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Going to Colombia: Independent Travel vs. Guided Tours

ViaHero · October 21, 2018

Trying to figure out the best way to visit Colombia? Deciding between a tour guide and individual travel? Don’t worry—we’ll help you make your decision. Check out these pros and cons, and let us know if you have any questions.

Want to make the most out of your trip? Tap into our network of local travel planners—Heroes—who build unique, locally-curated trip plans, designed just for you. Get started.

Individual travel

When you plan it yourself

  • You get complete flexibility—If you travel to Colombia by yourself, you’re going to enjoy total flexibility in your schedule. But…

  • There are often language barriers—Because English isn’t very widely spoken—even in Colombia’s more traveler-friendly areas—it can be challenging to see the best of Colombia without a local contact.
  • It’s time-consuming—Mining travel blogs and tourist sites for information can be time-consuming and frustrating. If you aren’t familiar with the area, it can be difficult to decide which things are worth your time and which aren’t.

When you plan with ViaHero

  • You’ll get off-the-beaten-path experiences—Since locals are planning your trip, you get access to unique, local experiences that guidebooks and travel sites just don’t know about.
  • You get complete flexibility—The same idea as planning by yourself applies—with a local creating your guidebook and itinerary, you still have total flexibility of schedule.
  • It’s convenient—If a ViaHero travel expert plans your trip, all you need to do is tell them what you’re interested in, how you prefer to travel, and anything you’d like to see. They’ll come up with a complete itinerary and guidebook that covers your entire trip.
  • You’ll have travel support—Having a Hero gives you an invaluable local contact. They’ll arrange transportation, reservations, and anything else you might need while on your trip—including on-the-ground support and safety recommendations.

girl looks at sunset in colombia

Guided travel

When you use a tour group

  • Everything’s taken care of—When you opt for a travel agent or group tour, somebody else takes care of the legwork for your trip.
  • You get some excellent history—Tour groups typically feature a lot of information and can connect link you to various resources if you’re interested in something particular. But…

  • Travel groups are impersonal—Because tour groups are responsible for entertaining so many different types of travelers, the experience is basically a cookie-cutter trip with little, if any, customization.
  • Trips aren’t usually very authentic—Although tour groups can provide an overview of Colombian culture and history, they can’t give you a personal look at life in Colombia.
  • Schedules can’t be customized—Because you’re traveling with other people on a standard itinerary, you can’t customize your itinerary to fit your interests or travel style.
  • They can be a waste of money—Tour groups aren't always the most reliable, since in many cases, they receive kickbacks in exchange for bringing travelers to locales and restaurants to which they have personal connections.

When you travel with True Colombia

  • You still get to customize your schedule, and can even use your own itinerary—Even if you’ve already had a local plan your personalized itinerary, a True Colombia guide will still give you unmatched local insight, on-the-ground support, and the security of traveling with a local.
  • You get a personal tour guide—True Colombia offers bilingual tour guides who are familiar with Colombia’s history and local customs. Based in Medellin, True Colombia’s team of tour guides will actually take you to the different places you’ve planned in your trip itinerary.
  • You’ll get to dive into the culture—True Colombia is dedicated to providing travelers the opportunity to explore real Colombian culture. Offering a huge variety of options—from comprehensive 21-day treks throughout the country to one-day tours—True Colombia is all about bringing travelers authentic Colombian experiences.
  • You have access to otherwise closed-off areas—There are certain parts of Colombia that can only be enjoyed in the company of a local guide. An easy example of this is Comuna 13, Medellin’s previously notoriously dangerous neighborhood. Even though it’s an up-and-coming neighborhood, it’s still recommended that you visit with a local.

However you choose to travel to Colombia, you’re going to have an amazing time. Let us know if you have any questions, or connect with a local trip planner and guide to start planning your perfect adventure. And before you fly, make sure to check out:

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