Colombia is a tropical country with a variety of climatic zones and, as such, the weather can often be unpredictable and tough to forecast. It is practically impossible to find a period that works for all of Colombia, as the drier season in the Andes and the Caribbean coast coincides with the wettest period in the Amazon. However, on average, the country is at its driest roughly between December and March, and this is generally recognized as the high season for travel on the Caribbean coast and in much of the Andean regions. The Eastern Plains also experience a particularly harsh dry season during this period: although it can be punishingly hot, it’s the best time for wildlife safaris as species are forced to cluster around the few remaining water sources.
There are some notable exceptions to this rule. The Pacific region barely enjoys a ‘dry’ season as it is one of the wettest lowland regions on earth. However, the weather is less of an issue when it comes to traveling in the Pacific: the best time to visit is between June and October during the humpback whale migration period. The Amazon region around Leticia is also generally at its driest – in spite of high levels of rainfall year-round – in July and August. Wildlife spotting is easiest in this period as the rivers recede and animals come to the riverbanks to hunt or drink.
However, the weather isn’t the only important issue to consider when you are planning a trip to Colombia: the so-called ‘high season’ also coincides with large price increases and decreased availability of tours, flights and hotels. Although the weather is often at its best in December and early January, it’s also Colombian holiday season and prices can skyrocket during this period. Flight costs can double or triple, and hotels are often booked solid months in advance. The same rule applies to the Easter holidays, Colombian holiday weekends (of which there are many) and, to a lesser extent, school and university holidays. Really the weather is less of a consideration than the high tourism seasons: even in the wet season it doesn’t rain all day, every day, but during Colombian holidays it is always busy.
The best time to visit Colombia to avoid these crowds and save some money would be the shoulder seasons leading up to the high season and following on from it: November, February and March are the best months to visit for a magic combination of drier weather, fewer crowds and better prices. A popular destination like Tayrona National Park, for example, can be overwhelmingly busy in the high season and practically empty on a November weekday.
At the end of the day, there’s really no bad time of year to visit Colombia: tourists visit 365 days a year and the vast majority have hugely positive experiences. However, with these tips for the best and cheapest time to visit Colombia you can hopefully maximise your experience and have the best time possible.