Travel to Colombia and Away
From the US – Flights from Miami are around $500 return
From the UK – Flights around £500-600
From Panama – One way flights are around $150. You can enter on one-way tickets but you may be asked for proof of funds. Blag it.
You can also do it by boat but this is for the brave only. Fly to Puerto Obaldi, then take a boat to Capagurna. From here there are daily boats to Turbo. Keep your wits about you on this trip and when you land make sure that you get your entry stamp or you’ll be fined later.
There is, of course, also the land option through the Darien Gap. This route is only really for the Indiana Jones’ amongst you. The area is rife with guerrillas and cocaine traffickers. Very dangerous and very difficult.
From Venezuela – The safest border is in the north from Maracaibo. You’ll pass through some ghost towns and the Guajira peninsula before coming to Santa Marta. Take the earliest bus you can.
From Ecuador – The route from the Ecuador border is quite volatile. If you’re really insistent on traveling by bus at least contact you embassy to ask them about guerrilla activity in the area. The earliest bus will be the safest.
From Brazil – You can make a 12 day journey upstream the Amazon from Belem to Manaus ($100-150 including food) and then Leticia on the Colombia border. From there you should fly to your destination ($70-100)as the jungle is suicidally dangerous.
Travelling around Colombia
In the past, it was considered by many to be too dangerous to take buses around Colombia due to the raging civil war. Even if a route was currently open, the FARC might close it the next day and there was always the risk of getting kidnapped once out of the cities. Many Colombians felt that the countryside was, with a few exceptions, off limits.
Under the current President there’s been a lot more confidence in the national road network but travelers should check carefully the current status of travel by land in the country – certainly great care should be taken anywhere near the border with Equador.
The buses are a very cheap way of getting around and the entire country can be crossed for about $25, due to the cheap Colombian petrol.
The cheap petrol also makes flights in Colombia very cheap and some travelers decide to pay a little more and just avoid any potential risks or hassles. If heading to the border with Brazil, Bolivia or Peru, for example, flights are strongly recommended and a flight from Bogota to Leticia on the Brazilian border will only cost around $75.
Only for the brave.
The Colombian bus system is pretty good though you don’t want to get on the wrong number and end up in a dodgy neighbourhood. Keep asking people if you’re going in the right direction and if in doubt jump off and grab a taxi.
Many travelers do as many Colombians do and only take taxis that they’ve ordered by phone. It’s not that it happens all the time but a taxi in the street leaves no record behind him if he decides to have you robbed or kidnapped. Hence the famous viaje de milionario scam.
Taxis are very cheap in Colombia though and are a great way of getting around. In places like Medellin many of the taxi drivers are ex-sicarios, hired killers of Pablo Escobar and you should take pains not to offend them.