Visiting Bogotá for the First Time? Follow These Health Tips

Visiting Bogotá for the First Time? Follow These Health Tips Bogota City Hall
Panoramic view of Bogotá D.C.

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Translated by Andrés Martínez Forero

Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, has emerged as a favorite destination according to the global travel leader TripAdvaisor, which awarded Bogotá the honor of being the sixth-best tourist destination in the world in February, along with a notable first-place ranking among the top 10 destinations in South America.

In January 2024, approximately 517,000 non-resident visitors arrived in Colombia, primarily entering through Bogotá, as reported by the Colombian Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies - Anato. This represents a 2 percent increase compared to the same month of the previous year.

Given the high influx of visitors and those interested in exploring Bogotá, it's crucial to consider the following recommendations to avoid complications related to altitude sickness, commonly known as "Soroche."

Situated at 2,600 meters above sea level, Bogotá presents a variety of atmospheric and climate conditions. Therefore, we spoke with Adriana Ardila, Director of Collective Health at the Bogotá Health Secretariat, to discuss key considerations and tips to ensure tourists have a pleasant and smooth experience in the Colombian capital.

Ardila addressed the following questions:

Portal Bogotá: What are the main health precautions first-time visitors to Bogotá should take, considering factors like altitude, climate, and other relevant aspects to ensure a healthy, peaceful, and comfortable stay in the city?

Adriana Ardila:

  • Acclimating to the altitude while minimizing strenuous activities is crucial. When visiting a city at Bogotá's altitude, it's necessary for the body to adapt 1 or 2 days before engaging in activities that require significant effort. It's advisable to save activities such as climbing Monserrate Hill or hiking ecological trails for the last days of your visit to allow the respiratory system to adjust to the atmospheric pressure.


  • Continuous hydration, drinking enough water: Dehydration can increase the risk of altitude sickness. It's crucial to stay well-hydrated before, during, and after each tour, walk, or visit to selected places in Bogotá.


  • Proper nutrition is key: Consume foods that provide energy, are light, and rich in carbohydrates. It's important to be aware of the ingredients to avoid allergic reactions or indigestion.


  • Adequate sleep is essential: The body better adapts and recovers from altitude changes with sufficient rest. Allocating 6 to 8 hours of continuous sleep is beneficial for your visit to Bogotá.


  • Avoid excessive alcohol and tobacco: Alcohol dehydrates, and tobacco hampers breathing.


  • Use sunscreen daily: To reduce the risk of skin burns.


  • Wear appropriate clothing: Bogotá's weather can be all over the place, so make sure to pack some warm clothes for the cold or rainy days.


P.B: Considering the altitude and other health factors, is it advisable for someone visiting Bogotá for the first time to engage in a lot of physical activity?

A.A: It's not advisable. It's suggested that the first few days be spent adapting to the city's altitude, avoiding physical exertion, and resting. Ideally, activities requiring significant physical effort should be left until the end of the trip.


P.B: From your experience, what is the most common mistake people make when visiting Bogotá for the first time?

A.A: The most frequent mistake made by first-time visitors to Bogotá is engaging in intense physical activity without considering the necessary adaptation period to the altitude, as well as being unaware of the city's climatic conditions such as rain and intense sunlight, among others.


P.B: As a tourist, what symptoms should I look out for to determine when I should seek medical attention while in Bogotá?

A.A: Common symptoms of "Soroche" or altitude sickness include dizziness, headache, breathing difficulties, low blood pressure, nausea, fatigue, and weakness.

Do not self-medicate. If you experience severe or prolonged symptoms, it's important to seek medical advice to determine the appropriate treatment, which may include rest, pharmacological treatment, and sometimes oxygen administration.


If you're planning to visit Bogotá, keep these tips in mind, and we assure you that you'll have an unforgettable experience in Colombia's capital.

Check out this post from the Bogotá Tourism Institute – IDT welcoming new tourists from Argentina with a direct flight starting April 1, 2024: