In Central and South America, Destinations by EditorLeave a Comment

Warning: Zika Virus
Smartraveller is warning travellers, in particular pregnant women, be aware of transmission issues in this area.


Colombia is the site for diverse adventure. Straddling the warmth of the equator, every step on the Colombian landscape brings a fresh ecosystem. Brush up your Spanish and start on the refreshing Caribbean shores. Then begin the climb, strap on your hiking boots to reach some of the world’s best coffee. Slurp the traditional Ajiaco soup in one of the world’s highest capitals—Bogota. From there you can climb to the chilly summits of the Andes. Colombia is rich with adventure for the outdoor explorer. After trekking through the jungle, you can leap right into the ocean reefs for a refreshing scuba diving expedition.

Sadly for Colombians, the country has had an internal civil conflict since 1964 that continues today. However, safety and security in Colombia has greatly increased since the 1990’s with diminishing levels of conflict. Though all sides claim to be seeking justice for Colombian peoples the disputes between guerrilla, paramilitary groups, the government and crime syndicates continue. The society is greatly stratified with 32 per cent of the population still living below the poverty line. But, Colombia has other varied and rich parts of history that make it well worth a visit. Explore mysterious ancient cities hidden in the jungle, or muse over the mystery of the San Agustín statues. into the not quite so distant past of Spanish colonialism in Cartagena.

Why volunteer in Colombia

Most of the volunteer programs are located in and around bustling locales such as Cartagena and Bogota. Working in Colombia can be an exciting hands-on experience. Most volunteering in here is people focused and offer opportunities to teach classes, help with childcare, feed the homeless and care for the elderly. You can also help with construction and renovation in disadvantaged areas. There are even a few opportunities for marine conservation and research volunteers to dive on Colombia’s reefs.

Lots of the volunteer opportunities will see you living in a house with a bunch of other likeminded people to share the experience with. While the programs can be incredibly rewarding they have the added bonus of running mostly during the week. Volunteers are often free to explore the wonders of Colombia on the weekends. You’ll have time to practice your Spanish with the locals or go thrill seeking in the Andes.

Getting there

The Australian Government is recommending a high degree of caution at the moment when travelling to Colombia. In particular Colombia and its eastern neighbour Venezuela are in conflict and the border between the two countries is closed. However, working with a volunteer program can help you to find the safest places to make your mark in Colombia.
It is important you get vaccinated for Yellow Fever before departing for Columbia, especially if you want to visit other countries on your way due to differing vaccine requirements.
Though there is a consulate in Bogota, the closest embassy is located across the border in Chile.

Image: Colombia the only risk is wanting to stay by Luz Adriana Villa 2008


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