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Travel in Latin America

How to Travel to Colombia Safely
By:Elizabeth Smith

Colombia, a country in the northern part of South America, has long been regarded as a dangerous country because of guerrilla warfare. In the past several years, however, rebel activity has been lower due to military efforts in Colombia, and tourists have taken advantage of the relative safety. While guerrilla activity in Colombia should not inhibit your travel, you should exercise caution when traveling over land.

Be prepared. To enter Colombia, United States citizens will need to carry a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time of arrival. You will not need to pay a visa fee, but be prepared to pay an exit tax upon departure.

Fly to Colombia. The easiest and safest way to travel to Colombia is by air. You can find cheap flights from many cities, particularly those served by Spirit Airlines, which offers fares as low as $200 one-way from Chicago to Cartagena. Other major airlines that fly into Colombia include American Airlines, Delta, Finnair, Air China, and Air Canada.

Sail from Panama. If you have the time, an excellent way to travel to Colombia is to sail from Panama City. The trip takes about five days and will cost between $350 and $1000. You can find passage on boats of different sizes, and many will stop in Panama's beautiful San Blas Islands. It is best to book this trip directly in Panama City so that you have the opportunity to check out the boat and the captain before committing yourself to the journey. Be judicious and ask for recommendations. Also be sure to ask if food is included in the fare. Hostel Mamallena in Panama City is an excellent resource for sail crossings; they work with reputable captains and can make recommendations.

Take a bus. If you are traveling from other South American countries, it may be possible to travel to Colombia by bus. The country is bordered by Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. Major road systems make it relatively easy to travel to Colombia from Ecuador and Venezuela, but you'll find it more difficult to arrive in Colombia from Peru or Brazil. Panama also shares a border with Colombia, but overland travel is impossible due to rebel activity and a lack of a connecting road.

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