Minca - Two Nights in the Sierra Nevada Mountains


After sampling a few days in Santa Marta getting acclimatized with Colombia we packed up our stuff and made the short uphill journey to the village of Minca, which is quietly nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Our hostel in Santa Marta booked us a shared taxi for 8000 COP per person for the 40-minute drive which turned out to be a guy taking his wife and I assume adult daughter home – all good if it keeps the price down. The drive is lovely by the way, winding roads up a mountain, seeing the city disappear and the jungle develop. When you visiting a new place there are always a few moments what are worth the price of admission alone and this was one of them.

Once we arrived and settled the bill with the taxi we collected our bags and began the monumental trek up to our hostel, Casa Loma. I'm not exaggerating, with 20kg of bags in the increased humidity this feels like an absolute monster, my own ‘arduous march’. Once we checked in and got to our beautiful wooden hut we took in the view with a Happy Toucan beer and a massive water!

The village of Minca itself only has about 600 inhabitants and very much has a backpacker vibe, lots of hippy chic and falafel floating about, also there are a lot more English speakers around which was a bit of a relief after Santa Marta.

This is certainly not a place for partying or night life but it is awesome as someone who lives in a town to feel a little bit closer to nature and experience the jungle in a way I’ve never come close to. You don’t get all the home comforts here, that’s for sure (although our bed at Casa Loma was incredibly comfy) but Minca is a perfectly charming little village that I guess only a relatively small amount of people get to experience.

On our first morning in Minca we were greeted with a 5.15am alarm for a birdwatching tour we had arranged. We agreed a fee of 100,000 COP per person for a trip which included a 3-4 hour bird watch, a tour of La Victoria Coffee Plantation and a trip up to the famed waterfalls. Once we’d shaken off the cobwebs, partly by play fighting with a local puppy, called Burt of all things! We jumped in our guides 4x4 and headed further in to the mountains. 

 Morning View in Minca

Morning View in Minca

During the tour we were quickly reminded of Colombia’s recent past and need for a ‘strong deterrent’ as inside the coffee plantation we were greeted with some heavily armed young men in full camo who must have been guarding the coffee plantation, a quick word with our guide as we passed safely through. I won’t go on too much about the birdwatching tour as it is not everyone’s cup of tea and to do it justice it would turn in to a Bill Oddie essay. One little note though; we spotted a flock of about 20-30 parrots and me and my partner were of course very excited, only for our guide to put them in to context as ‘common as pigeons in this area.’ Still though…

About a 30 minute drive from Minca (or an hour walk depending on who you are) is the Pozo Azul which is a natural swimming hole accompanied by two beautiful waterfalls. We took the aforementioned 4x4, which we were glad of after the morning birdwatching but looking back it is a shame we did not really have the chance to walk to Pozo Azul, it looked a really nice walk and would have been rewarding to get in the cold water after a long walk.

 One of the waterfalls outside of Minca

One of the waterfalls outside of Minca

Once we arrived back in town we were exhausted as you can imagine, and as I’d forgotten to put insect repellent on in the morning and my legs had been ravaged so we visited probably the most well know café/bar in town The Lazy Cat for a beer and some food and to give me chance to scratch to my heart’s content (after eating).

There isn't a lot to do in Minca in the evenings, most of the places stay open until about 8-9pm then it’s off to bed. We found that the Lazy Cat was a nice spot to spend the evening, they have fairly cheep beers and a couple of nice dogs to play with, including Burt!! But when you are planning Minca I don’t think you’re under the impression this is a party town. It is nice just to chill out, especially at Casa Loma’s hilltop view point, the views of Santa Marta at night are incredible. 

Santa Marta at night

Visiting Minca is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the countryside, appreciate the paved roads of Britain and just take it all in before you head off to somewhere a little more hectic.

Cheers for reading,