Wherever you might be in your Colombia itinerary, if the mountain village of Minca isn’t on your list of things to do or place to go, you might have a problem. Located just above Santa Marta in the Sierra Nevada range, Minca is where jungle magic meets bohemian vibes while enveloping themselves in nature. It’s a place where you can fully escape- whether that be the endless traffic of Santa Marta, the backpacker circuit or the stresses of everyday life.
The beauty behind this charming town lies in the fact that there aren’t that many things to do in Minca. Think endless afternoons lying in a hammock reading your favourite book or bathing in tropical jungle waterfalls or even a trek around the surrounding mountain peaks. Minca is simply a place that beckons a visit whether you want to relax and unwind or go on a mini-adventure.
To get to Minca, you’ll have to get to Santa Marta first. From Santa Marta, the trip shouldn’t take you more than 30-45 minutes.
If you’re a couple or a group the best way to get to Minca is by taxi. You can get one from pretty much anywhere in Santa Marta and the driver will drop you off anywhere in Minca, provided you don’t need a 4×4 to access your accommodation.
If you’re travelling solo and fancy an adventure, moto-taxi is also an option. It’s cheaper than a taxi and the driver can take you straight to your accommodation. If you’re not staying in the centre of Minca, many of the surrounding roads are suitable only for motorbikes or 4x4s. If this is the case you might be better off on a motorbike. Colombians don’t drive slowly though, so if yours is driving way too fast for what you’re comfortable with just say ‘mas despacio por favor’.
The cheapest way to get to Minca is by colectivo or shared taxi. Head to Calle 11 with Carrera 12 in Santa Marta where the colectivos depart. If you’re not interested in paying for the entire taxi and you just want to pay for your seat, you’ll have to wait for the taxi to fill up before departing.
If you’ve hired a car to explore the whole of the north Colombian Coast as I did then it’s a quick and easy drive to Minca from just outside Santa Marta. If your hotel doesn’t have parking find La Miga, the french bakery on Carrera 5 and just next to it there’s a secure parking lot where you can pay $10,000 COP a day to leave your car.
THINGS TO DO IN MINCA
VISIT CASCADAS MARINKA
Easily the best and most impressive waterfall in the area, the Marinka waterfall is technically two waterfalls surrounded by steamy rainforest, infinity hammocks and rock pools. From Minca it’s a 1-hour trek up (or a 15-minute walk down if you’re staying at Tierra Adentro) or get a moto-taxi and hold tight- this road is not in the best condition. Entry is $5,000 pesos and there are bathrooms, changing rooms and a restaurant on site. Come early in the morning for the best photos, relax, swim in the mountain water and enjoy nature at its purest.
TREK TO LOS PINOS
If you’re up for a bit of an active stay there are many treks in the area. Los Pinos is a viewpoint on top of one of the mountains just above Minca. It will take you through coffee farms, native rainforest and finally, up into the cloud forest of the area. Don’t expect a great few from the top- it’s often covered by clouds and the best views are from different points on the way up. As you walk, look out for all the species of birds and keep your eyes open for an anteater or an armadillo. To access the path head to Cascadas Marinka and then further up past Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro. From here keep following the path and the signs to the top of the mountain. As the path takes you right past the Marinka waterfall its a great idea to combine the two together.
BATHE IN POZO AZUL
For an escape from the sizzling jungle heat, Pozo Azul is a natural watering hole and small waterfall where you can enjoy the cool water of the natural pools while being surrounded by pristine jungle. Bring a book and relax on the rocks taking a dip every now and again to refresh in the cool water.
RELAX AT LAS PIEDRAS
Go for a cool, refreshing dip right outside town in the pristine, cleansing river water at Las Piedras. Relax, grab a fresh fruit juice from a riverside cafe and watch the world go by. Due to it’s proximity to the town, Las Piedras gets busy especially on the weekends or on public holidays. To have this place to yourself, visit in the morning on a weekday.
SAVOUR NATURE AND BEING OUTSIDE
Minca, Colombia is a celebration of the rainforest and the surrounding nature. Whether you want to sit in a hammock all day, trek, relax in a cool pool of mountain water or drink fresh fruit juice make sure you’re outside and savouring your environment as there really isn’t anything quite like this anywhere.
LEARN ABOUT COFFEE AT FINCA LA VICTORIA
Due to its climate Minca is one of a handful of places in Colombia with the optimum conditions for growing coffee. Even if you’re not already staying at Casa Viejas, Finca La Victoria is a great place to visit and take a coffee tour. If you haven’t already visited the Colombian Coffee Zone then you’ll definitely want to stop by to learn about how coffee grows and how it’s processed turning the bean into the morning beverage that powers us through the day. You’ll also have the opportunity to buy a bag of local, quality beans to take home.
TRY COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE AT FINCA LA CANDELARIA
Another option for a high-quality coffee tour, La Candelaria specialises in growing both coffee and cacao. Head here if you’d like to know more about the coffee and chocolate-making process.
Heading to Tayrona National Park after Minca? Be in the know and check out the Essential Travel Guide here.
WHERE TO STAY
Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro – For rest and relaxation surrounded by pure nature this place if everything you could have hoped for. Located quite a bit above Minca deep in the jungle and only accessible by motorbike, 4×4 or on foot this is a heavenly place where you get woken up by birdsong, flowing water and the sounds of the jungle every morning. The property has many different styles of rooms, some are in the main house, others are more isolated but they all have amazing jungle views and even the famous Minca hammocks. The property is also involved in conservation of the area, they grow their own local coffee which you can buy at reception and their gardens act as a rescue centre for all sorts of tropical birds, including a toucan called Pepe.
Casa Viejas– Forget Casa Elemento, this is easily the best hostel in Minca, Colombia. Located on a 500-hectare coffee farm, they offer beautifully decorated rooms, both dorms and privates in a wonderful jungle setting. The views from the property are stunning and La Victoria coffee farm is right here, where you can learn all about the coffee-making process. They offer yoga classes, bird watching, waterfall hikes among other activities and use local, organic products in their restaurants. Casa Viejas also supports the local community and practises sustainable tourism whenever possible.
Casa Loma – Continuously rated as one of the best hostels in Minca along with Casa Viejas, Casa Loma is the place to meet fellow travellers, relax in a hammock and watch the sun go down from their incredible terrace. Accommodation is in simple wooden cabins and dorms and private rooms are available.
Casa Yoga Minca – If you’re planning to do a lot of yoga while you’re in Minca this is the place to base yourself. You don’t have to stay here to drop-in every morning for yoga classes but if you’re planning to why not make it easy on yourself? Casa Yoga has three, well-lit, simple rooms which they rent, all including a vegetarian breakfast and daily hatha yoga classes. Located just outside of Minca town.
Minca also has some fantastic accommodation options on Airbnb. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here and get $40 off your first booking.
WELLNESS IN MINCA
Yoga – For daily, drop-in yoga classes head to Casa Yoga. Classes start at 7.30 am and cost $25,000 pesos. You can check their daily yoga schedule here along with their accommodation and pranayama and sound therapy classes. They also do yoga and wellness retreats at different times of the year, so check their website before you go.
Sustainable Building– If you’re interested in construction and want to learn about sustainable, natural building, off-grid solutions and recycling you’ll want to check out Ludoteka. They run workshops in Minca focused on what you can build using local, natural materials as well as permaculture, reforestation, organic gardening and more. Definitely worth a visit if you’d like to know more about any of these subjects.
WHERE TO EAT IN MINCA
For a town this small, Minca has a nice handful of healthy, plant-based options.
Lazy Cat – One of the best places to eat in Minca with a lovely terrace to boot- Lazy Cat is a must. They serve a variety of stir-fries, salads, dips, sandwiches, burgers. While it does serve meat it is still extremely veggie-friendly.
Duni – A great local spot in the centre of Minca. This small, friendly cafe with great wifi serves some of the best breakfasts around along with lots of other delicious vegetarian dishes.
Smoothies – If you have a thirst for a fresh, cold fruit juice made from that delicious Colombian fruit, look no further than Smoothies. This juice bar/cafe serves all the juices, smoothies, and acai bowls you could want as well as having a decent choice of plant-based salads, burgers and sandwiches.
La Miga Bakery – This french bakery is probably the most popular place in the town for breakfast. They serve freshly baked, sourdough bread, pastries, local coffee, juices and kombucha. If you want to buy bread, this is the best bread around.
Planning your trip to Minca, Colombia and have some questions or comments? Leave them below, I’d love to hear from you.
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