accessible mountain retreat
Minca is a small village inhabited by 800 people at an elevation of 650m in the Sierra Nevada above Santa Marta. It is famous for its organic coffee and has a much cooler temperature than the sweltering Santa Marta. The village is charming, and has in the past few years grown as a traveler and birdwatching destination. It's a great base for hiking, mountain-biking, bird-watching and other outdoor activities, offering fresh mountain breeze, over 300 bird species nearby and spectacular views.
The region is beautiful and is best explored on hiking or motorbikes. The roads above Minca are extremely low quality so it is advised to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, although if it is not raining a regular car should do.
What to See
The area around Minca is excellent for hiking, mountain biking, coffee and chocolate tours, and bird watching. There is also a small memorial center/cultural museum. Several day and half day trips are possible. Ask around, many people are a good source of information and happy to help.
Be prepared that from around July-November is rainy season, be prepared for early afternoon showers and if you don’t want to get wet, go out early and be back by 1 or 2.
A beautiful day hike is from Minca to Mundo Nuevo, from there to La Candelaria, past Pozo Azul and back to Minca. Lunch can be had in all those places; signposted all the way. Another nice option is to walk the loop to Los Pinos: this is a longish walk of at least six hours, but plenty of lunch options on the way. Take a moto up if you feel like a shorter walk.
The town of Minca boasts an avifauna to rival many nations by biodiversity and is considered to be amongst the most significant bird watching destinations in South America. Consider giving bird watching a try while you're here. Guides can help you see woodpeckers, hummingbirds and toucans. Birds from North America as far as the Canadian Arctic come to this area over winter.
How to Get There
The road leading to Minca has been recently rebuilt and is in a good condition. Local Santa Marta taxi drivers are willing to take you up to Minca for about $40,000-$50,000 COP. There are also colectivos (shared taxis) that leave from Santa Marta and daily bus departures froom The Dreamer Hostel Santa Marta. The journey will take around 30 minutes, however on weekends and public holidays, maybe longer.
Packing for Minca
We recommend bringing the following items:
Passport – You need to show identification to enter the park.
Bug Spray – The walk through nature trails to get to the beaches means you’ll probably come in contact with a few mosquitos.
Sunscreen, bathing suits, towel – you may swim in a waterfall
Water –Can never have enough!
Sweater – The temperature in Minca will likely be cooler than Santa Marta
Extra clothes – In case of rain or any other type of activity that makes you sweat, it’s a great idea to be prepared.
Money – You’ll need money to purchase lunch and if you use the moto-taxi service
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I sleep in Minca?
This is a great option! Depending on your preferences you may stay the night and enjoy the sunset views from the mountains, or you can also go for the day and enjoy the small town and natural offerings. There are great options for staying in Minca, take a look at our recommendation of Casas Viejas, located on Finca La Victoria, the oldest coffee farm in the region.
Do you recommend a guided tour or self-guided?
Many adventures in Minca are accessible on self-guided tours, which combine taking moto-taxis around the mountains and visiting natural lagoons, coffee farms, viewpoints and more. If you are looking for specialty tours such as bird watching or full-day experiences, we do recommend tour operators to make the experience as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible. There is a tour office in Minca with maps and information, and of course, our receptions are available to connect you to the resources.
Are the moto-taxis safe?
Yes these are safe forms of transport and are organized in a collective group. Be sure you are wearing your helmet! The moto-taxis can move you around the entire Minca town and mountain passages, which will save you time if you are doing a daytrip.
Are there any ATMs?
In Minca you won’t find any ATM’s so it’s better if you take the cash with you because most of the places don’t receive credit or debit cards.
Do I need to know Spanish?
You don’t need to know Spanish, but if you have basics it will help your exploration of the mountain pueblo.
Where can I store my bags before visiting Minca?
Dreamer offers a complimentary bag storage service for guests, and for non-guests, it cost 10,000 cop per bag for a week. At the main entrance of Tayrona Park you can find an office to store, this is rather informal and they will charge 10.000 cop for the day.