July 2011 - In the past couple of months the last bus from Armenia to Salento has been held up twice by armed robbers. In neither case no foreigners were involved and no-one was injured BUT as you can imagine it is a dangerous precident and all the passengers were relieved of their valuables. In both cases the robbers were passengers on the bus. The bus companies responsible for the Salento route have issued instructions to their drivers to be very careful when stopping for passengers and in some cases NOT TO STOP AND PICKUP PASSENGERS.
For this reason Plantation House is advising visitors to Salento THAT WILL BE ARRIVING AFTER DARK to exercise caution when getting a bus to Salento after dark AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES GET OFF AT THE ENTRANCE TO SALENTO (where a lot of bus drivers from Pereira have a tendancy to drop passengers). If in any doubt take a bus to Circasia and a taxi from there.
Colombia is considerably safer than its reputation would suggest. However with the increase in the number of tourists visiting Colombia there has also been an increase in the number of incidents involving tourists. Some investment in safety procedures while traveling should help to keep you safe from crime during your visit.
The Plantation House recommendations would be
Photocopy your passport - photo page on one side and entry stamp into Colombia on the other side.
Use the copy of your passport when walking around or doing daytrips.
DO NOT travel long distances without your passport.
Please note that US/European/Foreign licenses to drive DO NOT constitute acceptable ID.
If your passport contains an "in case of accident" / next of kin page then please fill it out. If you were unfortunate enough to have an accident and you were not able to give them permission yourself then the doctors would not operate on you without the permission of your next of kin.
Please be extremely careful when travelling by bus. There have been a number of thefts of hand luggage on buses to Salento from both Armenia and Pereira. Keep your hand luggage with you at all times and DO NOT LET ANYONE TOUCH IT.
In particular foreign tourists appear to be being identified in Pereira bus station and then followed onto the bus and their hand luggage removed, so if you are changing buses in Pereira please be especially vigilant.
Do not change money - if someone needs change for a 50000 COP or 20000 COP note then apologise but you do not have change.
There are a lot of forged banknotes in circulation and not just the larger denominations either - there are forged 10000 COP, 5000 COP and even 2000 COP bills in circulation
Do not accept food or drink from strangers no matter how respectable they may seem.
There is a drug that has no taste or smell that will completely incapacitate you.
When on a bus do not allow anyone to touch your hand luggage even if they look like an official of the bus company.
Someone moving your luggage into an overhead compartment or under your seat is a prelude to you losing your luggage.
NO-ONE TOUCHES YOUR LUGGAGE.
NO-ONE MOVES YOUR LUGGAGE.
IF THE "OFFICIAL" INSISTS ON PLAYING WITH YOUR LUGGAGE THEN CALL FOR THE POLICE.
Finally DO NOT BE PARANOID.
Colombia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
The people are amongst the friendliest and genuine you will ever encounter.
But please do be vigilent.