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Friday, July 19th 2024

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Calgary to Medellin or Bogota, Colombia - $539 CAD roundtrip including taxes

Medellin, Colombia

United Airlines is showing some winter 2025 flights from Calgary to Medellin, Colombia for $539 CAD roundtrip including taxes.

What's notable about these flights is that they're relatively fast flights in both directions.

Medellin is often difficult to get to quickly, either on the way there, or the way back. Overnight (or very long) layovers are common. Or multiple stops each way.

But there are actually some cheap ones with just 1 stop each way in Houston for 3-4 hours.

There are some additional dates if you're willing to accept 2 stops.

If you browse other dates you'll see just how expensive and rare fast flights to MDE can be.

You can also find some 1-stop flights to Bogota for a similar roundtrip price with American Airlines.

You can also fly into Bogota and then home from Medellin for a similar roundtrip price (see below).

In February 2024 I had the opportunity to visit Colombia for the first time. I posted some info below if you're looking for any tips.

Availability for travel

November 2024

January, February, March, April 2025

How to find and book this deal

1. Start with the following Google Flights search:

Google Flights: Calgary to Medellin, Colombia [1 stop flights]

Google Flights: Calgary to Medellin, Colombia [Up to 2 stops]

Google Flights: Calgary to Bogota, Colombia [1 stop flights]

- Click on the departure date box to open up the calendar view.

- Browse for cheap date combinations by adjusting the trip length at the bottom.

- Look for the dates that are $539-$544 roundtrip.

2. Go to FlightHub or Skyscanner or Kayak

3. Search for a flight from Calgary (YYC) to Medellin, Colombia (MDE)

- Try the same dates you found on Google Flights.

You can also fly into Bogota and then home from Medellin for a similar roundtrip price

1. Go to Kayak or Skyscanner and change the search type to Multi City.

2. Search for a flight from:

Calgary (YYC) to Bogota (BOG)
Medellin (MDE) to Calgary (YYC)

3. Try the same dates you found on the Google Flights links above.

For example: Mar 5 to Mar 19

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In February 2024 I had the opportunity to visit Colombia for the first time

It's a decent sized country and getting around isn't always quick or easy.

The red squares in the pic below show how little I covered in 2.5 weeks...

When researching where to go, I found there were about 10 areas in Colombia that I would have liked to see but it quickly became apparent I would have time for about 3.

In the end after some tough decisions I went with:

1. Salento / Filandia area. (hummingbirds, thermal baths, wax palm trees, condors, Valle de Cocora hike, howler monkeys, coffee tours)

2. Medellin

3. Eastern Plains (pink river dolphins, giant anteaters)

Area #1: Salento / Filandia area.

Rented a car in Pereira for exploring this area.

Driving in Colombia: roads were usually pretty good, with nice pavement. A ton of motorcycles and scooters on the roads, so you do need to be constantly checking your mirrors and shoulder checking. I always tried to avoid going *through* any major population centers, and drove around the outskirts.

Area #2: Medellin

Uber is very cheap in Medellin (Uber is technically illegal in Colombia, but everyone uses it, along with Cabify and Didi).

Great botanical garden (iguanas, turtles). Lots of great restaurants and rooftop hangouts.

Very unique looking city nestled in the mountains with cable cars as part of their transit system.

Area #3: Eastern Plains

Pretty remote, and not many foreigners. There are some off the grid farmstays.

Colombia Entry Tips

- Don't forget to fill out the online Colombia entry form (Check-mig - Migración Colombia) before your flight to Colombia.

- Upon arrival in Colombia, Canadians are required to pay the equivalent of $85 CAD for entry (before blaming Colombia, it's actually because *we* charge Colombians this amount for entry into Canada).

- After landing at BOG airport I found that there weren't any signs about a special line for Canadians to pay this fee, although I remembered reading that there was supposed to be a sign or a Canadian flag. After asking I was told to go to the second kiosk from the left, seemingly the only one with a credit card machine for paying this fee.

In my case, I was coming from Aruba, and there weren't any other Canadians, so I was the only one at this special kiosk. It still took about 20 minutes for some reason, and made me wonder how long it takes when a plane full of Canadians arrives from Toronto or Montreal.

Getting Around Colombia

- Internal flights are cheap, and Colombia has a *lot* of airports (see map below). Clic Air is the most common low cost carrier and I had no issues.

- I took a couple of longer distance buses, and they were fine, but count on delays. Depending on where you are, I found that there wasn't always a bus 'terminal', especially in smaller places. Sometimes the bus from A to B is just parked somewhere seemingly random in town and it's up to you to know where to find it. Trust me, Googling won't help. The best way is just to tell a taxi driver that you want the bus to X destination and they usually know exactly where to take you in town to catch the bus.

Colombia: Cell Phones, e-Sims, and Apps

- Claro is known for having the best cell coverage in Colombia, especially outside the cities. The Airalo e-sim for Colombia is actually using Movistar as your provider. Ubigi on the other hand, uses Claro.

I decided to try both, and found that both Airalo and Ubigi worked pretty much the same throughout my trip. They both worked well, and there were a handful of times where one would work, and the other wouldn't, and vice versa, but that was very rare.

- Colombians use WhatsApp for *everything* (restaurant reservations, hotel reservations, booking tours, everything).

WhatsApp has built in translation, although sometimes I found that it was better to copy/paste into Google Translate, which seemed to have better translations.

- Install the Merlin app before you go: Colombia has a LOT of bird species (the most in the world), so it's kind of fun/helpful to use Merlin to identify them by sound and see how many are around you.

Colombia: My Itinerary and Google Map of Research

Here's a rough itinerary along with the hotels, airbnbs, and rental car companies that I used...


And here's a Google Map with the result of what I researched for all 10 areas of Colombia, including: sights, airports, nice towns, hikes, wildlife, well reviewed accommodations, etc.


Is Colombia Safe?

The name 'Colombia' carries a lot of baggage along with its name, but these days you find it full of digital nomads and it's becoming a pretty popular place for Canadians to visit. It feels like it might not be long before it's one of those places a person wishes they had visited before it became too popular.

The Salento/Filandia area has tourists from all over and felt as safe as anywhere else. I saw plenty of solo backpackers. In the larger cities like Medellin and Bogota I'm sure there are some sketchy neighbourhoods.

In Medellin I stayed in Poblado which is known for being a nice area with great restaurants and then Ubered to the area in the north with the botanical garden, science center, etc. I also took the Metro train to the outskirts, where you can transfer to a cable car (part of the metro) and climb the hills up to Parque Arví. The Metro was very nice and clean, a lot better than most in North America really.

If there's one place where things felt gritty it was Bogota. There's certainly a lot of graffiti everywhere which doesn't help, and while taxing/Ubering around it felt like one moment I would be in an area thinking 'Oh this is kind of nice' and then the next moment 'Ok, this isn't so nice.' It could change quickly. Chapinero and La Candaleria are known for being two of the nicer areas. But again, I didn't actually see any crime, and for the most part it just felt like being in any big city.

I know that Medellin does apparently have some foreigners coming in looking for sex and drugs, and that always leads to problems. Personally as someone not looking for either of those things, Colombia felt pretty similar to anywhere else in terms of safety.

screenshot from FlightHub

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