The 9 Most Dangerous Places in Colombia

The links on the website are in affiliation with Amazon Associates worldwide and we earn a small commission for qualifying purchases.

Colombia is a country with such outstanding natural beauty and culture, but the violence in Colombia can be staggering. From gang members to terrorist groups like FARC and ELN, there are many dangerous places in Columbia, which you should avoid.

Theft is common, and many people are getting kidnapped, so take precautions. The crime rate in South America has been increasing since 2004. Violent crimes, including kidnappings and carjackings, have increased significantly during the last few years.

Many people are killed every day, and visiting Colombia can be unsafe, but there are some safer areas you can visit as well. This article will list some of these dangerous places in Columbia you may want to stay away from if you’re looking for safety within its borders and don’t want to become just another crime statistic.

1. Bogota

An image of Bogota

Bogotá used to be a crime-ridden nightmare for everyone living there, but today things have improved significantly. There still exist certain safety issues which plague innocent people who happen upon Bogóta; however, rates of violence against tourists have gone down drastically from years ago when these violent crimes were at their worst.

Naturally, visiting Bogota can still be a scary prospect. Not only are the streets unsafe at night, but so too might your food and drink choices become if you’re not careful of where they come from. To help keep yourself safe in Bogota for as long as possible, there’s nothing better than planning ahead before going out.

Also, stay aware of what’s happening around you at all times on top of making sure that everything matches up with their eyesight requirements when it comes to identifying important landmarks like street signs.

2. Buenaventura

A picture of Buenaventura

Buenaventura was always a place where people ventured at their own risk, but now it is more dangerous than ever. The violence that spills over into the surrounding rural areas has only gotten worse with time, and this city will need some drastic changes for this to no longer be the case.

The drug trafficking wars in Columbia have become a war zone. Kidnappings, torture, extortion, and murder are commonplace crimes often associated with the schemes of these individuals to gain power over people by violence or fear.

Buenaventura was once considered Colombia’s most dangerous city. In fact, people during the 70s and 80s would not go near it for fear of being killed by warring factions or traffickers who were fighting over control of drug routes in this Colombian port town.

The New Humanitarian goes on to say that Buenaventura has now been deemed safer as violence had dropped dramatically since 2016 when a truce agreement ended five decades’ worth of civil strife – but there is still some precaution needed before visiting such an unsafe place like this one used to be.

3. Colombian Borders

A picture of the Colombian and Panama border

The Colombian borders are some of the most dangerous places in Colombia, in which drug rings and paramilitary groups are strong. It’s not uncommon to see people taken hostage at the borders of Colombia- there have been well over 100 victims since 2011.

The Colombian border shares many similarities with other South American countries’ boards: it has become an increasingly dangerous area that you need to be aware of on your journey through Latin America.

Colombia has been a battleground for guerrilla fighters on its northern border with Panama. Drug wars between opposed clans have created and fueled an environment of illegal activity in outer, rural areas.

4. Soacha

A picture of Soacha

The most dangerous area of this city borders with Bogota, which has been ranked as one of the top 10 cities for living abroad according to The Stand Global.

Drug addiction and drug-related crimes are common because District 4 (which people call ‘Altos Cazuca’) separates drugs from production sites like cocaine laboratories scattered throughout South America. This district also contains many impoverished residents who have resorted to crime or prostitution just so they can feed themselves each day.

Not only that, but there seems almost zero law enforcement presence at night time when violence spikes due to outposts set up by various gangs on both sides attempting control over territory.

5. Cali

A picture of Cali

Visitors to Cali should keep in mind that the city can be safe for tourists, despite being on this dangerous places in Colombia list. There are still risks for anyone who doesn’t take precautions against crime. Colombia and Cali are still overcoming the reputation that violence, drugs, or Narcos will bring to your city. But what many people don’t know is this was over 25 years ago, with Pablo Escobar long dead and buried by now.

Cali has been making strides in improving its economy in recent decades, while Colombia continues to be a hotspot for drug trafficking, terrorism, and human rights violations.

A tourist can visit almost any part of Cali and feel very little risk, especially compared to big cities like Bogotá, where violent crimes happen every day. That being said, it’s not entirely a free ride; just follow all the usual safety precautions, and you’ll be fine.

6. Arauca

A picture of the Colombian flag

According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council’s (OSAC) Colombia 2020 Crime & Safety Report, it has warned tourists not to travel to Arauca.

Unrest is common in the state. The Transitional Justice Administrative Group (GATJ) continues to target government and FARC officials with threats of violence toward those who had cooperated and testified against individuals involved with criminal activity or terrorism.

The Colombian National Police (CNP), the DAS, the Army, and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have conducted several operations in the department of Arauca. The majority of these actions were against illegal armed groups involved in drug trafficking, illegal mining, and extortion.

The GATJ has made threats against public officials for their role in investigating terrorist groups. These criminal organizations are known for using violence to silence witnesses who testify against them.

7. Cauca

A picture of someone held captive after kidnapping.

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs advises travelers to Cauca to be aware they are subject to a greater kidnapping risk than in other parts of the country.

It is recommended that tourists travel between Medellín and Popayán with a minimum number of stops, avoiding night-time travel and using toll roads.

The US Department of State has issued advice about traveling in Colombia, stating, “Colombia continues to be a major transit country for narcotics originating principally from Peru and Bolivia. The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also issued a warning to its citizens against visiting Cauca due to the threat from crime.

8. Cgici

A picture of a police car

While the Colombian government controls the main cities in Colombia, it does not necessarily control the rural areas or small towns. OSAC claims that Cgici has a “high” crime rate and that there is “no travel advisory” for the town.

The State Department awarded its highest rating, Level 4, to Colombia in its most recent report. Level 4 is the same as Afghanistan and Sudan. The rating indicates that there is “a serious risk for travelers”.

However, other sources show that Cgici is not more dangerous than any other city in Colombia, with a homicide rate of 9/100 000 inhabitants per year.

9. Norte de Santander

A graph showing the number of homicides in Colombia in 2019.
Source: Statista

Norte de Santander is another one of the most dangerous places in Colombia, as you can see on the graph above.

The region had only been recently recovering from the war between guerrilla movements and the Colombian government that lasted from 1964 to 2003.

Much of the infrastructure, industry, and economy is in ruins, and poverty is widespread. One distinguishing factor that makes Norte de Santander more dangerous than other parts of Colombia is its current role in the Colombian Drug War. Norte de Santander is home to two of the country’s most powerful drug cartels – the Urabeños and the Rastrojos.

The US Department of State has advised that the most dangerous areas in Norte de Santander are Cúcuta, Bucaramanga, and San Vicente del Caguan, due to high levels of drug trafficking violence. The regional murder rate for 2010 was 50 per 100,000 people. This is higher than the national average of 34.

What is the Deadliest City in Colombia?

A recent study by Forbes ranked the Colombian metropolis of Medellin as Latin America’s most murderous city. The highest rates in this year’s ranking were seen outside of Colombia, with El Salvador and Honduras taking up spots 2 and 3 respectively on the list; however, those numbers pale in comparison to what is happening inside their borders.

Although this city has suffered from political violence and guerrilla activity in the past, most of it has been confined to the mountainous areas rather than the major cities. The biggest threat to an individual’s personal security comes not from these regions but rather from organized crime groups that are operating within these areas.

How Dangerous is Colombia Right Now?

Every day, people are dying in Colombia. The drug trade has skyrocketed, and there is a large presence of guerilla groups. But this doesn’t mean that the country should be avoided by those who want to travel abroad for work or leisure because, despite these concerns, it’s still capable of being one of the most beautiful places on earth with its rich culture and breathtaking landscape making up for any danger present here.

Many countries have their dangers, but not all can offer such an amazing experience as well. Despite the risks involved in traveling through Colombian borders, you’re more than likely going to come away with some unforgettable memories which will outweigh whatever risk was taken along your journey from place A to B–with no fear at all about returning without incident.

Where is the Safest Place in Colombia?

The safest cities in Colombia are usually your mid-sized and smaller cities located on the Andean mountain range (Bucaramanga, Manizales, Tunja) as well as coastal towns like Bahía Solano or Buenaventura.

According to the National Survey of Victimization and Perception of Public Safety (2014), Bucaramanga is the safest city in the country, followed by Cali, Barranquilla, Bogota, and Medellin. The results are based on estimates from 99 different municipalities with more than 1 million inhabitants or a population of fewer than 100,000 inhabitants.

The reason for these safer areas is mainly because it’s inhabited by people living in the middle social classes and small upper-class. In other words, there is less poverty and generally more safety in these cities than in others, with the exception of the large cities of Medellín, Bogotá, and Cali.

The major reason for this is due to the fact that in these areas, you cannot easily make money through illegal activities like drug trafficking, guerrilla or paramilitary activity, like in other parts of Colombia.


Previous articleThe 9 Best Luxury Hotels In Zakynthos
Next articleThe 7 Warmest Places In Australia: Hottest Australian Cities