15 Top Things to Do in Minca Colombia: A Complete Travel Guide
Imagine this—a region full of waterfalls and hikes, high enough to have cool, temperate temperatures for coffee and cocoa farms. You can start your day with a yoga session while taking deep breaths of the clean mountain air. You end your session with a good breakfast that includes sipping freshly roasted coffee. The perfect vacation, no?
If this is how you envision your mornings to be before you start your hikes, then Minca should be on your list. There’s plenty of things to do if you’re the adventurous kind, and in this post, we list the top things to do in Minca.
Challenging Activities 💪🏽
Do the Los Pinos Trek
One of our favourite Minca hikes, Los Pinos brings you around the mountains of Minca, giving you a glimpse of what to expect in the area if you happen to do this on your first day in Minca. During the hike, you can detour to see waterfalls like Pozo Azul and Las Cascadas de Marinkas, as well as some of the areas best coffee or cocoa plantations. You see, Minca is best known for these two things so if you hit this off your bucket list, you’ll get a vibe of what Minca is all about.
The trek is approximately 5 to 8 hours depending on your speed, and a portion of it is a long uphill hike that will take roughly two hours to get over with. The viewpoints along the way are worth hiking for, trust me.
Do a multi-day hike to La Ciudad Perdida, Colombia’s Lost City
Hiking to Ciudad Perdida, also known as the Lost City, near Santa Marta, Colombia is an unforgettable experience that combines adventure, nature, and history.
This UNESCO site is frequently compared to Peru’s Machu Picchu, although the La Ciudad Perdida hike is certainly more rugged and has been around longer than Machu Picchu, dating back to 800 CE. This 45 km hike takes you through the Sierra Nevada mountains and jungles.
The trek takes you through lush rainforests, across crystal-clear rivers, and up steep hills to reach the ancient ruins of the Tayrona civilization. Along the way, you’ll encounter local indigenous Kobi villages who still live in the area and learn about their customs and way of life.
The climb to the top of Ciudad Perdida involves over 1,000 steps, but the stunning panoramic views from the summit are worth every effort. It’s an excellent opportunity to disconnect from the modern world, immerse yourself in nature, and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of Colombia.
Completing the hike in 5 days is recommended if you have the time, as the hike is regulated by the government and you will pay the same cost regardless. However, it can be done in as little as 3 days if you are short on time.
Hike to Cerro Kennedy
If a strenuous multi-day hike is not your jam, maybe we can offer a shorter and more relaxed alternative with the hike to Cerro Kennedy? It’s an overnight hike at Sierra Nevada that takes you 3,100m above sea level to see Los Nevados. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the snow capped mountains of Colombia’s two tallest mountains—Pico Cristobal Colon and Pico Simon Boliva and maybe get a glimpse of the both city and the ocean from viewpoint.
Even in the less optimal days, the hike is worth doing because you’ll see the cloud forest down below from where you stand. If you’re ambitious enough, you can make it a day trip with a 15-hour roundtrip hike. You can do it independently or with one of the guides from Minca, but either way be prepared for cold nights. Know that there’s four different Colombian tribes living in this area, so make sure to treat the area with respect.
Chill Things to Do in Minca that still requires some work ☺️
Hike to Marinka Waterfalls (Las Cascadas de Marinka)
If you still haven’t gotten enough waterfalls (how can you?), then take a hike to Marinka Waterfalls, two of the best waterfalls in Minca. This is a breathtaking adventure, requiring a short but steep two-hour hike through the jungle to reach the waterfalls, popular for those who enjoy admiring wildlife in their natural habitat.
The hike is well worth the effort as the waterfalls are a stunning sight, with crystal-clear water cascading down a series of terraced pools. Visitors can swim in the cool waters and relax on the rocks while taking in the magnificent scenery.
It’s more commercialized now compared to when we were there, with a restaurant and coffee shop near the first and most popular waterfall. For an entrance fee, expect to spend 10,000 COP. And have I mentioned that there’s two waterfalls to see?
Enjoy some quiet time at Oido del Mundo
Oido del Mundo is a peaceful and relaxing spot to spend an afternoon, with plenty of space to lounge on the rocks and soak up the natural beauty of the region, and away from the crowds of Marinka Waterfalls.
Hiking to the Oido del Mundo Waterfall and swimming hole in Minca takes visitors through lush jungle, passing vibrant flora and fauna. Along the way, visitors enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The name Oido del Mundo translates to “Ear of the World”, and it’s easy to see why, as the sound of the waterfall echoes through the valley. Hiking to the Oido del Mundo waterfall is a must-do for anyone seeking an outdoor adventure in Minca.
Looking for the ULTIMATE Minca Stay???
Masaya Casa Viejas in the heart of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada offers comfortable rustic accommodation on a renowned coffee farm, providing travelers and nature enthusiasts with a cozy atmosphere, delicious cuisine, outdoor activities, and stunning mountain views.
Swim or take a plunge from a cliff at Pozo Azul
Pozo Azul is a popular travel destination in Minca, known for its beautiful natural pools and waterfalls. When I visited in 2014, Pozo Azul was an unspoilt destination, and the perfect day trip to enjoy the refreshing waters and stunning scenery.
Nowadays, Pozo Azul is very popular, so much that you may see buses full of tourists by the entrance, so make sure to visit early and avoid weekends and holidays. Despite that, Pozo Azul is still worth visiting for its pristine turquoise waters and the cool cliff jumping spot.
The journey to Pozo Azul was an adventure in itself, as we had to hike approximately 45 minutes from Minca (6.8 km round trip) through dense forests and cross streams to reach the pools. Once arrived to the pools, spend some time relaxing in the pools, exploring the area, and taking in the natural beauty of the place.
Overall, my experience at Pozo Azul was one of the highlights of my trip to Minca, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a peaceful and rejuvenating getaway in the heart of nature.
Trek Las Piedras
If Los Pinos is a bit of a stretch yet you still want to get your steps into your Apple Watch, try Las Piedras trek. It’s only a 15 minute walk away from the village and takes you to a fantastic swimming hole along the Costeno River. That said, it’s great for swimming so it’s advisable to bring your swim suit if you end up picking this hike.
Visit Cascada Escondida
This used to be a secret but the secret may have been out in the past 10 years. This waterfall is near Pozo Azul and locals frequent this area. To get there, you may need to ask for directions because the path doesn’t have any signs and you’ll need to go through private property. If your Spanish is not as good, you can also type in “Cascada Perdida (Valhalla)” on Google Maps and it should get you there.
Take it easy and Explore Local Farms 👩🏽🏫
Minca is surrounded by coffee, cacao, and vegetable farms, so what better way to take in the local culture by visiting these plantations?
Tour a Coffee Farms
La Victoria Coffee farm is among the largest and oldest coffee farms in the country and they offer hour-long comprehensive tours about how they turn coffee berries into beans that go into those Nespresso machines miles away from the farm.
You will learn the entire coffee-making process, starting with the cultivation and harvesting of the coffee beans and continuing through to the roasting and packaging of the final product.
During the tour, visitors can learn about the history of coffee production in the region and the different types of coffee beans grown on the farm. Additionally, visitors can sample freshly brewed coffee and purchase bags of the farm’s coffee beans to take home as souvenirs.
The farm’s claim to fame is their ingenious and self-sustaining way of producing coffee—using water with equipment made in the 1800’s. It’s a fascinating experience for coffee lovers and anyone interested in learning about the culture and traditions of Colombia.
Other coffee farms tours in Minca to consider are at Finca San Rafael and Finca La Candelaria.
Tour a Cacao Farm
Finca Carpe Diem in Minca, Colombia offers an immersive cacao tour experience that provides visitors with an insight into the history, cultivation, and production of cacao, the key ingredient in chocolate.
During the tour, visitors are taken through the farm’s cacao groves, where they can see the trees and learn about their growth and maintenance. They can also participate in the harvest and post-harvest processes, which include cracking open the cacao pods, extracting the beans, and fermenting and drying them.
The tour culminates in a chocolate-making workshop, where visitors can taste and make their chocolate creations using the farm’s cacao. It’s a fantastic experience for anyone interested in learning about the origins of chocolate and the processes involved in its production.
Tour a Vegetable Farm
Minca is also home to several vegetable farms that offer visitors a chance to see how organic fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested. One of the most popular farms is La Candelaria, which not only produces organic coffee but also a variety of organic fruits and vegetables.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the farm, learn about organic farming practices and sample some of the farm’s delicious produce.
Another option is Casa Elemento, which has an organic farm that supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to their hostel restaurant. Visitors can take a short tour of the farm and enjoy a meal made with the farm’s fresh ingredients.
Volunteer or Work at a Coffee Farm
As you already know by now, Minca is well known for its high-quality coffee. Maybe you decided that you were so fascinated with coffee after you completed the tour that you’d like to learn more.
Volunteering or working at coffee farms in Minca is an option to experience life at the farm while funding your travel. Among some farms that accept workers are La Tagua Farm, Finca Semilla, and La Victoria Coffe Farm.
Here you will have the chance to work alongside local farmers to pick, process, and roast coffee beans. You will also learn about organic coffee production and sustainable farming practices.
Volunteering typically involves working on the farm for a few hours a day in exchange for meals and accommodations. It’s a great way to get hands-on experience with the coffee-making process, learn about Colombian culture and agriculture, and give back to the local community.
Get me a guide 💃🏽
Do a Mountain Biking Tour
Mountain biking in Minca, Colombia is an exhilarating adventure that offers a unique way to experience the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The region’s diverse terrain, ranging from steep mountain trails to winding jungle paths, provides a challenging and rewarding experience for mountain bikers of all levels.
Remember Cerro Kennedy? You can take an overnight bike tour if you prefer biking over hiking. Alternatively, you can also just rent a bike and explore the roads and trails surrounding Minca at your own pace.
Another popular relaxed mountain biking tour is “La Vuelta”. This tour will take you to all the most popular spots near Minca, including Pozo Azul, La Victoria Coffee Farm, Los Pinos, Casa Elemento (famous for its large hammock), and Marinka Waterfall.
For more extreme mountain biking, take a downhill bike tour down the adrenaline rushed El Kraki route.
Do a Minca Yoga Retreat
There’s an abundance of yoga studios and wellness retreats in the Minca area. While I did not get a chance to try it out, people recommended Casa Yoga Minca as the place to go for retreats.
These yoga retreats offer a unique opportunity for individuals to unwind and reconnect with their inner selves amidst the beautiful natural surroundings of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The yoga retreats typically include daily yoga classes, meditation sessions, organic vegetarian meals, and various other wellness activities such as hiking, massage therapy, and detox treatments. Whether you’re an experienced yogi or just starting out, a yoga retreat in Minca can be a transformative experience that rejuvenates the mind, body, and spirit.
Do a Birdwatching Tour at the El Dorado Nature Reserve
Because of its dense jungle and cooler climate, Minca is one of the best birdwatching places in Colombia, and maybe among the top places in the world! El Dorado Nature Reserve is home to a diverse group of birds, with 365 species living in the Minca area. Expect to see Toucans, Macaws, and up to 20 species of hummingbirds, sparrows, flycatchers, oropendolas among others.
Operators in town offer three-hour birdwatching tours starting at 6 am every day. Among them, Jungle Joe’s Adventures is a recommended tour operator that can take you for a tour for 50,000 COP.
For those wishing to skip a tour and search independently, another birdwatching spot is the Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro.
Other Useful Info for Planning Your Trip
Getting to Minca from Santa Marta
- Head to the Mercado Publico de Santa Marta, the central market of Santa Marta.
- Look for the blue and white buses with the sign “Minca” on their front windows. These buses are called “collectivos” and leave when they are full.
- The bus fare is around 8,000-10,000 Colombian Pesos (COP).
- Once the bus is full, it will depart and make its way up the winding road to Minca, taking around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic and road conditions.
- The bus will drop you off at the central plaza of Minca, where you can easily explore the town and its surroundings on foot.
- It is recommended to bring cash as there are limited ATMs and some shops and restaurants only accept cash.
Where to Stay in Minca
Overall, it is quite cheap to stay at accommodations in Minca. Dorm rooms start around $7 USD, while private ecolodge accommodations start around $20.
- Rio Elemento Ecolodge – This is where I stayed when I visited Minca in 2014. At the time, it was still under construction, but has since became one of the best ecolodges in the Minca area. It includes a giant hammock, outdoor pool, and restaurant where all produce is grown on-site.
- Casa Loma – Another more recent, cheap backpacker/co-working option is Casa Loma. Casa Loma has an on-site veggie restaurant, and co-working space with fast wi-fi which is free for guests. It also offer additional free-spirited services such as cacao ceremonies, massage, yoga, tantric sunset sessions.
- Hostal Sierra Minca – Located 30 minutes outside of Minca by motorbike, high in Sierra Nevada mountains, Hostal Sierra Minca provides spectacular views. The biggest downside here is there is no wi-fi, so it is not ideal for remote workers or those wanting to be closer to the action.
- If volunteering, it is also possible to stay at one of the many coffee and cacao plantations such as Finca San Rafael.
🔗 Related: 9 Best Hostels in Minca Colombia
When to Visit Minca & Weather Considerations
- The best time to visit Minca is between November and February as there is little rain during these months and lots of sun.
- The busiest tourist times to avoid visiting are December as well as in the summer month between June and August as this is when local Colombians visit for vacation.
- The least busiest time to visit Minca is between March and May. During this time the accommodations are cheaper, but you might have to put up with a bit of rain and mud on the trails. We visited during this period in March and still had a great time!
- The weather is typically 4 to 5 degrees Celsius cooler in Minca compared to Santa Marta, which is great if you want to escape the heat for a few days.
Best Foods in Minca
Minca is home to a lot of high quality food and restaurants with many international options popping up catering to the growing backpacker and remote working scene.
- For those on a budget, head to the local Colombian restaurants for cheaper food options. Here there will be daily local specials on offer which change every day.
- Another budget option is eating quick street foods such as empanadas or arepas.
- For those with a higher budget, some of the best options include Bururake (parrilla fusion), the Lazy Cat (steaks, salmons, burgers, etc.), Restaurante Santisabella (meats, fish, pizza).
- For a high quality bakery offering fresh artisanal bread and pan de chocolate visit La Miga Panaderia located in Minca town.
- Many of the top ecolodges and hostels such as Rio Elemento Ecolodge and Casa Loma have on-site restaurants offering high quality meals grown with local vegetables. These are a great and convenient option.
And that’s it! There’s other activities within Minca but these round up our picks as the top things to do in Minca. If there’s anything we missed, feel free to reach out to us below with a comment. Let us know which your favourite is!
After Minca, we highly recommend you head north like we did to La Guajira, Colombia’s northern Caribbean desert. which you can read more about why you should visit here!