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Minca by Motorcycle (or not)

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Background Info about minca

Minca, Colombia is a small town nestled 650m above sea level in the Sierra Nevada mountains, 45 minutes outside the city of Santa Marta. Like much of Colombia, Minca has an incredibly rich history of indigenous tribes, farming and a connection to the land, but also an unfortunate history of armed conflict and violence, which is well beyond my scope of knowledge to dive too deep into. In recent years, Minca has blossomed as a sought-after tourist destination, thanks in part to the construction of Via Minca, an asphalt road that now conveniently links Minca to Santa Marta. Previously, the journey was arduous and time-consuming, but now, motorcycle enthusiasts can delight in a thrilling 30-45 minute ride along this scenic mountain route. Adventurous souls can also opt for two unpaved trails from Tigrera to Minca, perfect for a challenging 5-hour hike or an exhilarating off-road motorcycle ride, provided they possess the necessary riding skills.

How to get there

The most straightforward way to get to the town of Minca, Colombia, is by the shared collective that departs from the Santa Marta public market (carrera 9 #11-87) every 30-60 minutes. It will cost around 10-12.000 COP and will have you in Minca in a little under an hour. However, this can be a little boring. For pretty much the same price, you can catch a mototaxi or taxi from anywhere in the city, out to Mamatoco gas station, where there are dozens of enthusiastic moto taxi drivers waiting to take you up the windy mountain road to the town of Minca. This way, you get the thrill of the motorcycle ride even if you don’t have the ability to ride yourself.

However for those who do know how, a motorcycle or scooter rental in Santa Marta could make the trip up to Minca one of the highlights of your trip.

What to do in Minca

Upon arrival in town, it is highly recommended to visit the Minca Museum (Museo Minca), which is a project run by a beautiful couple that lives in the town, which is attempting to document the entire history of the area from all points of view. Visit here to get a better understanding of the rich history of the area you are visiting before moving out and exploring further into the mountains. Before starting your hike or motorcycle ride up into the Minca mountains, you should be sure to fuel up at Lazy Cat Cafe, one of our favourite and highly-rated eateries in town. Or if you are feeling something lighter, or to take with you on your journey, visit La Miga bakery, a French style bakery with some of the best breads, made on site, that you will taste in Colombia. In Minca, waterfalls are in abundance. On one side you have Marinka waterfall, which is an hour hike, or a twenty (ten?) minute motorcycle ride from the centre of town. You can park your motorcycle at the bottom of the hill for a few thousand pesos, then start the steep, ten minute hike up from there. Entry is five thousand pesos, but the waterfall is worth the journey and more than worth the pesos. Marinka waterfall is two tall cascadas, with abseiling available on the higher level and swimming possible at the lowest pool. The other popular waterfall in Minca is the Pozo Azul swimming hole. An hour-twenty minute hike from the town or a twenty minute motorcycle ride, is the multi-leveled, icy cool, natural waterpark. Entry is free, but you need to pay the lovely lady two thousand pesos to park your motorcycle. You can climb back as far as you want, discovering many different pools along the way. It’s highly recommended to do so, as almost everybody will pack themselves into the first pool. The second pool is deep enough to cliff-jump into, for those who are game.

One of the oldest coffee farms in Colombia is also just around the corner! An hour hike further up the mountain will take you to La Victoria coffee plantation, which is powered entirely by hydroelectricity. Go on an hour long, guided tour for 20.000 COP, try some delicious coffee, or have a tasty sandwich in the lunch bar next door. For the more active, you could try and hike to Los Pinos viewpoint, the highest accessible point in the greater Minca area, but I’ve always believed it’s way more fun to ride up on a motorcycle. (Bet you couldn’t guess that by now). The hike is a full day, whereas the motorcycle ride is an hour from Minca (if you know what you’re doing), and will get you there sooner, rather than later. Which is important, because the clouds normally arrive in the afternoon, potentially obscuring the view of Santa Marta, Rodadero, and sometimes even Barranquilla!

Finally, for the true adventure lovers, a trip up to Cerro Kennedy must be on the list. This is a two day hike (one up, one back) from the town of Minca, and a view not to be missed. Alternatively, you could rent a motorcycle and do the whole trip in a day. For the real adventurous, experienced motorcycle rider, we run guided motorcycle tours which involve a two hour ride up during the night, and arrival just in time for, perhaps, the most spectacular sunrise you’ve ever seen.

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