A Complete Guide to Hiking in Minca, Colombia

Minca should be on every travelers list to Colombia to escape the busy cities and the crowds of Tayrona. This guide will give you the 411 to different hiking options available to explore Minca independently.

Mundo Nuevo Minca Colombia

History of Minca

The roots of Minca date back to the late 18th century when one of the country’s first coffee plantations developed in the region. Sprouting more plantations through the 19th century, Minca cultivation exports became highly valued through Caribbean ports.


The coffee rein in Minca ‘ground’ to a halt during World War II causing imports to Europe to plummet. This lasted long enough for coffee growers to switch to growing cash crops like marijuana.



The 70s brought on the incursion of guerilla groups who further forced cultivators to grow marijuana and coca to fund operations. Paramilitaries in the 80s came to fight the guerillas and bring their own corruption to Minca. Eventually with government support in the early 2000’s the last of the fighting groups and cartel leaders were removed.


Today, Minca is a safely regarded place for national and foreign tourist to enjoy a getaway in the lush jungle hills.

colombia jeep minca


How to get to Minca

Getting to Minca is simple and is almost exclusively done by way of bus from Santa Marta. Santa Marta is located 45 minutes to the north and has buses making trips frequently throughout the day.


Head to Mercado Público de Santa Marta and look for the van style buses (colectivo) and people shouting “Minca! Minca! Minca!"


The cost as of 2021 is 8,000 COP and the bus will leave once there are at least four people ready to go.



Returning to Santa Marta is similar and requires getting to downtown Minca where you were originally dropped off.


Places to Hike in Minca


Marinka Waterfalls

hike minca marinka waterfall

This is the most popular spot among visitors to Minca and is definitely worth a stop. It's lost it's original pristine beauty with all of the walkways, restaurants, and buildings built up surrounding the falls but creates a vibrant atmosphere.



There is good swimming in the lower falls, good jungle setting at the upper falls, and great hammocks to relax in all over.


To get there, head 2 miles south on the road headed out of downtown Minca which should take you about 45 minutes. You’ll be on dirt roads the entire time.


Hiking Minca Marinka Waterfall

Los Pinos

Los Pinos Hike Minca Colombia

English translation: The Pines. This is an uphill trek through way of coffee plantation trails and off the beaten path dirt roads to get you to the top of a hill with…wait for it…pine trees!


I first took this to be pretty lackluster but they are the only pine trees in this area of Colombia so imagine if you went on a hike somewhere and got to a place that had palm trees surrounded by only pine trees, kind of cool?


Regardless the views are said to be good, I had fog, but the trek up is cool!

Los Pinos Hike Minca Colombia

To reach Los Pinos continue along the Marinka Falls road and you’ll see wooden signs that point the way to Los Pinos. It may feel a bit untrodden and sketchy so this is more of an adventurers route.


Pozo Azul

Pozo Azul Hike Minca Colombia

Next Spanish to English translation: Blue Well. This is basically a swimming hole in the Rio Gaira that is fed by a waterfall and surrounded by small cliffs. It’s a cool hangout place with less vanity than Marinka Falls. It does get a hefty crowd of foreign and national tourists though too.


To get there take Calle 1 out of downtown Minca until you reach Mis Ojitos. There’s a dirt road from there that will take you 20 minutes to reach Pzo Azul from.



La Candelaria Coffee Farm

La Candeleria Coffee Farm Minca Colombia

This place was boarded up and looked pretty closed in October 2021 when I was there but the hotel staff at Mundo Nuevo insisted that this was only temporary and that it should be open...the next day? It was still cool as a ghost town and had some of the best viewing platforms in Minca.



It would have been amazing to get a cold drink or some fresh coffee and take in the views so hopefully it is open.

La Candeleria Coffee Farm Minca Colombia

Getting there is easy and follows a path called the Paso del Mango which is a dirt road up in the hills towards Mundo Nuevo and then uses a trail to cut over to La Candelaria.


Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge

Mundo Nuevo Hiking Minca Colombia

Mundo Nuevo is a native village located in the hills of Minca near La Candelaria Coffee Farm. You can book a tour to visit the village and interact with the natives. however, if you’re only looking for a self-exploring adventure to see this native village the Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge is perfect.



It’s a hotel sitting in the hills just above the huts and welcomes visitors who aren’t staying at the hotel to hang around their property. They have a full bar and restaurant with an amazing open air and outdoor space overlooking the native village.


Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge Minca Colombia

To get there, follows signs from La Candelaria if you’re stopping there first or continue up Paso Del Mango if coming from downtown Minca.


Mirador 360

Mirador 360 Hike Minca Colombia

This is probably the best hiking option you get in Minca and it’s supposed to have an insane view of Santa Marta, the Caribbean, Tayrona, and the Sierra Nevada’s – like truly 360-degrees.



I ran up there to beat a thunderstorm closing in and had no luck on views. It was still a great hike on true trails not dirt roads like a lot of the hiking around Minca.


To get there take the road upwards from Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge which is on the way. The hike up should take about 45 minutes to an hour so plan for at least an hour and a half round trip.


Maps and Routes

If these are all stops you’re looking to hit in Minca, with some adventure and stamina you can hit them all in one 20-mile loop starting and ending in downtown Minca.


This map is my recorded route from my full day hike around Minca and can be accessed on Gaia GPS here.



Hiking Map Minca Colombia

This route uses a mix of roads and trails however some may be the road very less travelled or have turned that way post Covid. Trails on the map sometimes navigate through private property and in one case I had to fork over a 2,000 COP note to get through a gate.


It's an adventurous route and some of those back trails did lead to the best hiking through jungle and plantations so if you're looking to get a little off a tourist trail this could be a good option.

Hiking Minca Colombia


Looking For Other Trekking Options Based Out of Minca?


The Lost City Trek

This is probably what you’ve seen if you've looked up hiking in Colombia. It’s a 4 - 6 day hike to La Ciudad Perdida which can only be done with a guided tour group. The cost is 1,400,000 COP ($375 USD) which includes glamping accommodations and meals.


Very different today from when the trek first opened and cost 50,000 COP ($13 USD), was true backpacking, and included an optional extra day to tour a coca plantation with free samples included (true story).


For more information head here!



Cerro Kennedy

This is a two-day guided or independent hike based out of Minca that takes you up to around 3,000m for breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. There are huts along the way and atop to camp or stay at for a cost.



Places to stay


Casa Loma Minca

Casa Loma Minca Colombia

This is a favorite hostel among backpackers in Minca. Situated in the hills overlooking Minca but close enough to walk to downtown from for food, tours, and nightlife. You can’t go wrong here if you fit the backpacker and traveler vibe. Accommodations are cheap ranging from $7 bunkrooms and $17 private bungalows.


You can check them out on HostelWorld here.



Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge

Mundo Nuevo Eco Lodge Minca Colombia

This is the lodge I mentioned that looks over Mundo Nuevo. It’s one of the best views and settings in the Minca hills with a great atmosphere of people and staff. You’ll need to arrange for a car or moto when getting to and from town here but the hotel does a good job with shuttles from what I heard. This is more upscale than a hostel putting it in the $50 per room a night range.


You can check them out on Booking.com here.



Casa Elemento

This place is closed but is worth mentioning because it was all the buzz from people who had previously been to Minca before I. Apparently it has the biggest hammock in the world (allegedly) and this great backpacker vibe out in the hills of Minca.


A Trip Advisor posting said the reason for closing was that organized crime groups have been extorting business owners in the area and they closed down when refusing to pay. I don’t fully believe the validity but Minca is very safe for tourist coming to visit.


Check online to see if it reopens before coming, hoping it reopens for whenever my next visit is!


This list only scratches the surface of the incredible options in Minca. Every hillside has it's own amazing eco lodge hotel with private huts, pools, and other great features. Checkout Booking.com to see what great deals and places you can find as well!



Best Time of Year to Visit

Minca is an all-year destination but Spring and Fall months tend to be considered the most favorable weather and lowest periods of crowds.


See all weather and crowd patterns here by Champion Travel but don’t miss out on Minca just because it may not be the most favorable time of year.

Hiking Minca Colombia

What to Bring


Bug Spray

Bug Spray is key to have in Minca for hiking through jungle and when sitting at your hostel. I found here to not be quite as bad as Tayrona but after seeing some peoples legs covered in mosquitoes, I wasn’t taking risks.


If you’re not playing around and want the best protection, Sawyer Permethrin is your best bet. Spray once on your clothes and you’ll have better than bug spray protection for weeks.



Sunscreen

This is commonsense for any travel but for sure in Minca. Hiking around you can wind up in direct sun for long periods while walking on the roads. I’ve never found South American sunscreen to be great so these travel tubes are perfect to bring with you.


A Map App

I use AllTrails and Gaia GPS but others should be sufficient if you’ve previously tested and can download the maps for offline use and has a GPS function built in for your location.


Hiking around Minca is not self-explanatory so this is a must if you’re an independent traveler. Every once in a while you may get a sign like this.

Hiking Trail Minca Colombia

Water Filter

A water filter isn’t just for hiking but for any water source. None of the faucet water is safe to drink here and you shouldn’t even brush your teeth with it. Skip buying extra water bottles and grab one of these.



Hiking Shoes

Trail runners are the perfect hiking shoe in Minca. Honestly they’re the most versatile travel shoe and beat out hiking boots any day. Condense your pack and replace your hiking boots with Altra’s most popular trail runner.


Additional Activities in Minca


Bird Watching Tours

I would say skip the tour and go on a hike and you'll see plenty but I also didn't see a Toucan, which after talking to locals is rare, but would be worth a tour for.

Bird Watching Hike Minca Colombia


Mountain Biking, Moto Rentals, and Rides

This company is based in the center square of downtown Minca and will take you to any destination on the below map. If you're pressed for time or not looking to hike, know that you have easy transportation all over the hills of Minca.

Motorcycle Minca Colombia

That's all on Minca - feel free to drop a comment or question and I'll see if I can assist!


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Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited. Embedded maps are provided by Embed Google Map (embedgooglemap.net) and map images shown are provided as stated and cited.

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