Is it Safe to Travel to Ecuador?

Ecuador is a diverse country in South America, known for its vast amount of wildlife and the famous Galápagos Islands. With incredible beaches looking out onto the Pacific Ocean and a range of scenery that includes mountains, volcanoes and rainforests, Ecuador is a haven for nature lovers or those wanting a holiday steeped in adventure and exploration.

Many people come to Ecuador to explore its landscape, whether that’s trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, climbing one of the Andes mountains or simply travelling around the different areas of the country to enjoy the wide range of experiences that are on offer. On the whole, Ecuador is a pretty safe place to travel to and is an ideal holiday destination, but there are some things that you should be aware of before you travel.

The good news is that the most dangerous part of Ecuador is one that travellers are highly unlikely to spend any time in; the exclusion zone on the Colombian border. This area is known for its drug problems, criminal groups and kidnapping cases, and tourists are not allowed anywhere near. The only instance you should need to come to the exclusion is if you are crossing the border at the official location, which is protected by the military and should be safe.

Travellers should be warned that there is a moderate threat of natural disaster in Ecuador, as the country is on the equator and can experience earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Although the risks of encountering natural disasters are not very high, you should still make sure that you are aware of the evacuation procedures that Ecuador has in place, and consider downloading an earthquake app on your phone to keep you informed if there is an emergency.

If you are coming to Ecuador then you should remember that the few dangerous risks the country poses are highly unlikely to affect travellers and that the majority of people who come to the country have an entirely safe trip. In case of an emergency, it is always wise to purchase comprehensive travel insurance to protect you if something does go wrong, and provide you with peace of mind so that you can enjoy your holiday.

Ecuador Flag

Health Concerns in Ecuador

6-8 weeks before you travel, you will need to make an appointment to receive the appropriate vaccinations before travelling to Ecuador. All routine vaccinations should be up to date for anyone travelling to the country, and it is also recommended that you receive boosters against Hepatitis A and Typhoid, as there is a risk of coming into contact with both of these whilst in Ecuador.

It may be recommended for some travellers to also receive boosters against Rabies, Tetanus and Hepatitis B, depending on what they will be doing in the country and how long they will be staying there.

Anyone who is taking medication for a long-term condition should check the legality of this medicine in Ecuador before they travel, to make sure that it will not get confiscated on arrival. It is a good idea to bring a surplus of specific medication when travelling to a foreign country in case your journey home gets delayed, but make sure you check if there are limits to the amount you can bring into the country.

Ecuador is a country where malaria is present, but you have a very low risk of contracting the disease. Malaria tablets are not usually advised, but it is strongly recommended that you take precautions against insect bites by covering your skin in the evenings, using insect repellent, and sleeping under a mosquito net.

There is a low risk of yellow fever in Ecuador as well, particularly in certain rural areas of the country. Whilst only required for some travellers who are coming from other countries in South America or Africa, it is strongly recommended if you are visiting some areas of Ecuador. More details can be found online, and your doctor should be able to advise you on the risk.

A health risk that is prevalent in Ecuador is altitude sickness, which you are at risk of when in parts of the country that have an altitude of over 2500 metres. You should research the risks and symptoms of altitude sickness and acute mountain sickness before taking part in any activity that will involve high altitudes, and ensure that you ascend areas above 2500 metres slowly and safely.

Cuenca Cathedral

Food and Drink Safety in Ecuador

The majority of food that you will find in Ecuador will be safe to eat, as long as you follow common sense when choosing where to buy from. Meals from street vendors will always carry a higher risk as health and safety standards will be lower, but food from most restaurants and cafes will be fine.

As a general rule in any country, avoid eating and meat or eggs that do not appear to have been cooked properly, and do not accept any meat that looks like it has come from a dubious source. Ensure that dairy products are pasteurised and stored in a refrigerated area, and don’t risk consuming anything that looks or smells like it might have gone off.

The water in Ecuador is not safe to drink, and whilst fruit and vegetables from the country are safe to eat they can become contaminated if washed in water that has not been purified. Always check that any fruit or veg has been cleaned properly, or clean it yourself, and never eat salad from a restaurant unless it specifically states that it has been washed in uncontaminated water.

Any tap water in Ecuador is likely to contain bacteria that will make you ill, so you will have to buy bottled water during your stay. You can use iodine tablets to purify water or boil water if you are desperate, but the best thing to do is just purchase purified water in a sealed bottle, so you know it will be safe to drink.

Juices can often be mixed with contaminated water or unpasteurised milk, so avoid buying these when out and about. Ice cubes that are offered in restaurants are often made with tap water, so make sure you order all cold drinks without ice.

Crime in Ecuador

A good idea when travelling to any new country is to research common scams and crimes that affect tourists, and which areas are particularly unsafe. Overall Ecuador is a relatively safe country, and travellers who stick to the populated and tourist-focused areas of Ecuador are very unlikely to fall victim to crime, as long as they are aware of the risks and pay close attention to their belongings and surroundings.

The most common incidences of crime that travellers to Ecuador are likely to encounter are things like mugging, pickpocketing or tourist scams. Staying vigilant and following common sense is the best way to avoid being targeted by criminals, but purchasing travel insurance will protect you and your belongings in the unlikely event you fall victim to local crime.

The best way to avoid falling being targeted by pickpockets is simply not to bring anything valuable with you to Ecuador, as this eradicates your risk of losing it or having it stolen. Always keep expensive items such as phones and cameras out of sight if you are travelling, and never leave your bag or jacket unattended, wherever you are.

Tourists can be targeted whilst withdrawing money from a bank or ATM. It is worth knowing that the Ecuadorian police offer a free escort to and from a bank if you need to withdraw a large amount of money, and travellers are encouraged to use this service to stay safe.

Cases of armed robbery are increasing in Ecuador, especially in Quito, Guayaquil and other remote areas. Tourists are not recommended to spend time in these parts of the country so it is unlikely that you will encounter any armed robbery, but it is safest to travel in a group and always hand over your belongings straight away if you are threatened.

Unfortunately, sexual assault against foreign women does occur in Ecuador, particularly in the eastern city of Montañita. Women, in particular, should make sure that their accommodation is secure and be wary of travelling on their own, but all travellers should remain vigilant and take safety precautions against attacks from strangers.

Drugs are often used by criminals to confuse or subdue their victims, and variations of the drug scopolamine particularly are found in a lot of criminal attacks in Ecuador. Never accept food, drink, or even leaflets from strangers who approach you, and notify someone if you start to feel unwell and fear that you might have been drugged.

Ecuador Basin

Terrorism Risks

Although there is not a high risk of terrorism in Ecuador, the exclusion zone on the border of Colombia and the northern province of Esmeraldas have experienced several bomb explosions in recent years. Travellers are not allowed to enter this area unless for exceptional, essential travel however, so your risk is very low. Any terror attacks that do occur in Ecuador are likely to be the work of small, independent groups that may have come from or been influenced by the activity in the neighbouring countries of Peru and Columbia.

Despite some period of political unrest, Ecuador is considered to be a relatively peaceful country in comparison to other areas of South America, although there is always a small risk of sudden change. It is advised however that you stay away from any political protest or event that may happen in the country, as these are likely to have a higher risk of danger.

There is currently an increased threat of terror attacks against UK citizens wherever you travel, although there is no greater risk of this when visiting Ecuador. Read up on government advice on how to protect yourself, and stay vigilant at all times whilst travelling.

Family Travel Safety

Culture in Ecuador is centred around families, which makes it an excellent place to bring children for a holiday. From the long, sandy beaches to the thrilling Galápagos Islands, the country presents a whole new world of sights and experiences that guarantee a thrilling holiday.

Adventurous children will love visiting Ecuador, with its exciting landscape and plethora of different outdoor activities. The country is best suited to children who can join in with activities such as hiking, cycling and swimming, as these are some of the best ways to explore the different parts of Ecuador.

Ecuador’s position on the equator, and the altitude of some parts of the country, mean that everyone is more at risk of getting sunburn or heatstroke, so make sure to pack adequate sun protection for every member of your family. You should also make sure that all children are up to date on routine vaccinations before travelling.

Some areas of the country are less safe than others, and if you are travelling with children it is advised to stick to the large and busy areas of Ecuador, where serious crime is less likely. Make sure your children do not wander off by themselves and know what to do in an emergency, to ensure that your trip is safe and relaxing for everyone.

Galapagos Island Bird

Female Travel Safety

Ecuador is no more dangerous for female travellers than most other countries, but women who are travelling alone should take the same safety precautions as they would whilst anywhere else. Unfortunately, women on their own are more at risk of becoming victims of crime or sexual assault, and you should try and stay in a group of people you know as much as possible, to avoid being targeted.

Solo female travellers should travel around the country using private transportation; ordering taxis from reputable companies and never just hailing one from the street. Avoid driving in a car on your own as women tend to be targeted by smash-and-grab thieves if they are thought to be alone in a car.

Any women, alone or with friends, may encounter some level of catcalling when out and about in Ecuador, because of the country’s culture and attitude towards masculinity. The best advice if you encounter some form of minor sexual harassment is to just try and ignore it, and move away from those who are trying to get your attention.

As with any country, women should keep hold of their drinks when out in the evenings, and the use of a drug called scopolamine is commonly used to spike drinks in Ecuador to subdue victims of assault. Stay in a group when moving around at night, and always stick to busy and well-lit areas when you are meeting or talking to somebody new.

Rural areas or towns such as Guayaquil and Quito or more likely to be unsafe for women, and if you are coming to Ecuador on your own and want to explore areas like the Amazon or the Galápagos Islands, it is recommended that you join a group tour.

Tips for Staying Safe in Ecuador

  • Do Your Research

The best way to stay safe whilst travelling to any new country is to make yourself aware of the potential risks you may encounter so that you can avoid them and know how to keep yourself safe. Most of Ecuador’s safety issues can easily be dealt with if you know what to expect and remember to keep an eye out for any potentially dangerous situations as you travel.

  • Use Common Sense

Following safety guidelines, remaining alert and being sensible are some of the best ways to stay safe whilst travelling in Ecuador, and should ensure that you have an enjoyable and hassle-free experience of the country. The majority of tourists do not have any problems during their stay, and using your common sense will get you a long way when it comes down to making safe and responsible decisions.

  • Buy the Right Insurance

Ecuador is generally a safe country, but it is wise to purchase travel insurance before your trip in case anything does go wrong. Health issues, theft, weather or politics can affect a holiday to any country, and it is always reassuring to know that you have insurance in the case of any sudden changes.

Ecuador Volcano

Travel insurance should always be chosen carefully, as different people need cover for different things, and it is important to check that you are protected for whatever your holiday involves. If you do decide to travel to Ecuador, choosing comprehensive insurance from Navigator Travel Insurance will ensure that you are covered in the event of an accident or mishap during your trip.

Is it Safe to Travel to South Africa?

South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent; a vibrant and dynamic destination that is popular with tourists wanting to see deserts, mountains and beaches, explore large bustling cities and try out a variety of thrilling activities. From the diverse ‘mother city’ of Cape Town to the scenic Kruger National Park, South Africa offers a wide range of sights and experiences that make it an excellent place to visit.

The country’s political past is particularly turbulent however, and the effects of the 20th century apartheid system that enforced racial segregation are still being felt. What you can expect when travelling in South Africa are developed areas of wealth and modernity alongside poorer, more neglected communities, but this should not deter your decision to visit to the country. As long as you are careful, prepared and aware of the issues that the country still faces, it is safe to travel in South Africa. 

Travel insurance is vital to ensure that you are covered in case of any misfortune, and this guide will provide South Africa travel advice to prepare you for a safe and hassle-free trip.

Health Concerns in South Africa

Several vaccinations for South Africa are recommended or required depending on how long you will be visiting and what you will be doing during your stay. It is best to consult your doctor at least 6-8 weeks before you travel, but an immunisation against Diphtheria and Hepatitis A are usually advised, and other vaccinations can be considered.

Anyone aged one year or over who is travelling from a country that has a Yellow Fever risk of transmission will also be required to present a certificate of vaccination against the disease before entering the country. 

Malaria is common in some parts of South Africa, but can be easily prevented. If you are travelling to a high-risk area you will be strongly advised to take malaria medication, and all visitors should take precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long, loose clothing, and sleeping under a mosquito net.

It is recommended that you do not swim in any freshwater lakes and rivers, particularly in rural locations, to prevent exposure to parasites that live in the water and can cause a disease known as bilharzia. The infection is treatable but unpleasant, so it is best to avoid any chance of contracting it by only swimming in water you know to be safe.

South Africa has a high rate of HIV/AIDS, and visitors should consider the best ways to minimise their exposure to this if they are likely to be in a situation where transmission is possible. 

sunset-Table Mountain South Africa blog image

Food and Drink Safety in South Africa

If you are only travelling to South Africa’s larger cities then you are unlikely to run into any trouble with food and drink, as long as you are cautious with where you choose to purchase meals and remain aware of the risks that some foods may carry. The country’s cuisine is delicious and varied, with a number of different cultural influences inspiring dishes from curries to cocktails, and should definitely be sampled during your trip.

If you are staying somewhere in South Africa that is more remote, be particularly careful with meat or dairy products, and always ensure that what you are eating has been peeled, cleaned or properly cooked. 

Cholera is a water-borne disease that mainly occurs in some rural areas of the country, and if you are visiting one of these you should not drink anything other than sealed or boiled water in order to protect yourself. Most tap water in major cities is safe to drink, but you can always buy bottled just to be on the safe side. 

South Africa dried beef jerky

Crime in South Africa

South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and it is vital that travellers remain vigilant and take as many precautions as possible to remain safe when in the country. 

The statistics may be scary, but it is important to note that most of the violent crime the country is known for will not affect visitors, as it takes place predominantly in areas that are not for tourists. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you do not visit any of South Africa’s isolated ‘townships’ to avoid running into any trouble.

Incidents such as theft or tourist scams are much more likely to affect those who are travelling in South Africa, which you can protect yourself against by staying alert at all times, using common sense, and ensuring that you have travel insurance that will cover you in the case of any unfortunate occurrences. 

As you would in any busy holiday destination, never leave any personal belongings unattended and make sure that no expensive items are on show when you are in a public place. Credit card skimming is a common problem in South Africa, so keep cards hidden and safe and always cover your PIN if you need to use an ATM. 

Before arriving in the country, make yourself aware of the kind of tourist scams you might encounter during your visit, so that you know what to look out for. Again, as in any country that is popular with tourists, these kinds of incidents are easily avoided by trusting your instincts and being wary of anyone who approaches you, even if they seem friendly. 

Terrorism Risks

There has not been a serious terror attack in South Africa since the 1990s, but the country’s history of violent extremism and political unrest mean that the threat of terrorism does remain present. Action by the terrorist organization Daesh is the main threat in South Africa, with a number of reports of radicalisation in the country as well as links to planning and financing terrorist acts. 

There is currently an increased threat of terrorism globally, and British Nationals are particularly at risk. Advice against staying safe from terrorism whilst abroad can be found on the Gov.uk website, but it is best to be vigilant in areas such as shops, places of worship, popular tourist attractions, and when travelling on public transport. 

Whilst the apartheid period in South Africa ended long ago, the effects of civil unrest and government corruption are still felt across the country, which has increased the likelihood of violent demonstrations and acts of terrorism. Travellers should always avoid any large, political gatherings such as protests, as these are likely to be particularly unsafe. 

Family Travel Safety

From exciting safaris to brilliant beaches, South Africa is a fantastic location for an adventurous family holiday, particularly when staying in larger cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg which are well equipped for families of tourists and very safe. Places like the Kruger National Park and several other game reserves also have family lodges and are malaria-free, offering special guides and safari trips for children that combine sightseeing with learning about the area.

There are many family-friendly attractions across the country, including animal parks, museums and galleries, and outdoor activities such as water sports and ziplining which are all safe for children and make for excellent days out. Trips to the beach or visits to popular locations such as Table Mountain outside of Cape Town are also a great way to spend your time and experience a variety of South Africa’s beautiful scenery. 

Temperatures in South Africa do not tend to reach much over 30°C in its hottest months between November and March, but precautions against sunburn, sunstroke and dehydration are necessary for both children and adults, as is protection against insect bites.

And as when travelling in any foreign country, make sure that children are never left on their own, know what to do in an emergency, and are not taking any risks. This will ensure that a family trip to South Africa is entirely safe and relaxing for everyone, meaning you can spend your time enjoying every moment of your holiday. 

The entry requirements for bringing children into South Africa used to be complicated, but now under-eighteens entering the country with a parent for a holiday now only need a valid passport, making it much easier to travel as a family. 

girl-on South African Beach

Female Travel Safety

Assault, rape and murder rates in South Africa are unfortunately very high for women, but again it is important to note the vast majority of these crimes happen in places that travellers to the country are unlikely to be, meaning that the risk for visitors is low.

Female tourists should follow the normal personal safety procedures they would take when anywhere in the world; paying attention to their surroundings, avoiding walking alone at night, and making sure that somebody else knows where they are going to be and for how long if they are travelling on their own. As in any country, make sure that drinks are never left unattended when in a bar or a club, and remain in public areas if you are meeting and socialising with somebody new. 

penguins-female backpacker

Tips for Staying Safe in South Africa

  • Know Where to Avoid

As previously mentioned, the districts in South Africa known as ‘townships’, which remain from the apartheid period of racial segregation, should be avoided by travellers, as these areas tend to have a higher proportion of crime and visitors who are not local are more likely to be targeted if they enter. It is possible to visit a ‘township’ as part of a tour, but always make sure that you are with a trusted guide who knows the area well, and always visit during daylight hours.

You can research the places you are planning on staying in South Africa before your trip, to make sure you are aware of any locations that are less suited to tourists and avoid running into any trouble by being unprepared. 

  • Don’t Walk Around at Night

Walking around an unfamiliar location at night tends not to be advised wherever you are, and South Africa is no different. Even when in a group, it is better to use a trusted form of public transport or just avoid having to make any long journeys on foot in the evening, especially through less populated areas. 

It is also worth noting that it is safer to arrange your flights so that you arrive in the country during the day and don’t have to find your accommodation in the dark.

  • Keep All Valuables Hidden 

Tourists tend to be easy targets for pickpockets and thieves in busy cities, and you can protect yourself from theft by making sure that valuable items are always kept close to you and hidden when in public. It is recommended that possessions such as expensive jewellery or technology are not brought on your trip, and that anything important you do decide to bring with you is kept close by in your hand luggage whilst travelling.

  • Stay in A Group

Travelling on your own can be an exciting and liberating experience, and many independent visitors have hassle-free experiences of South Africa. However, it is often a lot safer to be in a group whilst exploring the country, especially when walking around at night or hiking in the mountains.

There are a variety of excellent group tours on offer to those who are travelling solo but don’t want to be alone, with experienced guides leading safe and interesting excursions around South Africa.

  • Spend More to Stay Safe

Whilst it can be tempting to try and save money and travel cheaply on your holiday, it is always best to spend a little more money to ensure that your accommodation and the area you are staying in are safe and secure. The exchange rate for foreign visitors is good in South Africa, meaning that you can afford to take taxis instead of risking public transport and pay more for activities that won’t put you at risk.

  • Listen to Your Instincts

Ultimately, you are unlikely to run into any problems whilst travelling in South Africa, especially if you are always making sure to be cautious, alert, and aware of what you might encounter during your stay. Applying the same common sense as you would when on holiday anywhere will get you a long way, and allow you to make the most out of exploring such a diverse and beautiful country.   

Almost everyone who visits South Africa finds themselves coming back again, and no other country has quite the variety of culture, landscape and activities on offer to travellers wanting to explore the tip of one of the world’s most diverse continents. Whilst more care should be taken to make sure that you stay safe, South Africa is not a dangerous place for visitors who come prepared, and can be enjoyed throughout the year as a holiday destination. 

table-mountain at night

Is it Safe to Travel to Colombia?

Vibrant, diverse and alluring, Colombia is a fascinating blend of history, culture and natural delights overflowing with glorious wonders for all travellers. Its story, beginning with indigenous people, dates back thousands of years with many settlers, civilisations and immigrants bringing their varied influences throughout its past.

Colombia has attracted huge fame for its coffee and music. Its natural beauty, stunning mountains, beaches and tropical rainforests are world-renowned. It has a rich cultural history and it is considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

The only country in South America to have islands and coastlines on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, Colombia’s population exceeds 50 million people. The Caribbean Sea is to the north of the country and borders are shared with Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil. Further territories owned by Colombia are actually in the continent of North America.

Although it has at times had a reputation of being a riskier place to travel to than other countries, the vast majority of trips to Colombia are trouble-free.

Despite this, Colombia is still considered to have high-levels of crime, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate precautions.

It is, as always, vital that you receive the most up-to-date advice before booking to travel or arranging to visit certain parts of the country. Travellers should always ensure they are comfortable with the regions they will be visiting and what is involved in going to them.

Health Concerns in Colombia

Before travelling to Colombia, you must seek medical advice from your GP. They will be able to give you the very latest information and advise you on what vaccinations you may require. An appointment should be made at least eight weeks before your trip and further information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website.

If you are on long-term medication, clarification should be sought as to the legality of your medication in Colombia, and whether you will be able to acquire anything you need when in the country. It may otherwise be necessary to take plentiful supplies of medication with you, although it will be vital to check the limits of what you can and cannot take.

Travellers are always advised to be up to date with vaccinations before visiting a country and that is also the case for Colombia.

All travellers should be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid before a visit to Colombia. For some people visiting certain regions, vaccinations against Rabies and Yellow Fever may be appropriate. Dengue fever and malaria are also present throughout the country, and there is a risk of Zika transmission, so all precautions should be taken against potential mosquito bites.

It is vitally important to have comprehensive insurance cover when travelling to Colombia. Medical facilities in the country vary widely in quality.

Public health facilities, particularly those in smaller cities or more rural regions, are generally poorly funded and badly-equipped. Services, including emergency attention can be unreliable and difficult to come-by in quieter areas, while public hospitals may lack the resources and supplies to treat some conditions.

In the larger cities, you are likely to find private health facilities which will offer good quality care even for more complex issues. However, not all insurance policies will cover such care, so you should be careful when making your choice.

Medication can generally be found in pharmacies in large cities, though more complex treatments may be unavailable in rural areas. Prescriptions may be required to attain certain forms of medicine.

san-andres

Food and Water

Eating and trying local delicacies is a huge and important part of travelling somewhere new to many people. It does, however, bring risks and dangers with it. That is not a reason to miss out, though, and by following simple suggestions it is still possible to taste the delights that different countries have to offer.

Due to having had such a varied history and cultural influences affecting the country across the years, Colombia’s food has understandably developed a unique blend of recipes and flavours. Its biodiversity also means it has a stunning assortment of ingredients to choose from.

To make the very most of the delicious food that Colombia has to offer, it is important that you stay healthy. Following simple rules will help you to do so.

Eating in trustworthy restaurants, particularly those often frequented by tourists, reduces the risk of illness. Ensure food is well-cooked and you are happy with how you feel it has been prepared. Fruit, nuts and vegetables washed with treated water, or where you have removed a protective layering yourself are a good option. Treated dairy products should also be safe.

Undercooked and underprepared meat should be avoided at all costs. Uncovered or unwashed food, as well as food using raw ingredients are more likely to cause illness and should therefore be avoided. If you are in any doubt, it is best to move on and choose to eat something somewhere else.

Sometimes when you are abroad, it is tempting to eat the same food that locals do, particularly street food. If locals are choosing it, it is almost certainly delicious. However, as a tourist, you should show great caution here. The locals eating at such places are likely to have digestive systems used to eating from different conditions to a visitor.

A useful tip is to think about where many tourists are eating as the vendors are more used to serving food prepared in conditions more friendly to visitors. This means that you don’t miss out, while reducing the risk of catching something that could see you fall ill.

When it comes to water, tap water is only safe to drink in Bogota. In all other parts of the country, you should drink bottled water. Tap water should not be used for brushing your teeth or cleaning fruit and vegetables ready to eat, except for in Bogota.

cocoa-picking

Crime

Crime rates are a problem that Colombia are trying to tackle, though rates remain high despite improvements in security. Criminals linked with the drugs trade, including armed groups, carry out serious crimes in the country including kidnapping for political and ransoming purposes, money laundering and racketeering for extortion and prostitution.

In major cities, street crime remains a problem. Violent muggings and incidents of pickpocketing have occurred. To reduce the chances of becoming embroiled in an attack, you should stay vigilant and avoid more deprived areas of cities. Limiting the value of the possessions you are carrying and travelling during the day further reduce the chances of a robbery.

Taxis should only be used when pre-booked, and it is wise to seek advice from reputable locals, such as hotel staff, before making a booking. Fake police are known to operate in some cities to carry out scams on tourists. Short-term kidnappings, where people are taken while the criminals extract money from bank accounts, do occur and people have been seriously hurt and even killed after resisting such attacks.

Terrorism

It is considered very likely that terrorists will try and carry out attacks in Colombia. Drugs, organised crime and terrorism are inextricably linked in the country. Much of the terrorist threat within Colombia comes from the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissidents from demobilised guerrilla groups.

Attacks may occur with very little warning and may be indiscriminate. While tourists are not usually the intended targets, public areas and events may be targeted. You should always be vigilant and ready to follow the advice of local security forces.

Armed gangs are most likely to operate in areas significant to the drugs trade. It is vitally important that you research the areas you intend to travel to and take the advice of security personnel when you are in the country.

Family Travel Safety (Colombia with Kids)

Colombia has so much to offer people of all ages. From stunning beaches and wildlife, to fascinating history, culture and people, there are activities to appeal to everyone.

Popular options include holidays close to the Caribbean coast where snorkelling and scuba diving will gain the interest of young travellers, or more adventurous trips to some of the more rural areas or larger cities of Bogota and Medellin. Learning about Colombia’s coffee history on tours or visiting some of its most famous museums are captivating experiences for the whole family.

Colombia is a safe place to travel as a family, providing you take usual precautions that you would in Colombia as well as those you would expect when travelling anywhere with children.

Before you go, ensure that the whole family are up to date with vaccinations. Pack carefully, ensuring you have enough sun cream and that children have hats to protect their head and necks from too much sun exposure. Carefully consider the potential impact of altitude on the people in your travelling party, as well as factors such as travelling times.

If you are worried about taking care of the children while working out logistics, you could consider travelling with a tour company or a guide to reduce some of the stresses. This also allows you to concentrate your attention on the children rather than worrying about where to head next!

colombia-mountain trekking

Family Travel Safety (Colombia for Women)

People’s individual experiences influence how they see a place and the safety of people travelling to it. The majority of people have a trouble-free trip to Colombia, and that includes female travellers and those travelling on their own.

A good way to avoid falling into a dangerous situation when travelling anywhere, though, is to be aware of things that may happen so that suitable precautions can be taken.

Female travellers should be aware of their surroundings and of their possessions, as pickpocketing is fairly common. Great care should be taken with valuables and it is sensible to only carry a small amount of money.

Colombia does still have a very machismo element to its society in some parts. This has its benefits to women in the chivalrous attitudes of some men, but an overflow of it can lead to cat-calling and unwanted attention that may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable to some women. Avoiding walking alone, at night or in certain areas of cities may help to limit experiences of this.

Drugs have been used to subdue and temporarily incapacitate unsuspecting victims. They are known to have been administered through food, drinks, cigarettes, aerosols and paper flyers. Criminals use this to leave their victims vulnerable to crimes including robbery and sexual assault. When in Colombia, you should never leave drinks or food unattended, or accept anything from strangers that could potentially be used in this way.

It is important to find balance in understanding the potential dangers for female travellers in Colombia. They are present, can be very serious and should therefore not be underestimated. However, it is also important to remember that the vast majority of people experience no troubles and leave only with incredible life-long memories. All usual precautions possible to protect yourself as a traveller should be taken.

tradiciconal

Tips for Staying Safe in Colombia

Buy the Right Insurance

Always make sure you are covered for any specific activities that you are planning, or may end up doing, when on your travels. A wide range of insurance policies exist, but it is wise to make sure that you take out the most comprehensive cover you can.

In Colombia, it is also important to consider the level of medical care your policy will cover. Because the standard of healthcare varies greatly, it is worth ensuring that your policy will cover you for private healthcare and any treatment that you may require. This will give you peace of mind should something really unfortunate occur.

Learn the Language and Customs

Learning the language of the country that you are travelling to has so many benefits. It provides opportunities for you to engage with the culture and locals, as well as helping you to communicate in any necessary situations that may require a simple grasp of the language (for example, calling the emergency services).

Columbia is a country that due to past and present problems has some strict prohibitions, particularly surrounding drugs. This may cross over into medications that you may be taking to the country with you. It is important that you always know of any such prohibitions before travelling so that you can avoid any inadvertent offences.

Knowing of local customs not only allows you to strike up friendships, but also avoid causing offence by accident. As customs may be general across the country or specific in certain regions, it is worth the time reading up about them before you travel.

Be Vigilant at All Times

Remaining vigilant will help to ensure that your trip is remembered for wonderful reasons. Keep your possessions close and not on show, use reputable companies for activities, travel and eating and be wary of strangers approaching and offering to sell you things.

Colombia is a country with so much to offer, and it can be a safe place to travel as testified to by the majority of the near two million visitors it receives each year. But, as with anywhere around the world, it is safest when travellers take all the reasonable precautions they can.

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If you’re travelling to Colombia, then stay safe and keep covered in the event of an accident by taking out a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance.