How We Stay Safe in Colombia

stay safe in Colombia unrest

Some of our friends asked how we are faring in Colombia during these difficult times. On top of struggling to combat Covid, the country has economic troubles, and citizens are protesting the government. Don’t worry, we are okay and staying out of the fray. Here’s more details about what’s going on here and how we stay safe in Colombia.

country wide covid lockdowns

Santa Marta was our first stop, and the covid protocols tightened in our time there. When we left after six weeks, the city was shutting down and keeping people effectively locked at home for entire weekends, from Friday evening to Monday morning. Unfortunately, these lockdowns are common across Colombia, notably in the major cities like Cali, Medellin and Bogota. The reason for the lockdowns is hospital capacity. Once a city’s ICUs reach capacity or near-capacity, the city shuts down, hoping that will decrease the Covid cases.

where we are

We are on Sava in a marina in Cartagena. The marina is in a residential part of town called Manga, just a short walk across the bridge to the hope neighborhood of Getsemani and a little further walk to the Old City of Cartagena. It’s a great location and we have enjoyed walking, especially in the evenings when all the locals are out getting their exercise.

Map of Manga, Getsemani and Cartagena
Map shows Manga just south of Getsemani and east of Bocagrande, Cartagena

It’s strange being in Cartagena again after so long, especially during the pandemic. Usually a bustling city with multiple cruise ships in port, the UNESCO walled city is relatively empty, and the few tourists are deluged with requests to go on tours and buy trinkets. Despite the emptiness and hungry vendors, Cartagena is safe. Everyone wears masks inside and in the streets and it’s mostly business as usual.

hats in Cartagena
The one time we’ve both worn our authentic Colombian hats purchased in Cartagena

Since we arrived a few weeks ago, the curfew in Cartagena has tightened. The last few weeks, curfew was 8p-5a on weekdays, and 2p-5a on weekends. We’re not complaining: it’s better than the rest of the country.

mask wearing stay safe in Colombia
Masks are obligatory across Cartagena

Otherwise, we are able to come and go as we please. Museums and restaurants are mostly open and they are good! Beaches are often closed, and the heat is oppressive during the day, but we are keeping busy and safe in Cartagena.

the protests

Protests in Colombia began a few weeks ago after proposed tax increases, and continue because of police corruption and other failings, but all we’ve seen are the videos. The worst of the protests are in Cali and Bogota, two cities I visited my first time in Colombia but won’t be seeing anytime soon.

Here in Cartagena, the protests are peaceful and contained. We know in advance where and when they will occur and it is easy for us to avoid them. Brian believes this is due to the acting mayor’s sympathy with the protests, and it may also be thanks to Cartagena’s relative economic strength.

staying safe in cartagena

We don’t find it difficult to stay safe in Cartagena; we are mostly focused on staying cool and keeping entertained. Weekends are the hardest since we can’t go anywhere after 2PM, but we’ve been creative with our time.

stay safe in Colombia hotel pool Cartagena
The pool at our overnight getaway in Bocagrande

One weekend we spent a night in a hotel with a pool in the tourist district of Bocagrande. We figured if we’re going to be locked up somewhere for a Saturday afternoon and night, it may as well have air conditioning and a pool. It also had deer and exotic birds! We didn’t spend much and got a little getaway.

  • exotic birds Cartagena
  • Deer hotel Cartagena

Last week we took the boat and spent 10 days near the outer islands of Cartagena. First we dropped anchor in a bay of Isla Grande in the Rosario Islands, but the wind shifted and the waves were rough in the anchorage, so after 2 nights we moved. It was beautiful there, and very peaceful despite it being a popular vacation destination in better times.

Resort on Isla Grande Islas Rosario Colombia
View of one of the resorts on Isla Grande

Next we stopped outside Isla Barú, a calm anchorage called Cholon Bay, with little waves and quiet but for the party boats. We had a great time swimming and exploring and buying fruit from the local vendor, and met some other cruisers and enjoyed our time in the wild.

Swimming Isla Grande Rosario islands
Enjoying the clear water near Isla Grande outside Cartagena

We would love to return to both anchorages and spend more time swimming in the clear water. Now we are back in Cartagena sweltering at the dock, but we have plans and need to get things done.

getting vaccinated

Our friends and family in the U.S. and Canada and our cruiser friends in other parts of the Caribbean are all either fully or partly vaxxed. What about us? While we’ve passed the few Covid tests we’ve taken, we haven’t yet had the chance to get jabbed ourselves. Call it a story of wrong place, wrong time. We spent many months in Curaçao and Bonaire, but neither island started vaccinating until after we left.

Colombia has vaccines, but they are only providing shots to citizens of the country. They just announced that people over 50 – Colombians over 50 – are eligible to get the shot. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to us, and we don’t want to wait any longer.

Cartagena is a travel hub with a good airport and reasonable airfares, a good thing because we are leaving the boat and hopping a plane. Next week, if everything goes to plan, we’ll be getting vaccinated in Florida. It’s a good time to leave Colombia, but not for long because Sava is our home now.

our plans to stay safe in colombia

I won’t editorialize on the efficacy of Covid protocols. It’s not my country and I am fortunate to visit. I hope that more people can get vaccinated and the economic woes ease. Colombia is a beautiful country with friendly people and lots of attractions, and while we are disappointed not to explore more, we are grateful to be here and safe.

Once we return to Cartagena, we’ll tour a few more places we want to see, eat a few more delicious meals, which I will blog about, and plan for our next moves, post-vaccination.

Do you think we’re making the right move and doing the best we can to stay safe in Colombia? Share in the comments.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

2 thoughts on “How We Stay Safe in Colombia”

  1. Glad you are staying safe in Colombia, I appreciate you sharing what it is like there and how to stay safe. I think it is good for people to hear this information from people who are actually there instead of the media’s version of the world. I hope your plans work out!

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