Minca – Paradise in Colombias Coffee Zone
Paradise in the Mountains
Not far from the city of Santa Marta (just about 45 minutes) and the beautiful Caribbean beaches like the ones in Tayrona and Palomino in the Colombian Eje Cafetero (coffee zone) and the Sierra Nevada is this charming little village located. From Minca you not only have a great view over Santa Marta as it lies on 660 metres but it is also a great place for hiking, swimming in a river or to shower under a water fall. Apart from all that great activities you can obviously also visit a coffee farm and see how coffee is grown and processed.
Many tourists and backpackers visit this small village mostly on their way up the coast heading north to La Guajira or as a quick stop before or after visiting Tayrona. Some people simply get tired of all the beautiful beaches or they necessarily need a break after partying to hard in Taganga or they just need to rest after a pretty exhausting ciudad perdida trek.
Still, even though more and more tourists find their way up the hill, this little village managed to keep its charm. And even though it got a little busier here in the last few years you can’t compare the tourism here with Tayrona and it still counts as an insider tip.
How to get there?
At first you have to go to Santa Marta
- At first you have to get to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. The easiest way to get there from cities like Medellin, Bogota. Monteria, Bucaramanga and Cali is by plane. There are flights offered daily with different airlines. One of the cheapest options is to book a flight with Vivacolombia but also other airlines like Avianca and LAN sometimes have very cheap fares for this route.
- From Cartagena or Barranquilla you can take a regular bus or go for a door to door bus service that will take you to Santa Marta. Obviously you can also take busses from all major cities to Santa Marta but this will cost you much more time. Even though it might be a little cheaper than a plane ticket you should think it through if it is really worth to save a few Pesos for such a long journey.
From Santa Marta
From the airport in Santa Marta you can take a bus to the market (mercado central) and from their take either a private cab that will cost between 40,000 – 60,000 COP, or a shared cab (colectivo) for about 7,000 COP per person. Also available are Moto taxis that will cost you around 8,000 – 10,000 COP
Coming from Tayrona or La Guajira
On the first traffic light before entering Santa Marta coming from Tayrona Park, there is “la Bomba” (A gas station). The best is to simplky tell the bus driver when you get on the bus that you would like to be left off at “La Bomba” before entering Santa Marta, as you wish to go to Minca. From the gas station you can either share a private taxi (for about. 30.000 COP) or take a moto taxi for 7.000 COP in order to get to Minca. The way to Minca is basically not very long but due to the bad roads it will take some time to get there.
In Minca there a plenty cheap and basic options available you can find a simple double bedroom for around 40,000 to 50,000 COP. Obviously if you are looking for a place with better facilities prepare yourself to pay a little more. Obviously the choice is yours, depending on your budget.
We chose the hostel „Casa loma“ which is how the name indicates (loma=hill) on a hill on top of a hill. That mean after arriving with the cab or moto taxi you will still have to climb up a little further to reach this incredibly laid back hostel. Due to that way up the hill I recommend you to bring a pocket light which will make it easier to go up and down after the sun has set. More information here
This one is not only a great place to be for your stay in Minca but also a good place to eat. Here you can rent dormitories, hammocks or Cabanas.
If you want a tiny little bit more luxury you should consider these beautiful decorated little Cabanas. But not only are the Cabanas very nice but the view from up here. Find more information here
What to do in Minca?
Visit a Coffee and/or Chocolate Farm
- Go for a tour to the La Victoria coffee farm. Here you cannot only see how the coffee is cultivated but also how it is processes. This tour is not only all about visiting a coffee farm but you will also hike through the rainforest; you will swim in a waterfall and enjoy the view from a viewing point. You can book a tour in the village and it will coast you around 10,000 COP
- But not only coffee is farmed in this area also chocolate is cultivated in this area. If you prefer to do a chocolate and coffee tour at once, you should consider visiting “La Candelaria”
Go Bird watching
- Colombia in general has a very versatile wildlife but apart from that it also hast the most versatile birdlife. A 3 hour tour will coast you about 25,000 COP.
Relax and Enjoy
- Simply lean back, relax in a hammock, garb an Aguila and enjoy the view of the rainforest and Santa Marta. Simply do nothing and inhale the fresh clean air of this amazing place.
- Frequently there are new restaurants and small little eateries pooping out of the ground. Many of these places are created by foreigners that left their regular lives in their home countries. you really feel that the food at these places in the village is made with love
Take a Shower at a Waterfall
- Take a bath at Pozo Azul a waterfall with swimming holes just a few minutes with a moto taxi from the village away. If you like a little hike or you have to save money you can also walk there through the jungle which will take you about an hour
- Hike the Los Pinos Trail to enjoy a great view over the area but not only the view from up Los Pinos is amazing but also the hike where you can see waterfalls and if you are lucky enough some beautiful birds
So if you would like to eat you can either eat the typical Colombian food which can also be very good and cheap, especially the daily lunch menus (menu del dia) or you go to one of the restaurants administrated by foreigners as stated before. No matter what you go for, food is quite cheap and good. Even the food in the hostels can be very delicious.
One of my personal favourites is the restaurant Gato Perezoso or in English Lazy Cat. Here you can find a simple but tasty fusion kitchen. No matter if you prefer Asian or burgers you will certainly find something that fits your plate and pocket.
If you prefer to have a burger go to Burger town. This is definitely no fastfood place. The burgers are homemade and incredibly delicious.
Another place where you can taste the love in the food is Casa Elemento. The Canadian Vhef will prepare you some extra ordinary meals.
And even Italian food is available in Minca. This place serves some authentic, homemade Italian food. It is just up the hill from the police station.
Here you can get a nice coffee to start the day with. Apart from that it also serves breakfast and also serves as a guesthouse with some rooms for rent.
So if you are tired of the main tourist attractions in Colombia and you need some time to relax after all this exhausting travelling and you need to come down for a few days to think about your on-going travels why not doing it in the beautiful Sierra Nevada.
Minca is definitely a nice change from the beach scenery and impresses with it`s beautiful nature and peaceful atmosphere.
- Bring a pocket lamp! Anyway that is something you should have on you for your entire travel around Colombia as it comes off quite handy every now and then
- Bring cash as there are no ATMs around and you dont want to drive down the entire hill unless you have to
- Neither for get warm clothes, nor your swim wear. At night it can get quite call up the mountain but during the day it most likely will be hot and you will look forward to refresh yourself a little.