Travelers – Help w/ Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic

Reader question: I’m planning a trip that hinges on me being able to get from either Colombia or Panama to the Dominican Republic. There are flights available, but they’re infrequent and quite expensive.

Has anyone heard of a way to get from one of these two places to the DR via boat? Either public or even private chartered boat service? Is that a doable / reasonably safe trip?

I’m willing to take a flight if nec, but just looking on a map, I’m hopeful that a boat would work, both for the $$ savings and just the experience. That would be some boat ride. would think boat travel would have to depart from one of the coastal cities in Colombia. (Barranquilla or Cartagena).

Is Medellin safe for travelers? Anyone been lately?

Looking at other travel resources too, just wanted to throw it up here quickly in case anyone’s done a similar travel route. Thanks

Answer 1:

Yes, Colombia is quite cosmopolitan now, the city is safe. The driving on the other hand… Anyway, Medellin… It is safe for travelers but be careful just as you would in any big city. But for Pete’s sake do NOT drive and particularly do NOT drive to get to another city within Colombia. Once you’re in the city of Medellin you’re safe but if you start venturing out by car being a tourist and not knowing where you’re going thats when trouble happens. If you have to go from Medellin to Bogota or Cali for example just fly. Its safe and quick.

I’d be careful where you hike. ask at the hotel. Cartegena is a beautiful city on the coast if you want to have some fun. Also wear a cheap watch and no gold.

Answer 2:

Well I would do some research ahead of time as far as places to go within the city or in the general area of the city. I remember I went to a place called El Penol I think where I saw people doing some hiking there. There’s also a huge lake in that area where you could do jet skiing and other beach type activities. So if you want to do hiking and those kinds of activities in Medellin make sure to go to a place that looks like it’s a tourist thing to do. As for driving, for example if you want to get to Bogota from Medellin, which is around a 12 hour drive, I would strongly recommend flying instead. The reason is the area in between big cities is very mountainous and only if you live there can you really know if its safe to drive through because of the FARC guerillas.

If you really want to do physical types of activities, there is a town near where my family is from called San Gil (pronounced like Heel). It is pretty much dedicated to doing activities like kayaking, hiking, diving through underwater caverns etc. I’ve never been myself but some cousins of mine have and said its fantastic if you like that sort of stuff.

If you want to go to a beach you might want to try Barranquilla (where Shakira is from 🙂 and Cartagena or Santa Marta. Each of them has there own attractions but they’re all on the beach. I’ve never been there either but I’ve had friends go to Cartagena.

Then of course there is the Colombian island called San Andres. That’s pretty much like going to a caribbean island.

Either way to get to or from any of these places I would fly. Its not that expensive either. I’ve flown Bogota to Medellin for about 100 bucks. Just don’t be so adventerous that you decide to drive from Medellin to Cartagena or from Bogota to Medellin. To do that stuff go to a city like the ones I mentioned and go to one of their designated spots there to do those things.

Another tip is that whatever city you are in try, try, try your best to ONLY get cabs that you have called an agency for ahead of time. Try not get a cab off the street. If you can help it have the hotel call a cab for you. I do that and I’m of Colombian descent because they smell a gringo a mile away and just like anywhere there are people that can take advantage.

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