Because Colombia's tourism infrastructure is extremely underdeveloped, traveling here can be a bit tricky, especially if you don't speak Spanish. Except for Cartagena and some parts of the Atlantic Coast, many sections of Colombia have seen only a trickle of foreign visitors in the last few decades. Although tourists are generally treated formally and with polite curiosity, don't expect to find an overwhelming amount of tourist information. However, Colombians are generally friendly and your hotel staff will probably go out of their way to help you. Remember that a visit to Colombia requires patience and a sense of humor. One of the best ways to prepare for your trip to Colombia is on the Internet, where you will find plenty of useful information, especially from fellow travelers. The following websites contain useful information about Colombia.
- www.iexplore.com/dmap/Colombia/Travel+and+Trips: Dedicated to adventure travel, this site provides valuable country, etiquette, and excursion information.
- poorbuthappy.com/colombia: A great traveler-created site where you can find information, ask questions, and do research. Especially good for the younger, backpacker crowd.
- www.roadjunky.com/guide/298/colombia-travel-guide-online: An okay country guide with basic information.
- www.colombiaemb.org: Colombia's embassy in Washington. A good place to start exploring the country.
The Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo is Colombia's National Tourism Ministry. The main office is located at Calle 28 no. 13A-15 (tel. 1/606-7676 or 1/419-9450), but don't expect them to be very helpful or speak much English. In fact, good luck even getting into the building. But if you read Spanish, you may want to check out their website (www.mincomercio.gov.co/eContent/home.asp).
Colombia's most popular tourism agency, Aviatur (tel. 1/286-5555 or 1/234-7333; www.aviatur.com), will book tours all over Colombia, usually including transportation, lodging, and most meals. The main office in Bogotá is at Ave. 19 no. 4-62. There are offices throughout Bogotá and all large Colombian cities as well.
Tourism companies frequently come and go, so if you're looking for eco-adventure tours and travel, your best bet is your hotel which can give you information on local tours and tourism agencies, or at least provide some guidance.
Telephone Dialing at a Glance
- Colombia's phone system features a standardized system of seven-digit local numbers with one or two digit area codes.
- To place a call from your home country to Colombia, dial the international access code (0011 in Australia, 011 in the U.S and Canada, 0170 in New Zealand, and 00 in the U.K.), the country code (57), the one- or two-digit Colombian city code (Bogotá 1, Medellín 4, Cartagena 5, Pereira 61, Armenia 67, Manizales 69), plus the seven-digit local number.
- To place a local call within Colombia, dial the one- or two-digit city code followed by the seven-digit local number. To call within a city, you only need to dial the seven-digit number. If you're dialing from a cellphone to a land line, dial 031, the city code, then the seven digit number. To call a cellphone from a landline, dial the city code plus the 10 digit cell phone.
- International operator info: To reach an English-speaking international operator from within Colombia, dial tel. 01/800-913-0110.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.