Again and again I am asked what the best months to visit Colombia are. Well, you will surely find many sources that offer similar information, almost all of which come to the conclusion you
can travel during the whole year and that December to March is the best time for many. But with this new post I want familiarize with all the different factors that affect travel in Colombia,
such as weather and number of tourists, and in that way help you to decide what is best for you. Anyway, it is worth remembering that it is only a guide and that the weather is increasingly
With this graph I show what the best time to visit Colombia is, to give you a fast and compact overview. The Holy Week is part of the high season, but is not shown in the graph, since
its dates are always different. Nevertheless, I recommend you keep reading the rest of the blog as I am sure the information will be helpful for your trip.
Thanks to its location on the equator, in general terms Colombia has a tropical climate and temperatures remain relatively consistent during the whole year. However, the country has a highly
fissured topography with altitudes up to 5.887m. In the Andean region and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, you will find different climates when you go up in the highlands, a decrease in
average temperature by about 6° C for every 1,000m increase in altitude
For example, Cartagena on the Caribbean coast has an average annual temperature of around 30 ° C during the day and 26 ° C at night. With slight deviations for all the areas at sea level. For
Bogota at 2,600m mean annual temperature is about 14 ° C, with fluctuations between 10 C and 26 C depending on the day. Medellín and the cities in the coffee region, all around 1,500m
altitude, enjoy the reputation as a region of "eternal spring" and probably have the most beautiful climate of Colombia with temperatures of around 23 ° C.
Be well prepared for Colombia, you can experience all four seasons in a day.
In general there are no seasons in Colombia. Here we divide the year into two seasons, the rainy season (winter) & dry season (summer). And I want to emphasize that the weather has been
pretty crazy in the last 10 years. The weather phenomena El Niño and La Niña occur at ever shorter intervals, and bring so much confusion that we can no longer have a fixed weather calendar.
2014 brought in the Caribbean area and in the north an unusually long and hot dry season, in some regions there were no rain for about 10 months. The chances of El Niño happening, which is a
failure of the rainy season in October and November were very high. Fortunately, September brings rain to many regions.
A normal year goes usually like this:
Caribbean (Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla)
In the Caribbean area there is no rain from December to March, this time is considered by us locals as the most pleasant in the year. Some yearn nostalgically for the so-called "Brisas
decembrinas", the breeze that December brings with it. Wind is sometimes very strong, especially at night and near the coast, the high humidity falls to "only" 70% and at night temperatures fall
to around 25 °C. Due to these low temperatures, you can see people outside wearing cuddly sweaters. At the end of this long dry season the landscape is very sparse, and the air sometimes gets
very hazy, so you can only see the peaks of the Sierra Nevada at dawn. Surfers can look forward to a strong swell (except for the coastline that is protected by coral reefs) and thanks to the
almost guaranteed sunshine you can also find the turquoise waters that you expect from a Caribbean beach. In Mompox and generally in the region of Magdalena, the water levels are low
in February and March, which is why some river trips are not highly encouraged. April and May bring rain, but the shorter of the two rainy seasons does not bring heavy rains. A good
guideline is rain twice per week, with thunderstorms that build up about midday. It often rains in the early afternoon for an hour or two, then the sun appears as it did in the morning. The
breeze disappears in early April and the moisture increases. From June to August we have the "little summer" also known as "Veranillo de San Juan". There’s almost no rain, the maximum daily
temperatures rise up to 33°C and the humidity stays at over 80%, perfect weather for anyone who has always wanted to try an open air sauna.
During this season, I would recommend you do outside activities like a city tour in Cartagena or Santa Marta in the afternoon, since at 10 o’clock the temperature already exceeds
30 ° C. Sometimes in September it begins to thunder, however October and November are considered the strong rainy season; it rains an average of 4 times a week. Also at that time, the storms
build up at noon and in the afternoon it rains for an hour or two, this time mostly monsoon-like and with lightning. In the mornings and after the rain the sun shines and the sky is light
blue. The humidity is generally up to 90% during these months, but he rains bring some cooling air. It is also possible to find 2 or 3 cloudy days when it remains rainy, but it is rather the
exception. This rainy season brings out the lush green to the landscape, the air gets clear and clean, and when the sun shines again after the rain, the color contrasts are even more beautiful
than at any other time of year. The same applies to sunrise and sunset. Personally, I look forward to this time of the year, since most of the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada of nearly 6,000
meters above sea level can be seen from almost 200 km away from the beach near Palomino or Don Diego. For me, a trip to the Caribbean region is not be less enjoyable because of the
rains in October and November, it is rather the other way round.
La Guajira (Cabo de la Vela, Riohacha)
The semi-desert in the Guajira Peninsula is an exception. Here it is generally much drier. During the day, temperatures often exceed 40 ° C and the rainy months are not that rainy in this
area. In the Sierra Nevada it may rain on any day of the year, but the usually is similar to the rest of the Caribbean. With the exception of La Guajira and the Sierra Nevada de Santa
Marta, all roads during the rainy season are in good condition. But for the mentioned destinations even in the dry season you need a good SUV. In October and November floods are possible around
Amazonas (Leticia, Puerto Nariño, Yopal)
The Oriniquia region, also known as Llanos Orientales, and the Amazon are humid all year around. The further south you go, the more humid it gets. A few years ago in north Orinoquia, there was an
unusually long precipitation free period in the dry season, which partly caused a mass extinction of animals. In the south of the Guaviare river the Amazon jungle begins. Here it usually rains
during the whole year. In July and August, the amount of rain is about 130mm a month, making it the driest time of the year. The water levels in the amazon can change up to 4 meters between
seasons, the lowest level is in September, where the soil get hard and it is possible to walk in the jungle with normal boots. In the rest of the year the water levels are quite high and
most trails are only walkable with rubber boots, sometimes it is only possible by canoe. For me the whole Amazon region is simply impressive during the time of high water level. In the vast
Amazon region there are many places with a microclimate which makes it unique.
Andes (Bogota, Medellin, Pereira, Salento, San Agustin)
In the Andean region there are also 2 dry periods (December-March, July-August) and 2 rainy seasons (April-May, October-November) In September, you have a bit of both. Unlike the
Caribbean Region, during April and May in the Andes this local saying is correct: "Abril, Lluvia mil" (April, 1000 times the rain). However, this does not mean that it rains constantly for
days. The rainy season usually brings sun and rain. In general we can say that in the Andes there is more rain than in the Caribbean area, especially in the western part. The Tatacoa Desert in
the Magdalena valley and the Candelaria-semi-desert near Villa de Leyva are exceptions, in these areas the amount of rainfall is significantly lower. On the mountains roads, including major
pathways in some cases, landslides can cause impairments. So far, I have only been in traffic jams caused by landslides 3 times, fortunately these only lasted a few hours. If you want to be on
the road in the Andes "off-track" you need a good SUV or a brave horse. Hikers who take the National Park Los Nevados or El Cocuy , should avoid the months of April, October and November. At
these altitudes, the chances of clear skies and good visibility are still very low in these months.
San Andres and Providencia
For the islands San Andrés and Providencia, the same as the Caribbean region in the mainland applies.
Pacific (Nuquí, Bahía Solano, Quibdo)
The Colombian Pacific region is one wettest in the word with about 300 rainy days and up to 15,000 mm rainfall. The Humboldt current turns west before the Galapagos Islands, which ensures warm
waters off Colombia's coast. The moist clouds bring rain almost daily from on the western flank of the Andes. Therefore, the approximately 100 km dense jungles of Choco, between the Western Andes
and the Pacific coast are also one of the richest areas in biodiversity on the planet.
The whole region is sparsely populated with the exceptions of a few port cities. The best chances of a dry day in the Pacific region come in February and march with “only” 300mm of rainfall a
month. The logistics of a trip to this region is hardly affected by the frequent rain. Since you can take small airplanes to get there and tropical rain here belongs to everyday life. The
best months for the Pacific Coast are July to October, because during this time Humpback whales mate and give birth. My perfect day on the Pacific looks like this: wake up at the Ecolodge
surrounded by nature and the coast, in a hammock to admire the blue sky and the color contrasts, then breakfast with fresh fruits, a swim in the morning and a walk along the deserted
beaches. After lunch, you take a siesta in a hammock and watch the tropical downpour for about 2 hours. Then you watch the fabulous sunset and the starry sky.
Colombians have 15 days of paid vacation per year. If you count the holidays, all of which are moved to the next Monday, we have approximately 30 days of holiday.
The time after Christmas and the first 10 days of January are the highest season. Popular destinations such as Cartagena, Santa Marta, Tayrona & Palomino, San
Andres & Providencia, Coffee Region, Villavicencio, Villa de Leyva, Barichara and San Agustin are overcrowded. Some do not mind the turmoil or find it really exciting but for me many
destinations lose their charm at this time. Day trips to Tayrona National park are almost impossible between 26 December and 7 January. There may be kilometre-long queues of cars at the park
entrance so you only have a real chance of getting in if you go early enough, max around 7 o’clock. Even then, you are going to face crowded trails and a lot of trash. Cartagena, San Andres and
Santa Marta are also brimming. At certain times in the Old Town of Cartagena you have to almost jostle people away to get ahead, especially for New Years eve's, since is the favorite
destination for Colombians to welcome the coming year. The city transforms itself so you can easily celebrate the new year with thousands in the streets, hearing Salsa and Merengue and
wish each other "Feliz año nuevo". The other cities mentioned above are less crowded at this time. If you’re only available in this season, it is still possible to have a journey, but you should
book early and be prepared to up to 50% more for hotels and flights. In addition, most hotels in top destinations such as Cartagena and the surrounding areas have a minimum stay of 3 nights. On
the other hand, at that time big cities like Bogota and Medellin are empty and there is always new destinations coming up, so you can enjoy a pleasant journey even in the busiest season if
you have the right travel advisory.
Easter is also considered high season, but nothing compared to the 2 weeks after Christmas. At this time, I also recommend the top destinations, but you should bring a
little more patience and be prepared to pay more than usual for flights and hotels. The same applies to the week before Christmas and for the second and third week of January.
For long weekends, the so-called "Puentes", destinations near big cities, including, for example, Villa de Leyva, Barichara, Salento, Palomino and the National Park Tayrona,
have significantly more visitors. The hotel prices are higher and flights to the Caribbean region and to the coffee region on Friday and on Monday are more expensive.
To a lower extent, there is an influx of people to the popular destinations from mid-June to mid-July, as well as the school-free week in October. In this medium
season trips to Colombia are recommended readily. Hotel and flight prices may increase.
For Barranquilla’s carnival, the city is crowded and hotels can be booked only for at least 3 nights with up to 50% surcharge. Saturday is particularly busy and a bit
chaotic, the parade is, beautiful and impressive but in recent years the parade has been characterized by advertising campaigns.
The parades on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are beautiful and authentic. Many Barranquilleros shun the parade on Saturday even nowadays. For Barranquilla's Carnival, if you don’t have much time I
also recommend a day trip from Cartagena or Santa Marta, which are 100km away, to see the parades on Sunday or Monday, but if you have the chance try to enjoy at least one carnivals night, since
it is a great opportunity to mix and party with locals.
- You can travel to Colombia all year around. The months of heavy rain October and November still allow easy travel because the rain usually comes in short and
strong burst. Rain also brings benefits such as wide view, color contrasts and the lush green of nature in the Caribbean region. For long hikes in the mountains from 3,000m you should chose
December-March and avoid June-August.
- The Pacific region from July to October is particularly beautiful with humpback whales mating off the coast.
- If possible, you should avoid the time after Christmas until mid-January. You can manage a trip during this season, however many destinations are crowded and
prices are high. If you do plan a trip during this period, you should book in September at the latest.
- For Easter and long weekends the visitor numbers rise in many places and prices for hotels and flights increase. The big cities are empty.