At first sight, Minca is not appealing. A couple of dirt roads lead to a church on the main square, and moto-taxis are everywhere. It’s loud and hot. You won’t know where to go or what to do.
Fortunately, you will be ready to find Minca’s hidden gems thanks to this travel guide.
Minca, Colombia: Important
Why visit Minca: Add Minca to your Colombia itinerary if you want to enjoy some hiking between 2 beach towns.
How to get to Minca: Taxi from Santa Marta (35 min) or a bus at ‘Calle 11 con Carrera 9′ in Santa Marta (45 min).
Safety in Minca: Minca is 100% safe.
Things to do in Minca: Located in the Sierra Nevada, the village is famous for bird watching and its beautiful ecolodges. There are several half-day excursions to the waterfalls you can do by yourself, full-day or 2-day hikes. There are also coffee and cocoa farms.
Best tour to visit Minca if you’re running after time: I recommend this one.
Best tour in the Sierra Nevada: If you want an amazing in-depth jungle experience, then you will love the 4-day trek to the Lost City.
Where to stay in Minca: Beautiful hostels and ecolodges are scattered all around Minca. You will need a moto-taxi or a jeep to get there.
- Casa Loma: if you are looking for an affordable and very nice hostel close to the center.
- Casas Viejas: for a charming top-of-the-range hostel surrounded by nature
- Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro: for a top-of-the-range hotel in the middle of the Sierra Nevada
- Sierra Alta Finca Boutique: if you’re on your honeymoon trip, you’ll love it
Weather in Minca: The rainiest months are from September to Mid-November.
My favorite restaurant in Minca: Lazy Cat to eat delicious burgers.
My favorite bar in Minca: Donde Raul (Next to Lazy Cat).
Best of Minca’s tips:
- There is no ATM
- Avoid going on the weekend and public holidays. It’s crowded.
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How To Get To Minca, Colombia
There are 3 options to get to Minca from Santa Marta.
Coming from Cartagena, the bus will drop you at the main terminal outside of Santa Marta.
You will then have to take a cab to Minca or to Calle 11 con Carrera 9 to get a shared taxi.
Take a taxi to Minca
It’s not too far from Santa Marta.
Duration: 35 min
Take a bus to Minca
From Santa Marta, you can take a jeep in La Estacion de Minca’ at ‘Calle 11 con Carrera 9’ near Supermercado Olimpica. They leave when the vehicle is full.
The bus company is called Cootransminca.
Duration: 45 min
Take a moto-taxi to Minca
If you arrive in Santa Marta by bus after 7-8 pm, you will have to take a moto-taxi or a cab to avoid sleeping in Santa Marta.
Duration: 25 min
Where to stay in Minca, Colombia
Are you looking for something specific? An activity or a place to rest? How far are the hostels? How to get to the different hotels in Minca?
Your accommodation choice will be significant in Minca, as many of them are far from town.
1# Our list of favorite hostels and hotels in Minca, Colombia
I wrote below a short description of each place and how far they are from the center.
Coco Bomgo Hostel is a cheap and perfect option for backpackers traveling on a shoestring budget | In the center of Minca
Casa Loma is a family hostel that serves great vegetarian meals and cocktails for sunset | 5 min walk from Minca
Sweet harmony is an upscale hotel surrounded by nature but still close to Minca | 15 min walk from Minca
Minca Relax is another economical option for backpackers who want to wake up to birds and river sounds | 15 min walk from minca
Minca Ecohabs are luxury cabins located before the entrance of the town | 15 min walk from Minca
Finca San Rafael is a coffee and cacao farm that offers tours and sleeping options | 45 min walk from Minca
Mundo Nuevo is a permaculture eco-lodge with a fantastic view of the Sierra Nevada | 1-hour walk from Minca
Casas Viejas is a piece of paradise surrounded by beautiful vegetation and wildlife | 2 hours walk from Minca
Sierra Alta Finca Boutique is a luxury option for travelers who want to escape the real world | 1 hour by car from Minca
Carpe Diem is not even in Minca, but this Finca is a fantastic place for travelers who think that Minca is touristic already | Near Bonda
2# Tips to decide where to stay in Minca, Colombia
For the hotels and hostels which are not in Minca, you can organize with them private transport. There are also moto-taxi who can take you up to different places. This service stops after 6 pm.
Also, the wifi is bad in Minca. Don’t hope to work on the internet if you’re a digital nomad.
Regarding the bug haters, they will have to take on themselves. Minca is surrounded by nature, and bugs love lights. However, don’t forget your repellent for the sandflies – I hate hate hate them.
If you decide to pick a place up into the mountains, take a jumper. Nights are fresh.
Things To Do in Minca, Colombia
The Sierra Nevada is an excellent opportunity to plan short or long hikes and do birdwatching.
1# Las Cascadas de Marinka, Minca
Las Cascadas de Marinka is composed of two waterfalls and one natural pool where you can swim. Lush vegetation surrounds the place, and a restaurant overlooks the spot. They serve local lunch meals and cold beers 😉
It’s usually crowded on the weekend. Try to get there early.
Price: Approx 2$ for the entrance
Time: 1-hour walk from town or 15 min by Moto Taxi | 10 – 15 000 COP
How to get to the Marinka Waterfalls: The Moto-taxis wait at the intersection between the road Santa Marta – Minca and the church’s road. However, walking is a better option as it’s not that far. Follow the Cerro Kenedy road – the one leading to the church from the main road – until you see the signs.
Don’t forget to buy your bread at La Minga before!
👉 Get some fun with this rappelling experience in Minca
2# Pozo Azul, natural pools in Minca
Pozo Azul is the main activity to do in Minca, Colombia.
Every weekend, many Colombians rush from Santa Marta to swim in these 2 cold natural pools. The surroundings are lovely, but I consider it’s a bit overrated as the experience will be spoiled if it’s crowded.
However, there are 2 things you could do to avoid swimming into a sea of armpits and legs.
- Arrive early if you’re on a weekend or on a public holiday.
- Most of the people stop at the 2nd pool. But it’s not the end of the adventure. Climb the rock on your left to continue toward another pool located 15 min away. Nobody goes there!
Time: 40 min walk from Minca
How to get to Pozo Azul: Moto-taxi from the center or walk in the direction of La Victoria – The same road coming from Santa Marta. The Pozos Azules will be on your left (there is a sign).
3# Las Piedras, a river next to Minca
It’s the closest river spot to the city. Take your swimming shorts and relax on the rocks.
Time: 5-10 min walking from the center
4# Hiking to Los Pinos and enjoy the view
Hike to Los Pinos to get an astonishing view of the Sierra Nevada, Santa Marta, and the Caribbean Sea. Besides, if you are lucky, you will see the snowy peaks of the highest mountains in Colombia.
Option 1 Hike to Los Pinos: On foot, from Minca. It’s a loop so that you won’t pass twice by the same path. But, it’s not very interesting as you follow a dirt road.
Option 2 Hike to Los Pinos: Take a moto-taxi from Minca to El Campano, then continue in Los Pinos’ direction. In doing so, you save 3-4 hours.
With Option 1, you can stop at Pozo Azul and la Victoria coffee farm.
During this expedition, stop at the following places:
- Casa Elemento
- Las Cascadas de Marinka.
- Motorbike to El Campano: about 25 000 COP
- Casa Elemento: about 15 000 COP for the entrance
- Cascadas: about 9 000 COP
- 5-7 hours if you walk to Los Pinos from Casa Loma and come back
- 6-8 hours if you take the motorbike till El Campano, then stop at El Pino, Casa Elemento, and Las Cascadas
- More than 10 hours if you decide to walk and stop at all the activities on the way
Tip: Take water, hat, rain jacket, etc…
5# The giant hammocks in Casa Elemento, Minca
Legend says the most oversized hammock is in Casa Elemento hostel. It’s above the edge, with an astounding view of the valley, particularly for the sunset.
While I don’t recommend sleeping there – It’s not what it used to be (new owner) -, it’s still a cool spot to hang out on your way back from Los Pinos.
- Entrance for the visitors: about 15 000 COP – 1 beverage included
- Moto-taxi one way: about 35 000 COP
- 3 hours walk from Minca Or 30 min by moto-taxi
- 1 hour from Los Pinos
7# Coffee tour in Minca – La Victoria
If you want to visit a coffee farm still working with original machines, you have to stop at La Victoria!
You don’t need to book a tour. Go by yourself, and they will find someone to show you the propriety.
Besides, don’t forget to taste their tasty local beers and the food!
It’s 60 min after Pozo Azul, uphill. It’s on the left side of the road.
- Tour in the coffee farm: about 14 000 COP
- Moto-taxi: about 12 000 COP – 1 way
- 1.5 hours walking up or 50 min walking down
- 20 min in Moto Taxi
- Duration of the tour: 1.5 h
👉 Get some fun: Include la Victoria in an E-biking experience
8# A 2-day hike in the Sierra Nevada
Cerro Kenedy is the best 2-day hike you can do from Minca without a guide. The trail starts from the town, and you have to walk 8-10 hours to arrive at the top.
The excursion through the rainforest is impressive, and you will be able to admire many birds and waterfalls along the way.
But there is an even better reward.
The Sierra Nevada view from Cerro Kennedy is astounding, and I advise you to wake up early to admire an unforgettable sunrise.
- Night in the hostel El Ramo | about 120 000 COP with 3 meals
- Moto taxi: about 35 000 COP to the “Y”
- Two days hiking or 2h30 by Moto taxi (1 way)
Take a moto-taxi till the Y intersection, then hike 4 hours till reaching the hostel El Ramo. Wake up the next morning at 4 am and hike the last 2 hours to reach the military base for sunrise. Then, walk down to Minca.
Note that Cerro Kennedy is at an altitude of 2 800m. Take warm clothes for the night.
👉 We recommend: Go on a trip with these guys
9# Chocolate tour at la Candelaria, Minca
One day, I read in an article that you could have an orgasm if you eat a huge chocolate quantity. While I don’t know its veracity, I think it resumes well my love for chocolate.
Yes, chocolate is great.
La Candelaria is a family-run coffee and cacao farm, and they are proud of their heritage. Learn with them how do they make chocolate.
Besides, they own a bed and breakfast (see the accommodation section).
Price and Duration: 1 hour / about 15 000 COP
How to get to la Candelaria: Be ready to walk 1h on a steep path or take a moto-taxi for 15 000 COP. Then, you still have to walk 15 min on a dirt road.
10# The best spots to watch sunsets and sunrises in Minca
Nestled among mountains with a memorable view of the Sierra Nevada and the Caribbean Sea, the town of Minca has got all the conditions for sunset parties.
- Casa Loma. You don’t have to sleep there as it’s only 10 min away from town.
- Mundo Nuevo, Casas Viejas, and Casa Elemento also offer a great show for sunset. But they’re far from town. You will have to sleep there.
- The hike to Los Pinos
- The Hike to Cerro Kennedy – Sunrise.
11# Hike From Minca to Paso del Mango
At present, Minca is becoming trendy in Colombia, especially among the backpacker community.
Organize a hike to Paso del Mango to spend a couple of nights in Carpe Diem is a great idea to escape the crowd.
Let your backpack in Minca, buy all the food, bread, and water you need, and walk in the direction of La Candelaria and Mundo Nuevo. There were multiple signs along the road, but the trail worsens year after year. Download the App Wikiloc or Maps.me, just in case.
Duration: 5 hours
More information: Finca Carpe Diem
Birding in the Sierra Nevada: The Lorenzo reserve
There are 1900 species of birds in Colombia. It’s 20% of the total number of species on the planet! Pretty impressive numbers.
The Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta is one of the best places in Colombia to observe them. More than 635 species have been recorded in this small area (only 1.5% of Colombia).
The odds to observe birds are higher early in the morning or late in the afternoons. Don’t forget your binoculars!
There are different options to watch these incredible birds in Minca, Colombia:
- You can decide to walk a full day around Minca
- You can sleep directly in the Reserve, in El Dorado
- You can go to the ridge of San Lorenzo. It’s easier to start from Casa Elemento.
Jungle Joe is a great option. He knows a lot about nature, and you can be sure to see a lot of animals with him. He also offers other activities in Minca. Binoculars are included.
Price: about 50 000 COP / pers
Time: 3 hours
El Dorado Reserve is an excellent option for bird lovers. The Eco-lodge is well equipped, the staff friendly, and the food delicious. Moreover, the view is astounding, and birds offer a continuous show.
- From 180$ for a private room (3 person max) with the 3 meals included!
- Transport to get to El Dorado from Minca: 80$ – one way
- Transport to get to El Dorado from Barranquilla: 280$ – one way
- Transport to get to El Dorado from Cartagena: 350$ – one way
Time: I advise you to stay for at least two nights
Contact: Booking now
Map of The activities in Minca, Colombia
Where To Eat In Minca, Colombia
Most of the hostels I recommend in Minca serve delicious meals (Casa Loma, Casa Elemento, etc.). However, you can decide to save money by eating in town. All these restaurants are near the center of Minca.
Minga, the bakery
There are two excellent bakeries where you can buy bread and hummus. Sometimes, the simple things are the best. Don’t forget to try their chocolate bread!!!
Price: Around 6 500 for the bread + Hummus
Santisebella, italian food
Tasty Italian food: Pizza, Pasta. They sell local beers, cocktails, and excellent fruit juices!
Price: From 10 000 to 23 000 COP
Lazy Cat, burgers
Fantastic homemade hamburgers, quesadillas, and mojitos. Don’t try the Wok; you risk becoming a food addict.
Price: From 12 000 COP
Burukake, bohemian vibes
Burukake is a cool bohemian restaurant with a view of the river. Cocktails and tasty meals. The kitchen is open, and the meat is perfectly cooked. You won’t be disappointed.
Prices: From 25 000 to 40 000 COP
Best Time To Visit Minca, Colombia
The rainy season in Colombia is not an Omg-I-Need-Gills-To-Breath season. There are, however, months where it rains more than others, especially in the afternoons.
- Mid-December to April: Dry season – It’s the perfect time to visit Minca
- May and June: It’s humid, and it frequently rains in the afternoons
- July and August: Dry months in the rainy season. It alternates between rain and the sun.
- September to November: You are becoming an Octopus. It’s great because you have eight arms, but you’re living in the water. Usually, It’s still sunny in the morning.
Also, as Minca is becoming more and more touristic, I advise you to avoid weekends and public holidays.
- Mid-December to Mid-January: High Touristic season
- Holly Week “Semana Santa”: Don’t go there
- July and August: High Touristic Season
- March to May: Low touristic season
How many days in Minca, Colombia
Do you travel to Colombia faster than Flash Gordon? In that case, You should avoid Minca.
There is no famous highlight there. It would be silly to organize a day trip from Santa Marta – Except if you’re interested in bird watching.
Travelers like to stay in Minca because they love the vibe present in the different accommodations. They rest and eat healthily before slowly exploring the surroundings.
I recommend you pick your hotel or hostel in Minca carefully to get the best experience possible.
Example of a Minca itinerary
Morning: Arrival from Santa Marta.
Afternoon: Rest in Casa Loma, Expedition in Minca, the fantastic combo Hummus/bread, and Las Piedras.
Morning: Departure for the Big Expedition! Los Pinos, Giant Hammock, Las Cascadas de Marinka.
End of the afternoon: You need some rest. Mark your territory in a hammock of Casa Loma.
Evening: Restaurant in Town.
Morning: Departure to Pozo Azul.
Lunch: On the way back, you eat at the grill restaurant Asedero Camarita
Afternoon: You can relax in Casa Loma and enjoy the warm atmosphere. You wait patiently for the sunset while sipping a cocktail and playing cards..
Stay at least 2 nights in Minca – And arrive in the morning.
In case you want to hike to Cerro Kennedy or Paso del Mango, you will have to add more days to your itinerary.
- At least 1 extra night for Cerro Kennedy
- At least 2 additional nights for Paso del Mango – Stay in Carpe Diem.
My two cents about visiting Minca, Colombia
Minca is an ideal destination if you want to enjoy nature fully, relax and feel at peace. You can learn about organic coffee, plan an easy day or multi-day hikes and swim in waterfalls while enjoying the rich flora and fauna of the Sierra Nevada.
Get away from the beaches and come to Minca. You’ll find that you don’t have to be hyperactive to be happy while traveling.
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