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Medellin, Colombia

Medellin Travel and Visitor Information

Medellin Antioquia Colombia

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What you will find in Medellin:
1) Food, except imported food, is comparable to US prices.  Food in restaurants will be on the bland side and devoid of any hot spices. Wait service, in most places, is very service oriented and quite formal. A 10% tip is included in most restaurants  (except the small mom and pop places) and the IVA tax is supposed to be included in the prices printed on the menus (by law).
2) Delivery service.  You can get almost anything you want delivered 24 hours per day for no extra charge or a small fee.
3) From Thursday to Saturday night there is a party atmosphere and nightlife all over the city.
4) Very friendly people.
5) Wonderful spring like year round climate;
6) Beautiful Medellin women.
7) Low cost of living.
8) Nice accommodations.
9) Cheap transportation by taxi or bus.
10) Very upscale malls and shopping centers;
11) Great schools and universities;
12) Excellent and affordable medical/dental services and
13) Good roads, utilities and infrastructure.
14) A lot of poverty in the inner city and outlying barrios.
15) Tall high rise apartment and condominiums with breathtaking views of the city and surrounding mountains.

Electricity: Electricity is 110V and standard 2/3 prong American type plugs are used.  If you need converters or transformers, many hotels can supply them or they are available in local stores.

Medellin Climate
Temperatures do not vary much throughout the year and A/C is not required. What Colombians refer to as winter is one of their rainy seasons, September to November.   Medellin is called the City of Eternal Spring for a very good reason.  Its temperatures are spring like year round! At most you might need a light jacket on chilly evenings.

Medellin Weather: (for current 5 day forecast)
Average Temperature: 24°C  /  65 F; Lowest 15C, Highest 28C.
Relative Humidity; 87% by day and 54% by night.
Mean annual rainfall: 200cm. Rainy seasons: March to May and September to November.
Altitude: 1538 mts /  5045.93 feet above sea level.
Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 72 00 W Medellin is located just north of the equator.

Medellin Police and Security: 911 in Medellin is 112.  As in any other city, visitors should take care and precautions when getting around in the city. Be careful with personal belongings.  Do not flash wads of cash, wear flashy or expensive jewelry and do not hesitate to call 112 for police assistance. You are advised not to carry original travel documents or your passport.  A copy (preferably color) will suffice. Don’t stuff your wallet with credit and debit cards. Only carry what you will need and try for buttoned or Velcro cargo pants pockets. Use safety deposit boxes in hotels and apartments you rent. Carry personal effects like cameras discretely (like in a plastic shopping bag with a supermarkets name on it). Visit only attractions listed in the Medellin Travel Guide or those suggested by tour companies.  Stay out of El Centro at night.  Even the locals do not like going there.

Colombian Terrain
Flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains and eastern lowland plains make Colombia a destination for just about any desired venue.(map)

Medellin Terrain:
The city of Medellín is located in a valley surrounded by mountains which was called the "Valle of Aburrá" by the indigenous natives. Medellín is the capital of the Department of Antioquia.

Colombian Natural hazards
: The highlands are subject to volcanic eruptions and occasional earthquakes. On November 13, 1985, Nevado del Ruiz erupted. Pyroclastic flows melted ice and snow at the summit. This melt formed lahars that rushed down several river valleys. The lahars were up to 50 meters thick and traveled more than 100 kilometers.

Many houses and towns were devastated by the lahars. The town of Armero was completely covered by debris. Approximately 21,000 people (out of 28,700) died in Armero. The eruption caused an estimated 25,000 deaths, 5,000 injuries, and destroyed more than 5,000 homes. This was the second deadliest volcanic disaster in the 20th century (the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée was the worst)..
Colombia’s coastal areas have never been directly hit by hurricanes or Tsunamis but mild tidal surges may be experienced.
Highest point: Pico Cristobal Colon 5,775 m (18950 ft) in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range. The mountain is the world's highest coastal range mountain. note: nearby Pico Simon Bolivar has approximately the same elevation.

Medellin Natural Hazards  Medellin occasionally feels tremors from nearby earthquakes (approx 142km away) but in its history has never had a direct quake in the city.  It has also never had a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster.  There are occasional mudslides on neighboring mountains and hillsides after lengthy rains and people are sometimes killed when this happens, mainly because of poor foundations under their homes.

Colombian Economy;
Main Agricultural Products: Crops; sugarcane, potatoes, plantains, rice, bananas, cassavas, corn, coffee, flowers. Livestock; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens.
Main Mined Products: Petroleum, natural gas, gold, platinum, silver, coal, iron ore.
Main Manufactured Products: Foods, textiles, chemicals, machinery, electrical apparatus, transport equipment, glass, metal products.
Main Exports: Coffee, petroleum and petroleum products, fruits, flowers, iron and steel, textile and apparel.
Main Imports: Machinery, chemicals, plastics, transport equipment.
Monetary Unit: Peso.
87% of the population practices Roman Catholicism. Another 9% is divided mainly among the Protestant, Mormon, Jewish and Muslim religions. 3% of the population declares itself to be Non Religious.

Medellin Dining

Restaurants in Medellin:  Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, offering local fare and international specialties at various price points.  Check out the Medellin Dining Guide for more details. There are too many to list here.

Medellin Drinks
For breakfast, multiple varieties of coffee drinks or a home made hot chocolate are taken. It is generally prepared with panela (dried cane juice), cinnamon and cloves, which gives it a special taste.

Colombia's national alcoholic beverage, Aguardiente tastes strongly of anise (licorice), and is typically bought by the bottle or half bottle. People usually drink it in shots with water chasers. Each region has its own aguardiente, "Antioqueño" (from Antioquia), "Cristal" (from Caldas), "Quindiano", "Blanco del Valle" (from Valle del Cauca) and "Nectar" (from Cundinamarca). There is also a variety of rum beverages, like "Ron Viejo Medellin" (also from Antioquia) and "Ron Viejo Caldas" (from Caldas).  Many varieties of beer are consumed including Aguila, Pilsen, Club Colombia, Brava and others.

The water is drinkable right from the tap in most of the major cities, but be prepared to buy some bottled water if you go to the countryside. Agua Manantial bottled water is recommended. It comes from a natural spring near Bogotá. A note of advice: Make sure you do not use ice cubes, or drink any beverage that might not contain distilled water. Ask if the beverage is made with tap or bottled/boiled water.
If you are lucky and are staying in a familiar "finca cafetera" (coffee plantation) you can ask your Colombian friends not only for the selected coffee (quality export) but for the remaining coffee that the farmers leave to their own use. This is manually picked, washed, toasted in rustic brick stoves and manually ground. It has the most exquisite and rare flavor and aroma ever found.
Commercially you can find a lot of products made out of coffee too like wines, ice creams, soda pops and other beverages.

Working in Medellin
If you want to work for a national company, such as BanColombia, Conavi, Avianca, or Presto, you must be able to speak Spanish with near native fluency.
Depending on your qualifications, companies may offer Spanish lessons, however always make sure that you are indeed eligible for the position advertised.
You can teach English for extra money, especially in smaller cities where the "English demand" is high (but you must obtain a work visa to do so).
You might also consider working for an NGO.

Medellin Security
Colombia has suffered from a terrible reputation as a dangerous and violent country. In the last few years safety has improved greatly. By South American standards Medellin is relatively safe as more and more visitors are discovering. Tourists will not have any problems moving around in the city, but it pays to think safe, just as you would in any other large metropolitan city. To discover the surrounding countryside, we recommend a guided tour by a well known agency that knows where the
safe spots are. Walk freely during the day, but during night take a taxi as well as precautions to observe who is around you. Do not venture into El Centro at night.

Guerrillas Farc and ELN
Colombia's ongoing civil war is over 49 years old and still makes the news headlines today.  It is not accurate to say that it is over, although an agreement with the government resulted in the disarmament of 80% of the paramilitaries in 2005, the FARC and ELN guerrillas are still fully operational. Peace talks are underway in Cuba as of 2014.These guerrillas, however, operate mainly in the rural areas and as long as you stay in any of the big cities you will be safe. Police can be found everywhere nowadays, even outside of the city. River police, highway police, newspapers, and fellow travelers can be a useful source of information. (Note that the native pronunciation of guerrilla is "gair EE ya", not the English expression "guh RILL a".)

Medellin Crime
Major cities in Colombia have low crime rates, just take some usual precautions and you should be fine. In the downtown areas of most cities it is quite rare to encounter any problems during the daytime if you take precautions but it is very important to exercise caution in the less developed parts of the urban regions. If you want to take a taxi, ask for it using a phone service, it costs the same and your call will be answered rapidly. If you want to travel around the country you should research the areas you intend to visit, since some distant parts outside the cities are not recommended for tourists. If possible speak to a trusted local or take a guided tour.

Medelln Tempers;  Maybe it is the climate or the general friendliness of the people but the term “hot headed Latin” does not seem to apply to Medellin.  You occasionally see arguments (usually when someone gets caught with the opposite sex by a novia or spouse), but rarely see any fights.  Even with the Rumba party atmosphere, where there is a lot of dinking, you just don’t see very much fighting.  Must be the beefy security guys they have at most establishments or that most people are just wanting to have fun?

Cocaine manufactured in Colombia is mostly consumed in the US and in Europe. Local consumption is considered low, however it can be seen in certain areas and sometimes at dance clubs.
Marajuana grown locally is considered very strong, potent and inexpensive to the locals.  Although illegal, most police will not do anything to the locals if they are in possession of a small amount but as a tourist, they may wish to make an example out of you so beware.  There have been scams reported where a local will sell you drugs then turn you in for the reward the police offer for such offenses.

Most Colombians are deeply offended by jokes about drugs. Drugs and the mafia have created a widespread bad image of the country, although the police and armed forces fight furiously to combat them. All Colombian governments have strong commitments to fight drug production and trade. Past President Alvaro Uribe, with significant aid from the US government, led a policy of massively destroying drug plantations using chemical defoliants. His successor, Manuel Santos vowed to continue the fight.
Given Colombia's increasing aggression toward combating the drug trade, drug offenses are not treated lightly. If you are caught by the authorities possessing a controlled substance, expect serious and very costly problems.

Health Tourism- Physicians in Medellin Colombia have been treating patients from all over the world for years, especially for cosmetic and eye surgery. Medellin has also become a recognized provider of advanced cardiovascular and transplant surgery. What often compels persons to seek transplant surgery offshore is not only cost considerations, but waiting lists (such as in the U.S.) or the lack of an organized organ inventory and donor system in the home country. Colombia has such an organ donor and banking system which makes organs available to foreigners with certain legal restrictions. Orthopedic surgeries, such as knee and hip replacements, are done in Colombia with U.S. made (FDA approved) prosthetics at a fraction of the cost.
Colombia has many surgeons that have either trained and/or practiced in other countries such as the U.S. and Europe.

Salaries for doctors, nurses, and supporting personnel in Colombia are about 20% of U.S. salaries for similar occupations even though they are required to have the same level of education and job skills. Real estate costs related to medical care facilities are also only a fraction of what they are in the U.S.
One advantage of Colombia for those from the U.S. and Canada is ease of travel and close proximity. Colombia offers cheaper airfares from the U.S. and Canada (and some European countries) than other destinations, such as those in Asia, and does not have the visa restrictions of other countries currently in the medical tourism marketplace. More information soon from Medellin Physician Referral.

An ever growing number of people are having plastic surgery procedures, face lifts, liposuction, breasts augmentations etc. during their visit to Medellin.

Many people visiting Medellin take advantage of their time in the city to have dental work, laser whitening, implants, crowns and other dental services performed at a fraction of US costs.  Most Medellin Dentists can take you on short notice or you can use a Medellin Dental Referral Service for advanced appointments

Medellin Culture and Respect (Culture Gram)

Medellin Foreign Consulates:

Austria: Cra 43A #14 109 Tel; 574 266 5757
Germany: Cra 43F #17 419 Tel; 574 262 1756
Holland: Dg 75B #2 A 120 Tel 574 341 6060
Bolivia Cl 10 #41 9 Tel 574 381 7601
Brazil Cl 29D #55 91 Tel 574 265 7565
Chile Cra 48 #12 sur 70 Bldg El Crucero Ste 808 Tel 754 313 2209
Costa RicaCra 43A #14 109 Ste 309 Tel 574 381 7549
Denmark Cl 49 # 51 21 Ste 1904 Tel 574 513 5161
Ecuador Cl 50 #52 22, Ste 802 Tel 574 512 1193
El Salvador Cl 10b #35 27 Tel 574 266 5433
Great Britain Cra #49 36A sur 103 Envigado, Tel 574 270 9242
Mexico Cl 50 #42 54 Piso 2 Tel 574 239 1456
Panama Cl 10 #42 45 Ste 233 Tel 574 268 1157
Peru Cl 4 sur #43 A 195 Ste 201D Tel 574 268 7285
South Korea Cra 42 (autopista sur) #54A 22 Itagui Tel 574 372 0755
Spain Cra 42#10 11 Tel 574 312 0400
Sweden Cra 43A #1sur 31 Ste 401 Tel 574 266 0498
Switzerland Cra 68 #48D 48 Tel 574 230 4563
Venezuela Cl 32B #69 59 Tel 574 235 0359

Medellin Emergency Information; Clinics and Hospitals
Clinica Conquistadores Cra 65 # 34A 16 Tel. 265 9944
Clinica Medellin Cl 53 46 - 38 Commutator : (57) (4) 5116044
Edificio Clinica Medellin- POBLADO  Cl 7 39 290  Phones : (57) (4) 2686102
Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe Cl 78 B 69 240 441 52 52
Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Paúl Cl 64 Cr 51 D 514 66 00
Hospital Infantil Noel Cl 64 50 39 211 00 13
Hospital Luis Carlos Galán C 101 BB 78 10 477 75 23
Hospital Infantil Concejo de Medellín Cl 72 A 48A 70 263 54 24
Hospital General de Medellín Luz Castro de Gutiérrez Cr 48 32 102 384 73 00
Hospital La María Cl 92 CC 68A 48 471 73 04
Hospital Manuel Uribe Ángel Cr 29A 36 E S 61 Envigado 270 35 11
Hospital Marco Fidel Suárez de Bello Av 42 59 06 Bello 482 78 77
Hospital Mental de Antioquia (HOMO) Bello Cl 38 55 310 452 74 74
Hospital San Rafael de Itaguí CR 51A 45 51 Itaguí 373 11 11

Medellin Tourist Office;
Subsecretaria de Tourismo  57 4 232 4022
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