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Colombia Expat Forum

Safety in Bogota

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Waltercito
3/23/2014 10:52 EST

Buenos dias, forumistas.

For those of you who live in Bogota, please comment on your sense of safety there, particularly in taking taxis; I'm not referring to "avoid this neighborhood," etc., as my wife's family lives there, and are well aware of potential "bad" areas.

But they say we should never take a taxi in the street, and my wife specifically suggests that we not speak English while in any taxi so as not to alert a potential ladron driver that I might be a target for a paseo milionario.

I know that knowledge of any area and good "common sense" are the best protectors, but I'm wondering how you all feel about this particular issue. (And please do feel free to comment on any other safety issues you deem important.)

Thanks, Walter

JohnnyD
3/23/2014 12:43 EST

If I'm traveling alone, say to the airport, I reserve a taxi as we would when traveling early morning as when traveling with my Colombian wife. The two of us have taken many taxis off the street without a problem but then I feel more secure when she is with me. Just about everyone I know has been robbed at some point, on the street, in TransMillenio, or in a taxi.

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stargazer2893
3/23/2014 13:00 EST

I lived in Bogota for 19 months, and I called for taxis at night, to the airport, or long distances, like to Corferias or Santa Fe. I rode the TM twice - too crowded for me. During the day, I had no problem grabbing a taxi on the street. You must be able to give the address in Spanish. A few of the drivers speak some English, but don't count on it. (I'm female, light-skinned with blue eyes. No way they could have mistaken me for Colombian!) I did this only during the day, and only where I knew the area. It is safe to travel in groups at night, but call for the taxi. I spoke English sometimes, several drivers enjoyed practicing their English skills and learning what I liked about living in Bogota. I got to practice my Spanish as well! Do not underestimate the possibility of theft. Leave valuables at home. No big jewelery or fancy cell phones. I carried my "flecha" to make calls with. I carried a mochilla most places, not the big purses many women use. Maybe they thought I was poor! My Colombian friends also warned me often about safety. Use common sense, stay away from unsafe areas, keep valuables at home, speak the language. I never felt threatened or in danger. I lived in Antiguo Country, near 85 and autopista. Beautiful area. I can't wait to get back there!

Patricio
3/23/2014 14:12 EST

my only experience with taxis in Colombia has been in Bogota, and have both hooked up with them en la calle and have called. No problem either way but would definitely be preferable to call if you can. They can be there in a matter of a couple of minutes. I always try to take Transmillenio as it is not real simple, for me at least, to learn the system, but it is reliable and is probably one of the quickest ways to learn your way around the city. The crowds in the buses really haven't bothered me. And price cannot be beat.

psorensen
3/23/2014 14:57 EST

In lived in Bogota 5 years and try to avoid the taxis just for a cost stand point.

You can go across town in TM from south to north for like 1600 pesos or in taxi for 25,000 pesos more comfortable but pay sometimes 10 times more depending on the distance.

If i had to take 2 public transports and it was close a taxi will be like 4000 pesos and just easier. Most thing in Bogota are really cost / benefit if you want in now or later.

I always took buses to the University like a 30 min trip for 1500 or a taxi at 8000 pesos 10 min trip ... Yea they like to round up the taxi drivers in bogota jeje be sure to look at the taxi metro

I never had a problem besides someone trying to charge me more in the taxis common sense will take. You far

mawdsjeff
3/23/2014 20:18 EST

OK! Colombia has some problems, but to believe that"family" that it is very dangerous here...why come? Go to Chicago or some violent area of the States! What if I went to Japan, and starting asking a ridiculous question like.."what shall I do if there is a Tsunami?" Go to a safe place like Denmark or lock yhourself up in a safe house provided by the US witness protection program!! Somewhere safe like the US (yeah right!!)

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rumplejesusskin
4/2/2014 11:52 EST

I always hail cabs off the street with no issues. It is cheaper to take the Transmilenio however as the stops usually can get you within walking distance to most anywhere.
Use common sense, don't carry too much cash, passport, or credit cards on you. It is very seldom you need your passport or cards here so only take them when needed.
It doesn't hurt to have some self defense training too. Thugs pick off the weaker easy targets. I know for a fact I've been sized up a few times but I walk around alert and will stare back at anyone giving me the eye and they will always back down. Those bad elements search out easy fast prey so just keep your eyes open and keep alert. Don't walk around with your head glued to your cell, and avoid speaking in English in public so as not to draw attention to yourself until you feel comfortable.

But honestly,, I feel safer here than I do in the neighborhoods I grew up in back in Las Vegas and Albuquerque.

suadel
4/2/2014 14:21 EST

Good day to all in the forum.
rumpl...mentioned "self defense training". This is not a commercial but a social post: I practiced KravMaga in California. KM is called the most efficient (some say lethal) self defense art in the world. Its origin is Israeli. I felt myself so lucky when I discovered KravMaga Gobal organization in Colombia, centered here in Medellin. Its director in Colombia is Gonzalo Ulloa, my Master .I invite anyone interested in this art, men and women, young and old, to contact Gonzalo Ulloa at 311 213 7731, or , or me by PM. We train in the Estadio Atanacio Giradot. It's a great group of men and women, and not to expensive. Once you start training, you'll feel better in the street! I agree with rumpl.., it is good to know some self defense when in Colombia.

suadel
4/2/2014 14:22 EST

Good day to all in the forum.
rumpl...mentioned "self defense training". This is not a commercial but a social post: I practiced KravMaga in California. KM is called the most efficient (some say lethal) self defense art in the world. Its origin is Israeli. I felt myself so lucky when I discovered KravMaga Gobal organization in Colombia, centered here in Medellin. Its director in Colombia is Gonzalo Ulloa, my Master .I invite anyone interested in this art, men and women, young and old, to contact Gonzalo Ulloa at 311 213 7731, or , or me by PM. We train in the Estadio Atanacio Giradot. It's a great group of men and women, and not to expensive. Once you start training, you'll feel better in the street! I agree with rumpl.., it is good to know some self defense when in Colombia.

Patricio
4/2/2014 15:30 EST

I agree this is not a commercia, free advertising forum, suadel.

Yours certainly sounds like it, particularly with the double, identical, posts.

suadel
4/2/2014 17:22 EST

The .double post was a typo.KravMaga is not a business. Like inviting people to join a runners club, I invite anybody that can see beyond the policing of this site and who want to learn self defense, you are welcome. I am only one of the students.

rumplejesusskin
4/7/2014 01:13 EST

On the topic of safety. I got robbed tonight by 3 men. 2 got away with my IPhone and transmilenio card,,the other one made it away with a broken jaw. What I would give to have been able to catch up to them..

Waltercito
4/7/2014 08:52 EST

rumplejesusskin Sorry to hear about your misfortune; when and if you feel like it, would you please share the facts of your experience?...where you were at the time, what time of day, how you were approached, did you see weapons, etc. Thanks, and I hope you weren't hurt in the altercations. Walter

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