Minca is the last part of our Colombia trip. It’s a small village in the mountains of Sierra Nevada. It’s a great place for people who want to enjoy the outdoors, go hiking, bird watching, and of course visit a coffee farm. We took a taxi from Santa Marta to our hostel in Minca. The drive is about 40 minutes through beautiful, lush mountains. Minca is swarming with hummingbirds. They are everywhere. Just behind the hostel is one of the best places in Minca to spot toucan birds.
There is very little information about this region online because until very recently Minca was part of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) territory. For over a decade there was a civil war between FARC and paramilitary guerrillas. It wasn’t a very safe place for tourists. In 2016 Colombian government signed a peace treaty with FARC and things started to change. We spent two days in Minca and felt completely safe. We also didn’t really go off trail or venture into remote parts of the jungle.
Keep in mind, most places in Minca don’t take credit cards so bring enough cash with you. There are no ATM’s in Minca either. There’s a store that falsely advertises an ATM but it’s a guy behind the store who charges your debit card and gives you cash. The exchange rate he offers is bad and he’ll charge you 10% fee. Not to mention, you have to give your debit card to the guy. There’s no ATM.
Getting around in Minca
Minca is very mountainous and rugged. Steep, narrow, dirt trails are very common. Many parts in the region don’t have paved roads. The best way to get around is motorcycles. If you are comfortable driving the motorcycle yourself, you can rent it. If you are like me and don’t know how to drive a motorcycle, you can get a mototaxi. There are guys in black and blue Motomink jackets who drive the motorcycles. You just hop on the back and they’ll take you wherever you want to go.
The mototaxi collective have set prices and we saw them all over town. They give you a helmet if you want. The drivers were safe and riding on the back through the rainforest and mountains is a unique experience. First few minutes are a little scary but I got used to it pretty quickly. After a while I started to enjoy the ride and the view.
Casa Relax Hostel
Casa Relax is a beautiful hostel which also offers a few private rooms with balconies. There’s a restaurant with full bar on site and the entire staff is very helpful, nice, and friendly. The hostel does accept credit cards but there is an additional fee. They prefer cash. The hostel also offers laundry service for a small fee. Breakfast is included and it’s freshly made every morning. There are lots of hummingbirds and dozens of other birds all around the hostel. Video of hummingbirds at the hostel.
The hostel has a huge hammock outside and individual hammocks all around. There is a river behind the hostel which makes it’s a great spot for bird watching. The hostel is a little outside of the town center but there is a shortcut from the hostel to the town center. It’s a nice short hike but make sure to take flashlight because finding your way back to the hostel can get confusing after dark.
The hostel has filtered water so we can fill up our bottles. They do charge a small fee but you have to keep track of it because it’s on an honor system. At check-out they just ask you how many bottles you filled up. They strongly recommend not drinking tap water in Minca. They also sell local coffee and snacks in case you are up late at night and need a snack.
Casa Relax is a great place to spend a few nights away from everything and in the middle of the rainforest. The data isn’t great so you really are disconnected from the world. The hostel does offer WiFi but the signal strength isn’t very strong. It’s a great place to hang out with friends late night, eating, drinking and just relaxing.
After breakfast, we started our day. We decided to hike to Pozo Azul. It’s about an hour long hike from Casa Relax and the hike itself is beautiful. Click for pictures from the hike. There are a few food stalls along the way. As you get closer to the watering hole, there was a woman on the side of the trail selling coffee. The hike is very beautiful but the watering hole was more crowded than I expected. The waterfall itself was not very big. We didn’t stay at Pozo Azul very long. We continued our way to the next stop.
La Victoria Coffee Farm is another 50 to 60 hike from Pozo Azul. We started hiking in that direction but since we started our day later than expected there was a real chance we might not get to the farm before they closed. It closes at 5 pm and the last tour is at 4 pm. Half way through the hike, we saw two empty mototaxis. We asked them to take us to the coffee farm. It cost us 12,500 pesos (about $3.75 USD) per person. We also asked them to pick us up after about two hours and take us back to our hostel.
La Victoria Coffee Farm is one of the biggest and oldest coffee farms in Colombia. The one hour long tour is educational and fun. All the equipment on the farm is from 1892 and it’s still working. It’s a self sustaining coffee farm and the tour costs 15,000 pesos (about $4.50 USD) per person. There is also a brewery on the farm. The tour includes all you can drink coffee and it is the best coffee I’ve had in my life. More pictures of the coffee farm.
Coffee from La Victoria is the only coffee I’ve been able to drink black and without sugar. I couldn’t leave the farm without buying a few bags. There is also a hostel named Casa Viejas on the farm and we considered staying there. I had a great time at Casa Relax but I’m sure this place is also great. The view would definitely be worth the trek up. After the tour, the mototaxi took us back to the town center. The return trip cost us 15,000 pesos per person.
From the town center we walked to Mirador hostel to watch sunset and have a drink. The view is beautiful but the sunset wasn’t visible. After a little while we went back to the town center for dinner and pick up a bottle of aguardiente. We went back to Casa Relax for the night. We had one last day left in Minca.