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6 BEST Minca Tours to See Wildlife, Waterfalls, Coffee and Cacao!

6 BEST Minca Tours to See Wildlife, Waterfalls, Coffee and Cacao!

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Minca is one of North Colombia’s most pristine eco-tourism locations and once you visit you’ll see why. Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains, this quaint village offers a unique look into local life, coffee and cocoa production, and unspoiled nature experiences. It is an incredibly magical place you won’t want to miss!

We have visited many times and each time we go discover something new to fall in love with. If you’re staying in Santa Marta and have already spent a day (or two) in Tayrona National Park, Minca is just a short day trip away and well worth your time! In fact, Minca has turned into one of our favorite places to visit in Columbia!

Tours from Minca offer the perfect opportunity to escape the heat of Santa Marta, have a one-of-a-kind nature experience, and learn about local life. We’ve put together all the top tours to Minca, so you can see this beautiful area for yourself!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our absolute favorite Minca tours include:

  1. This full-day tour featuring visits to coffee and cocoa farms plus hiking and a dip in the Minca River.
  2. Spending 2 days learning about the area’s plants and animals on this overnight bird-watching tour.
  3. If you’re interested in a private tour, this coffee farm and waterfall one is the perfect way to explore Minca with family or friends.

About Minca

Pozo Azul Minca drive
The view driving up to Pozo Azul and La Victoria

Minca, Colombia is a small village in the hills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains located only a short drive from the large city of Santa Marta. For travelers, it’s a beautiful region with lots to discover including waterfalls, coffee farms, and even a brewery.

Once upon a time, Minca was an off-the-beaten-path destination that wasn’t on many people’s radars for traveling in Colombia. In fact, the first time we visited, it was only on a day tour and we didn’t feel like we had enough time here! It’s now well and truly on the typical backpacker trail. Visitors are flocking to the area to see the unique wildlife and enjoy the cooler temperatures in Minca.

Beautiful hostels and hotels have also popped up all over the mountainside making the area even more popular. I loved wandering around the area of my hostel (Casas Viejas) that was high up in the mountains to see birds like hummingbirds and toucans! It’s easy to spend a few days here if you find a tour (or two!) on our list that is calling your name.

Minca, Colombia is also the gateway to La Cuidad Perdida or The Lost City. This city is believed to have been constructed 650 years before Machu Picchu and is Colombia’s most popular ancient city.

Related Read: If you want to see parts of Colombia that are truly off the beaten path, be sure to check out our guide to Southern Colombia!

Best Minca Tours

1. Minca Full-Day Tour

Cooling off after our coffee tour in Minca!
Cooling off after our coffee tour in Minca!

This full-day Minca tour is a perfect way to experience some of the best things Colombia has to offer in one convenient package. Taste coffee and cocoa from the local farms, hike through lush cloud forests, and even take a dip in the Minca River! You know that we love any chance to sample coffee and chocolate and the hiking and river makes it absolutely perfect!

You will start your day in the main square of Minca at 9:30 am. Hotel pick-up and drop-off are provided, but if you are farther outside of Santa Marta there is a possibility there will be an additional $15 USD charge for pickup.

Your first destination is a cafe nearby to learn the history of coffee in the area and enjoy a fresh brew. You’ll spend the next few hours after that hiking through the forest to a waterfall, enjoying the many different species of birds that live there, and finally taking a swim in the river! The cool water felt so good after that long hike.

After a quick stop for a complimentary lunch, you will end the day learning about cocoa and making chocolate. Our group made chocolate truffle balls and ate them right away – there’s no saving chocolate this good!

This tour is best for travelers who want to experience the highlights of Minca in an easy, all-inclusive experience. You can take this tour any day of the week and for only $60 USD it’s jam-packed full of fun! Expect the tour to last about 6 to 7 hours.

If you’re ready to see a great overview of all Minca has to offer, you can book your tickets here.

2. Full-Day Hiking Tour in Minca with Coffee & Cocoa Workshop

La Victoria Coffee farm, Minca
La Victoria Coffee Farm, Minca

Spend the day hiking, eating, and learning about Minca’s unique biodiversity during this full-day hiking tour. You’ll love exploring the forest and seeing different animals while learning about the ecosystems and the local Indigenous tribes that call the area home. 

Your day starts at 8:30 am with round-trip transportation from your hotel (via taxi) in Santa Marta. Once you arrive in Minca you will take a 30-minute walk to a coffee farm to learn how coffee beans are turned into the drink Colombia is famous for. And then, our favorite part … trying a cup! Seriously, it doesn’t get better than freshly brewed coffee on the farm where it was grown!

Now fully caffeinated, the group heads to a sacred waterfall nearby to learn about the Indigenous people of the area as well as spot some colorful creatures like toucans! You can choose to jump in and cool off, but most people in our group just enjoyed the view and grabbed lots of photos. The hike can be a bit slippery especially if it’s rained recently, so make sure you’re wearing good shoes.

A delicious complimentary lunch is included at “Jungle Joe’s Bamboo House” where you will learn about bamboo as a prominent building material in Colombia. The lunch we had was served by none other than Joe himself and the chicken curry, rice, and veggies were yummy since we were hungry from all that hiking! Plus, the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant was a nice break at about the halfway point of the tour.

Shortly after, you are given an overview of the history of cocoa and its significance before making your own chocolate bar. Yum! Then it’s time to pop into the Museo del Cacao de Minca which is a museum dedicated to chocolate. I’m not a huge museum person, but this is one I couldn’t pass up! It’s a small museum, so the 20 minutes we spent here was enough time to look around and pick up a few chocolates that the owner makes on-site for the drive back!

This incredibly well-rounded tour operates all days of the week. The tour lasts between 7 to 8 hours and has a maximum of 12 people, so it’s not too large of a group. With transportation, lunch, coffee, and more provided, the $50 USD price per person makes this an easy choice! Price-wise this is one of the best tours you’ll find. It’s also available in either English or Spanish.

You can check all the options offered and book this full-day hiking tour here.

3. Minca Coffee and Cocoa Tour 

Touring a coffee farm in Minca
Touring a coffee farm in Minca

Coffee and chocolate are two of the most beloved items in the world, well, they are to me anyway! That’s why I think this full-day coffee and cocoa tour is a must-do for any enthusiast.

You will be picked up in Santa Marta from the designated meeting point at 9 am in an air-conditioned van for the drive to Minca. There you will meet a local guide for the hike to the coffee farm. The hike is around 2 hours long, but it’s mostly flat, although there are parts of the trail that are more uphill. Luckily, our guide made plenty of stops along the way so we could catch our breath and look at wildlife.

Once you arrive at the coffee farm, you’ll get a good overview of coffee and the refining process to make this delicious drink. Make sure you’re fueled up with caffeine since it’s time for another hike! It’s only about a 15-minute walk from the coffee farm to the waterfall, but it’s VERY steep. If you have a bathing suit on, jump in for a swim!

Later and a little way down the trail, it’s time for a gourmet lunch. Then the afternoon is more chill (no more hiking!) and after lunch, you get dessert by learning all about cocoa and how people used it before its introduction into the modern world.

For $90 USD a person, we love how much this tour lets you enjoy the natural beauty of the area as well as get a taste (literally!) of what makes Minca special. Expect the tour to last between 8 to 9 hours and make sure to wear shoes that are good for lots of walking and bring a bathing suit for that waterfall swim!

For a tour that offers an in-depth cultural look at what makes coffee and cocoa so significant to this area, book this tour in advance here.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, read our complete Viator review to learn more about what we think about Viator.

4. 2-Day Minca Tour with Birdwatching

A bird in Minca feeds on a plant on a bird watchign tour
At sunset and sunrise, the birds come alive in Minca!

Have more than one day to spend in Minca? This amazing 2-day tour in Minca is easily one of the best ways to spend your time here. It’s also cheap and totally underrated! 

Depending on where you are staying, you will be picked up from Santa Marta between 8:30-9 am or you can meet directly at the pick-up point. Your first day will be spent touring around a coffee farm and cocoa museum, with plenty of samples!

There’s also time on the first day to explore the forest and swim at the Lost Waterfall (which is gorgeous). Keep an eye out for all the diverse plants and animals around here too!

Accommodation for the night is in the quaint and comfortable Jungle Joe Ecolodge which is made entirely from bamboo! It’s nestled right in the forests of Minca and the hammocks here are the perfect spot to relax. Plus, a fantastic local lunch and dinner are included! 

On the second day, you will wake up to the sounds of the Colombian cloud forest and be taken on a 3-hour birdwatching tour. It was especially nice that binoculars were included! The guide was super knowledgeable and helped us spot all sorts of colorful birds (like the Santa Marta Parakeet) as well as other animals.

With round-trip transportation, meals, lodging, and all fun activities included, this multiday tour for only $80 USD a person is a steal! If you can make the time you won’t regret it.

You can book this amazing 2-day tour here in advance.

Related Read: If spending time in Cartagena is on your Colombia itinerary, be sure to read our guide to the top things to do in Cartagena before you go.

5. Coffee Tour La Victoria and Waterfalls in Minca

Pozo Azul in Minca Colombia
Pozo Azul in Minca, Colombia

Enjoy a relaxing day at two of Minca’s nicest waterfalls, enjoying nature, and drinking world-class coffee during this full-day private coffee and waterfall tour. This is the ideal tour if you’re traveling as a couple or a family and want to enjoy the experience with just your group!

You will begin your day at 7 am when you are picked up from Santa Marta in an air-conditioned vehicle and make the 45-minute drive to Minca.

Your first stop for the day is the picturesque Pozo Azul waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip. The water is a tad chilly, but I think it feels nice on a hot day and I never pass up the chance to swim by a waterfall! I do recommend bringing bug spray as there can be quite a few pesky bugs around here.

Your guide will then take you to La Victoria, a well-known and loved coffee farm. It’s one of the oldest around here since it started operating in the late 1800s, and the family that runs the farm is super welcoming and offers a great overview of how coffee is harvested and brewed. A bonus of this tour is that all entrance fees and tastings are paid for. 

End your day by eating a delicious traditional lunch at Cascada Marinka – yet another gorgeous waterfall. This waterfall has two pools to swim in on different levels – so I say try them both out! Once you’re done swimming, your guide will bring you back to Santa Marta around 3 pm.

Since this tour is private, it’s much more personalized than some of the other tours available. Plus, having transportation and a guide to the waterfalls is handy as they can be hard to find on your own!

The price of this tour depends on your group size and has a 2-person minimum. You pay $115 USD each for 2 people, or you can upgrade for some time at a heated pool with hammocks for $140 USD per person. The regular price drops for groups of 3 or more and drops again for groups of 8 or more (with a limit of 10 people total).

You can book in advance and check the price for your group here.

6. Minca, Waterfalls and Coffee Farm Tour

Marinka Waterfall, Minca, Colombia
Marinka Waterfall

Reconnect with nature and experience life like a local as you hike and swim through the jungles of Minca during this full-day private coffee and waterfall tour

You can choose to be picked up from your hotel at either 7 am, 8 am, or 9 am. This is just one of the nice perks of a private tour like this one – you get to customize it!

Once you’re on the road, it’s straight off to La Victoria, one of Minca’s most prominent coffee farms. Here, you’ll get a tour with a local guide who will explain how coffee is produced as you enjoy a fresh cup and walk the grounds. It’s cool to see equipment that’s over 100 years old still being used!

Sierra Nevada coffee is what you’ll taste while at the farm and it’s a unique blend that is only produced here in Colombia by a few hundred families. Once you taste this coffee, trust me, the stuff back home just won’t taste the same!

Next up, it’s a short hike to Pozo Azul to see this amazing waterfall and enjoy a delicious local lunch. The cost of lunch isn’t included, so make sure you have some cash along. Swim in the freshwater pools, explore, or just relax for a couple of hours before being brought back to Santa Marta.  

The price of this tour varies with group size, but for two travelers you will pay $135 USD per person. However, the price drops as low as $52 USD each for 10 or more people. This is a really great deal if you are traveling with a large group!

For a private tour that includes stops at one of the best coffee farms and waterfalls around here, secure your spot by booking here.

Where to Stay

Bailey relaxes in the pool at Casa Viejas, Minca
Bailey relaxes in the pool at Casas Viejas in Minca, Colombia

Minca is a small place with a population of only around 800 people, so there isn’t a ton of choice for accommodations. But in saying that, there are still great places to stay. Some of these tours leave right from Minca so it helps to be nearby and cut down on travel time.

Some of the tours on our list do pick up from the larger city of Santa Marta. If you’d rather make that your home base, I’ve also stayed at some great hotels there too.

Here are my top picks for Minca and Santa Marta!

Minca

Sweet Harmony by Xarm Hotels – For luxury travelers, there isn’t much in Minca town but this stunning hotel is the best option. The rooms are beautifully designed and the hotel is on the edge of town, so you’re completely surrounded by nature. This is a good mix between staying in town and still being surrounded by a lush landscape. A double room with a balcony starts at $65 USD and can be reserved online here.

Casas Viejas – This is where I stayed and the place I recommend to everyone I meet. Honestly, this hostel isn’t super fancy but it’s so beautiful and the pool is incredible! The only downside is that you are a bit outside of town, but the location is beautiful. Beds in a dorm room are around $20 USD with private rooms more around $80 USD. You can book Casas Viejas on Booking.com or Hostelworld. Please book as soon as possible as it’s often fully booked!

Santa Marta

The Grand Marina Santa Marta offers luxury apartments with full kitchens and balconies overlooking the marina right in the center of town. It’s the perfect place to explore the city or kick back poolside after taking a tour of Minca. There are also spa services available if you need even more relaxation. Pure luxury for surprisingly good value! Prices here begin at $160 USD per night. You can check availability and reserve a room on Booking.com.

Dreamer Hostel is the most popular place for backpackers to stay in Santa Marta and for that reason, it is almost always booked solid! They have a beautiful courtyard with a large swimming pool that makes for a very social area to hang out. They also have a communal kitchen and a restaurant that serves the best carbonara ever (trust me on that one!). Private rooms start at $55 USD and a bed in a dorm is only $11 USD when you reserve on Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on Fort San Felipe in Bacalar, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

We hope you found this guide to Minca tours helpful! It’s one of our top spots to visit in Colombia, and we think the entire region is incredibly beautiful and welcoming. If you have the time, don’t skip out on visiting Minca while you’re in nearby Santa Marta.

If you have any questions at all about visiting Minca please leave them below in the comments section! If you liked this blog then be sure to check out all our Colombia travel guides here. You can get started by clicking on one of these related articles below.

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