. Finally be aware that Colombia is well endowed with pharmacies, are found in all villages with basic drugs in general.

Dangers and that in which events

General Safety

Of course, I do not travel in Colombia as in any country, and here more than elsewhere, it must be extremely careful and respectful of safety. Even if it recognizes the progress in security in recent years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to view Colombia as a dangerous country.

He advises against Bogota, particularly east of the capital, and Cali. In Cartagena, he advises to stay in hotels secure, to limit its movement within the walled old city, with neighborhoods and Bocagrande Gethsemi and islands of the Rosary. He also strongly recommend visiting the city slums, and travel by land. Imperatively consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Upon arriving in Bogota, draw attention to his embassy and inquire about the situation in the areas that you want to visit.

The overall security situation has improved in recent years, but violence persists in the country, including political violence in the isolated countryside. The crime rate remains one of the highest in South America.

In big cities like Bogotá, Medellín and Santiago de Cali, the risks are: snatching, false policemen, armed robbery, assault with drugs hidden in a drink or dish, and kidnapping. It is not advisable to visit the slums.

While we can not ignore security issues, not paranoia: the tourist police watch and Colombians are overwhelmingly helpful and welcoming. Many travelers have spent a great time in Colombia.

Always keep your passport on yourself and make a photocopy, as well as his ticket.

Natural hazards

Colombia is located on an area of
​​high seismic and volcanic risk. Furthermore, winter precipitation train regularly floods of rivers, floods and landslides.


Be vigilant in large cities, especially in stations. Avoid traveling alone and carrying valuables. Only use ATMs in daylight and in crowded places (note that traveler’s checks are almost never accepted in Colombia). Use credit cards carefully, the cloning of payment instruments have been reported. Never hail a taxi in the street, and not borrow as radio taxis in advance by telephone. In restaurants, never leave his flat or his drink unattended.

In the event of armed assault, give what you are asked without fuss.

Caution with drugs, like cocaine majijuana that can be carried without your knowledge, and Burundanga the thieves are eating their victims to make them unconscious. The possession and consumption of drugs is severely punished.


For all hikes, it is advisable to contact the French embassy in Bogota before considering any trip to the Colombian National Parks: many of these areas are regularly visited by armed groups, and the absence of tourism infrastructure or even markup paths regularly leads hikers to get lost.

On the road, express kidnapping is a robbery at a red light, or hailing a taxi in front of an ATM.
The kidnappers hoped withdraw money.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, kidnappings are less frequent than they were; however, the greatest caution is in his choice of travel.

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