Sitting in the Sierra Nevada mountains right up above the city of Santa Marta, Minca Colombia was not somewhere that was even remotely on our radar when we arrived in the country but oh boy are we glad we decided to go there. What started off as a few days, turned into a few more & a few more again, it was just one of those places that we never wanted to leave.
Being perched in the mountains meant that Minca was a welcome break from the sweltering city heat & after spending a little while in Cartagena we were definitely in need of some cooler temperatures. We never realised before going to Minca Colombia just how much there was to do in the area so we’ve gone ahead & put together our 5 alluring reasons to add Minca Colombia to your kick-ass itinerary in the hope that we inspire you to pay this pretty little town a visit too.
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1) To Stay At Casa Loma
Where to stay in Minca? Undisputedly one of the best places we have stayed on our travels Casa Loma is just such a cool & super chilled place to hang out! A 10 minute walk up some very steep steps from Minca’s tiny main square this place is a real gem & is well worth the sweaty climb up there for a number of reasons but the top one being the spectacular views!
There are an array of accommodation options at Casa Loma ranging from sleeping outside in hammocks, renting a private cabana or even bringing your own tent. We opted for the bringing our own at 15,000 COP per person per night & then went all out & upgraded on our last evening to a cabana at 85,000 COP, whatever you choose to do booking in advance for this place is advised as it can fill up very quickly.
As there is no WIFI at all at Casa Loma the vibe is somewhat different to most other hostels or guesthouses that we stayed in & this is what we really loved about it! There are plenty of areas to sit around, chill & enjoy the views, sunset being the most incredible time of the day, with the sky glowing a different shade every evening. There are also group dinners every night, all homemade, vegetarian & with 1 menu option only. We joined in with these almost every day as the food was absolutely delicious & the idea of having a family style meal meant that we could sit with other travellers & exchange travel tales over dinner & well into the night!
Casa Loma also has the added bonus of some the best staff we have ever come across, nothing was too much trouble for them & they really are a wealth of information on the local area & beyond. We even ended up booking our Lost City Trek through them rather than travelling down to Santa Marta to arrange it & did a number of different activities in the area based on recommendations from Jay, Anne, Helena & their fabulous team!
2) For The Chilled Minca Colombia Vibes
With a population of only 800 people, Minca Colombia has a real small town chilled out vibe & that’s one of the reasons we loved it so much! There’s not much in town at all, a church with a small square, a few bars & restaurants & just a few shops. We would highly recommend checking out the Lazy Cat for great food & cocktails & if you need it, some WIFi! The french bakery is also a great little spot & has bread & pastries that would rival any proper boulangerie.
With a mix of Colombians & foreigners this rather hippy feeling town has a lot on offer in terms of zen & relaxation, there’s lots of yoga in town as well as meditation classes on offer. It’s also worth checking out the Cacao museum which is actually more of a shop that sells cacao in many forms but also has some interesting information on the history & health benefits of this magical plant.
3) To Connect With The Mountains
Minca’s setting is heavenly, Colombia’s Sierra Nevada is one of the world’s highest coastal ranges which means it boasts spectacular views all the way down to the cities of Santa Marta & Barranquilla right to the Caribbean sea. We were absolutely blown away by the scenery, especially by the different shades of green that just seemed to pop all around us!
The indigenous tribes that still live in these mountains today have a deep connection to their environment & still practice various forms of worship just as they have done for thousands of years. Mountains are definitely our thing which made Minca Colombia extra special for us as the energy was incredible, we felt really connected with nature whilst we were there & completely & utterly away from it all!
4) For The Hiking
Los Pinos Hike
What do mountains mean? Hiking of course, one of our favourite things to do & something that we took full advantage of whilst we were in the area! We took on the Los Pinos trek, a loop right up into the cloud forest from Minca which took us a full day (around 8-9 hours in total) with a stop off at Cascadas Marinkas & a stop at the very highest point at Los Pinos to take in the views. Due to the terrain this hike took us longer than the 5-7 hours that we had expected, just a little tip if you are thinking of doing the same thing, give yourself enough time to enjoy the day!
Cerro Kennedy Hike
Another awesome hike we did from Minca Colombia was up to Cerro Kennedy, an overnight hike where we stayed at some very basic huts in the tiny village of San Lorenzo & woke up in the morning to hike up to the peak of Cerro Kennedy for sunrise, snow-capped views over the Sierra Nevada’s highest peaks & it was jaw-dropping. This hike was a 20km, 7 hour uphill slog on day 1 then a 4:30 am rise, 3km uphill to the peak & 23km all the way back down to Minca for day 2. There’s hardly anything on route here so if you are thinking of doing this too bring everything you need with you, including food & water. The hut we stayed at cost us 35,000 COP per person & we were lucky enough that the family up there had enough food in to give us dinner for 10,000 COP per person.
What we loved most about hiking in this area was the feeling of really being off the beaten track but that also meant meant we really had to think for ourselves. Doing all of these hikes without a guide, we had to make sure we had enough portable chargers with us to keep our phones topped up so that we could navigate with our trusty app maps.me and also carried enough of everything else we needed with us. We had some real independent adventures hiking around Minca Colombia & left with experiences & memories that we will treasure for a lifetime!
5) To Chase Waterfalls
We absolutely love a good waterfall, especially after a hike so the nearby Cascadads Marinka & Pozo Azul were just perfect for us. The first located about an hour walk from the main village & the second around 45 mins were both great places for a nice cold dip but our favourite was definitely Marinka. We arrived there very early in the morning, purposely before the crowds & had the whole place to ourselves, it was pretty cold swimming at 7:30 am but at the same time was so magical with just the two of us, the nature & the falls cascading all around us.
We’d recommend going to either of these outside of weekends & in the early morning if you are planning to visit as we’ve heard they can get very busy & even polluted at times!
So there you have it, if getting lost in nature & breathtaking scenery are your thing we would certainly recommend adding Minca Colombia to your kick-ass itinerary!
You can also check out the rest of the awesome hostels that are in Minca Colombia here.
If you have any questions for us at all or anything you’d like to add let us know in the comments just below please!
Kelly & Adam x