Bogotá: Colombia's Misunderstood Capital

 

“Jeez, watch your back!” is pretty much the only thing I heard when telling people we were going the start the second part of our trip in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Now, I’m not going to say that it’s the safest city in the world but from what I’ve seen, things must have improved a lot in recent years.

Guadalupe Hill and the statue of Christ in the background.

Guadalupe Hill and the statue of Christ in the background.

Bogotá is a vibrant city and it felt very modern and even… fashionable. The mountains in the east, overlooking the city, were an impressive sight every time I could see them looking down a street and I never felt unsafe walking through the streets. And trust me, we walk a lot. I never felt like it was a bad idea to take out my camera and start shooting.

Young and old, all well-dressed…

Young and old, all well-dressed…

Maybe one time, we felt a bit—let’s say—uncomfortable when walking back to our hostel after dark. We arrived back in Bogotá after a day out visiting the salt mines of Nemocón. The Transmilenio (public transport) dropped us off at the closest stop and from there, we walked back to our hostel in the historic center called La Candelaria. It was close to the bus stop where we had to cross a plaza and there were just too many weird types hanging around drinking. But yeah, every city has its weirder and unsafe areas.

Salt mines of Nemocón. A day trip away from Bogotá.

Salt mines of Nemocón. A day trip away from Bogotá.

Are you and your camera safe in Bogotá?

Bogotá's grittier sides sit south and southwest, where there’s a lot of drug related crimes, sadly. Just don’t go there. I think that most parts of Bogotá are pretty safe if you use common sense. And yes, maybe for Bogotá you need a little bit more of that than other cities in the world. When we saw tourists and backpackers going out at night to drink and party, we could only hope that it would end well because bad things do happen in Bogotá. Again, I’m not telling you to ignore all the warnings and that it’s a perfectly safe city but if you stay in the right areas.

No need to be afraid to take your camera out in the streets.

No need to be afraid to take your camera out in the streets.

If you're thinking of going to Bogotá but worry about safety of you or your camera, don’t worry. Read up on what to look out for and don’t let worries take over when you should be enjoying this cool and vibrant city. You can take your camera out anywhere you want in the tourist areas like La Candelaria and Chapinero. Heck, I saw dozens of young Colombians on the streets shooting with their expensive cameras! It seems like the young generation is very interested in photography.

La Candelaria, the city’s cultural center

The city's cultural epicenter is La Candelaria. We stayed for four night in this historic neighborhood and we were pleasantly surprised when walking around. The old houses and cobbled streets with green mountains towering over the city in the background—it felt very different from everything we’ve seen on our trip until now…

Man walking in front of a church in La Candelaria.

Man walking in front of a church in La Candelaria.

If it’s your first stay, I would definitely recommend staying here. There are lots of cheap places to stay and all the important things to see are close by. We walked pretty much everything.

One of many yellow taxis in Bogota

One of many yellow taxis in Bogota

Colombia too good to be true?

We’ve been in Colombia now for only a week but me and Joanna are both loving it. The food, the people, the landscapes, the cities and villages—we seem to like everything we see until now. I’m writing this from our hostel in San Gil by the way where tomorrow, we’ll jump into the unknown… literally. We’ve signed up for some paragliding over Chicamocha Canyon near San Gil. Google it, it’s beautiful.

We’re excited to see much more of this beautiful and intriguing country. Hopefully, it keeps getting better.

Joris, signing off. I’m so tired and Joanna is already sleeping next to me in the weirdest position possible… sorry, no picture…

 
ColombiaJoris Hermans