The Colombian Hostels Association was an initiative created by Colombia’s first 12 hostels, all known for their great service and knowledge of the country. In 2005, with the aim of serving the growing backpacker market in Colombia, these founding member hostels began networking, sharing their knowledge and quality. In 2008, they formed a governmentally recognized, non-for-profit organization.
Before the arrival of Europeans to South America, the territory that is now Colombia was inhabited by various different aboriginal peoples who left an important ancestral and cultural heritage. The first incursions and explorations here by Europeans were led by the Spaniard Alonso de Ojeda in 1499 who founded an ill-fated settlement in Uraba. In 1525 the first city in colonial Colombia was founded at Santa Marta followed in 1533 by Cartagena and then in 1538 Bacata (later renamed Bogota), the actual capital of the Muiscas confederation. at that time, was renamed to Bogotá. As part of the Spanish Empire Colombian lands were exploited in the search for gold, emeralds and salt and in order to fuel this insatiable consumption African slaves were introduced to till the land. From 1740 the Spanish viceroyalty was established in Bogotá and controlled the vast swathe of land now divided between Colombia, Ecuador, Panamá and Venezuela. Winds of discontent. Continue reading.
Spanning a total area of 1,141,748 sq. km Colombia is defined by its topographical variations and its multi-faceted climatic regions which are both its greatest asset and most formidable impediment to growth and which reach the dizzying heights of 5,775m at the Pico Cristobal Colon on the Caribbean’s Sierra Nevada. Situated on the northwestern shoulder of South America, Colombia is divided as if adjacently through its territory by the Andes mountain range and enjoys almost 3.000km of coastline almost equally shared between its Caribbean and Pacific edges. (Continue reading).
Due to its embarrassment of natural richness, Colombia is considered to be one of the most mega-diverse countries in the world. The geological land formation of Colombia is the result of a series of geological events and conditions such as, being coupled with Central and North America through the Panama Isthmus, the Andean Mountain chain – splitting off into three sections – as well as the influence of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans combined with the tropical location of the country. (Continue reading).
Colombia’s population is mainly distributed along the cordilleras and onto the Caribbean coast and is now in the region of 46 million. This figure is expected to exceed 50 million by 2015. The majority of the population is of mestizo or European descent and the rest are made up of people of African and Amerindian descent.
We strongly recommend that prior to coming to Colombia you consult with the experts at your local travel clinic to ensure that you have all the necessary and correct vaccinations.
Colombia is a country possessing incredibly strong regional identities that have been created by the historical isolation of one area from another and in turn accentuated by waves of varied immigration into the country. This said there’s a feast of regional identities ranging from the Caribbean to the Andean, Llanero, Paisa and Chocoano.
Whether arriving by air, sea, river or land it’s easy to locate an affiliate of Colombian Hostels. Start your adventure with the latest and most up to date information by staying at a Colombian Hostels Associated Hostel.
Major international Airports are located in Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena and Cali. With many others cities, including Bucaramanga and Armenia, now also receiving international flights.
The link between Central and South America via Colombia is for many the first port of call for foreigners arriving to this continent. A popular route into Colombia is by sea with a five day trip from Panamá via the San Blas islands and finishing in Cartagena. There is also a ferry from Colon, Panamá to Cartagena. Another option includes travelling by speed boat along the coast from Puerto Obadia (Panamá) via Capurgana (immigration) and then on to Turbo with connections to the rest of the country.
Boats leave from Belén, Manaus (Brazil) and Iquitos (Peru) winding their way through the Amazon jungle and arrive at Leticia, Colombia’s most southern point. Cheap flights from Leticia link the Amazon to Bogotá and the rest of the country.
Entering from the Venezuelan coast you travel through the border city of Maicao and into the Guajira region. From here regular buses leave for Valledupar and Santa Marta. If you’re further south you can enter Colombia from Merida via Cúcuta on the border. This is 6 hours by bus and regular buses then run from Cúcuta a further 5 hours to the city of Bucaramanga.
Travelling from Ecuador you reach the Tulcan / Ipiales border in 6 hours from Quito. Here buses leave regularly to Pasto an 1 hour and half.
In all major cities there are convenient easy forms of public transport such as taxis, buses and articulated buses. Flying between cities is convenient with Avianca, ADA, Copa, LAN, Satena and Viva Colombia offering various routes. Intercity buses are cheap and convenient and should be taken from official Transport Terminals.
There’s no one time to visit Colombia since the country varies so much in landscape and weather patterns. Generally speaking the temperature does not vary much within the respective regions, just on rainfall levels.
To best enjoy the country, aim for low season when fewer foreigners and nationals are travelling such as in the months of February, September and October.
Running from June 15 to July 15 and December 15 to January 15 and including Easter week, all public holidays, festivals, ferias and carnivals. In the aforementioned dates most Colombians travel for their vacations and prices in some major tourist destinations (although not all) increase accordingly. You are recommended to book in advance for accommodation, activities and transport.
Be sure to make copies of your Passport, bring the appropriate plugs to recharge your camera and of course clothes to accommodate the varying regions and climates in Colombia.
In some of the main cities of the country located by the Andean mountain range, tap water is usually safe to drink. But as a precaution always ask a reliable source like the hostel where you will be staying. In other regions like the Caribbean, Pacific, Amazon, and Orinoquia water is not usually treated, always try to carry your own potable water. Electricity:
110 Volts. Bring a power converter and 2 parallel flat prongs – US type Tiping:
Tips are voluntary, but many Colombians will be happy to receive a tip. Think that the basic salary in the country is too low and you can help them with some extra money. How to call:
Colombian international code is 57. Each department in Colombia
has an additional specific area code called “Indicativos”.
Outside of Colombia to landline: + (57) +(area code) + phone number
Outside of Colombia to mobile: + (57) + mobile number
Mobile to landline: 03 + (area code) + phone number
landline to landline in the same department: only the phone number
landline to landline different department: + (area code) + phone number
Landline to mobile: + (03) + mobile number
Water: In some of the main cities of the country located by the Andean mountain range, tap water is usually safe to drink. But as a precaution always ask a reliable source like the hostel where you will be staying. In other regions like the Caribbean, Pacific, Amazon, and Orinoquia water is not usually treated, always try to carry your own potable water.
Electricity: 110 Volts. Bring a power converter and 2 parallel flat prongs – US type
Tiping: Tips are voluntary, but many Colombians will be happy to receive a tip. Think that the basic salary in the country is too low and you can help them with some extra money.
How to call: Colombian international code is 57. Each department in Colombia has an additional specific area code called “Indicativos”. Outside of Colombia to landline: + (57) +(area code) + phone number Outside of Colombia to mobile: + (57) + mobile number Mobile to landline: 03 + (area code) + phone number landline to landline in the same department: only the phone number landline to landline different department: + (area code) + phone number Landline to mobile: + (03) + mobile number
Useful Websites: www.colombianhostels.co (Tourist Information) www.colombia.travel.com (Official Tourist Information) www.parquesnacionales.gov.co (National Parks of Colombia) www.hosteltrail.com/Colombia (Tourist information) www.policia.gov.co (Roads Conditions, click in “Estado de las Vías”) www.ideam.gov.co (Official Weather & Climate information) www.igac.gov.co (Official Maps of Colombia) www.humboldt.org.co / www.natura.org.co (Research organizations)
Airlines www.vivacolombia.com / www.avianca.com / www.lan.com www.copaair.com / www.satena.com (Amazonia & Orinoquia)
Buses www.expresobrasilia.com (Central Andes & Caribbean Coast) www.cootransbol.com (Central, North East Andes & Caribbean Coast) www.bolivariano.com.co (Central, North East & South Andes) www.expresopalmira.com.co (Central & South Andes) www.coflonorte.com (Central, North East Andes & Orinoquía) www.lamacarena.com (Central, North East Andes & Orinoquía)