Is it safe to visit Bogota Colombia now?

Bogota, capital of Colombia and rest of Colombia was very low on tourist safety aspect from mid 1960s to as late as 2016. This period saw intense battle on the streets of Bogota and elsewhere in Colombia between the government and various drug lords and militia units for increased control of territory and trade dominance. Over 2 lakh people have died over 4-5 decades in the civil unrest. Naturally during this period Colombia was extremely unsafe for tourists.
But things change. Past danger doesn't mean it is unsafe to visit Colombia today. Below are some observations from my 5 day visit to Bogota in April 2019.

1. Streets were calm and normal.
I didn't see any fighting, arms, drug usage or anything anti social on the streets of Bogota during my visit, during day time. So on all 5 days, I could move around as safely as I would in some other country say Australia or USA.

2. Police Presence
Fair number of police could be seen in places of tourist interest. So this was reassuring.

3. Mobile Phone stolen
I took a walking tour with a group. One of the Chinese girl in our group, had her phone stolen in broad daylight. We tried going to cops, try track my phone etc but trail went cold within minutes and cops couldn't help much. This incident shows there's still a small bit of risk and we need to be extremely careful. Of course, you could have your phone stolen in any country in the world- there're thieves everywhere and no place is 100% safe.



4. Nomadic Matt stabbed
A popular blogger, Nomadic Matt was reportedly stabbed for his mobile phone. He survived but this incident hints that the situation is more serious than just opportunistic thieves. There're many people on the streets still desperate for some money making opportunity and ready to kill people for a phone or anything else valuable.

5. Homestay owner said NOT safe to walk early morning
On my last day, my flight from Bogota to Panama was at 6AM. So I had booked a home stay close to airport- some 3 kms. My plan was to get up at 3 AM and walk the distance to airport. But my host strongly opposed that idea and said the streets are not safe to walk alone at night. It is possible he was trying to convince me take his taxi service, but still, it would have been foolish to go against his advise. I walked to airport at 11 PM and spent time in airport premises till morning. Nothing happened

6. I didn't venture out after 7 PM
Almost all the days I returned to hostel before evening. Didn't venture out in the night-this was largely because I was too tired after lots of walking and the fact that I don't go to pubs and don't have any specific plans for the night. But then, general advise even to this day is to avoid unnecessary movements in the night. Police can't be everywhere and you will never know who has what intentions.

7. Less popular tourist places closed
I tried visiting Eastern Hills for its hiking trail. The trail was closed- mostly for security reasons. It would probably be open during weekends.

So if you ask me, yes, it is reasonably safe to visit Bogota right now. The worst is over and country is recovering fast. But don't lose your guard or assume everything will be alright. There're still some people who could harm you if you resist. So stay safe, stay in a group or avoid solo movements in the dark or to isolated places.

Recommended precautions
-Never flash your wealth
-Carry just enough cash for the day, leave extra cash/valuables in hotel/hostel locker
-Carry your ID card/visiting card, hostel/hotel address card all the time
-Avoid late evening outing if you can
-Stay alert while on the street- don't get lost on phone/in a conversation or anything else. Situational awareness will make all the difference.
-Avoid going solo to less popular/unknown places
-Border areas are still deemed dangerous. Stay in big city limits.

More: Bogota Street art pics

4 comments:

Appreciate your efforts and interests to comment. Comments may be moderated due to increased spam. Will ideally respond to comments within few days.Use Anonymous option if you don't wish to leave your name/ID behind- Shrinidhi

Powered by Blogger.