Colombia vs. Peru for Expats

Colombia and Peru are similar in many ways – both are economically hindered by impossible geographies of Andes Mountains and Amazon rain forest. Both suffered decades-long insurgencies from leftist guerrilla rebels aiming to overthrow the state (FARC and Shining Path, both still operational but the former more powerful). Both countries are top cocaine producers with long histories of narcoterrorism and corruption. Both governments are more capitalistic within Latin America, with Colombia being the top U.S. ally in the region. Both have highly stratified societies with a tiny percentage of white, Spanish descended families that control a majority of the wealth. Both have rich cultures with their own distinct music and art.

colombian-cupid-buttonColombia and Peru also have differences. Ethnically, Peru’s indigenous population is huge – many Peruvians speak Spanish as a second language. Colombia has less indigenous influence because the land had no giant civilization like Incas, Aztecs, or Mayans. The lack of Indian labor required Spanish colonists to import African slaves, so unlike Peru there is a significant black population in Colombia with its own distinct culture.

Commonalities and differences aside, what makes an expat choose a country to live in? Here are the countries rated on a typical expat’s lifestyle criteria:

Food – Peru

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Peruvian food is inarguably superior to Colombian. Peruvian cuisine is the best in South America. Colombian food, on the other hand, is among the simplest. Peru wins by landslide.

Cost of living – Peru

When working locally, your salary usually reflects the local cost of living. So this criteria is more important for online earners – people being paid in dollars or euros to their home country bank account – and retirees on a fixed pension. If you’re earning the same regardless of where you live, your money will go farther for food, rent, entertainment, and everything else in Peru.

Economy – Colombia

This is tough to rank as there are many variables to consider: ease of doing business, growth prospects, size of the market, taxes, import / export regulations, and more. Starting a business (legally) and importing are equally painful in each country. The growth prospects of each are among the world’s strongest, but Colombia’s growth is stronger. Plus, Colombia is a bigger market.

Colombia’s population is better educated. The country’s already more developed, despite the troubles of past decades. Its infrastructure is light years ahead of Peru’s. Colombia beats Peru on economy.

Ease of staying / visa requirements – Peru

Colombia is a difficult place to stay. The tourist visa is only good for 60 days. It can be renewed, but only twice per year. So they effectively limit your time on a tourist visa to six months per calendar year. That’s why I worked for an English institute for over two years – for the visa. If you’re not going to work for a Colombian company, you can get an investor’s visa. For an investor’s visa you don’t actually have to set up a business. But you need to demonstrate that you have $30,000 and that’s obviously not realistic for most people. There’s a student visa, but then you’d have to study part-time. I know some gringos who married Colombian women to stay legally in country (¡a réves!).

Peru, on the other hand, does not limit your time on a tourist visa. They give you 90 days, and as long as you leave the country every 90 days, you can come back for an unlimited number of 90-day tourist visas. I know a woman who lived in Arequipa for six years doing that. At first she was taking bona fide vacations: Bolivia, Argentina, etc. But towards the end she just drove over the Tacna-Arica border, had lunch in Chile, and came back to Peru the same day for a new visa.

In both countries you can simply overstay your tourist visa and pay the fine when you leave. There’s no repercussion as long as you pay the fine. However, the fine’s much lower in Peru. Plus, they’re never going to come looking for you in Peru. It’s unlikely they will in Colombia, but I have heard of (the former) DAS leading raids on gringos doing business illegally in Colombia – as well as deporting gringos. If you’re going to keep a low profile (i.e., no business and NO BLOG), overstaying your visa is an option in either country. The problem in Colombia is that you have to pay a higher fine every time you leave. So if you’re the type that likes to visit home once a year, it will be expensive.

Attractiveness of the land – Colombia

Machu Picchu is gorgeous – the best view I’ve seen in my life – and there is rain forest. But you’re probably not going to live in Cusco or the jungle. For most gringos, you will probably end up in the desert. These cities have beautiful neighborhoods because of irrigation, but the natural state of the land is desert wasteland. Unlike Colombia, there is no finca culture where people escape the city for the pueblo to enjoy peace, quiet, and beautiful scenery.

Colombia, on the other hand, is picturesque throughout. Road trips are like going through the ravines and valleys from the old 80s and 90s action flicks where gringos shoot up cartel bad guys. The entire country is as beautiful as those backdrops. For natural beauty, Colombia beats Peru with extreme prejudice.

Weather / climate – Peru

While Peru’s landscape isn’t as beautiful because of the lack of green, the flip side is that it never rains. I’m writing this in Arequipa and I haven’t seen rain in over six months. In Lima, the largest city after Cairo to be built in a desert, I’ve seen rain only once.

Colombia, on the other hand, is rain hell. It rains so hard they have national disasters where entire towns get wiped out. I used to tell friends that if they ever wanted to get me out of Bogota / Colombia, the convincing argument would be the rain. Catch me on a day when I’m soaked, cold, and tired. Dealing with the rain is a major part of life in Bogota and greater Colombia.

A downside of life in Lima is what Mario Vargas Llosa described in his novels as the “grey monster” – the overcast that covers Lima eight months a year. For eight months a year there is no sun in Lima. If lack of sunshine is a deal breaker, Lima is not for you.

I give a slight advantage in weather to Peru, just because Colombian rain is so prohibitive.

Party scene – Colombia

As inarguable as Peruvian food is better than Colombian, the Colombian rumba destroys Peruvian. In fact, it may be too much for you if you have trouble keeping control. That’s why I finally left – I couldn’t handle it.

The Miraflores and Barranco sections of Lima are great – more than enough partying for me. But it can’t stand up to Bogota’s Zona Rosa. The size, scale, and number of people partying in Zona Rosa beats anything I’ve seen in Latin America. If you want a grittier party scene, there’s no area in Lima to compete with Bogota’s Primer de Mayo.

If you don’t like big cities, there really isn’t another Peruvian option for rumberos besides Lima. Arequipa’s a ghost town most nights. But Colombia has Medellin, Cali, and the Coast – all rumba hotbeds.

If drugs are your thing, the #1 Andean party favor is just as accessible in Peru as Colombia, but you’re not as likely to see a group of Peruvians snorting in the bathroom of a club. It’s much more common with Colombians. Colombia’s designer drug scene (acid and ecstasy) is also highly developed.

So if your priority is to go hard, Colombia is the country for you.

Cosmopolitanism – Colombia

For big city folks who need the fast life, your choices are Bogota and Lima. Both have populations around 8 million. Miraflores and San Isidro in Lima are upscale and beautiful. Outside those districts, however, the Lima experience is much like the rest of Peru – poor, undeveloped, and Indian. Bogota is an international city known for its pomp and universities. Buenos Aires is the only other city I’ve visited where being a gringo garners little attention.

For a bright-lights, big-city, fast-paced lifestyle, for museums, concerts, theater, intellectual scene, cultural diversity, and all the other things you look for in an international city, Bogota beats Lima.

Modernness – Colombia

In Colombia, you can drink the water. Medellin has a light rail metro. In almost three years in Colombia, I never had my water cut off. I can’t count all the times my water’s been cut in Peru. The buildings, the cars, the infrastructure, everything, is newer, cleaner and more developed in Colombia.

For modern comforts, Colombia beats Peru.

Attractiveness of the people – Colombia

For many expats (“sexpats”), all these criteria don’t matter one bit. I’ve known many gringos who explicitly say it: they’re in South America only to get laid. Nothing else. So their only criteria is beauty of the women. That’s why you find these types in areas where the population reflects the international standard of beauty, and most people prefer white / European – whether they admit it or not. That’s why you don’t see many sexpats in Bolivia, Africa, etc.

Attractiveness of the people doesn’t only appeal to sexpats however. I doubt many women would be willing to move to a place where they’re not attracted to the local men. In my experience, gringa women are more attracted to Colombian men than Peruvian men.

There are many beautiful Peruvian people, but according to the widely held perceptions of beauty, Colombia beats Peru.

Crime / safety – Peru

Despite its being a poorer country with a less developed economy, the streets of the average Peruvian city are much safer than Colombian cities. I don’t know why, but I’ve surmised in the past that there is criminality and corruption in the Colombian personality. There is in the Peruvian psyche too, but it’s stronger in Colombia. There are nasty parts of Lima – Callao, La Victoria – but they pale in comparison to the slums of Colombian cities.

Life is cheaper in Colombia, there are more drug addicts, prostitution is more prevalent, and con men are more prolific. Peru is safer and has less crime than Colombia.

Education – Colombia

See the US News & World Report’s ranking of universities in Latin America. The first university to rank between Colombia and Peru would be Colombia’s most prestigious, Andes University, in La Candelaria (#6). Ninth is Colombia’s National University AKA La Nacho, and #23 is La Javeriana in Chapinero. The first Peruvian university to appear is Lima’s Pontifica Catholic University – at #34, coming after yet another Colombian university, Medellin’s Antioquia University (#27). So four Colombian universities beat out Peru’s best.

Bogota is known as the “Athens of Latin America” for its high number of universities. If you live in the heart of the city, a daily part of life will be navigating the tens of thousands of pedestrian students in university districts.

For primary and secondary education, I’d just assume Colombia beats Peru given its nature as a country that produces more intellectuals, artists, etc.

Are there any criteria I missed in evaluating an expat’s destination? Let me know in the comments!



  1. Nice balance between the two countries. Very accurate, since it has been writen for a person who has been living in both places for long time, and has had the opportunity to learn deeply of every culture.


  2. In Colombia you can drink the water in the mountains.

    I ❤ Colombia, but I've been told (by Paisas, admittedly) that if you drink the water by the coast you practically take your life in your hands.

    This might shed a different light on the story of Pollo and the clasista gomela who flipped out when served tap water in BAQ.


  3. “In almost three years in Colombia, I never had my water cut off.”
    It happens in Cali quite often and I have only been there on holiday
    “In Colombia you can drink the water. ”
    But lots of Colombians never do. Then again my brother in law believes that tap water in Spain and the UK is dangerous (it isn’t). I always drink tap water in Cali – never had problems unless I give it to my son when my wife gives me problems.


  4. I am constantly reminded of the term giving “Papaya”. I believe the concept of Papaya is giving others the opportunity to steal from you. In other words, you are a chump because you did not secure you belongings, therefore you are an idiot and you deserve to have your stuff stolen. I think you are right that there is a natural corruption/flaw in the character of Colombians.


  5. Esteban – that’s a whole ‘nother article re: “dar papaya.” But I and many other expats agree that it’s a bullshit thing to say, and it effectively transfers the burden from criminals to victims.

    That attitude is part of the reason Colombia has such high crime.


  6. Nice comparison between Colombia and Peru. And yes, you have to deal more with the rain in Bogotá (which has less rain than other main cities in Colombia) but you must also accept that unlike Lima, the sun also shines quite often.

    You forgot the easiness of getting laid, and how serious is the people regarding a business (would you choose a colombian or a peruvian partner for a business?)


  7. Well, on the water topic. I live in Barranquilla and have been drinking tap water my whole life, it has never given me any trouble. It might be a bit different in other cities like Santa Marta and Cartagena. I was in Sta Marta some weeks ago and a french girl drank tap water and got sick, but water is usually safe in Barranquilla.


  8. I don’t know any americans who drink tap water anywhere, ever. I know I don’t. That reminds me of one of the little weird things I’ve noticed here in colombia. You can get water in a little plastic bag, and milk too. I work out (and smoke out) at that public outdoor gym over by lleras and I always drink a bag of milk after my workout. Everybody always looks at me like I’m some kind of freak when I do it. I fee like telling them hey I need to get my protein, it’s not my fault your country sells milk in a freaking plastic bag. Wtf!

    And why does every single colombiano walk around with a backpack on, or one of those man purses? What are they carrying in there? Deodorant and a change of clothes, an uzi, wtf?

    I gotta eat some of this peruvian food everybody keeps raving about. Where’s a good peruvian place in Medellin? I’ve been here 3 weeks now and I’ve eaten bandeja paisa or bandeja something every single day I’ve been here. It’s not bad so I’m not complaining yet but I’m sure one of these days it’s gonna get old.


  9. I’m “American” and drink tap water everywhere. I lived in Villavicencio and drank the tap water there. I lived in Medellin and drank th tap water there. Never a problem.


  10. Haven’t you forgotten one very big advantage for Bogota (if the propaganda is true I haven’t been there enough to judge)?
    In Bogota you can safetly cycle to a lot of destinations.
    That is something most of the first world hasn’t got let alone South America.

    I think you should add that to the advantages (sadly not true of Cali or Medellin)


  11. Carlito –

    Ease of Getting Laid – yes, that probably should’ve made the list as I’m sure it’s important to many expats 🙂

    It depends if you count whores. If you do, then Colombia is much easier. Not just paying for them, but a lot of putas give it up for free when they want to get laid too. On a few of my old brothel tours, girls would say to me, “Cuanto te cobro?” And I’d say “10 mil” and they’d be down. That just pays for the room. You can also pull whores out of amaneceros like La Cascada, I’ve met lots of Colombians that specialize in feeding them dope to keep the party going and end up taking them home in the wee hours. Also in Colombia there are many more whores. Every night there are acres and acres of Colombian prostitute pussy going home cold and broke. In Peru you can go to a whorehouse and there’s one girl serving ten dudes. Supply and demand in the two countries is equally inverted and disproportionate.

    If a guy doesn’t bang whores then he’ll have an easier time getting laid in Peru. There are gringo-hunters everywhere, but in Peru they have their own slang term: bricheras. There are so many. It’s ridiculous.

    Matthew B – Drinking milk is largely a Caucasian phenomenon (think the big glass of milk at dinner is normal?). That would weird out most global citizens outside Northern Europe and North America. Colombia is actually more lactose-tolerant, and more dairy enthusiast culture than most of Latin America. Specifically the Indian blood is more likely to be lactose intolerant. So we gringos are the weird ones. (I spent years chugging a liter after weightlifting, and did GOMAD diet twice)

    Those man-purses are the top artesanal / handicraft product from Colombia. Colombian dudes wear them and don’t think they’re gay.

    Don’t expect good eatin’ in Colombia and you won’t be let down 🙂

    David – The cicloruta and cycling infrastructure of Bogota is definitely an advantage. However, this article was just comparing Colombia vs. Peru. A city comparison of Bogota vs. Lima is coming soon, and cycling will DEFINITELY make the list!


  12. “Drinking milk is largely a Caucasian phenomenon (think the big glass of milk at dinner is normal?). That would weird out most global citizens outside Northern Europe and North America.”

    It seems like drinking water with your meal is thought to be peculiar here too. When I order a meal somwhere, the waiter always assume I want a gaseosa or some kind of jugo, and they look at me like something´s wrong with me when I tell them I´ll have a bottled water. They always ask me two or three times if I´m sure that´s what I want. Mexicans are the same way so I´m not surprised. It´s like people from latin countries think if something doesn´t have sugar in it that it´s not worth drinking.


  13. Lima has excellent surfing, point break at La Herradura was cooking when I visited. Mancora in the north has warm water all levels of waves.

    Bogota compensates plenty of LSD and hookers.

    When I was in Bogota I met a few Mormons. It would interesting to compare level of religiosity and incursions by evangelicals into traditionally catholic/pagan countries.


  14. Dude said he worked out , smoked out and drank milk all just outside his gym in Llares…I don’t know why but I’m still giggling about that. Fuck….


  15. It’s that little outdoor public gym right next to the soccer court, basketball court. Right down the street from casa kiwi hostel. Yea dude I go there, work out, drink my post workout bag of milk, eat some fruit for carbs, then I either smoke my bud there at the gym or i’ll go behind the basketball court back in the wooded creek area where nobody can see me. What a life huh? Lol!


  16. Another great article Colin. Thanks. One thought on Peruvian women, when they are pretty, they are really, really pretty. That mixture of Indian and Spanish blood in a women can literally make me weak in the knees. And by the way, congrats on your marriage. Your wife is an example of what i’m talking about.


  17. I have no idea where that outdoor gym is at. (sarcasm intended) Have a coffee at Tinto y Tinteras or a beer at the Shamrock and give my buddies a little business.


  18. Having lived in Lima now, as well as Medellin, I agree with much of what you said. Picking one country over the other depends on your priorities. I’m glad I’ve had the chance to live in both, but my preference remains Medellin (CO).


  19. I’ve been in 18 Colombian cities and drank the water in ALL of them, including all over the coast, the llanos Tolima etc… NEVER had a problem… in the DR I can’t even eat a salad washed in the local water or I’m in the john for 3 days!

    It rains more in NYC London or Paris than it does in Bogota. If it rained as much as it did in Peru you wouldn’t be able to drink the water. LA and Phoenix have undrinkable tap water as well 😛


  20. I’ve travelled to and stayed in Colombia over 40 times in the past 7 years (I have a child there) and have never had trouble entering or leaving. I’m not sure where you are getting the info about only being able to get a tourist visa of 60 days twice per calendar year – there is NO visa requirement if you stay less than 60 days. You can enter and leave as often as you’d like, as long as it isn’t over 60 days – then you’d go on a “visa run” – something many ex-pats do by leaving the country for one day (and doing so thru an official exit point). You can then re-enter Colombia and you are good for 60 more days. And you can do this by bus or even a ferry to Panama – air travel isn’t required. Is it a pain to do this every 60 days? Maybe. It is more of a pain to overstay the time you are allowed to be in Colombia and have to pay a fine before leaving? Definitaly!



  21. According to the ranking for Latin America in terms of female beauty, peru leaves behind Colombia, regarding contests “standard” of beauty

    1. Venezuela
    2. Argentina
    3. Peru
    4. Dominican Republic
    5. Brazil
    6. Puerto Rico
    7. Colombia

    Venezuela, Peru and Argentina representing Latin America

    In Colombia there are beautiful women, but “something” my country wins, it also succeeds in Indian beauty, make no mistake, the competition and the winners speak for themselves


  22. Thanks for the article! I found it very interesting.
    I agree that in Bogota rains as hell, however, not all the cities in Colombia have the same weather, in fact Bogota’s weather is one of the worst.
    In regards of beauty, colombian women are not the prettiest, the whole point is that the most of us are ok, decent pretty (not hyperpretty but enough), so you dont need to move a lot, to find a cute match… and you can take a picture and find that you can actually date any of the girls in it.
    In regards of food, even though the food is simple, we have a lot of organic food, a huge variety of vegetables and fruits…
    Something else: you forgot to compare the culture scene: theatre, music, concerts, parades, carnivals, etc etc..


  23. I’m from Colombia and I have lived in Bogota for more than 10 years…

    I lived in London for one year as well,

    I visited Lima,

    Regarding the beauty of women, if you go out on a friday or saturday in Bogota, you will find plenty of really hot chicks, pretty faces and smoking bodies,

    They are not the easiest to approach, but that can be a good thing, because they are not hypocrites, if you pass through that first wall and you gain a bit of trust, you are in for an easy pick up


  24. 5 colombian cities are ranked in the 50 most violent cities of the world. none peruvian cities in the list.. Peru is 1million safer than colombia. sorry to break it to you. but i cherish my life


  25. la parte en que dice que arequipa y Lima son las únicas habitables refleja mucha desinformación. En realidad, la parte mas desarrollada para vivir en Perú es lima y el norte: Chiclayo, Trujillo, Piura, son ciudades cosmopolitas, eso lo sabe cualquier peruano, y a la larga lo sabrá cualquier extranjero que tenga experiencia viviendo en Perú. En el sur esta arequipa , pero es la única, los departamentos de alrededor no han llegado al desarrollar todavia, tal vez lo hagan en el siglo 21


  26. Hola, Collins, soy peruano, dijiste que entre un hombre colombiano y uno peruano, una extranjera prefiere a un colombiano, bueno, no estoy envidioso de esto, pero si quería preguntarte, ¿porque crees esto?

    En segundo lugar, A las peruanas les gustan los “gringos”, eso es claro, pero he visto que a la mujer colombiana, muy guapa por cierto, tambien le gusta mucho el hombre peruano, por experiencias que he tenido, ¿lo has notado?¿no tienes alguna idea de porque?


  27. traduction:

    Hi, Collins, I’m Peruvian, said that between one man and one Peruvian Colombian, a foreign preferred a Colombian, well, I’m envious of this, but if I wanted to ask, why do you think this?
    Second, the Peruvians like “gringos”, that is clear, but I’ve seen a Colombian woman, very pretty by the way, also loves Peruvian man, by experiences I’ve had, have you noticed ? would not have any idea why?


  28. Car, when my Peruvian wife and I went to Colombia, many of her cousins and friends told her to bring them back a Colombian guy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

    The difference in attraction between Peruvian and Colombian MEN is small. There’s a bigger difference between the attractiveness of the two countries’ women. In my experience, and this actually applies more to Latin attitudes than gringos, people prefer white faces. They don’t like the Indian look. And obviously that Indian look is more common in Peru than Colombia.

    Here in Peru, look at all the advertisements and billboards in the street, the telenovelas and TV commercials. There are almost NO Indian faces. Doesn’t that seem strange? If you turned the sound off, it could be Argentine or Uruguayan television. It does not reflect at all how the Peruvian people look.

    The Colombian race has more European blood than the Peruvian race. When girls think of Colombian men, they think of Juanes. When they think of Peruvian men, they think of Grupo 5. And they want Juanes.

    It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not politically correct, but that’s how it is. In my experience.


  29. Hey Colin,
    I was just wondering, based on your experiences or what you may have heard, how much is the overstay fee. I have been here almost a year and a half over my visa and know that I will need to pay an overstay fee, however I have no idea how much. Ive heard that this depènds on the DAS agent and you have to do it at DAS before going to the airport, but there isnt much info about anywhere. Thought Id see if you might know.



  30. Excellent article. Which is more expensive – Lima or Medellin? I have lived in Lima for over 10 months, I loved the city specially Miraflores area and I found Lima is not too expensive, food is great and rent is reasonable in Surco, San Isidro etc. I was making US$ 3000 and living with my family of 4 (2 small children). Will a family of 4 be able to live well in Medellin with US$ 3000?


  31. Thanks for the comparative article.
    I think much of this gringo thing is simply a matter of attractive differences: Dark guy, light woman; light woman, dark guy. That each are from an entirely different country & culture may simply add to the appeal.


  32. Good article. Lightly varnished balance between truth
    and civility. Well organized, easy to access the info you want.

    Great format and style for travel info.


  33. I find talking about people looking like indian or european of an extreme bad taste. This article reveals the level of instruction of its author and also the hubris of the mediocre.


  34. Excellent reviews but just regarding the guy Matthew B talking about getting weird looks when ordering a bottle of water whereas in Colombia, Peru or México needs to know that probably if you are from north america we assume you’ll always have a drink with some sugar in it (it’s a cliche here).
    Im from latin american and I always order a bottle of water so maybe they ask you twice because they couldn’t understand you or they didn’t spoke excellent english.
    100% normal to order water in latin american countries.


  35. I’m astounded at some people’s sheer stupidity and lack of inspiration insight (not to mention lack of decency) in some of their comments. Frankly the comparison, while intersting, is over-simplified and in some cases totally false.

    The race question for example was not well explained. Peruvians are mostly of Native (Indian) ancestry while Colombians are mostly mixed with European and (depending on the region) also African. The reason being is NOT because of certain Indian civilizations existing or not existing. Colombia was just as heavily populated with Native Americans at Columbus’ arrival as was Peru with several small “civilizations” like the Chibcha and the Guambino. During the colonial period however, many Spanish pheasants from Northern Spain colonized the central highlands of Colombia and mixed freely with the natives. Colombia’s cool, lush and fertile highlands were among the few places in Tropical America where Europeans could live comfortably, another was in nearby Costa Rica. For this reason Colombian Spanish and Costa Rican Spanish remarkably similar and considered the best in all of Latin America, despite being separated from each other by Panama. This also lends to a more westernized “cowboy” culture in Colombia. Those “man purses” you talk about were actually originally used by (and popularized by) the VERY MACHO cowboys of Antioquia for long horse riding trips.Africans were imported as slaves to the Coasts, both Atlantic and Pacific. The pacific lacked European settlement due to It’s inhospitable climate, so the population remained heavily African, who adapted quite well to the hot and humid pacific coast. Bogota has always been the stalwart, colonial center of Colombia’s elite and European based corruption. It represents conservatism and phoniness for most Colombian’s. Most Colombians are a mix of european, indian and even african ancestry. Colombia’s are generally very content however with their lives, ranking among the happiest countries in the world. The economy has always been very strong in Colombia. Medellin was known as a booming industrial city, way before it was known for Mafia. Insecurity became a problem however in recent years when the mafia-led guerrillas took over half the country and impeded safety and, this has since been resolved and the security in Colombia has been restored to a normal level.

    Lastly, when it comes to sheer beauty and ULTRA-AMAZING natrural splendor, Colombia not only beats Peru, but it also beats most of the rest of the World! It’s one of the most, beautiful, Biologically diverse, dramatic, pictureque and just downright AWESOME. The only reason Colombia isn’t the TOP world nature destination it deserves to be is because of the (overblown) reputation it has gotten from the drug trade and from Hollywood itself (which never actually films in beaitiful Colombia, but somewhere in Mexico or Guatemala) As someone who has travelled there from Childhood, it’s both a pleasure visiting there and a sad notion that the world is missing out on travelling there to discover the amazing and they unparalleled natural beauty that exists there!!! Top cities in Colombia for beauty and culture are: Medellin, Manizales, Bucaramanga, Cartagena,.Santa Marta, Armenia, Ibague and Popayan. While Bogota is frigid, overcast, bleak and just downright ugly in some areas. It’s cold and reminds you of New York, Detroit or Manchester. Not very tropical and certainly not very friendly either.

    As far as Peru is concerned, it’s interesting food is a legacy of the creative Inca’s. Its mountains are even bigger, but they are completely parched and dry (except for the amazonian foothills). Peru has many social problems along the coast, but in the highlands a more traditional lifestyle exists. Spanish is spoken by most people nowadays, even in the rural hamlets. Lima is not a very beautiful city beautiful in fact it is the uggliest capital city in Latin America! Its like a doomsday scenario of Los Angeles, complete with dense smog and endless poverty. Cuzco on the other hand is much nicer.

    All in all, I’d hate to pit one country against another or say one is better than another. But they are both very different I would say. I think most Northamericans and Europeans would enjoy Colombia more, identify with it more and find it a way more beautiful and enjoyable tourist destination than Peru.


  36. Felipe Hayes:

    Please get off your high horse. .Do you think Colombia is the only country with the most biologically diverse? Peru is also one of the most biologically diverse country and is due to the Amazon.. 2/3 Peru land is the jungle..Colombia only shares some of the Amazon as a matter of fact Brazil is rated at the top and so does Indonesia..To say, Lima is ugly and endless poor is bad judgement. You have never step foot in Lima. Lima has beautiful parks, colonial building, good hotel infrastructure, museums, haute restaurants that keeps visitors happy. Lima and Cuzco hotels are rated very top at the Worlds’ travel awards for the last consecutive years. Peru receives more tourists than Colombia and its tourism infrastructure is more developed than Colombia. However, public transportation outside of Lima is very inferior to Colombia but it is improving. Lima 2 subterranean metro will start this August which Bogota doesn’t have one, though Medellin does.. Lastly, comparing FARC vs Shining Path is abysmal. One is not present anymore and it was gutted out from Peru. Its reign only lasted a decade. However, it did cause tremendous damage and terror but it pales in comparison with whats happening in Colombia. Whose internal conflict has started since 1950 as a matter of fact, Colombia history has been bound to violence ever since his independence, beginning with the thousands day war (1899-1902), la violencia (1948-1958), militant groups (1960), cocaine trade (1980-1990), and the ongoing terrorist group that operate to this day. Medellin, Bogota, Cali, Buenaventura, Pereira, Santa Mara, Cututa have appear in the 50 Most Violent cities in the World for the past five years. There is a strong criminal mentality in the Colombia society. It saddens me because they’re neighbors but it is the truth. Colombia is known to export hit man gangs to their neighbors Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. Medellin was once known as the most violent city in the World, not even Peru during the bad days (1980-1990) came close to their atrocities. There is no Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Bolivian city ever appear on the 50 most violent list. For the most part, the indian population is very peaceful. Peru population is about 47% mestizo, 32% amerindian, 18% white and so on. Most of the crime is committed by mestizos, there is low crime in the less developed areas such as the highlands. For now, tourist prefer Peru as a destination than Colombia, the difference isn’t much but is the fact. Colombia has clean its internal struggle before which in my opinion will never reach. Plan Colombia has poured millions of dollars without much success while less developed Peru has managed on its own, for the most part, to clean his own internal problems. There is a colombian mentality too look down on its neighbors as if they feel are superior which is not the case. For now, Colombia cities might have curbed down violence and crime but their levels of violence is still one of the highest in the region. Last year Peru’s crime statistics is one of the lowest trailing Chile and said to be stable years to come. I am still surprised as the number of tourist Colombia receives, is it much deserved, I don’t think so…


  37. Gringos think They Are the handsomes of the world, you are completely wrong. The most attracted men are in Cuba, Brasil or Italy because of the mix race. By the way Colombian men are not handsome at all, also they speak like women. I ve been to USA and most gringos look like prince Charles :p, pink like laboratory mouses, and fat square head.


  38. Pingback: Anonymous
  39. You imply that all of Colombia year-round is an incessant deluge of rainfall in epic proportions. This is an exaggeration. There are many days of sun in Colombia. There is plenty of sun to be found in Cartagena, Santa Marta, Cali, Medellín, etc. Yes there is lots of rain but, in some areas more than others, like the Amazonas or the Pacific coast jungle in El Chocó. If it rained as much as you imply it does, it would be a depressed counry with depressed people with no swimming pools or water parks or people going to the beach, yet all of the aforementioned activities abound. And Colombians as a whole are far from “depressed”. Remember, Medellín is called “La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera”. So tone down the whole “rains like hell” bit.


  40. @ Alejo –

    I have to respectfully disagree with your comment. Here are precipitation statistics for Bogota and the three cities with the rainiest reputations in the US: Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Portland:

    You can see that Bogota gets slightly less rain measured in volume than each city, but has more rainy days and less sunny days than all three.

    I admit I am only looking at Bogota here. A common criticism of my blog is that my observations about Colombia are disproportionately influenced by my living three years only in Bogota, which is true.

    I attribute Colombia’s success in the happiness index to what is a relatively new security situation. Most of the population is old enough to remember life in the 90s and early 2000s, and they are comparing their lives today with their lives then. I may be wrong, but time will tell if Colombian happiness stays at current levels for another 20 years, when the young Colombians who consider current conditions normal get older.


  41. @Colin, thank you for including that caveat of only thinking about Bogotá when you refer to Colombia, which really renders the statistics you included as fairly useless. And they’re useless because you are only focusing on Bogotá, which at 8,660 ft altitude, makes it an anomaly within Colombia. It is therefore the exception, and far from the rule. Could you imagine someone blogging about the weather in the USA, but having only lived in Washington DC and using that as a reflection of the whole USA? That would be pretty ridiculous.

    Your blog isn’t about Colombia, it’s about Bogotá. And Bogotá’s weather is not emblematic of Colombia as a whole.


  42. Thank you. Gracias. I am bilingual, bilingue. Que pais es mejor para un hombre y Su perra (grande)? Nos gusta caminar, algunas veces asta 2 horas, y explorar. Which country is best for a man and his large dog?
    We enjoy long walks. Perhaps someone in the country would be williing to house a man and his dog, cheap. I sure could use a contact, and I have no idea where to begin, but I would like to leave U.S. Money is tight, but I suppose I could swing the transitional state. Thanks.


  43. How dog friendly is Peru? My dog is large..90 lbs, but is my best friend. We ate loyal to one another. Might there be a peasant or something, in Peru, that could provide lodging for me and dog, on a long term basis, cheap? Thanks.


  44. Which country is best in terms of mosquito’s, and diseases? For that matter, which is best in whole of South A.?


  45. Hey Rod, Bogotá is kind of a paradise for a Dog owner, there is parks to walk them everywhere, all weekends the city blocks major Roads for sports and entertainment purposes known as “ciclovia” you MUST keep in mind that teh city asks dow owners to be responsible and pick up their poop and have them correctly socialized so there is no problem with children and other dogs.


  46. Looks like Colombia wins hands down! Particularly, with Colombian women! They are hot! Peruvian gals, unfortunately (the majority) very indigenous. More to explore and do in Colombia. Thank for analysis!


  47. I spent a long time in Medellin and my observation is that the vast majority of Colombians are mestizo. The number of people who are caucasian or would pass for it is small. The same goes for Lima, Peru. I see no real difference in the ratio of white-looking people to mestizos (I’m talking Lima, not the whole of Peru).

    That said, they don’t look identical. Colombia’s mestizo women will tend to have the bigger, rounder butts that some men find appealing. Peru’s mestizo women will generally be shorter, but have their own attractive features, such as high cheekbones, well-defined noses and bronze skin.

    I don’t think there’s any real difference in attractiveness unless you are somehow very wealthy and moving in the circles of the miss universe type of women for which Colombia is famous.


  48. Hey, anyone know how Peru/ Colombia stack up against Bolivia and Paraguay…in terms of safety?

    I’m not the party seeker type..nor am I looking for women. Just looking for quiet…large spaces with comfortable weather and security where one can meditate go for long walks.


  49. Hola Colin,
    Really nice and interesting analysis. Thank you !
    I live now in Lima with my boyfriend and maybe he will be transferred to Bogota in 6 mouths. So we are looking for informations about the two cities to compare.
    You already wrote about Lima vs Bogota?
    Gracias por tu respuesta.
    Hasta luego 🙂




  51. Colin, great article that made me laugh. I appreciate the honest perspective, and the term “sexpat” is very, very true!

    I lived in Panama for 7 years and then made the jump over to Colombia… obviously for a pretty Colombian woman who is an orthodontist, well educated, intelligent, fun and doesn’t want children.

    I will have to spend some time in Peru, per your suggestions.

    Thanks for the info!
    -ELC with


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