Minca, a dust bowl of a town 3000 feet above sea level in the Santa Monica Mountains, offers a nice change from the scorching heat of Cartagena and Santa Marta. Surrounded by streams and waterfalls, nothing about Minca is spectacular when taken on its own, but when the attractions are mashed together, they provide a refreshing detour from the coast.
Arrive early the first day by taking a collectivo from the Santa Marta market (mercado) for $7.000COP per person. The 45-minute ride will take you on a winding road into the mountains and drop you off in the center of the two street town.
Check into your hotel before spending the rest of the day at Pozo Azul, a refreshing set of pools that, despite their name, were pretty far from blue when we visited. The pools are about an hour walk out of town on a well signposted road. We recommend real shoes unless you want blisters!
The days in Minca end early, at around 5:30pm, when the sun puts on a spectacular show above the Santa Monica Mountains. The view is best enjoyed from a hotel a bit out of town, with a cold beer in hand.
If you’re up for it, day two offers a great opportunity to do the loop walk up to Los Piños. The entire way is about 20 kilometers, so put on your hiking shoes and allow at least 6 hours.
You’ll walk up past the waterfalls (Cascadas) until you reach the top of the hill and the main dirt road. From there, it’s a short walk left toward the mirador, which offers a nice view all the way out to the ocean and Santa Marta. Lina instead opted for the hairy Giant Schnauzer, Hugo, who likes to ride motorbikes.
Continue back down the other side and make sure to stop in at at La Victoria, a family run coffee farm operating since 1892.
Completely hydro-powered and using original machinery brought over from London, this little farm will let you see how much work goes into the making of your morning cup. For less than US$2 ($5.000COP), you get a one-hour tour complete with a cup of joe.
You’ll learn all about the coffee making process, from harvesting and weighing the beans to sorting them by grade and roasting the few batches that the farm will keep for friends and family.
From the coffee farm it’s about a 1.5 hour walk back to town, so if you’re feeling too beat to attempt it, ask the tour guide to arrange a ride on a moto. You’ll arrive back “home” right in time for sunset number two.
We’ll toast to that!
Want to see more of Minca? Check out our Minca photo tour!
Have you visited Minca?
Which hikes did you enjoy most? Do you have any other suggestions to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments!