One of the things I google the most when travelling South America is whether it is safe to drink the tap water. Every time I find people advising “don’t risk it, always drink bottled water.” or that bottled water is so cheap so why not? From an environmental standpoint, I will always try to avoid single-use plastic.
Here’s a list of the places I visited and whether I drank the tap water. I don’t consider myself to have a particularly strong stomach or anything. I am not advising that the water will be safe for everyone, just my personal experience so use this information with caution.
Please comment or get in touch if you have any more information or experiences drinking the tap water in South America.
Colombia has excellent water resources and tap water in bigger cities and mountainous areas is usually safe to drink.
Bogota – YES
Is the water safe in Bogata? YES I didn’t visit but Bogota is known for having safe drinking water.
Cartagena – YES
Can I drink the tap water in Cartagena? Yes, but I actually didn’t drink the water in Cartagena as it was the first place I visited in South America and I was a bit worried. I had already bought a 5L bottle when I found out the tap water is safe. I wouldn’t hesitate to drink the tap water in Cartagena.
Guatape – YES
Can you drink the tap water in Guatape? Yes, I was advised the tap water is safe to drink in Guatape and I had no problems.
Jardin – YES
Is the tap water safe in Jardin? Yes, the water is fine in Jardin. I drank the water in Jardin for 4 days with no issues.
Medellin – YES
Is the tap water safe to drink in Medellin? Yes, Medellin has very good water quality. I drank the tap water with no issues during the two weeks I was there.
Minca – NO
No, I did not drink the tap water in Minca. I don’t believe it is safe. I stayed at Casa Viejas which provided filtered water.
Neiva – YES
Yes, I was a little hesitant to drink the tap water in Neiva because they were having water shortage problems. My hostel advised it was safe to drink the tap water and I had no issues drinking it.
Salento – YES
Yes, my hostel advised the tap water was safe to drink in Salento.
Santa Marta – NO
I did not drink the tap water in Santa Marta. The coastal area in the North have problems with water quality so best to avoid here.
Pasto – YES
The water quality seemed to be great in here. I had no problems drinking the tap water in Pasto.
Popayan – YES
The hostel staff advised the water in Popayan is safe. I had no problems drinking tap water in Popayan
San Agustin – MAYBE
I stayed at Masaya Hostel which is a little way out of town and they advised not to drink the tap water there. The bar filled my water bottle a couple of times. I’m not sure if drinking the tap water in town would be safe.
Please get in touch if you have any info about the water in San Agustin.
Tayrona National Park – NO
No, I did not find any safe drinking water in Tayrona. Bring as much of your own as you can carry to avoid buying plastic bottles.
Villevieja – NO
I stayed one night but didn’t drink the tap water here due to it being in the desert.
The tap water in Ecuador seems to be quite good in most places but you can check with staff at your accommodation to be sure.
Banos – YES
Can you drink the tap water in Banos? Yes, I was advised the water is ok to drink. One of the hostel staff said she hadn’t had any trouble drinking the water so I gave it a try and had no problems.
Cotopaxi – Secret Garden
Filtered water was provided at the hostel.
Cuenca – YES
Can you drink the tap water in Cuenca? Yes, Cuenca is known for having great quality tap water.
Cuyabeno – Amazonias – NO
I stayed at Tucan Lodge and they provided a water dispenser.
Latacunga – YES
Is the tap water safe to drink in Latacunga? Yes, the hostel staff advised the tap water was safe. I had no trouble drinking the water.
Mindo – MAYBE
Is the water safe to drink in Mindo? Maybe. I didn’t drink tap water in Mindo because the Cinnamon Hostel had a water dispenser. Check with the locals to be sure and let me know if you have any information.
Montanita – NO
Can you drink the tap water in Montanita? Probably not. I did not drink tap water in Montanita. There was a drought when I was there and the quality of water on the coast can be questionable at best. I stayed in Esperanto hostel and they had a water filter.
Otavalo – YES
Is the water safe to drink in Otavalo? Yes, the hostel staff advised the tap water was fine to drink in Otavalo and I had no issues.
Quito – YES
Can you drink the tap water in Quito? Yes, the drinking water in Quito is safe to drink.
Peru is a bit of a no go for tap water. Luckily it’s pretty easy to find places with the big water containers that will let you refill.
Huanchaco – NO
Avoid drinking the water in Huanchaco & Trujillo.
I believe the water in Huaraz is contaminated with heavy metals from a nearby gold mine. My hostel had a water filter so I didn’t need to buy bottles.
Mancora – NO
Can you drink the tap water in Mancora? No, I have been advised by my hostel that the water quality is poor in Mancora.
Lima – MAYBE
Peru is not known for having great water quality but my hostel in Miraflores didn’t have a water filter and said the water is ok. Probably not the best option without a filter but check with your accommodation.