1. Understanding the Driving Culture
Driving in Cartago, like many other parts of the country, can be a bit chaotic for those not used to it. The traffic rules are not always strictly adhered to, and drivers can be aggressive. It’s important to be alert and cautious at all times. Also, be prepared for unexpected maneuvers from other drivers.
2. Type of Car to Use
Given the varying road conditions in Cartago, it’s advisable to have a car with good ground clearance. A compact SUV or a crossover would be a good choice. However, smaller cars are also common and can be more convenient for navigating through narrow city streets.
3. Parking Situation
Finding parking in Cartago can be challenging, especially in the city center during peak hours. However, there are paid parking lots available. The cost of parking is not typically expensive, but it can add up if you’re parking daily. Always ensure to park in designated areas to avoid fines.
4. Driving with an International License
Foreigners can drive in Colombia with an international driving permit for up to 180 days. After this period, you will need to obtain a Colombian driver’s license. It’s important to always have your passport or a copy of it, along with your international license when driving.
5. Obtaining a Colombian Driver’s License
To get a Colombian driver’s license, you will need to go through a driving school. The process involves a medical exam, theoretical classes, and practical driving lessons. Once you pass the final tests, you can apply for your license at the Ministry of Transport. Note that the entire process is conducted in Spanish, so a certain level of Spanish proficiency is required.
6. Road Conditions
Road conditions in Cartago can vary. While main roads are generally in good condition, some side streets can be poorly maintained. Also, be prepared for heavy rain during the rainy season, which can affect road conditions.
7. Safety Precautions
While Cartago is generally safe, it’s advisable to keep doors locked and windows up when driving, especially at night. Avoid leaving valuables in plain sight in your car to prevent break-ins.