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The Lost City, Colombia
The Lost City, Colombia | © Taavi Randmaa / Flickr
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What to Pack for a Trip to Colombia

Picture of Chris Bell
Updated: 4 April 2018
Packing for a trip to Colombia isn’t as easy as you might think: the country has a remarkably diverse mixture of regions and ecosystems and the weather and temperature can vary dramatically from place to place. Luckily, we’re here to give you all the advice you will ever need on packing for a trip to Colombia, so here are our top tips on what to pack if you’re planning a visit to South America’s most exciting destination.

Layers

There’s no need to list every single item of clothing you will need for a trip to Colombia, but one thing is important to remember: pack layers! Why? Well, the climate in Colombia varies a great deal between different cities and regions: Cartagena is baking hot, Bogota can be chilly, and Medellin is somewhere in-between. Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of only packing shorts and t-shirts, expecting a Caribbean paradise throughout the country! Make sure to include at least one thin jacket and sweater.

Colorful street alley in Bogota
Colorful street alley in Bogota | © Pedro Szekely / Flickr

Bug spray

One of the essential items for any holiday in Colombia is a good-quality bug repellent. Mosquitos and sand-flies are a common nuisance, especially in the Caribbean coastal and Amazonian region, and the last thing you want is to have your experience ruined by constant bug bites. Try and avoid DEET-based sprays, as they are extremely bad for your skin, and consider picking up some mosquito-proof clothing to offer added protection.

You want to keep these things off!
You want to keep these things off! | © Tom / Flickr

Water purifier

While you can drink the tap water safely in Colombia’s Andean regions, on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and in the Amazon you cannot. Therefore, a good money-saving tip is to pack some sort of high-quality water filter, either attached to a bottle or as a separate attachment. This way you can fill up your bottle from the tap throughout the whole country and save a tonne of cash by not buying new water bottles every time you get thirsty! Plus, there are the environmental benefits to consider as well…

Hiking shoes or boots

You will almost certainly be doing some hiking during your time in Colombia; whether it’s the Cocora Valley hike, the Lost City, or even just visiting Tayrona National Park, many of Colombia’s top tourist attractions will require you to at least walk a little. Therefore, a comfortable pair of hiking trainers or boots are a must-pack item.

The Lost City trek requires good footwear
The Lost City trek requires good footwear | © McKay Savage / Flickr

A good pair of jeans or trousers

Colombians are surprisingly formal when it comes to clothing, and the idea of going out to a restaurant or nightclub in shorts would be anathema to the vast majority of local people. If you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb then make sure to include at least one pair of jeans or vaguely formal trousers. Otherwise, you might as well wear a sign around your neck saying “I’m a traveller!”

A good day bag

Colombia has some amazing day-trips to enjoy, from visits to paradise Caribbean islands to hikes through Andean forests and valleys. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential to travel with a good lightweight day-pack. Try to choose something that won’t weigh you down but that also offers plenty of pockets for a camera, water bottles, and extra layers. A waterproof bag is always a bonus, as the Colombian weather is extremely unpredictable.

A lightweight day-bag is an essential item
A lightweight day-bag is an essential item | © Chris Bell

A good camera!

If Colombia has one thing going for it, it’s spectacular landscapes and views. You will definitely want to capture the beauty of the country on camera, so make sure you travel with a good quality camera (or even video camera like a GoPro). Don’t assume you’ll be happy with your phone snaps; if you love photography then Colombia is a dream destination!

Umbrella

This sounds like an odd one, but bear with us! In the Andean cities it can be cold when it rains, meaning you will actually want a raincoat for the waterproof benefits and the warmth, but when the rain comes on the Caribbean or Pacific coast the temperature stays high, so the last thing you will want is a rubbery jacket trapping all the hot air! This is where a small travel umbrella comes in handy.