My Colombian Road trip: 5 advices if you’re considering backpacking in South America

I know what you all might be thinking: Isn’t Colombia a dangerous country ?


Cali, Valle del Cauca

This summer with my boyfriend, we spent 3 weeks backpacking in Colombia. And let me tell you, backpacking in Colombia is one hell of an adventure. If just like me you have a passion for travel and adventure (or for fresh and tasty fruits) Colombia might just be the place for you.

But for the record, our road trip didn’t start directly in Colombia, but in Panama City. At the time; when we were still planning the trip and booking our tickets, it was cheaper for us to start from there.


Colombia is a hot topic right now: the former drug cartel capitals such as Medellin and Cali are now being labelled best places to visit in 2018. The country’s reputation hasn’t always been the best: a few years ago, it wouldn’t have been a country you would consider going for holidays. But time has changed and Colombia is a reborn country.

What makes Colombia a good holiday destination you might ask ?

It’s got everything:  Colombia is one of the world’s most diverse countries. It’s a various mixtures of climates, with two oceans, stunning beaches, lost cities, wonderful landscapes, spectacular mountains, an astonishing wildlife, energetic cities, and the list goes on.

Monserrate, Bogotá

Here are 5 advices if you’re considering backpacking in South America: 

1. Do not flush down your toilet paper 

In South America, due to poor sewage systems, throwing toilet paper down the toilet is forbidden, the  plumbing system there doesn’t allow it. img_6115

But imagine my surprise when my friend told me off the first time:

“Don’t put your toilet paper down there !”

First, I thought that maybe something was wrong with his toilet. Soon after, I realised that the rule didn’t work only for his toilet, but for every other toilets in South America. Instead you put your used toilet paper in a small bin which is most of the time at a pretty close distance from the toilet seat.

2. Get prepared for all kind of weathers coming your way

There is this misconception than Colombia is a hot HOT country and only that. Don’t get me wrong, it is pretty hot over there. But that doesn’t mean it can not get cold or windy or rainy. The climate is really diverse over there. During our three weeks there, we faced the warm and sunny weather of Cali, the cold of  Bogotá, the sunlights of Medellin, the heatwaves of Santa Marta and the heavy rains of Panama. In my backpack, my swimming suits was keeping company to my cold and rainy jacket, my flip flops, to my scarf and hat. So pack wisely !

3. Keep your Spanish dictionary with you

Surprisingly, English is not widely spoken over there. So you might want to learn the basic and bring out this sexy Spanish accent. Luckily for us, I spent a month in Spain when I was younger and could still understand some words and speak the local language (also french is really similar to Spanish so most of the times I was just throwing random french words hoping for someone to get them).

4. Be prepared to earn a few extra kilos because…


THE COLOMBIAN FOOD IS GOOD (if not the best). It reminded me of African cuisine with a hint of Spanish cuisine. And yes, I did go back home with extra weight on.

5. Contact your doctor, get vaccinated and don’t forget to pack your anti-mosquito spray

Travelling to another country means facing health issues you wouldn’t ordinarily experience at home. So minimise your risks, find out in advance which vaccines are recommended or required for South America depending on the country you are visiting. Don’t forget than if you do not get the required one, you might not be allowed to enter some countries over there.

I got all my vaccination up to date as well as the required ones, but forgot my spray anti-mosquito.

Results ? I came back home with more than 25 bites.

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Ophélie Lawson

I am a passionate and creative young adult, dedicated to make this world a better place by sharing ideas, stories and projects committed to encourage a sustainable development. Enthusiastic and dedicated person from France with an excellent attitude to work, I have good communication skills. Using my journalistic expertise, my photography and story telling skills, as well as my curiosity, I travel the world looking for inspiring content to write about. And I am not scared of standing up for what I believe.

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