Contrary to general preconceived notions and theft fears surrounding Bogotá and Colombia as a whole, my number one safety tip would be to avoid the Transmilenio during the rush hours! (Yes plural.) Frequently an efficient method of transport in Bogotá, using specifically designed bus only central lanes as to avoid traffic, during rush hour everything changes and it’s a fee for all scrum where it’s definitely possible to get more than slightly squashed and jostled around!
It’s a good idea to utilise apps like Tappsi and Easy Taxi as hailing a taxi can be a problem due to the population of Bogotá. Only ever use a taxi that has a meter, however the meter doesn’t always reflect the correct price. Going to the Airport there is an extra 3900, and at certain times there is an extra 2000. It Works in your favour also though, as at times I’ve paid less than the displayed fare, so before you pay wait for the driver to press the meter and the price will usually drop by about 2000. If in doubt consult the price chart that every driver should have available in the pocket at the back of the passenger seat. Bogotá is a big city and it pays to learn the barrios (neighbourhoods) and Transmilenio routes as well as the numerous cycle routes which have become my favoured routes to take. Although driving here can be more chaotic than Europe I’ve found people to be generally respectful of cyclists and the never ending cycle routes, plus bike only road closure days make this a very cycle friendly city. A trip to the office takes me 1 hour and 15 mins by bus or 40 min by bicycle to give you some perspective.
Intercity buses can definitely be bartered for even at the bus terminals although some mean it when they say the price is fixed. The costs can vary wildly so it’s sometimes just worth turning up at the terminal and shopping around. Flights in Colombia can be incredibly cheap with Viva Colombia offering domestic tickets comparable to bus prices! (Just don’t forget the added costs with these budget airlines, luggage, ticket printing etc.) If you’re flexible with your dates you can definitely get a bargain, Avianca and Copa Airlines can sometimes offer good deals as well with Avianca being the only airline I’ve ever flown with that consistently offers in-flight entertainment (personal screen) and food on all domestic flights. Getting out of Colombia for a trip or holiday to a neighbouring country is another thing altogether. Being from Europe I’m accustomed to Ryanair flying me between countries for the price of 3 course meal, however crossing borders here incurs a hefty price increase. Even to nearby countries of Ecuador, Venezuela or Panama a 2 hour flight can be a costly affair, it always pays to consult the general search engines such as Skyscanner. June and July tend to be among the cheapest months for international travel out of Colombia.
Escaleras Electricas De La Comuna 13 🙂 A fantastic project that boosted employment and increased safety in this area! 📸 credit @wandering_smith www.hansatours.com – – – – – – – 🌎 #escaleras #comuna #lacomuna13 #medellin #travel #colombia #city #explore #escalators #urban #project #innovative #inspiring #colombian #travelbug #travelblogger #travelgram #wanderlustwednesday #ideas #igers #cityscape #barrio #art #graffiti #creative #create #discoversouthamerica #travelcolombia #visit
Another feature I’ve noticed in the cities of Latin America including Colombia is that most have a teleferico (cable car/metro cable) system, usually taking you to a more scenic area of the city. For example the cable car up to the famous Monserrate in Bogotá and to the innovative project of outdoor escalators in a community (La Comuna 13) in Medellin.
In conclusion, transport in Colombia is always an adventure; whether you’re crammed in the back of a chicken bus type vehicle among potatoes and other produce hurtling along a potholed remote lane or fighting back sea sickness as you’re bouncing across waves to an idyllic island. This being said there are all comfort levels of transport usually available, it’s just when you stray off the beaten path that some more questionable options arise! With transport being so affordable it makes sense to try and navigate as much of Colombia as you can, there are so many beautiful sights to see!