Sunday, 3 February 2019

Travelling COLOMBIA with Kids - Yes South America, NOT Columbia!

I still see it being spelt Columbia
on maps

With news that Colombia was safer to travel to now, we grabbed at the chance to experience tourism here in its infancy, and cannot recommend highly enough.
It was 2017, and we were travelling as a  well travelled family of 4 - Chris, myself, Jasper (13) and Scarlett (9).   We booked the flights in January, with plans to travel for just over 3 weeks in August 2017. 
We made up our own itinerary, then booked our accommodation and internal flights etc. from the UK, whilst leaving us some wriggle room if we wanted to change the itinerary en route.
In the words of the kids Best.Trip.Ever!!!!

Our Itinerary was:
Bogota, bus to
Chiquiza
Villa De Leyva, ancient sites and Terracotta House
Pereira, coffee country, how could you not!, bus to
Medellin, incl. Nutibara Hill, Penol, mountain climb and zip wire! Guatape
Cartagena
San Andres, boat to
Providensia, boat to
San Andres, flight back to
Bogota

I'll blog about each of the destinations we went to separately, to save you hauling through all of the places we visited, but will start with some basic, and hopefully, useful information.

BASICS:
Currency: The local currency is Colombian Pesos, which you won't be able to get before you go.  A lot of things may be priced in US$ but we took some and weren't able to spend them (same happened in Peru so should have guessed that, but didn't want to chance it).   It is also a tad confusing as the Peso sign is very similar to the Dollar sign!

At the time of travel (August 2017) 1US$ was around 3000 Pesos, and we got 1.290 $ to the £!   Clear as mud, maybe not but you can do the sums when you go.

Cash Machines and Debit Cards: We used cash machines - cajero automatic - without a problem. They generally max the amount you can take out daily, minimum 600,000 most we saw was 780,000. There was sometimes a charge on top of around 4000 pesos, but at around £1 not too bothered, and made sense to take out the most we could each time.
We used our debit cards in the Supermarkets (Exito was a major supermarket in a few of the areas), and in some restaurants no problem, but check first at some of the more local restaurants in the more rural areas.

Toilets: Toilets - Baños - there is often a charge to use the toilets, around 1000 pesos, and they will often give you a small supply of toilet paper each time, or you will find them on a roll inside - so make sure you are sorted for supply before you go into the actual toilets. Having said that, they were all very clean, no complaints there.

Altitude Sickness - we didn't look into this before we went, but we did meet 1 man in Bogota who was suffering with it.  Though we all had a mild "thick head" for a few days, not uncomfortable, in hindsight might well have experienced a bit, but we all managed to get by.
There is coca leaf tea available, which was also widely available in Peru, and you can google yourself as to what it may or may not contain?

Getting around - we used a combination of busses, boats and planes, very easy to book, though Chris speaks Spanish which obviously helped, but the local people are so lovely and welcoming, and desperate for tourism.
Accommodation was booked from the UK, using Booking.com, which gives you some flexibiliy of course,  I'll detail where we stayed on each post.

Ask away if you plan similar and have any questions or concerns.

Otherwise, thanks for reading.
Annie








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