Minca is a tiny, enchanting town nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
Located just behind the coastal town of Santa Marta, it’s a place that’s becoming increasingly popular on backpackers’ itinerary. My experience was probably very different from the average backpacker’s, however. But I couldn’t be more thankful for my mountain retreat in Minca and here’s why.
On our trip back down from La Guajira desert, our plan was to make small stops along the coast. After our adventure in Punta Gallinas, we went to the hipster town of Palomino. We already got to see plenty of the desert and turquoise sea, so we decided to skip Santa Marta. We met several backpackers who mentioned a trip to Minca offered cool mountain air and breathtaking views.
There are a handful of adorable hostels to stay at when in Minca, but a friend recommended one: Casa Loma. This hostel is a super popular destination as it offers the challenge of walking up the mountain stairs to the top where the award of beautiful views of the hills and the coastline of Santa Marta await you.
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Signs reading, “Vale la Pena!” line the stairs through the woody hill to remind you that it’s worth it! The hostel itself is adorable, so hiking up there just to grab lunch is worth it even if you don’t stay.
Casa Loma is also unique for its no wifi policy and delicious (and sustainable) lunch and dinner menu. It was definitely one of the highlights of the hostel, other than the cozy hammocks and reading nooks. Too bad I only got to try one of the meals…
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to explore Minca outside of Casa Loma. A horrific stomach bug (was it even that?) got the best of me. To this day, I’m not sure what I caught, but it seemed to have been shared by our entire traveling group.
I was so excited to sleep that night, in my mosquito-net-covered, colorful hammock tucked atop the woody hills. So you can imagine my surprise when at 2:30 am, I was awake and unsure why. It didn’t take long, though, for me to realize that my healthy meal from lunch was about to avenge itself.
So I ran in the dark, across the humid earth to the outdoor bathrooms. “Ugh, was this a false alarm?” I thought, sneaking back into my hammock a few minutes later. I closed my eyes and thought “Just breathe, Brittany. It’s all in your head.”
Suddenly, I realized: “F*ck, no it’s not.”
This time I wouldn’t be returning to my hammock until 3-4 hours later. There I sat all night, with the creepy crawler staring at me in the corner and the gigantic moth flying around the only light. The occasional pair of feet would pass by. I’m sure whoever it was probably was wondering what the heck I was doing on the floor. I was just waiting to feel better, but little did I know at the time that that wouldn’t be possible for another 48 hours.
Restless, my body wanted to sleep but my mind wouldn’t let me. The hostel’s kitty came under the bamboo bathroom stall door and kneaded my belly as if she knew I wasn’t feeling well. I was just as happy to have some company as she was! Moments like these are when I’m extra grateful for my natural cat instincts. 😉
Places to Sleep & Things to Do in Minca
I would definitely recommend staying at Casa Loma. Hammocks are 15,000 pesos. There are also sweet little cabins if you’re traveling as a couple. The staff is very friendly and the hang out/reception area is open with lots of room to relax, nap, eat, or chat with fellow travelers.
There are of course many other great options in Minca to stay. Casa Elemento is one of them, thanks to its gigantic hammock that overlooks the Santa Marta coastline and the Sierra Nevada mountains. You can get here via a hike up to Los Pino’s lookout which takes about three hours from the town.
No matter which hostel you stay at, it’s most likely they will all have booklets giving tips on what to do in Minca. There are three major attractions for travelers to Minca, one of them already being the hike up to Los Pinos.
But if you’re looking for a shorter hike, hit the one-hour trail to Pozo Azul, the second well-known attraction in Minca. This little waterfall and swimming hole is the backpacker’s go-to activity because its scenery offers you the chance to spot colorful birdies and other wildlife.
A trip to Minca wouldn’t be complete without visiting its local coffee plantation at La Victoria Coffee Farm (est. in 1892). Whether you book the tour at your hostel or directly at the farm, it’s a fairly affordable activity to do while in Minca. I definitely recommend you visit this farm if you do not plan or have time to travel to the famous Zona Cafetera region of Colombia.
Since I didn’t get to experience these places first hand, I’m counting on YOU guys to tell me what Minca is really like—beyond the toilets at Casa Loma, that is. One day, if and when I get back around to Colombia, I’ll think about giving Minca a second chance.