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Despite massive improvements and a tourist boom, Colombia is struggling to shake off its international image as one of the most dangerous countries in the world – fueled by years of civil war and violent drug cartels. While the other cities we visited are starting to have thriving tourism, Bogotá still has a bad reputation and attracts serious warnings about taking care of personal safety and belongings.

Despite the warnings, we decided to spend four nights in Bogotá, firstly because we needed to be there to fly to Chile but also because we generally find the internet makes everything seem worse than it is.

We arrived on Christmas Eve so decided to buy ourselves a present and have a break from hostels and stay the first two nights at a nice hotel (Hotel Cabrera Imperial) in the ritzy Zona Rosa department. This very touristy part of the city is not real Bogotá. It is packed with expensive restaurants and shopping centres (with all the backpacker essentials like Luis Vuitton, Cartier and Prada). The real definition of gringolandia! This certainly wouldn’t be where we would recommend for independent travellers. However, two nights in a big hotel suite with access to the rooftop hotel gym to trim down (before fattening back up at Christmas lunch), a king sized comfortable bed and most importantly a clean, private bathroom with a powerful hot shower was a real backpackers fantasy come true!

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Colombia South America Bogota D.C.