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What Are Common Mistakes When Planning a Trip to Colombia?

La Guajira desert

Updated on 03/13/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Navigating Colombia’s Climate: Plan Your Trip Right

Understanding the Seasonal Variations Across Colombia and Diversity of Weather

The Andean Region

  1. Dry and Rainy Seasons: Unlike areas with one rainy season, the Andean region experiences alternating weather patterns throughout the year.
  2. Optimal Travel Times: Tailor your visit based on the activities you plan, as different times of the year offer unique experiences.

The Caribbean Coast

  • Lengthy Dry Spells: Known for its extended periods of sunshine, making it a haven for beachgoers.

Regional Weather Patterns

The Amazon Basin and the Llanos

  • Rain as a Rejuvenator: The rainy season brings life to the rainforest, perfect for eco-tourists.
  • Travel Activities: Wildlife viewing and river tours are especially rich during the wet season.

La Guajira Peninsula

  1. Kite Surfing Season: Contrary to popular belief, June, a month typically avoided by travelers, is the prime month for kite surfing due to ideal wind conditions.

For detailed information about all regions, check out our Colombian Weather and Climate Guide.

Dresses for Colombia’s Diverse Climate

Weather in the Mountains

  • Cooler Cities: Elevated cities like Bogotá in the Andes are cooler, especially at night.
  • Packing Tips:
    1. Warm Clothing: Essential for the chilly weather.
    2. Sturdy Shoes: Necessary for varied terrains.

Vaccination Recommendations for Colombia

Health Precautions in Biodiverse Regions

  • Tropical Risks: Potential exposure to tropical diseases.
  • Vaccination Planning:
    • Advised well in advance, especially for rural or tropical areas.

For detailed information also consult our Medical and Vaccination Guide.

Managing Finances: Cash or Credit Cards

Navigating Monetary Transactions in Colombia

  • Cash Usage: Common.
  • Banking and Credit Cards:
    1. ATMs: Widely available for cash withdrawal.
    2. Credit Cards: Accepted in most urban areas.

Scheduling Your Colombian Journey

Understanding Colombia’s Geography and Infrastructure

  • Country Size: Fourth-largest in South America, covering 1.25 million square kilometers.
  • Travel Time Considerations:
    • Road Travel: Average speed often around 40 km/h (25 mph). Colombia is very mountainous in most parts.
    • Planning Reserve Time: Essential for a relaxed and flexible schedule.

Trust in Local Operators and Services in Colombia

Reconfirming Your Reservations

  • Potential Oversights: Local operators or hotels may sometimes overlook reservations.
  • Proactive Approach: As a practice, reconfirm all transport and services before arrival. We, as a local travel company in Bogotá, regularly verify each booking prior to our clients’ arrival at their destinations.

Packing Essentials for Colombia

What to Bring and What to Leave

  • Availability of Supplies: In Colombia, essentials like mosquito sprays and medications are readily available and often cheaper.
  • Packing Strategy: Avoid overpacking by purchasing necessary items locally instead.

Importance of Spanish Language in Colombia

Navigating with Limited English

  • Primary Language: Spanish is widely spoken, with limited English proficiency, except in large hotels and international airports.
  • Cultural Engagement:
    • Basic Spanish: Knowing simple phrases can enhance your travel experience.
    • Local Interaction: Colombians appreciate when foreigners attempt to speak Spanish and are generally very responsive and helpful.

Also check out Spanish Travel Phrases Guide.

Understanding Package Tourism in Colombia

Assessing the True Value of Tour Packages

  • Misleading Itineraries: Some tours may promise more than they deliver, like offering “4 days in Cartagena” but spending most of the time outside the city.
  • Making Informed Choices: Thoroughly review tour itineraries to ensure they meet your expectations. Remember, the value often reflects the price.
Guatapé Colombia

Navigating Holidays in Colombia

Colombia’s Abundance of Public Holidays

  • Frequent Celebrations: Colombia has 19 national holidays, one of the highest numbers globally.
  • Weekend Extensions: Many holidays are observed on Mondays, creating long weekends popular for domestic travel and excursions.

Planning Around Holidays

  • Tourist Attraction Considerations: To avoid crowds, it’s advisable to check the holiday calendar when planning visits to popular sites.
  • Easter Week Travel: Known as Semana Santa, this is a peak travel period within Colombia. Accommodations and transportation can be busier than usual.

Reliability of Online Travel Information on Colombia

Evaluating Online Travel Guides

  • Misinformation Online: Many popular blogs and guides about Colombia contain inaccuracies, often written by individuals with limited firsthand experience of the country.
  • Photo Authenticity: A reliance on third-party images rather than original photography can indicate a lack of genuine local knowledge.

Tips for Trustworthy Sources

  • Seeking Authentic Insight: Look for travel content created by those with extensive experience in or deep connections to Colombia.
  • Cross-Referencing Information: Verify facts across multiple trusted platforms to ensure accuracy and up-to-date advice.

When traveling to Colombia, an awareness of its holiday schedule and a critical approach to online resources can significantly enhance your travel experience. Understanding local customs and avoiding peak travel times during holidays can make your trip smoother and more enjoyable. Additionally, relying on credible sources for information about Colombia ensures a more authentic and informed journey.

More Colombia Travel Tips


About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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