October 23, 2020

Minca

I started writing this post a long time ago but then got busy with work and other trips. Before I knew it, the world had changed. And now, this almost seems like a history post of how everything used to be. But since I’d already started writing, I wanted to finish it even though I have no idea how this pandemic will change the world we live in. I sincerely hope to return to normal world where we can travel freely soon.

Minca is a small village in Sierra Nevada. It’s a great place for hiking, bird watching, and just relaxing in the mountains. There are over 300 species of birds in Minca and the surrounding views are spectacular. It’s also known for amazing, organic coffee, though it’s not THE coffee region of the country. Colombia’s oldest coffee farm is in Minca. This region has only become safe in the past few years once the Colombian government and FARC signed a peace treaty. Since the treaty was signed in 2016, the region has become very safe. However, before going to Minca, there are a few things to be aware of.

countryside

First, most businesses in Minca prefer cash but there’s NO ATM in Minca. Make sure to take enough cash with you. If you don’t want to carry too much cash for safety reasons, than credit cards are accepted but there’s usually an extra charge for using it. It could be anywhere from 5% to 12% additional fee for using credit card at hostels and other places. My advice is to take at least enough cash to cover your hostel stay and a few meals.

brewery at La Victoria Coffee Farm

Second, make sure to take a flashlight. Minca is a small town as I mentioned. This means, that after dark there aren’t too many street lights outside of town center. Take a flashlight so you can see where you’re going, especially if your hostel is outside the town center. A headlamp or miners lamp is a good option so your hands can be free.

Casa Relax hammock

Third, take lots and LOTS of bug spray and sunblock. Whatever amount of bug spray you think you’ll need for your trip, double it and take that. Be sure to re-apply bug spray throughout the day. It’s very hot and humid in Minca so you’ll need to reapply as the day goes. The husband got bug bites he didn’t even feel immediately but the scars are still there almost 1 year later. So don’t mess with Colombian insects.

And lastly, don’t drink tap water in Minca. Just to be safe, stick to bottled water. We drank tap water in Medellin and Guatape but the hostel staff at Casa Relax told us it might be better if we drank bottled water only. Our hostel had bottled water for purchase at a very reasonable price.

Where to eat in Minca

  • La Miga – A french bakery that has delicious bread. It’s hard to find good bread in Colombia but this bakery does an excellent job. If you have a sweet tooth like me, then definitely try their chocolate bread. And of course, you can’t go wrong with coffee anywhere in Colombia.
  • Lazy Cat – Great food with wonderful outdoor seating. The views are amazing, service was great, and the food was also delicious. It’s a perfect restaurant for a nice dinner after a long day of hiking and exploring Minca. The guacamole and burger are worth trying.
Burger and guac at the Lazy Cat
  • Lady’s Restaurant – If you like rotisserie chicken, you’ll want to eat here. The ambiance doesn’t have much to offer but the chicken is juicy, tender and flavorful. We stopped by for a quick meal and were glad we did.

Where to stay in Minca

  • Casa Relax – We stayed here and absolutely loved it. Zero complaints. They offer private rooms with bathrooms or you can stay in a more hostel type room with multiple beds and shared bathroom. If you enjoy bird watching, this is the place to stay. It’s also a great place to spot toucans. They have a pool, restaurant, and bar onsite.
  • Casa Loma – This was the runner up but in the end we didn’t stay here. Main reason was the private huts don’t have doors and I value my privacy at night. The restaurant on site is also vegetarian and I like to have meat options. But if these aren’t a deal breaker for you, then definitely consider staying here.
goofing off at Pozo Azul
  • Casa Viejas – It’s actually located on Colombia’s oldest coffee farm. We didn’t stay here but we did tour the farm and it’s gorgeous. La Victoria coffee farm tour was very fun and I learned a lot about how coffee is grown, processed, and turned into roasted beans. They also have a small artisanal brewery on site. Next time I go back to Colombia, I think I just might stay here.
  • La Calendaria Coffee and Cocoa Farm B&B – Getting to the coffee farm is an experience itself. Cars or moto taxi (motorcycles) won’t go all the way to the B&B so if you have a lot of luggage, you might want to stay somewhere a little more accessible. But the views are absolutely gorgeous, and they used to have a resident toucan that visited often.
View from La Calendaria B&B

What to do in Minca

  • La Calendaria Coffee and Cocoa Tour – You can take a moto taxi from Minca to the entrance of the farm but you’ll be hiking uphill another 15 min before you get to the actual farm. The cost of the cocoa tour is 25,000 pesos per person. You’ll learn a lot about cocoa and here’s my detailed post about it.
  • La Victoria Coffee Tour – Colombia’s oldest coffee farm is another beautiful place that’s a must visit and their coffee is the best I’ve had in my life. It’s the only place I’ve been able to drink coffee black, without milk or sugar. They also have a brewery onsite so after the hike and the tour, you can relax with a beer. Here’s my detailed post about La Victoria coffee farm.
food stall on the way to Pozo Azul
  • Pozo Azul hike – The hike to the watering hole is gorgeous and it’s a great option on a hot day. It’s also the midway point from Minca to La Victoria Coffee Farm. The hike is all uphill so it’s great to stop by the watering hole and cool off before continuing the hike.
  • Watch the sunset – There are many hostels with a restaurant that over looks the Sierra Nevada mountains. Sitting outside with a nice drink like Aguardiente or a local craft beer while watching the sunset with friends and loved ones is a memory you’ll cherish. We watched the sunset from the restaurant at Mirador Hostel. Casa Elemento is another beautiful place to visit at sunset.
view from La Mirador hostel

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