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Driving and Public Transport

Colombia - Driving and Public Transport

Travelling around Colombia can be easy as there is an excellent internal air network including local helicopter flights. Flights can be arranged for the mainland and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia. The domestic carriers are AeroRepública, Avianca and satena. There is a departure tax payable when leaving via aeroplane and is $19 (USD) which is usually included in the price of the ticket.

There are also cargo ships that travel from Cartagena to San Andrés and it is possible to travel on these occasionally, but this can be a slow way to get around. The only train services available are normally freight and the passenger services between cities are almost non-existent. There is however a restored steam train that runs between Bogotá to Zipaquirá and Cajicá.

Driving around Colombia is not as easy as it is in other parts of the world. The Trans-Caribbean Highway has made it possible to drive to Barranquilla from Venezuela in around 5 hours. The routes between the coastal cities and the capital are passable but the roads are in very poor condition and travellers should seek advice from local authorities before driving in rural areas to make sure they are not travelling into areas where guerrillas and other dangers are prevalent.

The long distances between destinations make air travel the best option when moving around Colombia but if you don't want to fly or take a car journey you can go by bus. The main bus route is the Flota Magdalena and there is also a service known as Collectivos (Bus-Taxi) for shorter journeys.

You can rent a car if you need to as the major companies have rental offices but it is not recommended due to high costs and the driving conditions. Seat belts are mandatory and there is no law on child seats for children. The Colombians drive on the right and the urban speed limit is 45-60kph while the rural speed limit is 80kph. If you choose to drive then insurance is advisable. Most expats choose not to own a car while they are in Colombia, relying instead on local public transport.

When in Bogotá the most efficient way to get around is the TransMilenio bus service. There are also buseta (shared taxi) which are not expensive and they can stop on demand. When using a taxi you should insist that meters are used and remember that the drivers are not tipped. Medellín is Colombia’s second largest city and has an underground system and a cable car (metrocable).

Read more about this country

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