Minca – Our not so perfect introduction to Sierra Nevada


aoife

By aoife

Minca is a small little village nestled in the Sierra Nevada jungle overlooking Santa Marta with nature, treks and coffee on offer but minus the internet. We were excited to spend some time here and explore, and after being on the road for nearly 5 months a bit of home comfort in the form of staying in Irish owned accommodation was equally sought after.

We spent 3 nights in Minca and stayed in Emerald Green Guesthouse, which was nice but has seen better days. Niall the host is a kind and helpful guy and we loved his animals Uisce, Cailin, Boots, and Gypsy. I think maybe in a few years it will be a lovely place to return to due to its central location and the upgrades he hopes to make.

Alan and Uisce

We had great plans to do some hikes in Minca but I ended up with a flu (fits of sneezing\chills\fever\no energy type of fun) and Alan’s cut that he got during our San Blas Adventure on some coral decided to flare up so all of our great intentions were put on hold.

Emerald Green Guesthouse’s lovely dog, Uisce

So instead of going to the Pozo Azul waterfall, we ended up going to the centre de salud where a long dark haired doctor pushed, squeezed and pressed open Alan’s two week old and really sore wound in reception. After more squeezing and ripping, a scissors with the tip wrapped in cotton wool appeared, it was then time for me to sit down in reception with my head between my legs while Alan suffered on in silence. “Duele”?? Si claro!!!” with vigorous shaking of head. A dose of antibiotics and pain relief for Alan worked wonders and in two days the cut was looking great so I think it was all worth it, not sure Alan would agree though.

Niall suggested the best thing for my ailment was coca tea which helped relieve the sneezing somewhat but after a night of fever and chills I needed something stronger so Acetaminophen and Codeine with pedilyte (pharmacist said “muy fuerte” so why not try it) was prescribed and finally on day 3 we were half ok. Just in time to tick at least one thing of the list!

Ok so what did we actually do in Minca?!?

Relaxation Time

I got addicted to my audio book – The Roanoke Girls so I rested my eyes and swung on the hammock in the guesthouse with the cats keeping me complany. I have a new love for audio books now!

Night time stroll

We went for a short walk with Niall and Uisce during one of our nights there to see Santa Marta lit up at night. It was a nice stroll where we saw some fire flies and enjoyed being surrounded by sounds of the jungle.

Santa Marta at night from Minca

Marinka waterfall 

We opted to get a moto taxi (an experience in itself!) up the track due to Alan’s healing wound but it cost 10,000 COP each and it didn’t bring us all the way up to the entrance. It cost 4,000 COP to enter. As it was cloudy we didn’t bother going in for a dip but we chilled out on the hammocks and took a few photos before deciding to walk down 20 minutes to another more secluded area along the river and then 40 or so minutes back into town. The walk is very doable with the only thing to watch out for is the moto taxis zooming past.

A local took this picture of us at the waterfall, just one problem, we are blocking the waterfall!

Picture on the hammock overlooking the waterfall

Sunset at Casa Loma

After getting our happy hour burgers in the Lazy Cat Cafe we headed up the stairs to Casa Loma to watch the sunset.

Sunset at Casa Loma was spectacular

Would hate to have to carry backpacks up those steps but it seems like a nice hostel and there is construction on-going for a new restaurant and bar so there will be even more room to chill around up there in a few months.

The views are pretty nice too

Food Experiences

The only thing we were really able to do was eat even though my appetite wasn’t great, but below are our experiences of some of restaurants we visited.

  • We eat in the Lazy Cat a few times – happy hour burgers for 7,000\10,000COP (veg\meat) between 5-7pm. Nothing special in my opinion. I thought the veg burger was better than the meat one and breakfast portion was small enough.
  • Kakow is located across from Emerald Green and serves a nice foccacia for 15,000, and breakfast includes a scrumptious hot chocolate for 9,000COP.
  • Santisabella is an Italian restaurant with a friendly atmosphere but expensive enough – 18000 or so for pasta, 23,000 for ravioli. After waiting 30 minutes, the waiter said they only had a half portion of ravioli left so Alan ordered fajitas and after another 30 minute wait we were served.

What else is there to do in Minca?

  • If you are looking for peace and relaxation (maybe after Ciudad Perdida) book into a hostel away from the town and in the jungle. We heard Mundo Nuevo is nice where the main topic of conversation is about the book you are reading while chilling out on hammocks.
  • Casa Elemento – 10,000COP entrance (includes a drink) to sit and take a picture on the hammock overlooking Sierra Nevada. It costs 30,000COP each to get up there by mototaxi or a 3 hour walk so we opted out as we experienced a hammock at the Marinka waterfall.
  • Los Piños is a viewpoint 2-3 hours above Minca. Probably best to go up very early where you might catch a glimpse of snow capped mountains.
  • Pozo Azul waterfall – another waterfall to visit.
  • Finca Victoria is supposed to be really interesting and they provide a good tour. We wanted to do this but it wasn’t to be.
  • Horse riding trip to the finca was recommended by another traveler who really enjoyed it.
  • Jungle Joes for bird watching tours.

We found this bamboo ‘bridge’ when we went exploring

Some Tips

  • Moto taxis seem to be expensive when you consider it only costs 8,000COP to get from Santa Marta to Minca so if you are on a budget maybe try walk both ways or avail of the moto-taxi for one of the trips – up/down.
  • The journey to/from Minca was not good but maybe it was because I wasn’t feeling great but I suffered from motion sickness during both trips to/from Minca so beware.
  • Watch out for sandflies around waterfalls and make sure you have a mosquio net over your bed/hammock. Some girls from our San Blas trip had hammocks without nets and got badly bitten. Wear long pants and avail of inspect repellent. Niall told us to get Nopikex (9,000COP), a soap that seemed to do the trick, that or maybe the fact we didn’t venture out too much, who knows!

There is enough to keep you entertained in Minca but at the same time if seclusion is what you desire it can also be achieved here. Hopefully in a few years time we will go back and actually do some of the activities on offer but I have a sneaking feeling that tourism will change this special place but time will tell.

Marinka waterfall as seen through the hammock!

Let us know what your favourite experience of Minca was and comment below!

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