When you announce to your friends and family that you are going to Colombia, you’ll hear a collective gasp and an, “ohh, no.” Tell your poor mother not be terrified; the golden days of the Colombian drug cartels are over. It has cleaned up a lot since then. So, is Colombia Dangerous?
The Former Crime Capital Of the World
In 1991, the number of homicides in Colombia totaled 28,280. In 2014 the number was 12,776, and it has been dropping every year since the dangerous days of the 80’s and 90’s. Medellin, in 2014, saw just 653 murders. Compare that to the 17 homicides a day the city saw when Pablo Escobar (leader of the Medellin Cartel) was at the height of his power.
Those drug dealers did not die in vain, however; most of the 18-40-year-old guys in Medellin were eliminated (literally). This created a strange phenomenon where a generation of single women competed against each other to look beautiful so they could snag one of the few remaining males.
Is Colombia Dangerous? City Guide
As most guys will be visiting the large cities rather than the campos, I’ve covered the main metropolitan areas here in order of the most dangerous to the safest:
- Cali: The most dangerous. Cali has the highest homicide rate in Colombia. I would recommend all foreigners stay in Granada or Santa Monica.
- Buenaventura: According to many Colombian friends, though I’ve never been, this probably the most dangerous city in Colombia.
- Barranquilla: Crime in Barranquilla is concentrated in the center and the south of the city. Some areas of the north feel like being in a nice area of Miami.
- Bogota: Once named “the most dangerous city in the world (in 1993 there were 4,352 intentional homicides at a rate of 81 per 100,000 people), Bogota has really cleaned up its act recently – in 2007 the city saw 1,401 murders at a rate of 19 per 100,000 inhabitants. Like Barranquilla, stick to the north of the city to avoid muggings and murders. The following areas are safe and have been tested by myself and Masculine Profiles: Chapinero, Zona T, Parque 93. I would avoid staying south of Chapinero.
- Medellin: Probably ties with Bogota these days for safety. Violent crime in areas such as El Poblado is virtually unheard of.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
Masculine Profiles and I have spent a total of 5 months in Colombia and never had a problem. If someone asked us, “Is Colombia dangerous?” we’d probably laugh it off as a joke. For example, on Halloween (no chance in hell of getting a taxi) we walked home from the clubs (about 4 miles). We saw many others do the same and nobody had a problem.
We also know guys who have lived there for over a year and never had a problem – this isn’t Honduras or El Salvador we’re talking about here.
I speak Spanish, and I have a taste for adventure that leads me often to the underworld, but I don’t want to be responsible for guys getting hurt in Colombia, so I need to put a disclaimer here and suggest that guys do not take the risks that I have taken.
I know one guy who was spam approaching in the night club and had a gun shoved in his back when he got outside. I heard a story about another gringo stepping out of his taxi in front of his hostel in Cali and being greeted by two guys sitting on motorbikes holding guns.
Here are a few tips that will keep you and your possessions safe:
- Download the EasyTaxi app
You don’t want to be wandering the streets at 2 am looking for a taxi – very often.
- Learn Spanish
The more Spanish you know, the less of a target you will be. Knowing Spanish will help you enormously with the next point – get learning, it’s not so hard. Here a few resources I recommend:
- Make local friends
The more locals you know and befriend, the safer you will be. All you need is a bit of Spanish and some beer and money to grease their palms with.
- Dress well, but not flash
We dress up well for the high-end clubs in Bogota, but no Rolex watches or iPhones on show.
“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” Clint Eastwood
Anything worth doing in life comes with an element of risk. Is Colombia dangerous? Well, yeah. While Colombia is more dangerous than most European countries, for example, the beauty of the women more than makes up for it. A reputation for danger actually plays to our advantage as it means fewer thirsty guys will venture into the pussy paradise and ruin everything.
Much of the falling crime rate in Colombia is due to criminal pacts between warring drug cartels, which could collapse at any moment. Now is probably the best time to go to Colombia. Vamos.