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Home|General FAQ
General FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are pueblos patrimonio?

Pueblos patrimonio are an informal collection of 17 of the best preserved and most authentic colonial towns and villages in Colombia. You can see which ones we offer by searching for them.

Other such towns are not on our website but you may be able to include them in your tour, especially during overland transfers. Guaduas and Honda we can include on the way to the coffee zone although it is not common to travel overland to the coffee zone. Jericó we can include as part of a trip to Jardín. Ciénega can be included in a transfer between Cartagena or Mompox to Santa Marta, and San Juan de Girón can be included between Bucaramanga Airport and Barichara.

Is Colombia wheelchair accessible?

Sadly many destinations in Colombia are not ideal for wheelchairs. Even wealthy areas of major cities like Bogotá have uneven pavements. The reason for this is that the land between building and streets is owned by the building rather than a local authority with responsibility for a consistent standard.

Measures are being implemented to aid accessibility in certain destinations.

These destinations and tours we consider to be the most accessible in Colombia or where guides can adapt tours to take into account special considerations.

What is the UNESCO coffee cultural landscape?

The UNESCO coffee cultural landscape is an area of outstanding beauty shaped by small scale coffee farming in the Eastern and Central Cordillera of the Andes.

The landscape runs through three departments, Quindío, Risaralda and Caldas and encompasses 18 small towns and villages as well as the slopes upon which the distinctive rows of coffee bushes can be found.

In the coffee zone, Hacienda Venecia, Recuca and San Alberto are both within the coffee cultural landscape, as are the family-owned fincas that we offer.

Note that Salento and Cocora are not in the coffee cultural landscape although it is possible to undertake a coffee tour nearby and Salento is typical of the architecture and style of the 18 towns within the UNESCO recognised landscape.

View all of our tours and trips that visit UNESCO sites.

What are Colombia’s UNESCO sites?

Colombia has 6 sites that UNESCO considers to be of outstanding universal value. The Colombian Way offers 5 of them.

Both San Agustín and Tierradentro’s archeological parks are world heritage sites. The towns and cities with world heritage status are Mompox and Cartagena.

Additionally Colombia has the UNESCO recognised coffee cultural landscape. This incorporates a strip of terrain running through the departments of Quindío, Risaralda and Caldas and 18 towns and villages within that terrain.

Finally, Popayán is a recognised UNESCO city of gastronomy for its culinary traditions that have been passed down through many generations.

View all of our tours and trips that visit UNESCO sites.

How will Brexit affect my trip to Colombia?

It will not much, visit our page about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

What sort of vehicle will my transfer be?

Our vehicle guide indicates what sort of vehicle you can expect depending on your route, number of passengers and whether or not you have luggage.

Do transfers have air conditioning?

We only guarantee air conditioning on routes such as TolúMompoxCartagenaBarranquillaSanta MartaPalomino. Namely routes along the Caribbean coast.

Transfers along the Pacific coast are compromised by the region’s isolation. Vehicles may or may not have functioning air conditioning.

Routes including vehicles that may also serve Cali will generally have air conditioning. For example transfers originating in Popayán and San Agustín.

In all other areas, vehicles may have air conditioning but we do not guarantee this.

For routes along the Altiplano Cundiboyacense such as Bogotá to Villa de Leyva it is uncommon for vehicles to have air conditioning. Transfer north from Villa de Leyva to Barichara and Bucaramanga generally will have air conditioning if the vehicle originates in San Gil or Bucaramanga.

Can you transfer me from a bus terminal to a hotel?

No. We are unable to offer transfers from bus terminals as we have no idea what time you will be arriving. Buses arbitrarily have timetables but they are somewhat meaningless. We also do not know which bus you got on in the first instance.

Does The Colombian Way sell bus tickets?

No. If you want to incorporate a bus journey into your itinerary then bus tickets must be purchased in the transport terminal.

We do not manage timetables or lists of which companies offer which routes but we can help find this information. Most transport terminals have a website which offer route advice.

Do Colombian hotels have heating, ventilation and air conditioning?

All hotel properties that we offer in CartagenaSanta Marta and Mompox will have ventilation and air conditioning. Hotels in La Macarena tend to have air conditioning but we do not guarantee this. Check our Caño Cristales FAQ for additional details.

Major Andean cities such as Bogotá and Medellín have a pleasant year round climate. Hotels generally have comfort features but if this is a strict preference then please let us know when discussing your plans.

Other cities with similar climates may not have heating or air conditioning. Examples being Popayán, San Agustín, Tierradentro, Villa de Leyva, Barichara.

Coffee zone properties are fincas and do not have HVAC facilities.

Some destinations are hot but do not have accommodation with air conditioning. The Tatacoa Desert is simple posada accommodation. Amazon accommodation does not have air conditioning as a rule.

Will my mobile phone work in Colombia?

Colombia’s mobile phone networks use GSM 850/1900 frequencies so a tri-band phone will work here, a US dual band phone will also work here. Colombia has no CDMA networks so US mobile phones that don’t use the GSM protocol will not work.

If your network supports roaming with a Colombian carrier then the above phones will roam in Colombia, if you have an unlocked GSM mobile phone that uses GSM850/1900 then you can buy a local SIM and it will work.

The Colombian Way can supply prepaid SIM cards and micro SIM cards with low international call & text rates and non-contract data services. Ask us for more details

What is the voltage in Colombia?

Colombia is 110v AC and uses USA style plugs with 2 flat pins, higher rated appliances use USA style 3 pin plugs with two flat pins and one round one.

Most consumer electronics now have variable voltage transformers (e.g. laptops, ipods, mobile phones, camera battery rechargers) so you will only need an adaptor to plug it into the wall.

Appliances using 220-250v such as hairdryers and shavers may well be damaged by using the incorrect voltage.

What about the weather?

The weather in Colombia used to be far more predictable than it is currently. This is mainly due to the La Niña phenomenon. We don’t consider that the weather should dictate when you come to Colombia, nobody’s trip has ever been ruined by the weather and being a tropical country you should be prepared for showers anywhere any day.

What are the Colombian travel essentials?

Although Colombia is rainy, it also straddles the equator and when the clouds clear it only takes 30 minutes to burn you to a crisp. We recommend you bring a high SPF sun block. Depending on where you are and what time of the year it is, you should also invest in some insect repellent, especially if you are visiting destinations closer to sea level. A pack of tissues comes in handy as not everywhere in Colombia seems to provide toilet paper.

Colombia has plenty of pharmacies where you can pick up over the counter drugs and remedies, personal hygiene supplies and sun protection.

Do you offer long-term vacation rentals?

No. We do not currently offer such accommodation.

Do you sell international flights?

Selling international flights is not our core business. We are travel agents and do have access to a “Global Distribution System” but will only ticket international air itineraries for clients using our Colombian tour and package services that require end to end billing originating from and returning to international destinations.

If you want to book one of our tours and need help putting together international air travel itineraries, open jaw ticketing, multi city flights and creative routing then we will happily help you.

Do you sell Colombian domestic flights?

Yes: If your tour with The Colombian Way includes flights then naturally we will book these flights on your behalf.

No: We no longer offer to book Colombian domestic flights on behalf of independent travellers. We have taken this decision for operational reasons as Colombian airlines frequently and unpredictably change their itineraries. If we do not know where you are then we can not communicate these changes to you. Flights will only be booked alongside hotel reservations and transfers so that we can communicate changes to you and change your transfer proactively.

Can I collect frequent guest points for hotel stays included in my package?

Normally No. Most of our hotels are independent and not part of any international chain.

Can I collect frequent flyer miles on internal Colombian flights booked on my behalf by The Colombian Way?

Yes. Any mainline Colombian domestic flights we book for you will be standard eligible fares which will accrue frequent flyer miles if the airline has a frequent flyer programme.

We will normally book the best fares available on Avianca.  Just remember to provide your frequent flyer details at check in. Avianca is a member of the Star Alliance

Regional airlines such as EasyFly and Satena do not have frequent flyer programmes.

What is the best way to get Colombian pesos to spend in Colombia?

Read our article about money in Colombia for advice on ATMs, credit card usage and spending money.

What is the tipping culture in Colombia

Tipping is not common practice in Colombia, Taxis do not expect a tip but feel free to round the fare up by a few hundred pesos. Cheap bars and restaurants do not expect to be tipped. More expensive bars and restaurants will ask if you wish to add a service charge onto the bill.

How much will I need for day to day expenses?

That depends on what your tastes are, if you are on a shoestring then as a minimum you could probably live on 20€ per day. A cheap Colombian lunch can be had for about 3€ and a cheap beer is yours for less than 1€

Also see our resource page about money for our thoughts on how much spending money a family needs and the best ways of using cash and cards.

What about the altitude?

There is no hard and fast rule about acclimatising to life in the Andes, some people are affected by the altitude, others don’t even notice it. Our advice is to take it easy for the first couple of days. Coca tea can help alleviate the effects of altitude and it can be easily found in Bogotá.

Bogotá is 2640m above sea level, this is about the same altitude to which an aircraft is pressurised, so if you don’t get sick on a flight then the chances are that Bogotá will not adversely affect you.

Please bear in mind that not being affected by the altitude in Bogotá is no guarantee that you will not be affected at greater altitudes. Los Nevados 3 day treks, Nevado Santa Isabel and Nevado del Ruíz are all up to 5000m above sea level.

What about vaccinations and malaria pills

We are not doctors and urge you to do your own research, generally speaking you do not require any vaccinations if you are at altitude.

At lower elevations you may want to consider malaria tablets but in common tourist destinations such as Cartagena and Santa Marta, many travellers consider the risk to be low and not worthy of the side effects that malaria tablets can have.

Ultimately you should seek your doctors’s advice and decide for yourself.

Valid yellow fever vaccination certificates are technically mandatory in Tayrona, Caño Cristales, Bahia Solano, Nuquí and Amazonas. You may be denied services if you are unable to show a valid certificate when asked.

In tropical climates at low elevations the yellow fever vaccination is recommended. This will not only prevent you contracting yellow fever but will also prevent your passing yellow fever on to a third party. The vaccine is economical and effective and vaccinating yourself before visiting a tropical climate is the responsible thing to do.

We recognise that the yellow fever vaccination can be expensive in your home country. It can be economical or free to get the vaccination in Bogotá but requires a 10 day incubation period. If your trip is longer than 10 days and you are going to a yellow fever risk area at the end of the trip then we will help you get your vaccination in Colombia.

You should also think about dengue fever, there were small outbreaks of dengue in 2010 in Santa Marta and Cali.

Many mosquito vector diseases do not have a vaccination and in all cases, even if you have the yellow fever vaccination you should wear long sleeves from dusk onwards and apply a good repellent.

What is Colombian healthcare like?

Colombia has an excellent regulated semi-public health system that affords economical healthcare to its residents.

As an international visitor without a Colombian healthcare policy you will be charged for accessing the system. Although by European and US standards it is very affordable, we urge you nonetheless to take out a travel insurance policy.

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance offers a great deal of peace of mind for relatively little outlay. Not only for medical assistance using a foreign country’s healthcare system but also for missed connections, lost documents, damaged luggage and any other annoyance that can take the shine off your trip.

We’d urge you to confirm beforehand that your travel insurance provider specifically states that the cover extends to Colombia.

Our terms and conditions also contain specific information about travel insurance and the implications for your trip.