Minca Sunset
Colombia Latin America

Guide to Minca, Colombia

July 21, 2018

Minca is a small town in the northeast of Colombia near the coastal town of Santa Marta. It’s a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. You’ll experience the most stunning sunsets you’ve ever seen (as pictured here) and plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature.

What to Expect (the Unromanticized Version)

While Minca is a beautiful place to visit, let’s be real — it can be a quite an adjustment for people who aren’t into the conditions of camping (depending on your accommodations). If you go to Minca, you can expect the following:

  • Mosquitos! Sure, there are mosquitos in other parts of Colombia, but I got bitten the most here. Spray your clothes with Permethrin well in advance. Make sure to cover every exposed part of your body with bug repellant. We later found that the Colombian version of Off! seemed to be pretty effective (at least in Minca) and can be purchased at any of the small shops in town.
  • Bugs, bugs, bugs. While Minca is the place to contemplate beautiful sunsets, it’s quite difficult to do so when bugs are constantly buzzing around and bumping into you. At night, beetles would fly into us during dinner and congregate in the sink drains. Most bugs are attracted to the light, so set your flashlight or headlamp to infrared mode, if possible.
  • Cold showers. Hello, refreshing mountain water!
  • Limited internet. Our hostel, Casa Loma, doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, so we would have to head into town to access internet. I actually enjoyed being able to unplug, but it can be an inconvenience for some.
  • No ATMs. Bring enough cash before hand (at least enough to get out of town!).

How to get to Minca

Minca is less than an hour away from Santa Marta by car. We ordered a taxi (via our hostel, Casa Loma) to pick us up from Simon Bolivar Airport, which costed about $80k pesos. For a cheaper, but more indirect option, you can take the blue bus or taxi from the airport to the town center (get off at El Mercado), and then take the colectivo from Santa Marta town center at the intersection of Calle 12 and Carrera 9. The colectivo costs about $8k pesos and will leave once the vehicle has enough passengers.

Where to Stay

Casa Loma Minca is situated on a hill and offers stunning views and a great community atmosphere. I was sold after seeing the sunset pics and the raving reviews. What I was not prepared for was the trek to actually get to the hostel. There’s no direct road to Casa Loma; it’s about a 15-20 minute hike to the very top of the hill and your legs will definitely feel it. When we arrived in Santa Marta, it was sunny, but 45 minutes later when we arrived in Minca, it was pouring down heavy rain. Doing the hike in the rain was not fun, especially since I was wearing sandals and carrying multiple bags while sustaining a knee injury. As the weather is a bit unpredictable in Minca, come ready with proper walking or hiking shoes.

Dog at Casa Loma

We opted to stay in one of the glamping huts, which offers great views of the forest and a mosquito net over the beds. We ended up with Casa Selva, which costs around $90-95k pesos. If you book through book through Hostelworld, you won’t be able to choose a particular hut, but it looks like you can if you book through Casa Loma’s website directly.

Glamping at Casa Loma

Casa Loma also offers hammocks with mosquito nets, which is a more economical option.

Hammocks at Casa Loma

Casa Loma is a Wi-Fi-free zone. Minca itself actual experiences occasional power outages. I found this to be a good opportunity to unplug, read a book, and talk to other people. If you really want Wi-Fi, you’ll have to go down into town and later hike back up to the hostel. It’s also worth noting that Casa Loma only offers vegetarian meals, but they are all delicious and a nice way to connect with other travelers. Be sure to sign up for dinner in advance!

What to Do

Most of the outdoor activities that Minca offers require a bit of a hike to get to. If you’re tired or can’t do the walk, then taking a moto-taxi is a good option. Most of the sightseeing points are located on a path that goes from town, winds deep into the jungle, and loops back into town.

Map of Minca

Day 1: Settle into Minca

Depending on when you get into town, you’ll probably need some time to settle into your accommodations. We especially needed a break after we hiked up to Casa Loma in the rain! Once you’ve gotten your bearings, you can head into town and explore. Tienda Cafe de Minca is an cute and artsy coffee shop where you can unwind.

Tienda Cafe de Minca

Day 2: Finca La Victoria and Pozo Azul

Finca La Victoria is a coffee farm that still uses machines from the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s. Just show up and they’ll be able to give you a tour of the farm and how they process the beans ($15k pesos). You can also buy some first-class coffee beans after the tour. The coffee farm is about a 1.5 hour walk from town and you’ll pass by Pozo Azul on the way up. The cafe is also a good option for lunch.

Finca La Victoria

Weather permitting, you can stop by Pozo Azul on the way back. If your legs are tired, you can take a moto-taxi directly there. We were charged $10k pesos per person, but if you’re willing and able to barter in Spanish, I’d recommend getting the price down to about $5-8k pesos.

Pozo Azul is set of swimming holes with smaller waterfalls. The water is especially refreshing on a hot day, or as a coolant for mosquito bites! You can also walk further up to enjoy more pools and waterfalls.

Pozo Azul

If you plan to go to Pozo Azul directly from town, it’s about a 45 min walk. The path to Pozo Azul from the main road doesn’t have the best signage, but you’ll see it on the left and it looks like the following.

Path to Pozo Azul

Day 3: Los Pinos and Casa Elemento

Los Pinos is a row of pine trees with supposedly spectacular mountain views (it was foggy when we went, so I can’t speak to it). The full trek to the viewpoint and back into town takes about 5-7 hours depending on your speed and the number of breaks you take. From town, you can either start clockwise (towards Pozo Azul) or counter-clockwise (towards Las Cascadas de Marinka). Given my knee injury, we decided to take a moto-taxi to El Campano, which is located right before the viewpoint and reduces the walk to around 3 to 3.5 hours. We were also okay with taking the moto-taxi since we had already done some of the trekking that day before. If you do take a moto-taxi, they’ll probably give a quote of $20k pesos. After some persistence, I was able to get it down to $15k pesos.

From El Campano, you’ll continue up an uphill path. Again, we weren’t really sure if we ever saw the viewpoint since it was so foggy. We decided to continue onward and try to find Casa Elemento, which is known for the world’s largest hammock.

At some point, you’ll see a sign for Casa Elemento. The confusing part is that you’ll see two paths that go in the direction of the sign. We took the narrower path that’s off the main path. It winds through what appeared to be a private coffee farm. Eventually we ended up at Finca Elemento (a hostel that also has its own hammock), but they were able to direct us back on the road to Casa Elemento. It’s quite possible that the main path will still take you to Casa Elemento, but don’t quote me on that.

The entrance fee for Casa Elemento is $10k pesos and includes a drink. When we arrived, it was foggy, but if you are patient, the sky may eventually clear, revealing a beautiful view of the mountains!

Hammock in the Fog

Hammock with Mountain View

From Casa Elemento, it’s a 3 hour walk back to town. Otherwise, it’s about $20k pesos by moto-taxi.

Summary

For a small town, there’s plenty to see and do in Minca. Three days was a good amount of time for us, but if we had spent more time, we could have toured a coffee and chocolate farm (and meet “Toucy” the toucan!), visited Las Piedras or Las Cascadas de Marinka, or done some yoga (offered at Casa Loma and Casa Yoga). Of course, there’s always time to simply relax as well.

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