Pablo may be long gone but that doesn't mean you don't need travel insurance for your Colombian holiday
Colombia was a popular regional tourist spot in the 1980s before being rocked by internal strife and a growing reputation for violent crime fuelled by the country's drug war of the 80s and 90s. Thanks to a concerted effort by the Colombian government to increase the safety and security of travellers, Colombia is once again a vibrant tourist destination of South America.
Many of the country’s museums and galleries have been freshly renovated and its natural wonders are now well maintained. The entertainment scene has also been reinvigorated and includes something for everyone.
This guide will help you find the right travel insurance to protect yourself while enjoying the reopening of Colombia to the world.
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You are advised to reconsider your need to travel to certain parts of Colombia and to avoid travel to areas near the border of Ecuador and Venezuela, and the cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco.
Many standard travel insurance policies will not cover you in these places. Before taking out a policy, check the latest Australian government travel warnings. Consider bookmarking these pages if you’ll be referring to them later.
- Crime: Petty theft, as well as more serious crimes like murder and assault, are of a greater concern than in many other tourist destinations. Where possible, fly between cities to avoid dangerous overland travel, and avoid travelling around or arriving in Colombia at night. Don’t hail taxis off the street and try not to travel alone. Only use ATMs in secured areas such as inside banks or hotels. Don’t accept food, drinks, gum or cigarettes from strangers.
- Disease: Consult your doctor to get the right vaccinations before travelling to Colombia and be aware of the risk of yellow fever, malaria, Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. Altitude sickness can occur and respiratory conditions may be exacerbated at heights. Drink boiled or bottled water and avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked foods.
- Weather events: Be aware of the risk of active volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and landslides. Familiarise yourself with the evacuation procedures in your accommodation and monitor local forecasts and reports for updates. Follow the instructions of local authorities in the event of a disaster.
- Civil unrest: Tensions on the Colombian and Venezuelan border mean it can be closed for extended periods. Australians should not attempt this border crossing by land. Strikes may disrupt transport, such as recent strikes by taxi drivers protesting the use of Uber and political demonstration.
- Travel insurance can cover costs when strikes disrupt travel plans.
- Travel insurance for cancellation of plans may cover your expenses if you are stranded and unable to travel forward or back.
- Terrorism: Conflicts continue between Colombian authorities and the various rebel groups operating in the country, many of whom use terrorist tactics. Foreigners are often targeted for kidnapping and ransom, particularly in rural areas, and to a lesser degree in cities.
- Travel insurance policies cover terrorism in varying ways.
- You may need to find a high-risk travel insurance policy to deliver effective cover.
- Mountain climbing: The volcanoes and other peaks of Colombia can deliver the challenge climbers are after, and the country’s rugged terrain is a drawcard for visitors who want to get closer to nature. It’s important to check how your policy covers climbing if you plan on doing so for your trip.
- Adventure sports:Adventure travel insurance policies are a good way of protecting yourself while undertaking extreme sports such as skydiving or bungee jumping.
The standard of medical care at private hospitals in Bogotá and other major cities is reasonable, but potentially expensive, and is considerably more limited in rural areas.
Doctors and hospitals will require payment up front, or confirmation of travel insurance health cover, before providing treatment. It is recommended you find a travel insurance policy that:
Depending on the nature of your emergency you may contact:
- The Australian consulate in Bogotá for consular assistance other than missing passports. You can reach them at +57 1 657 7805
- For passport assistance, contact the Australian embassy in Santiago de Chile on +56 2 2550 3500
- Your insurer, at the 24-hour claims helpline number they should provide. Contact them as soon as reasonably possible for all claims.
- Your tour provider, security contractor, local accommodation or family and friends at home
Address of Australian Consulate in Colombia
- Edificio Tierra Firme, Oficina 2002
- Avenida Carrera 9 No. 115-06/30
Australian tourists visiting Colombia do not require a visa for entry, but will need to pay airport tax. The fee is currently $35, but is readjusted every year.
You are required to able to show proof of funds for your stay in Colombia, as well as evidence of return or onward travel plans, although visitors are rarely asked to do so.