Minca is a small town located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, about 20 km from the city center. Minca is the ecological capital of the Sierra Nevada known for its varied flora and fauna, pools and waterfalls, organic coffee, and cooler weather. Initially a preferred backpacking destination and preferred trekking destination, in recent years, new glamping, boutique hotels, restaurants and nice coffee shops have attracted a growing number of visitors.
How to get there
The region is beautiful and is best explored on hiking, motorbikes or 4-wheel drive vehicles, as many roads remain unpaved and are of low quality, particularly during rainy seasons.
La Victoria coffee plantation is a popular attraction. Original machinery from the 1800s and a self-sustaining coffee production process (using water from mountain streams to power generators) make this a sustainability stand out process. The views during harvest season are great and the coffee, even better. The tour costs $25.000. La Candelaria is another popular plantation, about 1 hour and 15 minutes hike up from the center of Minca or around 20 minutes ($25.000) if you take a moto ride. Coffee and chocolate tours are a must, and their organic coffee and chocolate are great souvenirs.
The Marinka falls are two beautiful falls of crystalline water that descend from the mountains forming the Quebrada de Marinka. The second fall has natural pool that is very popular among visitors.
Like Pozo Azul, Marinka is an easy-to-reach destination, so it gets crowded on weekends and high season.
To get there, you can walk from the center for 45 minutes approximately or take a 15-minute moto ride to the entrance and then another 10-minute walk from there to the waterfalls.
Pozo Azul is a set of seven clear-water natural swimming holes and waterfalls. On sunny days, you see blue hues in the water that give it its name. To get there, you can walk from the center for 30 minutes or take 10-minute moto ride to the entrance and then another 30 minutes from there to the waterfalls. This small trail is loaded with beautiful natural views and surrounded by a lot of nature.
The place gets very crowed on weekends and high season, so go for early swims or weekdays to have the place for yourself. The first waterfall is generally the most crowded spot, so consider trekking to avoid crowds.
Cerro Kennedy is a mountainous formation that is located at an altitude of 3,100 meters above sea level. It presents a forest covered with fog and hundreds of endemic, common and migratory birds that make it an ideal place for bird watching. The hill also offers one of the best views and one of the most famous sunrise spots in the country, with the snow-capped peaks Bolívar and Colón in the background. It takes at least a day to hike up and is recommended for experienced hikers or you can book a 4×4 sunrise trip leaving at 3:00 am from Minca at $700.000 (4-6 people)
Minca is the main birdwatching destination in Santa Marta, and probably in Colombia and South America. As noted above, Colombia is the country with the largest number of bird species in the world, equivalent to 36%, which makes it a destination frequented by amateur and professional observers. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta occupies 1.48% of the country’s and 0.011% of the planet´s surface, respectively. 35.45% of the bird species in Colombia have been registered in the Sierra, equivalent to about 7 % of the world’s birds species (ProSIerra). In the Sierra Nevada there is an Area of Endemism of Birds and Areas of Importance for the Conservation of Birds (AICAS).
Custom made tours are frequently arranged or you can join tours starting at $300.000. Check with local operators as prices vary depending on the season, duration, rental, overnight stays, etc.
The local museum is becoming a historical and culturally integrative spot in the area. The Museum has three lines of research: indigenous wisdom, coffee history and culture, armed conflict, and its impact on the community. The entry is free and free English or Spanish guides take place (please tip the volunteers). Ending your trip in Minca visiting the museum will give a comprehensive view of the town and help you understand its social, cultural, and touristic relevance.