11 Best Things To Do in Minca, a hidden gem of Columbia, South America
For any traveler planning a visit to Colombia, you should definitely visit Minca! The lovely little town of Minca is situated in the Sierra Nevada, overlooking Santa Marta and the Caribbean Sea. The city only has 800 inhabitants and is often ignored by tourists when planning their trip to this country. We’ll convince you why you should definitely go there!
Nestled in the lush green mountains of the Sierra Nevada in Colombia, lies a hidden gem known as Minca. This small town, located just a short drive from the bustling city of Santa Marta, offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. With its breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and a wide range of outdoor activities, Minca is a destination that should definitely be on your travel bucket list.
Let’s get started planning your visit
To get to Minca, we advise you to take either the taxi to Minca via Santa Marta, where you have to visit the public Mercadome Centro or Square Central San Rico or the bus as it is the favorite option among travellers on a budget as well as for backpackers. When buses have been filled, they are set for departure.
The trip from Santa Marta takes 45 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs 9,000 Colombian pesas, or 2 USD. The last shuttle departs Santa Marta Square at 5 p.m., leaving you at the town centre.
Best Things To Do in Minca, Columbia
Spend at least one night in a hotel lost in the mountains
The stay in Minca town would not be as good if not for Casa Vieja de Masaya.
It was my boyfriend’s idea to go for 3 nights to a hotel in the Mincan Mountains, and I can recommend doing it. This hotel is set on a mountain, atop a jungle, and has a stunning view. It has a swimming pool from which to relax and enjoy the landscape. If it’s clear, the ocean will be visible. But also, the food was amazing; their little restaurant was on top of its game. My private room has shared bedrooms too; however, it was very comfortable for me. The bird sounds are amazing.
Visit a Coffee Plantation
Coffee has the largest export market in Colombia, and a lot of beautiful plantations can be visited in Minca with special coffee tours.
La Victoria coffee farm is famous for being among the oldest coffee farms in Colombia. In 1892, Charles and Alice Bowden opened the La Victoria coffee farm, and tours can be arranged for 1000 COP (about $2.00). Our experience was remarkable. It takes just about 20 minutes to reach the farm from Minca Square and about an hour to walk on a trail.
The coffee has been roasted over an open fire and prepared with our own hands. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also served us some delicious local Colombian lunch.
Visit the peak of Cerro Kennedy
In Minca, the most difficult hike is the climb up the Cerro Kennedy at an elevation of 3,300 metres below ocean level. You will need four hours to get there, but trust us, the view is well worth it! You can see all of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta from there, and you’ll see the Caribbean Sea twice.
Unfortunately, getting to this peak isn’t as easy as we expected because lots of tourists were around, sometimes even in trucks and motorbikes. There are also a lot of places to see. But eventually we found ourselves in the “cloud forest,” where you know no noise is made and just birds singing; it’s very relaxing.
When we arrived at the peak itself, there was a little cabin where we could buy drinks and snacks to relax while taking in the beautiful view.
Oido del Mundo Waterfall, Minca
Compared to the Marina and Pozo Azul Falls, the Oido del Mundo is less populated by visitors.
The hike to the waterfall isn’t too difficult and takes just about 45 minutes from the centre of Minca. You may swim in the waterfall, but be careful because the rocks are very slippery.
Los Pinos Viewpoint Hike
Minca’s most famous point of view hikes include the Los Pino Peak.
There are often many tourists here, so we recommend early morning or late evening visits to avoid the crowds. The journey takes about 1 hour each way and is intermediate in difficulty. At the point of view you can see lots of birds flying across and if you’re lucky even some monkeys too!
Shop for locally made gifts!
As there is more and more tourism in Minca, there are several stores that feature local artisans and craftsmen. Take the time to visit these stores and buy some beautiful, handmade souvenirs. You’ll be supporting local artists and bringing home unique gifts for your loved ones.
Visit the Minca Market
Every Thursday in the main square of Minca, there is a market where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, and even some homemade goods like cheese or bread. It’s a great opportunity to experience the local culture and try some delicious snacks. Don’t forget to negotiate for a good price!
Watch the Sunset at 360 Mirador
Minca offers many amazing views of the landscapes, including the 360 Mirador Viewpoint (one of the best viewpoints in the world). This viewpoint offers a stunning view of Minca in the Caribbean Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Santa Marta. As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the sky bursts into a stunning palette of colors, painting the entire landscape in hues of orange, pink, and purple.
From Minca, hikers can stay at this viewpoint at sunset to enjoy the spectacular views and quiet ambiance. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture these mesmerizing moments.
Pozo Azul, ideal to take a walk and a dip
Pozo Azul is a popular destination among locals and tourists in Minca. Known for its beautiful blue pools and cascading waterfalls, it’s the perfect place to cool off after a day of exploring. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Pozo Azul from the town center, a walk that takes you through lush greenery and offers spectacular views.
Once you arrive, you can take a refreshing dip in the clear, cool waters or simply sit back and appreciate the serene beauty of the natural surroundings. The area also has several small cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite and relax. Remember, the site can get crowded, especially during the weekends, so try to visit early in the day to beat the crowds.
Due to the cold climate and the dense forests of the Sierra Nevada, Minca is considered a great birdwatching destination worldwide. Those looking to enjoy nature, birding, and sustainable tourism are recommended to come here.
Minca offers some of the best bird-watching tours. One of those tours is the ‘Sierra Nevada Birdwatching Tour’. Starting at dawn, this tour takes you deep into the lush forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Known for its rich biodiversity, you’ll have the opportunity to spot some of the 350 bird species found in this region, including the Andean Condor, Yellow-legged Tinamou, and the Santa Marta Parakeet.
The tour is led by experienced local guides who are well-versed in the terrain and the bird species native to the region. They use their expertise to help you spot and identify a wide variety of birds. The tours are typically small group tours, ensuring a personalized experience.
Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and be ready for a hike. It’s a breathtaking experience and an absolute must-do for bird lovers visiting Minca!
So, is Minca worth visiting? The answer is definitely yes! Based on our list of 11 to do in Minca, you’ll have a blast!
About the Authors: This article was written by Alexander & Laura, the owners of the expert Travel Blog Lost Between Oceans. They specialize in blog posts about Colombia. Specifically, they love to write about Villa de Leyva and the amazing Tatacoa Desert.