Depending on where you drive in Colombia it can be both a great experience or a very challenging one.For many years the roads of Colombia have been difficult and dangerous. However, during the past years, Colombia has seen a drastic change and the roads, after so many years are now safe to travel. Colombians are exploring their country every single holiday they have and started to travel all around Colombia. While all of the roads are a single lane and many cross the Andes, the drive can be a challenging one. All transport takes the same route and traffic jams easily add up hours to a relatively short drive.
Traveling in the North of Colombia between Cartagena and Santa Marta, was simply great. The roads are in excellent condition (privatized, so you do pay a lot on toll fees!), but very easy to navigate. We can recommend any traveler to rent a car and explore the north on their own. The roads are still heavily guarded by the military and the police and are very safe. Drop off fees are very affordable, so you can easily pick up a car in Santa Marta, explore the region around Tayrona and drop the car upon arrival in Cartagena. Daily rates go between 70 and 90 USD per day.
Traveling from Bogota towards Villa de Leyva, San Gil, Medellin, etc. is however a challenge. The first one being able to get out of Bogota. There is so much traffic, no road signals and even google maps gets confused! Leaving Bogota means traveling into the mountains: windy roads, slow trucks, crazy cars trying to take over in tight curves. Even for us, it was a bit scary and 60 kilometers can easily take 2 hours. Another destination great to explore by car is the Coffee Triangle. I wouldn’t recommend traveling beyond the coffee triangle, but to pick up a car at the airport, explore the coffee region and drop it off at the airport makes for a great self-drive.