Transportation Options in Colombia
Transportation in Colombia
How to get around in Colombia!
It is quick easy and inexpensive to get around Colombia by air. When you are choosing how to get around the country during vacation you need to consider the pros and cons of your transportation options.
The terrain in Colombia is my guess for the lack of a train system in the country.
Your Colombia transportation options are:
The bus system in extensive and very inexpensive. But – the travel times are quite long and this is why we chose not the ride the bus between cities. As I’ve not done it myself, I can only pass along information I’ve heard from other travelers including:
a) Stops are frequent and sometimes include stops by police where passports are checked and luggage under the bus is removed and checked. Even though this might not be common it sounds stressful and just awful. What are you supposed to do with the kids while you are standing on the side of the road, in who knows what weather, for who knows how long??
b) Bus drivers like to keep the bus cold. Cold enough that I’ve heard over and over again that bus rides are like meat lockers. Go figure as to why. Again – imagine how miserable your kiddo, of any age, would be if they were freezing???
c) Movies shown on the bus are chosen by the bus driver and apparently, bus drivers choose violent and very loud movies to keep awake on the long drives.
The benefits of hiring a private car are obvious.
-You can stop whenever you want like when someone needs the bathroom or a snack or to get a photo or stop at a market.
-Music and temperature levels are more under your control.
However; the time it takes to drive from Point A to Point B is still a big consideration.
I think a private car is a good option if you are stopping to see something on your way to your final destination. You can leave the luggage with your driver while you explore. We like a private car since we travel with kids. It really cuts down on stress since you can stop to tend to the needs of littles – bathroom, stretch breaks and food!
**** A Word on Safety***
We have only positive experiences in Colombia and have felt completely safe.
major travel publications mention choosing your taxis and private drivers carefully. We took that advice and perhaps that is why we had positive experiences.
I highly recommend hiring a private driver through an official travel agency or from the hotel. We had very positive experiences with these companies:
Uber is another possibility. Supposedly Uber is the same app that is used in the US but we couldn’t get it to work. My husband and I both have accounts and neither of us could get Uber to work.
If you feel comfortable with your hotel choice, you can ask them, as we did, to call a taxi. Before you go; ask the hotel how long it should take to get to your destination and about how much it will cost. Then, you have a feel for the cost and will know if the final charge is reasonable or not.
Apparently, it is not unheard of to encounter the following SCAMS:
1 – Payment issues: The scams look like one of these:
-The driver demands more money that you agreed upon.
-The driver confuses you with the amounts while using a credit card. Be patient and understand what you are agreeing to before you push the green button to pay.
-The driver takes your cash, switches it for counterfeit, and then gives the counterfeit back to you saying he can’t take it.
-The driver takes you on a very long drive – the long, long way around to get to your destination.
2 – Safety issues: The scams look like one of these:
_Your car is stopped along the way – outside of major cities, I presume, though no one ever says, and you are robbed.
-You are given something to drink that has been laced with a drug that ‘removes free will’ and then something awful happens.
How long ARE the drives between destinations in Colombia? LONG
Bogota to Medellin – 12 hours
Bogota to Cartegena – 22 hours 19 min
Bogota to Cali 16 hours
Medellin to Cali 22 hours
Medellin to Cartegena 23 hours
These times are not written in stone either – the bus arrives when it arrives. It is best to just take a deep breath and plan on it taking longer. If you are lucky and it doesn’t….buy a lottery ticket!
Why would anyone spend so much time on a bus to get around Colombia? Because the prices are CHEAP!
Prices vary depending upon the day but here average ticket prices summer of 2018:
Medellin to Cali $22
Medellin to Cartegena $41
Bogota to Medellin $26
Bogota to Cartegena $47
Flying is quick, easy and surprisingly inexpensive within Colombia. We chose to fly Avianca and had very positive experiences.
Between Bogota and Medellin the flight is just a few minutes more than an hour long. We bought economy seats and were allowed 1 free checked bag and one carry on bag each.
For us, the extra money spent on airline tickets, over a bus ticket, for example, was worth it because we gained so much time. This is valuable when you are on a limited vacation time.
Also, an airline flight of 1 hour is WAY easier for kids than a 15-22 hour bus trip. Just stop for a minute to think about keeping a kid happy for 22 hours while cooped up on a bus – then multiply that by however many children you have. You might decide the money for an airplane ticket is worth it, too!
So, how much money are we talking about to fly in Colombia?
Price ranges for NON stop flights July 2018:
Cartegena to Bogota $64 – $147
Cartegena to Medellin $58 – $93
Bogota to Medellin $49 – $131
Bogota to Cali $87 – $136
The planes are modern and clean and have a fantastic seat back area. In front of you, besides the screen, there is a spot to charge your electronic device – at every single seat. That is just AWESOME! We packed
In addition to a brilliant spot for charging there is an awesome coat hanger – at every single seat. This is a super idea. Since the weather in Bogota is completely schizo – literally changing 100 times a day, everyone carries a coat.
COMING SOON – Crazy Bogota Weather – What You Need to Pack
Wondering about the airports in Colombia?
We visited the airports in Bogota, Medellin, and Cartegena and they are large, modern and clean – just like large airports in the US and the UK. You can find anything you need – luggage assistance, food, drinks, and restrooms. You can watch tv and charge your devices.
The only thing you might have trouble finding is reading material in English but you should expect that in ANY country where English is not the first language.
Speaking the Language
Are you concerned about managing to do what you need to do in Colombia if you don’t speak Spanish?
Colombia is striving to become bilingual Spanish/English so you’ll encounter a lot of people who speak a little English- and some that speak a lot. When you combine that with knowing a few words in Spanish, technology like google translate and/or a good game of charades, you’ll do fine! Have fun!
COMING SOON – How to Travel if you don’t Speak the Language
We found Colombian people to be friendly and helpful. But, they aren’t used to lots and lots of tourists so you’ll need to be patient if you don’t speak Spanish.
***With the exception of eating at Crepes and Waffles restaurant, where the food is good and the waitstaff must be trained to be unpleasant, we never encountered problems we couldn’t manage.**
Be Brave! Travel and Explore! Read before you go!
So many amazing things to see and so little time! In two weeks we saw Bogota, Medellin, and Cartegena. Coming soon the exact Colombian vacation itinerary!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist