It’s always curious to see the ideas that foreigners have when it comes to Colombian weather. Newcomers and people who have never been to the country have varying degrees of knowledge about what the country’s weather feels like and different ideas as to what the explanations are. The image of a university professor from the States landing in cold and wet Bogota wearing Timberland boots, khaki shorts and vest and a white polo shirt, in what can only be described as a safari outfit is quite prominent on my mind, as I had to make the largest effort in my life to not laugh out loud as I accompanied him from the airport to his hotel and back to a shopping mall where he could buy a few sweaters and pairs of pants.
Talking about Colombia, most people immediately presume it’s a hot country. Whether it is because they are aware of the closeness to the equator or because of the influence of Hollywood films, hot and moist are the first thought in a large number of people’s mind. This is not necessarily false, that would be the best way to describe the weather of neighboring country Venezuela, but not Colombia. We have a geography that makes any simple description of our weather absolutely impossible.
For this reason, and to hopefully avoid further confusion I want to go over the basics:
1. Location, Location, Location!
Colombia is located at the top of the South American continent, with coasts in both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans next to Venezuela and slightly north of Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. What this location implies is that, like all the countries surrounding the equator, we do not have seasons. The bulging part of the sphere that is the globe remains equidistant to the sun year round. So whatever the weather is in January it will be in June. This means no snow fall, or blooming springs, or hot summers or falling leaves.
2. Highs and Lows
Our proximity to the equator is not Colombia’s only quality that determines weather. Another part of our geography, the Andes mountain chain, has a huge impact on whatever is happening outside of your window right now. We have a situation called Pisos Térmicos in Spanish or Thermic Floors. This refers to the climate variation as you ascend up the mountains from the permanently warm sea level to the permanently cold paramos. Interesting enough, the implication of this is that you can drive yourself up and down the mountain to change the temperature in a very short time.
3. Wet and Dry
The tropical phenomenons such as el niño have an effect on Colombian weather. We may not have seasons like they do in Europe and North America, but we have wet season and dry season. The rainy season comes from April to May and again in October and November. Dry season is between December and February and between June and August. the remaining months are somewhere in between.
4. The view
Finally the views, it’s all about the landscape and in Colombia we have a great variety of those. From the Ice Caps at Parque de los nevados, down to the tundra in Lago de Tota, to the cold desert in Villa de Leyva, the hot desert in Cabo de la Vela, and the Tropical rain forest in Amazonas.