Minca is small mountain village 40 minutes away from Santa Marta, where the coastal heat subdues in the hills. When I visited Santa Marta in December 2016, my brain could barely function due to the unbearable heat. The mugginess of the Colombian coast never worked well with me. Stumbling upon Minca was a great relief, though. The climate in the hills was more pleasant and the small town atmosphere was more tranquil than the tourist hub in Santa Marta.
I never wrote about my experience in Minca last year because I only relaxed in the finca hostel. This year, however, I revisited Minca with my boyfriend and finally made the hike to the famous giant hammock. There’s a lot more to do in the area, but I just love sitting on the terrace while listening to the sounds of nature.
If you are visiting Minca, here’s a few personal recommendations and tips.
Finca Bolivar is the best finca hostel I have EVER stayed in. It’s a perfectly secluded spot because it’s a 10-minute-walk away from the town of Minca — it’s not too far yet it really takes you into another world filled with peacefulness. The owners are two Swiss brothers, Simon and Daniel, who maintain the finca extremely well. The entire finca hostel only has two private rooms and one 4-bed dorm room, meaning you will never feel cramped. There’s also private access to a river below the finca where you can take a dip in the refreshing cold water after a strenuous hike.
The finca was fully booked on my first night. We ended up cooking dinner altogether because it was still a relatively small group. It’s much easier to connect with fellow travelers in a more intimate social situation, so the size of this place is perfect for both solo travelers and couples.
It also offers airport pickup and dropoff if you’d like to skip the trip to and from Santa Marta.
Casa Elemento and its Giant Hammock
The hike from Minca to the giant hammock at Casa Elemento takes about 3 to 3.5 hours, but we finished in 2 hours 40 minutes with two small breaks in between. You’ll be walking on a semi-paved road so it’s very manageable. Just make sure you start before 8 am so it doesn’t get too sunny on the road. If you’re feeling lazy, you can pay 20.000 COP for the motor taxis to take you up the hill in 30 minutes. I opted for the motorcycles on the way down and it was quite a fun ride through the mountain road! I loved feeling the rapid interchange of blazing sun and tree shadows on my skin while speeding through different scents and sounds of nature 🙂
Casa Elemento now charges 10.000 COP for entrance if you’re not staying there overnight. With the entrance fee, you can get a refreshment drink and stay to hang out on “the world’s biggest hammock.”
After your stop here, you can keep going on the loop trail to hike down to Pozo Azul, the swimming hole with mini waterfalls. The entire loop trail takes 6 hours or more and you can decide if you want to complete the loop trail in one day.
Food & Drinks
There’s not a lot of options for grocery shopping. We mostly cooked pasta, sausages, and fried potatoes. La Miga is my favorite bakery in town with a small variety of bread — the chocolate bread and sourdough are particularly famous. It’s very popular so you should go grab your loaf early before everything sells out!
If you want to dine out, there are several menú del día places available in town. Lazy Cat is good for burgers and Cafe Minca is good for coffee and dessert. I never go out to the town at night, though, because I’m a lazy person and I just like laying around for a movie at nighttime. Make sure to stock up on some ice cold beer in the fridge, of course. If you’re a wine person, you’d have to buy it in Santa Marta because the small tiendas in Minca don’t sell any wine.
Things to Consider
- There’s no ATM in Minca as of April 2017. Withdraw enough cash while you’re in Santa Marta.
- The roads are mostly unpaved outside of the town area. A rolling suitcase would be tough if you’re staying in a hotel or hostel that’s located in the outskirt.
- Buy the organic coffee here! It’s cheaper to purchase coffee in Minca and you’ll support the local coffee farms by doing so.
- Be cautious. People around here don’t seem as friendly as those of other small towns like Jardín and Salento. It’s fairly common to see police stopping cars and military patrolling around with machine guns. It’s still quite a safe place, but I didn’t feel exactly comfortable walking around alone in the distant areas. (The first time I went to Minca on my own — I was swamped by a crowd of motorcyclists when I stepped out of the collectivo taxi, but a little boy swept them out of the way immediately. A little scary regardless, haha.)