When visiting Colombia, many travelers visit the famous Caribbean towns of Cartagena and Santa Marta. These places have a lot of history and beautiful buildings to gaze at. But if you’re an adventure enthusiast like me, you’ll love a small mountain town close to these areas. Minca is full of hikes and waterfalls that keep you busy for days.
I plan on going back one day and I hope nothing changes about this small town. Its friendly people and amazing food really keep you craving more.
This place has it all, from easy hikes to waterfalls, longer day hikes, and even some overnighters!
Where is Minca Located?
Located around 40 minutes from Santa Marta is Minca. This ride will have you driving away from the beach and up into the mountains.
There are a ton of unique hikes in Colombia and Minca is no different.
Once in Minca, it is possible to see the mountain range consisting of Pico Cristóbal Colón (the highest mountain in Colombia). This mountain sits at 5,730 meters high.
This was one of my favorite places in the entire country and I highly suggest you add it to your itinerary in Colombia!
How to Get to Minca, Colombia
It is very easy to get to Minca. I will lay out the exact details of how to get there from two very popular places, Cartagena and Santa Marta.
The cost of travel in Colombia, no matter if it’s a plane or bus, is cheap. This helped to give me the opportunity to see as much as possible of this beautiful country!
Santa Marta to Minca
Minca is located 45 minutes south of Santa Marta in a beautiful mountainous region. This is a very popular area amongst travelers and local Colombian tourists alike. It is suggested to book your accommodation ahead of time.
Here are a few ways of getting to Minca:
- Colectivo: This costs only $9,000 COP and runs multiple times a day. Head to the Mercado Publico and ask for Minca.
- Taxi: The going rate to get a ride to Minca is $60,000 COP. We were able to get it down to $55,000 COP but that was it.
- Moto Taxi: This will be cheaper than a taxi but may be difficult with your luggage.
Cartagena to Minca
Cartagena is located 4 hours southwest of Santa Marta. For the cheapest way to get to Minca from Cartagena, you will want to make your way to Santa Marta first.
This can either be done by public bus or private transport. The private shuttle is around $170 USD for 6 people. Below I will go over the cheapest way to arrive at Cartagena from Minca.
- Either book ahead online at Redbus or make your way to the Cartagena Terminal.
- The top 2 companies are Brasilia and MarSol
- You can get a bus for as cheap as 60k COP ($12 USD) for a 4 1/2 hour journey to Santa Marta
- After arriving you will either have the option to take a collectivo for $9,000 COP or a Taxi for $60,000 COP to Minca
Best Places to Stay in Minca, Colombia
- Casa Loma Minca: This hostel is located up a hill just through the downtown area. It has a patio that offers spectacular views of Minca below.
- Rio Elemento Ecolodge: A little pricier hostel compared to most in Colombia but it makes up for this with its great amenities.
- Finca Carpe Diem: Farther away from the town than other hostels but that is what makes this place so magical.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
8 Legendary Hikes in Minca, Colombia
Might as well start this list off by talking about the most popular spot in all of Minca. Pozo Azul is a small set of waterfalls right outside of town.
This spot is popular amongst many travelers because of its ease of access and chill atmosphere around the place. There are some hostels right down the river that you can stay at as well.
Since this is the most popular spot to visit in town, then I would suggest either showing up really early or post-lunchtime. This will help with having less crowd there so you can enjoy the waterfalls.
If the bottom waterfall is still too crowded, then you can climb around the side up to another set of waterfalls.
Minca has many great hikes and this is one you can’t miss.
Next up on the list of the best hikes in Minca is Cerro Kennedy. This was my personal favorite in all of Minca because of how unique the experience was.
It’s the longest hike in the area so we suggest staying at the Hostal Donde Moncho near the top. You can purchase meals here and the dinner they cooked was one of the best home-cooked meals I’ve had during my entire trip to Colombia.
In total, this hike is 24 miles out and back. The selling point for this hike compared to other hikes in Minca is that you get to see the famous mountain range in Colombia.
From the top of Cerro Kennedy, you are able to see the sunrise over Pico Cristóbal Colón.
Even though it is the only waterfall in the area that you have to pay for, Marinka waterfalls are absolutely worth the trip.
It only costs $10,000 COP ($2) which helps keep this park in pristine condition. Once you walk through the entrance, you will enter a magical part of Colombia.
It isn’t the most interesting hike if you’re going straight to the Marinka waterfalls. You will be on the main road where cars/motorbikes will be driving past you.
You can pay an extra $10,000 COP to take a moto-taxi from downtown to the entrance of the park.
The cool part about Marinka waterfalls is that they can be connected with many other hikes in Minca.
Los Pinos is the longest day hike in Minca. You are even able to go straight from the Marinka waterfalls to the Los Pinos Viewpoint.
There are two separate routes that can take you up to this area. The longer route is around 14 miles round trip. The route we took is a loop hike and will have you hiking on the road for half of it.
You can turn this into an out-and-back hike, which will cut off a few miles. This can start by taking a right at the entrance to the Marinka Waterfalls (where you paid to get in).
It is nice to get up to the Los Pinos viewpoint and enjoy a cold beverage overlooking Minca.
Lost City Trek
The Lost City Trek is by far the most unique out of all the hikes in Minca and maybe even Colombia too. Some compare this trek to the Machu Picchu one in Peru.
This must be done with a tour company as it is impossible to do it on your own. Some travelers come to Colombia solely for this hike alone.
Lost City Trek spans across 4-days which all of the accommodation and food will be taken care of. During this trek, you will be walking through dense forests, passing indigenous communities, and seeing plenty of wildlife.
If you have the money and time to do this trek, I highly suggest making it a priority.
Cascada Oido del Mundo (Ear of the World)
Cascada Oido del Mundo or Ear of the world waterfall is a super pleasant day trip. It is one of the shortest hikes in Minca and still, not many people know about this.
It is located halfway between the town of Minca and the Marinka Waterfalls. This makes it an easy stop when headed there as it only takes an extra few minutes off the normal road.
Depending on what time you decide to visit this waterfall, it will be fairly empty. We went in the middle of the day and there were only a couple of people there.
Add Cascada Oido del Mundo to your list of Hikes in Minca.
This isn’t as much of a hike as it is just a nice stroll down to the river. It is comparable in length to the Ear of the World waterfall in Minca.
It will take you around 15 minutes from the downtown area to make it to this part of the river. The rocks make it for a great swimming area and a place to relax with friends.
Follow Carrera 1a from Minca down until you reach the riverbed.
Take a break from all the hikes in Minca and relax by the river. You deserve it.
This hike offers some of if not the best views in all of Minca. It isn’t as popular as Los Pinos and others, so you will have a higher chance of having the whole mountain to yourself.
From the center of Minca, you will want to make your way to Cabaña San Luis. The trailhead is just up the road a little bit.
Once on this trail, you will want to follow the signs that say 360 Mirador.
This hike will take you around 5 miles and can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours roundtrip.
Popular Activities in Minca, Colombia
Minca is a special place. Easily one of my favorites in Colombia. There are more things you can do here besides seeing some amazing waterfalls. The region has amazing coffee as well as one of the most famous hikes in all of Colombia, The Lost City Trek.
Final Thoughts on the Best Hikes in Minca
Minca is a small but very special destination in Colombia. If you love the outdoors then this has to be on the top of your list. There is so much to do here and I still have to come back to do it all.
I hope the town grows in popularity because it deserves it but I also hope it keeps the magical touch it has. Enjoy these hikes in Minca and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone!