Traveling To

Colombia: Health Guide

A health guide to the sun-drenched beaches, verdant valleys, enchanting jungles and untouched national parks. Everything you need to know to have the adventure-filled trip you’ve always imagined.

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Travel Vaccines and Health Tips for Traveling to Colombia

If you’re traveling directly from the US, Colombia does not require any vaccines to enter.

This changes if your itinerary includes a visit to or a 12+ hour layover in a Yellow Fever endemic country before you make it to Colombia. A Yellow Fever vaccine and proof of vaccination may be required to enter. Check here to see if you are traveling from a Yellow Fever endemic area.

*Note that Brazil is considered to be a Yellow Fever Endemic country and is often combined with Colombia. If you are stopping in Brazil before Colombia, you will need proof of Yellow Fever vaccination or a Yellow Fever exemption certificate to enter Colombia.

Always recommended:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria – Tetanus – Pertussis
  • Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • COVID-19

Excluding COVID-19, these vaccines are all recommended during childhood. If you received them as a child, you are all set.

Conditionally recommended:

    • Yellow Fever – Only required if you are entering Colombia from a Yellow Fever endemic country, such as Brazil. Check here.
    • TyphoidRecommended if you are visiting remote and rural areas or enjoying an extended stay with loved ones. Learn more.
    • RabiesRecommended if you are planning activities that may involve contact with domestic animals or wildlife (e.g. jungle trekking, farm visits). Learn more.

Colombia has too many adventures and places to explore for sickness to ruin your plans. Runway can prescribe these trip-saving medications in minutes:

Malaria Medication

is recommended if you are traveling to areas below 5600 ft and specifically to the Amazon region. The main tourist areas of Cartagena, Cali, Bogota, and Medellin are considered risk-free and do not require Malaria medication.

Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics

help alleviate an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Traveler’s Diarrhea is common, so it’s a good idea to pack medication just in case.

Motion Sickness Medication

is recommended to keep nausea and dizziness at bay if you are susceptible to queasiness during road trips, train rides, boat cruises, or long excursions. Colombia is known for its windy roads and bumpy boat crossings.

Altitude Sickness Medication

is recommended only for locations 8,000 ft above sea level, such as Bogota, to prevent headaches, dizziness, and dehydration.

Add medication to your treatment plan in the section below.

(Required to enter country)

Medical Entry Requirements For Colombia

If you’re traveling directly from the US, Colombia does not require any vaccines to enter.

This changes if your itinerary includes a visit to or a 12+ hour layover in a Yellow Fever endemic country before you make it to Colombia. A Yellow Fever vaccine and proof of vaccination may be required to enter. Check here to see if you are traveling from a Yellow Fever endemic area.

*Note that Brazil is considered to be a Yellow Fever Endemic country and is often combined with Colombia. If you are stopping in Brazil before Colombia, you will need proof of Yellow Fever vaccination or a Yellow Fever exemption certificate to enter Colombia.

Recommended Medications For Colombia

Colombia has too many adventures and places to explore for sickness to ruin your plans. Runway can prescribe these trip-saving medications in minutes:

Malaria Medication

is recommended if you are traveling to areas below 5600 ft and specifically to the Amazon region. The main tourist areas of Cartagena, Cali, Bogota, and Medellin are considered risk-free and do not require Malaria medication.

Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics

help alleviate an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Traveler’s Diarrhea is common, so it’s a good idea to pack medication just in case.

Motion Sickness Medication

is recommended to keep nausea and dizziness at bay if you are susceptible to queasiness during road trips, train rides, boat cruises, or long excursions. Colombia is known for its windy roads and bumpy boat crossings.

Altitude Sickness Medication

is recommended only for locations 8,000 ft above sea level, such as Bogota, to prevent headaches, dizziness, and dehydration.

Add medication to your treatment plan in the section below.

Recommended Vaccines For Colombia

Always recommended:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria – Tetanus – Pertussis
  • Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • COVID-19

Excluding COVID-19, these vaccines are all recommended during childhood. If you received them as a child, you are all set.

Conditionally recommended:

    • Yellow Fever – Only required if you are entering Colombia from a Yellow Fever endemic country, such as Brazil. Check here.
    • TyphoidRecommended if you are visiting remote and rural areas or enjoying an extended stay with loved ones. Learn more.
    • RabiesRecommended if you are planning activities that may involve contact with domestic animals or wildlife (e.g. jungle trekking, farm visits). Learn more.

Medical Entry Requirements

Medications To Bring

Buying Medications In Colombia

Vaccinations For Colombia

Healthcare In Colombia

How To Avoid Illness In Colombia

Vaccinations For Colombia

Buying Medications In Colombia

Explore More

Build Your Plan

Everything You Need To Know

From vaccination requirements to best health practices, all your Colombia travel questions answered.

Colombia does not currently have any medical entry requirements for those traveling from the US. 

 

A yellow fever vaccination is required at least 10 days prior to arrival in Colombia if traveling (including passing through an airport for greater than 12 hours) from a yellow fever risk country as outlined in the CDC: 

  • Brazil, Angola, DR Congo, or Uganda 

 

Source: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/colombia

There are several common health conditions to consider when traveling to Colombia. Runway can help you prepare by prescribing the medication you need before you depart, so you can worry less and explore more while you’re away.

 

  • Malaria Medication: Malaria medication is not essential for the following touristic areas: Cartagena, Cali, Bogota, and Medellin. Malaria in Colombia is only present in certain areas located below 5,600 ft and is considered especially transmissible in the Amazon region. If you’re planning on visiting these areas, add Malaria medication to your plan in the medication options section above.  

 

  • Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics help alleviate an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It’s best to avoid non-bottled water as much as possible. Traveler’s Diarrhea is common, so it’s a good idea to pack medication just in case.  

 

  • Motion Sickness Medication: Many travelers to the mountainous country of Colombia experience motion sickness at some point in their journey. Whether cruising by boat or traveling by car, motion sickness can ruin the journey with dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Runway can prescribe motion sickness patches or anti-nausea medication, listed in the medication options above, to alleviate queasiness during your trip and allow you to soak in the scenery.

 

  • Altitude Sickness Medication: Few regions of Colombia besides the capital city of Bogota have high enough altitudes to require use of altitude sickness medication. The starting height for most cases of altitude sickness is 8,000 ft above sea level. However, people who are more susceptible to altitude sickness can experience symptoms at elevations of 5000 ft and above. Runway can prescribe altitude sickness medication, listed in the medication options above, to be brought with you as a preventative measure. We also provide chat support while you are traveling, should you have questions about your symptoms or when to take the medication.

 

  • Sleep Aids: We’re no strangers to the perils of jet lag. This common condition, due to a disruption of the body’s natural circadian rhythm, can lead to symptoms like sleeplessness, fatigue, and digestive issues. While we recommend working to sync up your sleep-wake time to your current destination as soon as possible, Runway can also prescribe a non-habit-forming antihistamine jet lag medication to help maintain a healthy sleep routine while you travel.

 

Can I carry medicines on international flights?

 

Medications in pill or solid form are approved for international flights. Keep them in labeled bottles in your carry-on for convenient access. For liquid medications that exceed 3.4 ounces, you may be asked to pack them in your checked bags, so prepare accordingly. 

Medications you procure in Colombia may not always be manufactured in an FDA approved facility. Planning in advance with Runway means you don’t have to worry about accessing what you need while traveling.

Make sure you’re up to date on any routine and recommended vaccinations weeks in advance of your trip to Colombia.

 

What shots should I have when traveling to Colombia?

While there are no required vaccines for Colombia for those traveling from the US, the lists below include recommended vaccines that you might need based on your personal history and trip activities. 

Recommended Vaccines for Traveling to Colombia

The list below includes the routine childhood vaccinations that are recommended for traveling to Colombia. If you received vaccines as a child, you likely received the following and are ready to go:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis
  • Measles-Mumps-Rebella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B

 

Other Vaccine Considerations for Travel To Colombia

Here is a list of additional vaccines for preventable diseases that you may want to consider based on your trip itinerary:

 

  • Yellow Fever: Only required if traveling from a country considered high risk for Yellow Fever in Colombia as designated by WHO. This includes airport layovers greater than 12 hours in several areas throughout Africa and Brazil. [Check here]. 

 

  • COVID-19: Recommended for all travelers to Colombia.

 

  • Rabies: Recommended for travelers planning to be around dogs or wildlife–as rabid dogs are common in Colombia and local rabies treatment may be limited. Most travelers will not need a Rabies vaccination unless they plan to do any of the following: wild camping, cave exploring, handling animals (veterinary work, field biology, handling specimens in a lab), and visiting rural areas.  As a rule, we recommend avoiding interaction with animals – even domestic pets may carry diseases.

  • Typhoid: Recommended for travelers visiting rural or remote areas, enjoying an extended stay with loved ones, or traveling extensively in the interior of Colombia (e.g. hikers or trekkers). 

        

Sources: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-related-infectious-diseases/yellow-fever

                 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/typhoid/index.html

Proper preventative and proactive care can reduce the need to find healthcare in Colombia. However, we recommend making a list of local doctors and hospitals near the destination you’re staying, in advance of your trip. 

 

It’s also strongly advised to purchase travel health insurance, as most traditional healthcare coverage doesn’t extend internationally. Should you need healthcare while you’re away, equip yourself beforehand with a list of local doctors and medical care facilities near your destination. Fill all prescriptions prior to embarking on your trip to ensure you have enough with you for the duration of your travels plus a few extra days in case of delays.

 

How do I search for hospitals in Colombia?

Large cities in the country boast high standards of healthcare, making it easier to research and find accredited Colombian hospitals. Often, accommodations in Colombia will have hospital recommendations and information readily available. You can also search the Joint Commission International website to seek accredited facilities near the city where you’re staying, as well as seek resources from the U.S. Embassy. 

Source: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/colombia

 

What should I know about healthcare in Colombia for tourists?

As with traveling anywhere internationally, it’s recommended to secure travel health insurance. Colombia hospitals with English-speaking medical personnel and emergency services are more readily available near larger cities with high tourist areas. 

 

What is the average cost of hospital stay in Colombia?

The fees for a hospital stay in Colombia can widely vary. It’s best to confirm costs in advance to avoid unexpected expenses. Several factors will contribute to the total cost, such as emergency services, tests and x-rays, overnight visits vs. consultations. Keep in mind, most medical facilities in Colombia will require a cash deposit prior to performing health services and require payment in full before being released.

Prevention is key. Be aware of certain high-risk areas and environments and take proper precautions for each. Take heed of destination updates with regards to weather, vaccination recommendations, and other safety advisories. Seek out established food and water sources. If you are prone to jet lag, motion sickness, or traveler’s diarrhea get preventative medication from Runway to help keep symptoms at bay. 

 

Are there common conditions I’m susceptible to when traveling to Colombia?

Extreme heat and humidity in certain regions, time zone differences, and varying levels of activity can all result in health conditions when traveling to Colombia. Here are common ones to be aware of and prepare for to ensure an optimal trip experience.

  • Heat Exhaustion: Colombia can reach high temperatures and even higher humidity in certain regions. Stay hydrated and keep the body cool by wearing loose, lightweight clothing. Since the combination of sun exposure and increased activity can quickly lead to a heat-related illness, make sure to eat plenty of salty snacks to replace salt lost through sweating. Salt pills and electrolyte-enhanced drinks (available in most pharmacies and convenience stores) may be helpful packing items to maintain balance in the body.

Here are a few other things to be mindful of as you plan your trip.

  • Practice water safety: Drinking tap water in Colombia may result in travelers’ diarrhea and other illnesses due to bacteria found in the source. Stick with sealed, bottled, filtered water for hydration, avoid adding ice to drinks, and be cautious of fresh produce that may have been affected by contaminated water as well. 

 

  • Regularly reapply bug repellent: Mosquito-transmitted diseases are common in tropical destinations. Protect yourself from infections like Dengue, Zika, and Chagas disease by regularly applying strong bug repellents that have high percentages of active ingredients such as DEET and Picaridin.

 

  • Stay alert to changing conditions: Outdoor adventuring is part of the thrill and experience of traveling in Colombia. As some locations are more developed than others, do your own research and heed to recommendations by your local guide about hazardous landscapes and changing weather conditions. Pack protective gear, including a hat, sunscreen, first aid kit, loose, lightweight layers of clothing, and plenty of water and snacks. 

 

  • Sleeplessness: Time zone changes affect the body in different ways due to disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. Though easily treatable, jet lag can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like sleeplessness that can affect your travel plans. Runway can prescribe non-habit forming sleep medication to take before bed so you can catch some z’s regardless of what time zone you’re in.

 

  • Steer clear of raw foods: As far as what not to eat in Colombia, dining out is largely considered safe and sanitary. However, avoid eating raw meats, fish, and eggs, as well as unwashed, raw fruits and vegetables. Try not to visit any food markets with live animals. Also, consider ordering drinks without ice to prevent possible contaminated water.

 

  • Keep wild animals wild: While touching, petting, and feeding wild animals is exciting, remember that most wild animals are not comfortable interacting with humans or have been habituated into doing so for food. No matter if they are domestic pets or wild creatures, animal licks, bites, and scratches can lead to bacterial infections. Be aware of animals being used for financial gain and look into the animal welfare of any wildlife related activity. Protect these animals and yourself by keeping wild animals wild!

 

Prepare for every adventure with trip-saving medications from Runway.

 

Feel good about your upcoming trip to Colombia by preparing a treatment plan with Runway before your trip. You can avoid common travel ailments by bringing medication with you, allowing you to worry less and explore more.

Colombia does not currently have any medical entry requirements for those traveling from the US. 

 

A yellow fever vaccination is required at least 10 days prior to arrival in Colombia if traveling (including passing through an airport for greater than 12 hours) from a yellow fever risk country as outlined in the CDC: 

  • Brazil, Angola, DR Congo, or Uganda 

 

Source: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/colombia

There are several common health conditions to consider when traveling to Colombia. Runway can help you prepare by prescribing the medication you need before you depart, so you can worry less and explore more while you’re away.

 

  • Malaria Medication: Malaria medication is not essential for the following touristic areas: Cartagena, Cali, Bogota, and Medellin. Malaria in Colombia is only present in certain areas located below 5,600 ft and is considered especially transmissible in the Amazon region. If you’re planning on visiting these areas, add Malaria medication to your plan in the medication options section above.  

 

  • Traveler’s Diarrhea Antibiotics help alleviate an intestinal infection that occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It’s best to avoid non-bottled water as much as possible. Traveler’s Diarrhea is common, so it’s a good idea to pack medication just in case.  

 

  • Motion Sickness Medication: Many travelers to the mountainous country of Colombia experience motion sickness at some point in their journey. Whether cruising by boat or traveling by car, motion sickness can ruin the journey with dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Runway can prescribe motion sickness patches or anti-nausea medication, listed in the medication options above, to alleviate queasiness during your trip and allow you to soak in the scenery.

 

  • Altitude Sickness Medication: Few regions of Colombia besides the capital city of Bogota have high enough altitudes to require use of altitude sickness medication. The starting height for most cases of altitude sickness is 8,000 ft above sea level. However, people who are more susceptible to altitude sickness can experience symptoms at elevations of 5000 ft and above. Runway can prescribe altitude sickness medication, listed in the medication options above, to be brought with you as a preventative measure. We also provide chat support while you are traveling, should you have questions about your symptoms or when to take the medication.

 

  • Sleep Aids: We’re no strangers to the perils of jet lag. This common condition, due to a disruption of the body’s natural circadian rhythm, can lead to symptoms like sleeplessness, fatigue, and digestive issues. While we recommend working to sync up your sleep-wake time to your current destination as soon as possible, Runway can also prescribe a non-habit-forming antihistamine jet lag medication to help maintain a healthy sleep routine while you travel.

 

Can I carry medicines on international flights?

 

Medications in pill or solid form are approved for international flights. Keep them in labeled bottles in your carry-on for convenient access. For liquid medications that exceed 3.4 ounces, you may be asked to pack them in your checked bags, so prepare accordingly. 

Medications you procure in Colombia may not always be manufactured in an FDA approved facility. Planning in advance with Runway means you don’t have to worry about accessing what you need while traveling.

Make sure you’re up to date on any routine and recommended vaccinations weeks in advance of your trip to Colombia.

 

What shots should I have when traveling to Colombia?

While there are no required vaccines for Colombia for those traveling from the US, the lists below include recommended vaccines that you might need based on your personal history and trip activities. 

Recommended Vaccines for Traveling to Colombia

The list below includes the routine childhood vaccinations that are recommended for traveling to Colombia. If you received vaccines as a child, you likely received the following and are ready to go:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis
  • Measles-Mumps-Rebella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Shingles
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B

 

Other Vaccine Considerations for Travel To Colombia

Here is a list of additional vaccines for preventable diseases that you may want to consider based on your trip itinerary:

 

  • Yellow Fever: Only required if traveling from a country considered high risk for Yellow Fever in Colombia as designated by WHO. This includes airport layovers greater than 12 hours in several areas throughout Africa and Brazil. [Check here]. 

 

  • COVID-19: Recommended for all travelers to Colombia.

 

  • Rabies: Recommended for travelers planning to be around dogs or wildlife–as rabid dogs are common in Colombia and local rabies treatment may be limited. Most travelers will not need a Rabies vaccination unless they plan to do any of the following: wild camping, cave exploring, handling animals (veterinary work, field biology, handling specimens in a lab), and visiting rural areas.  As a rule, we recommend avoiding interaction with animals – even domestic pets may carry diseases.

  • Typhoid: Recommended for travelers visiting rural or remote areas, enjoying an extended stay with loved ones, or traveling extensively in the interior of Colombia (e.g. hikers or trekkers). 

        

Sources: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-related-infectious-diseases/yellow-fever

                 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/typhoid/index.html

Proper preventative and proactive care can reduce the need to find healthcare in Colombia. However, we recommend making a list of local doctors and hospitals near the destination you’re staying, in advance of your trip. 

 

It’s also strongly advised to purchase travel health insurance, as most traditional healthcare coverage doesn’t extend internationally. Should you need healthcare while you’re away, equip yourself beforehand with a list of local doctors and medical care facilities near your destination. Fill all prescriptions prior to embarking on your trip to ensure you have enough with you for the duration of your travels plus a few extra days in case of delays.

 

How do I search for hospitals in Colombia?

Large cities in the country boast high standards of healthcare, making it easier to research and find accredited Colombian hospitals. Often, accommodations in Colombia will have hospital recommendations and information readily available. You can also search the Joint Commission International website to seek accredited facilities near the city where you’re staying, as well as seek resources from the U.S. Embassy. 

Source: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/colombia

 

What should I know about healthcare in Colombia for tourists?

As with traveling anywhere internationally, it’s recommended to secure travel health insurance. Colombia hospitals with English-speaking medical personnel and emergency services are more readily available near larger cities with high tourist areas. 

 

What is the average cost of hospital stay in Colombia?

The fees for a hospital stay in Colombia can widely vary. It’s best to confirm costs in advance to avoid unexpected expenses. Several factors will contribute to the total cost, such as emergency services, tests and x-rays, overnight visits vs. consultations. Keep in mind, most medical facilities in Colombia will require a cash deposit prior to performing health services and require payment in full before being released.

Prevention is key. Be aware of certain high-risk areas and environments and take proper precautions for each. Take heed of destination updates with regards to weather, vaccination recommendations, and other safety advisories. Seek out established food and water sources. If you are prone to jet lag, motion sickness, or traveler’s diarrhea get preventative medication from Runway to help keep symptoms at bay. 

 

Are there common conditions I’m susceptible to when traveling to Colombia?

Extreme heat and humidity in certain regions, time zone differences, and varying levels of activity can all result in health conditions when traveling to Colombia. Here are common ones to be aware of and prepare for to ensure an optimal trip experience.

  • Heat Exhaustion: Colombia can reach high temperatures and even higher humidity in certain regions. Stay hydrated and keep the body cool by wearing loose, lightweight clothing. Since the combination of sun exposure and increased activity can quickly lead to a heat-related illness, make sure to eat plenty of salty snacks to replace salt lost through sweating. Salt pills and electrolyte-enhanced drinks (available in most pharmacies and convenience stores) may be helpful packing items to maintain balance in the body.

Here are a few other things to be mindful of as you plan your trip.

  • Practice water safety: Drinking tap water in Colombia may result in travelers’ diarrhea and other illnesses due to bacteria found in the source. Stick with sealed, bottled, filtered water for hydration, avoid adding ice to drinks, and be cautious of fresh produce that may have been affected by contaminated water as well. 

 

  • Regularly reapply bug repellent: Mosquito-transmitted diseases are common in tropical destinations. Protect yourself from infections like Dengue, Zika, and Chagas disease by regularly applying strong bug repellents that have high percentages of active ingredients such as DEET and Picaridin.

 

  • Stay alert to changing conditions: Outdoor adventuring is part of the thrill and experience of traveling in Colombia. As some locations are more developed than others, do your own research and heed to recommendations by your local guide about hazardous landscapes and changing weather conditions. Pack protective gear, including a hat, sunscreen, first aid kit, loose, lightweight layers of clothing, and plenty of water and snacks. 

 

  • Sleeplessness: Time zone changes affect the body in different ways due to disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. Though easily treatable, jet lag can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like sleeplessness that can affect your travel plans. Runway can prescribe non-habit forming sleep medication to take before bed so you can catch some z’s regardless of what time zone you’re in.

 

  • Steer clear of raw foods: As far as what not to eat in Colombia, dining out is largely considered safe and sanitary. However, avoid eating raw meats, fish, and eggs, as well as unwashed, raw fruits and vegetables. Try not to visit any food markets with live animals. Also, consider ordering drinks without ice to prevent possible contaminated water.

 

  • Keep wild animals wild: While touching, petting, and feeding wild animals is exciting, remember that most wild animals are not comfortable interacting with humans or have been habituated into doing so for food. No matter if they are domestic pets or wild creatures, animal licks, bites, and scratches can lead to bacterial infections. Be aware of animals being used for financial gain and look into the animal welfare of any wildlife related activity. Protect these animals and yourself by keeping wild animals wild!

 

Prepare for every adventure with trip-saving medications from Runway.

 

Feel good about your upcoming trip to Colombia by preparing a treatment plan with Runway before your trip. You can avoid common travel ailments by bringing medication with you, allowing you to worry less and explore more.

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    Runway offers travelers like you, the medications you may need before you go.