3 Fun Day Hikes from Minca, Colombia

An example of the kinds of views you can expect on the walk to Los Pinos
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains which surround the town of Minca, Colombia

If you’ve traveled to the northern portion of Colombia, chances are you’ve visited Cartagena, Barranquilla, and/or Santa Marta. All fine places in their own right, but sometimes you need an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life (and pushy vendors). 

Enter Minca.

Minca, Colombia
Minca, Colombia

A small town of about 5,000 people nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains, Minca is the gateway to a lot of the best nature in Colombia. Whether you’re looking for waterfalls, swimming holes, delicious coffee, or simply majestic views, you can access all of that on foot (or on the back of a motorcycle!). Being only about 45 minutes from the coastal city of Santa Marta, it’s not hard to reach and can easily take up a 3-night stay. 

The Lost City trek, while I was unfortunately unable to do that this time around, can also be accessed from Minca.  

What to Expect

“Hiking” in Minca may not be what you’re expecting. There aren’t many well-defined dirt trails to take you through nature here. Instead, you’ll be walking along the road itself, which is shared by other pedestrians and by a steady flow of motorcyclists (many of whom you can pay to take you up the mountain). 

Some of these roads are paved; others are not. Flat, ideal walking conditions these are not, but the views and experiences are worth it, believe me. 

Road conditions can range from this...
...to this...
...to this.

One last note: A lot of the mountain villages you’ll pass through with have a lot of stray dogs running around. I’m sure most of these dogs are fine, but some can get a little…bitey. Just be very firm in letting the dog(s) know what you will and will not tolerate. Shouting “Stop!” or “Para!” seems to be pretty universal for dogs. 

Without further ado, let’s get to 3 Fun Day Hikes from Minca, Colombia!

Los Pinos Lookout Point(s)

What It Is

These are two main lookout points along the road that offer gorgeous views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the city of Santa Marta, and the ocean. 

Los Pinos, from my experience at least, is not necessarily a specific place but rather a general region of the mountains with some of the best views. 

Los Pinos Mirador, Minca, Colombia
Los Pinos Mirador, Minca, Colombia

How to Get There

Starting in the town of Minca, find the road labelened Cienaga-Minca and head east. From here, there are two lookouts you can stop at.

6km (3.6mi): You’ll see a wooden structure on your left with a sign that says “Mirador” (“Observation Point”). 

8km (4.2mi): This is a lookout point near the Campano restaurant in the village of Nieves. You’ll probably have quite an appetite after walking all the way over here, and I would recommend eating at Campano. While the food is nothing stellar, the chicken and coffee are pretty good and the meal is very filling for only being 10,000 COP (about $2.75).   

Note: Campano is around the 8km signpost, but Google Maps says 11 km (6.6mi). Be prepared for a long, gently sloping walk either way.  

Los Pinos Mirador, Minca, Colombia
Los Pinos Mirador, Minca, Colombia

How Much It Costs

If you hire a motorcyclist to take you up, expect to pay about 10,000 COP. 

Marinka Waterfalls

What It Is

A park with two huge waterfalls in the jungle. There is a restaurant, hammocks, and plenty of opportunities to take a swim or watch the beautiful birds of paradise flying overhead. 

Note: The water can be very cold. Which in a humid environment can be interpreted as “refreshing.”

Marinka Upper Waterfall, Minca, Colombia

How to Get There

Find Cerro Kennedy Oriente and head south. It’ll be about 3.3km (2mi) but the road is not fully paved like the road to Los Pinos. I’ll tell you right now that to walk this way is difficult, but not impossible. While it’s a shorter distance, the roads are in MUCH worse condition and pound for pound it’s a lot steeper.  

What It Costs

5,000 COP entrance fee. 

If you plan to eat at the restaurant, you’re going to spend 15,000 COP for a very mediocre pizza and 25,000 COP for an actual meal. Pack a lunch if you can, or eat before or after you get there to avoid inflated prices.

Finca La Candelaria Coffee & Cacao Farm

Eugenio & Karina, Finca la Candelaria, Minca, Colombia
Eugenio & Karina, Finca la Candelaria, Minca, Colombia

What It Is

A family-owned coffee and chocolate farm nestled in the mountains, run by Eugenio, a third-generation coffee farmer. Assisting him are his wife Ana and his daughter Karina. Finca la Candelaria has been operating for almost 100 years and produces an incredible amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as fresh fruits. 

For the coffee tour, you get to see the entire process of coffee production, from the bean cultivation to the roasting process. At the end of the hour-long term you get to sample both light roast and dark roast coffee, and even some cold brew. You’ll also learn about the history of coffee, some fun facts about the drink, and hear Eugenio’s thoughts on the modern business of coffee production.

There is also a bed & breakfast (El Paraiso Tuki) on site. 

Eugenio demonstrating a makeshift method for dealing with mosquitos
Eugenio demonstrating a makeshift method for dealing with mosquitos

How to Get There

The lady at the hostel said it was 1.8km, but I think that’s as the crow flies. My phone said closer to 3km. And when I say it’s all uphill, I mean it’s *all* uphill. This may be the shortest walk on this list but for me it was the most challenging. I’m not in bad shape and it whipped me. 

Even if you’re taking a mototaxi, the motorcycles can only go so far before you have to proceed on foot. That smaller portion going in from the main road is especially steep and unpaved. 

Walking Time: 1 hour

What It Costs

If you’re taking a mototaxi there, expect to pay between 10,000 and 15,000 COP. The route is short but very hilly and uneven. 

The coffee and cacao tours are 25,000 COP (about $7) each and last one hour, although Eugenio is more than happy to stay longer and answer any and all questions. 

If you want to buy a bag of their delicious coffee, a 250g bag is 15,000 COP and a 500g bag is 25,000 COP. 

Eugenio serving delicious medium-roasted coffee
Eugenio serving delicious medium-roasted coffee

Conclusion

I really enjoyed my time in Minca, and I hope you do, too! 

As always, if you found this post useful, please Like, Share, Pin, and Tweet it!

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11 Responses

  1. Tammy says:

    Wow! I love to see places like this. Great post. I love that you broke down what the cost of each was. I felt like I was traveling with you. It all looks so amazing. I would love to see what type of birds they have there. But with my fear of heights, being near those waterfalls would be scary for me lol. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Awesome landcape, just love waterfalls and cacao farm sounds amazing..

  3. fpdorchak says:

    Excellent post, my good sir! How’re their iced beverages?

    • Thank you! Unfortunately, I did not partake of many of their iced beverages: usually, it was delicious Colombian coffee or water and Pedialyte to combat the humidity!

      • fpdorchak says:

        I totally understand.

        I remember in college when I went to Lackland AFB, in you-know-where, in high AUGUST for AFROTC Field Training. We were outside all the time, marching and other military training hijinks, and I couldn’t drink enough of ANY fluid to stay hydrated. Besides water, I couldn’t down enough Mello Yellow….

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