Know Before You Go: Highlights of Colombia | EF Ultimate Break
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Highlights of Colombia

Know Before You Go

For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.

Getting There

Complete Your Checklist

Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.

  • Verify your passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date. All U.S. citizens must present a valid U.S. passport to enter and leave Colombia. U.S. citizens do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less
  • Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group as soon as it opens! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
  • Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
  • Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
  • Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.

Stay Healthy Abroad

There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Colombia, however, we recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and vaccine / entry requirements.

  • Consult your doctor or healthcare provider at least 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry / vaccine requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at
  • Drink bottled water. The tap water is technically safe to drink in Colombia, but we recommend travelers purchase bottled water when given the chance.
  • Take proper care with sun exposure, the sun is very strong in some of the areas you are visiting
  • Insect repellent: Hot temps and humid air are a perfect recipe for wildlife and insects. Prepare to encounter bugs in the air, beach, hotels, and more, but don’t let this harsh your vacation vibe! Bring your bug spray to keep them at a friendly distance.
  • Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
  • Public restrooms in Colombia can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.

Pack Like a Pro

Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. See more packing tips below:

  • 1 light wind/rain jacket
  • Comfortable walking/active shoes
  • Waterproof shoes or sandals
  • 1-2 pairs shorts, skirts, pants
  • 3-4 shirts / t-shirts
  • 1-2 nice outfits for Welcome Mixer, Farewell Dinner or a night out
  • 1-2 bathing suits
  • Beach – we love the Microfiber travel towel ($5-$20,
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Phone or camera
  • Passport
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash
  • Plugs in Colombia are typically 2-pronged and flat so US travelers do not need a converter or adapter unless you plan to bring a 3-prong device such as a hair dryer

Note: We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. Comfortable, casual clothing and a sturdy pair of walking shoes are a must for sightseeing.

International and Domestic Travel (Flights)

When preparing for your international flight to Colombia, check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. With this information, you can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

  • If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get re-booked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
  • If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
  • Internal flights: Travel between cities on this tour takes places on smaller commercial flights, and you’ll receive information for your internal flights from your Tour Director on tour.

Note: All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.

Arriving in Bogotá

If you booked flights with EF Ultimate Break, your transfers to and from the hotel when you arrive in and depart from Bogotá are included. When you land in Bogotá, an EF representative will meet you in the airport.

Note: The El Dorado International Airport is the main international airport of Bogotá. If you have difficulty finding your group or representative to bring you to the hotel, call our team at 800-766-2645.

Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers

Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.

Use Your Phone, Internet, and Electronics

We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Read on for additional connectivity must-knows:

  • WiFi is not strong in Colombia. A data plan is your best option for consistent cellular service
  • Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
  • Wi-Fi is not available on the bus
  • Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them
  • For any 3-prong electronics you bring abroad, you will need a converter/adapter. A staff favorite is also the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20,

On The Ground

Money & Tipping Abroad

The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian Peso (COP$). Many restaurants and stores accept major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard), but cash is preferred for smaller markets or local food experiences. See more money tips below:

  • We strongly recommend exchanging your cash into the local currency before you arrive in Bogotá. Once you’re on the tour though, ATMs are available and they’re the easiest way to get cash while abroad.
  • There are paper notes of COP$1000, COP$2000, COP$5000, COP$10,000, COP$20,000, COP$50,000 and COP$100,000.
  • Bargaining is limited to markets and street stalls. if there are prices marked, bargaining is not practiced.
  • Tipping at restaurants is common; we recommend leaving 10% tip if it’s not already added to the bill. Tipping for taxis is not common or required, rather, you should round to the nearest 500 or 1000 pesos.
  • Budget around $50-$60 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
  • We recommend tipping your Tour Director $48-$72 at the end of the trip, plus additional tips for local guides listed below.

Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.

Transportation & Sightseeing

On this trip, you’ll take a private bus and internal flights between cities which can take anywhere between 2-8 hours depending on distance, local traffic, and bathroom or photo-stop breaks. The beauty of travel is that you get to explore a new place, but note that it takes time and energy to see everything worth seeing!

  • Prepare to walk between 4-6 miles per day, especially when sightseeing. We’ve packed a lot into this trip, so be ready for a fast-paced adventure!
  • Internal flights are more volatile than large international routes, so remain patient in the event of delays or cancellations. We’ll work with your Tour Director to rearrange accordingly in the event of a delay or cancellation on tour!
  • Bring motion-sickness medicine with you if you’re prone to getting carsick. Some roads in Colombia are in more run-down conditions than you may be used to.
  • We recommend you ask all taxi drivers to use their taximetro (meter). If they refuse, you should get out and find another taxi.

Note: It’s a good idea to bring a great book with you, or download your favorite Spotify playlist with you for transfer days!

Optimize Your Free Time

If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.

Local Culture

You may be familiar with Colombia’s violent past, but it has made great efforts to move away from that history and focus on its endless cultural offerings. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about its history on guided tours and enjoy the modern paradise it has become today; Locals in Colombia are laid-back and friendly. Music is playing in every restaurant and on every street corner. Aromas of fresh arepas are floating through the air. Color is everywhere. Read on for more local tips!

  • When members of the opposite sex or two women meet it is customary to exchange a single kiss on the right cheek. Men shake hands.
  • It's polite to greet everyone in the room when entering with a simple 'Buenas Dias' or 'Buenas tardes.' This also applies when approaching someone on the street for directions or information.
  • Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them
  • Nightlife in Colombia doesn’t typically begin until 10 or 11pm. You’ll find lots of locals and tourists in the same places, dancing to reggaeton, electronic, and more!
  • Always use the buddy system if you’re exploring the city at night, and use a trusted transportation system like taxis
  • Pick-pocketing is fairly common in bigger cities like Bogota. Always watch your belongings and keep an eye out for one another.
  • “Hot water” really means temperate water in Colombia. Prepare for luke-warm showers!

Food & Drink

You’ll sample a variety of other local dishes on your trip, but read on for all the tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.

  • Coffee: Where else to drink coffee than in Colombia, the country with one of the world's largest productions? Colombians usually drink coffee called tinto, a small, cheap and sweet cup you can buy along the road.
  • Empanadas: A perfect on-the-move snack! Empanadas are stuffed pastries with choice of chicken, beef, cheese, or veggies.
  • Ajiaco: Popular in Bogota, this is a warm, hearty stew that compliments the surrounding chilly mountainous city.
  • Arroz Con Coco: A specialty in Cartagena, this is coconut rice, typically served with a veggie salad and grilled fish.
  • Ceviche: Raw seafood ‘cooked’ in lime and chili - trust us, try it!
  • Sancocho: A traditional Colombian stew. The heartiest is made with tripe.
  • Chocolate con queso: Chocolate and cheese. Insanity? Or brilliant? Try it for breakfast or an afternoon snack and decide for yourself!
  • Cazuela de mariscos: A hot seafood soup made with coconut milk, veggies, spices, prawns, and more! We recommend you try it as a beach treat… seriously.
  • Fruits & Veggies: Bananas, passion fruit, avocados, tomatoes, pineapple, lychee, these aren’t the fruits and veggies your mom told you to eat. They’re 1000x better.
  • Mango Biche con Sal y Limon: Mango with salt and lemon. A popular street food in Cartagena!

Speak the Language

It’s fun and helpful to try your hand at the local language, Spanish! Try out some of these popular words and phrases:

  • Hello: Hola/Buenos días
  • How are you? ¿Cómo estás? /¿Todo bien?
  • Goodbye: Adiós/Chao/Hasta luego/Nos vemos
  • Thank you: Gracias
  • Please: Por favor
  • Excuse me/I’m sorry: Disculpe
  • I’m X: Soy “X” (your name)
  • I’m from X: Soy de “X” (your Country of Residence)
  • How much? Cuánto cuesta?
  • Where is the “X”: En dónde está “X”
    • bathroom: el baño
    • bus stop: paradero de bus
    • pharmacy: la drogueria

Safety Abroad

With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:

  • Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, consult your Tour Director and stick with your group to use trusted transportation back to the hotel
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
  • Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411

We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.


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