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Get to know Colombia

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Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Here

Q: Are there Visa requirements to travel to Colombia?
A: Current and valid Passports are required to enter into Colombia. Certain countries require visa to travel to Colombia, please ask our Expert Travel Advisors.

Q: Do I need to know Spanish in order to travel to Colombia?
A: It is not 100% necessary however a basic understanding of Spanish will help you to have a smoother experience. A good dictionary and a few words will help you in restaurants, with directions or to take a bus. If required we can provide you with multilingual guides fluent in: English, German, Japanese, Chinese and French among others.

Q: Are international flights included with Mantaraya?
A: Travelers arrive from all over the world to begin our tours and as such it is not possible to include international airfare in our prices. All flights from outside destinations to and from Colombia are organized by you (however if requested we can look into arranging this for you). Mantaraya Travel arranges all travel within Colombia.

Q: How is the experience for a Solo traveler in Colombia?
A: Mantaraya currently doesn’t offer any group tours in Colombia. We often have a lot of solo travelers who have only had great experiences. Colombia is a really easy, fun and safe country to travel in on your own.

Q: What are the Normal Luggage requirements?
A: The international airlines allow only 2 checked pieces and one carry on. Soft luggage and duffle bags are the choice we highly recommend.

Health and safety

Q: Is Colombia safe enough to travel in?
A: Yes, Colombia is a hidden treasure surrounded with a bad rep, even though its political issues have dramatically improved and changed for the better over the last few years, tourism is still relatively low making Colombia an incredible jewel to discover. Many tourists who are initially very skeptical about visiting Colombia more than often decide to come from high praises of other tourists who have just left here, in fact through out South America, you will frequently hear that Colombia is one of the top destinations and favorites in the whole continent and how their pre perceptions of coming here were completely wrong. The country does have unsafe places that are far away from the main cities, however the fact remains that there are many incredible rich historical and natural wonders to visit which are perfectly safe and with top comfort accommodation and incredibly warm hospitable locals it promises to be a more than satisfactory vacation for anyone fond of exciting adventure!

In regards to general security issues in all areas of Colombia, a general rule applies here as it does in any other foreign country or city in the world and that is to take care of yourselves and your belongings at all times and avoid any dark or suspicious areas you are unsure about.

The safety situation in Colombia has improved for the better in the past few years, and the latest data and news confirm it is for real

  • Lonely Planet, the New York Times and many others appointed Colombia as a hot spot destination to visit in 2009 and 2010.
  • Foreign tourists to Colombia have more than doubled in the last 4 years.
  • Cartagena Colombia was appointed as the host for the World Tourism Organization general assembly in 2007.
  • Last season in Cartagena many celebrities such as Julio Iglesias, Sylvester Stallone, Juan Pablo Montoya, the Monaco Prince, among others where seen thoroughly enjoying the Caribbean beaches.

With Mantaraya, you can be assured that your trip to the most beautiful country in South America will be sheer pleasure and that your safety is always in our very best interest. We believe the only problem you may face while here is not wanting to leave!

Excerpt of “2009 Top Destinations” by Frommer’s

“After years of strife and violence owing to the drug cartel wars, Colombia has begun to emerge as a safe and vibrant travel destination. (Crime rates in major cities are now no higher than what you’d find in an average large American city like Philadelphia or Milwaukee.) Cartagena has a highly developed tourist infrastructure, making it easy to reach—only a 2.5-hour flight from Miami. With gorgeous 17th century colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, an emerging foodie scene, and a throbbing bar and club nightlife, there are things to do that suit a variety of interests”

“If there’s a country poised to be the next big ecotourism destination, it’s Colombia. With an area equal to that of Spain, France, and Portugal combined, Colombia has coastlines on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thick Amazon jungle, immense flat lands evoking the American planes, scorching deserts, and snow-capped mountain peaks. All that plus 45 million residents mean that Colombia is second only to Brazil in ecological and human diversity among South American countries.” – Frommer’s

Once considered dangerous, Colombia, having implemented security improvements over the last half-decade, is emerging to the tourism world.

Q: Do I need to be in good shape?
A: Of course not! Our tours are not meant to be strenuous and you always decide on the trip level you want to take.
Good general physical condition will go a long way in ensuring you have a more enjoyable experience. You do not need to be a strong, athletic person, but you must be physically capable of moderate exercise for a few hours each day.

What is more important is that you bring along a positive spirit.

Q: Which vaccinations are required to travel to Colombia?
A: Vaccination for yellow fever is a must if you are traveling to the following Colombia destinations: Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City), Tayrona National Park, or the Amazon. It is also recommended to have a tetanus shot before coming.

 

General inquiries

Q: What clothing should I pack for one of your adventures?
A: We always recommend packing as light as possible however the specific requirements for your tour will vary widely depending on where and when you are traveling. Our Ready to Go Document® includes a suggested packing list.

Q: What is the weather like in Colombia?
A: Colombia’s proximity to the equator means its temperature varies little throughout the year. However, the temperature does change with altitude, which creates various climatic zones from hot lowlands to freezing Andean peaks, so you can experience completely different climates within just a couple of hours of travel.

As a general rule, the temperature falls about 6ºC with every 1000m increase in altitude. If the average temperature at sea level is 30ºC, it will be around 24ºC at 1000m, 18ºC at 2000m and 12ºC at 3000m. The altitude also affects the difference between daytime and night-time temperatures. The higher the altitude, the greater the difference. Consequently, in the highlands there can be warm days but freezing nights, while in the lowlands days and nights are almost equally hot.

Colombia has two seasons: dry or wet, litterally ‘verano/summer’ or ‘invierno/winter’ . As a rough guideline only, in the Andean region there are two dry and two rainy seasons per year. The main dry season falls between December and March, with a shorter and less dry period between July and August. This general pattern has wide variations throughout the Andean zone.

The weather in Los Llanos has a more definite pattern: there is one dry season, between December and March, while the rest of the year is wet. The Amazon doesn’t have a uniform climate but, in general, is quite wet year-round.

Q: Festivities and Carnival Dates in Colombia?

  • The Mono Núñez Festival, May.
  • Carnival of Blacks and Whites in Pasto, January.
  • The Manizales Fair, January.
  • The Hay Festival, January.
  • The Barranquilla Carnival, February.
  • International Film Festival of Cartagena, February.
  • Holy Week in Mompox, April.
  • Holy Week in Popayán, April.
  • Holy Week in Pamplona, April.
  • Festival of the Vallenato Legend in Valledupar, April.
  • Bambuco National Folk Festival and Beauty Pageant, June.
  • The Ibagué Folk Festival, June.
  • Yipao Parade and Contest in Calarcá, June.
  • Wayúu Culture Festival, June.
  • Medellín’s Colombiamoda, July.
  • The Medellín Flower Fair, August.
  • Bogotá International Book Fair, August.
  • Wind and Kite Festival in Villa de Leyva, August.
  • Jazz in the Park Festival in Bogotá, September.
  • San Pacho Feasts in Quibdó, September.
  • World Coleo Encounter in Villavicencio, October.
  • Independence of Cartagena and National Beauty Pageant, November.
  • International Amazonian Folk Music Festival in Leticia, November.
  • Festival of the Lights in Villa de Leyva, December.
  • The Cali Fair, December.
  • Ibero-American Theater Festival of Bogotá, April.

Q: What are the age restrictions on your tours?
A: To travel independently you must be at least 18 years old. There are no upper age limits on our tours. Families with children ages below 5 will be recommended not to visit certain destinations.

Q: I’m a single traveller, will I be charged a single supplement?
A: Most of our trips are priced based on double occupancy, as well as the ground transportation cost, which is based on at least 2 passengers, therefore you will be charged a single supplement which will vary depending on the tour. Please ask our Travel Specialists.

Q: When is the best time to travel to Colombia?
A: Traveling to Colombia during any of the festive occasions is (although a lot busier), a fun and exciting way to see celebrations of their culture and a great way to meet a lot of friendly relaxed locals and travelers. Drier seasons (Dec- Mar or Jul- Aug) are a good time to travel if wanting to do some of the hikes or trails, however, Colombia’s temperatures are fairly mild and similar year round so any time of the year can offer you a selection of things to do and enjoy.

Q: Can I use the ATMs in Colombia?
A: In most of the cities you won’t have any difficulties using the ATMs. You can withdraw a maximum of 900.000 Pesos (about 450 dollars) a day. It is also possible to take out bigger amounts of money with your credit card and passport in most banks.

Q: Is tipping included and if not, how much should I budget?
A: Tips are not included in the tour price and tipping is entirely at your discretion. Our guides will work very had to make sure your trip is the best travel experience you could possibly have. The giving of tips is meant to reward exceptional service but they are not an obligation. If you think your guides worked very hard to make your trip a success, a tip will be hugely appreciated. Traditionally the amount spent on tips by our guests has varied from 10-15% of the guest’s trip cost.

Accommodations

Q: What are my accommodation options if I am traveling alone?
A: Most of our trip accommodations are based on double occupancy. If a single room is requested for the trip, the guest will be required to pay a nominal surcharge. Please discuss this with one of our Travel Specialists.

Q: What types of accommodations should I expect in Colombia?
A: Here in Colombia there are a variety of cheap backpacker accommodations to luxury high-end resorts and hotels. In some places there are also camping and sleeping in hammock options, or home stays with indigenous communities.

Mantaraya Travel deal with only the best quality for places to stay based on personal knowledge and client feedback and can arrange just about any needs you may require.