I had a very specific itinerary for my nine days in Colombia. How much of that itinerary did I follow? The first night. After that, everything went out the window including a few prepaid hostels, a flight, and some tours. I didn’t lose too much money due to the cheap cost of travelling in Colombia, but it was yet another lesson for me.
Don’t plan in advance unless you have to.
Part of my problem is that I LOVE trip planning. Even if I have no intention of actually taking a trip, nothing brings me more joy than poring over guidebooks and creating detailed spreadsheets.
But my most rewarding trips have happened without a real plan. Morocco left me a totally different person, I meant to plan Tanzania but never really got around to it and I still think about my time there every day, and of course, there was Colombia.
Minca wasn’t even on my radar, but as we did some research in Santa Marta we decided it was the logical next step. Annoyingly, the beautiful beaches of Tayrona were off limits to us as the park was closed. We didn’t want to go to Cartagena quite yet, and so we hopped in a cab after negotiating with a few different drivers and proceeded to sit in traffic on the same road for 45 minutes.
Eventually, we did make it to Minca – the drive there was beautiful and we only paid 30,000 COP – less than fifteen dollars. The two most well-known hostels in Minca have something in common: you can’t drive to them. Casa Elemento has recently become a Pinterest phenomenon, with a giant hammock overlooking the mountains. (More on this place later.)
But it was fully booked, so we hiked 15 minutes up a hill, backpacks in tow and brilliantly sporting flip-flops, to stay at Casa Loma. Also, my travel companion Theresa had a sprained ankle, newly acquired from a slightly wild night in Medellin.
So we were in a place famous for its hiking, where our hostel could only be accessed via the aforementioned hiking. This was a recipe for a really shitty trip – but Minca was one of the best parts of my time in Colombia.
This hostel is a dream come true. There’s no wifi – I love that, since it makes people actually talk to eachother. A gorgeous dog lives there along with a ton of cats, and the rooms themselves are awesome. Theresa and I splurged on a cabana (because it was the only thing available, lol) and had ourselves a lovely romantic Valentine’s Day. And then proceeded to have nice slumber party chats about how single we are.
Two things make this hostel worth the journey: the food and the sunset. There’s no kitchen, and the trek down to the village makes it hard to justify leaving for meals, but the food on site is absolutely unreal. There’s a set dinner menu each night, always vegetarian, and a few different breakfast and lunch options to choose from. We ate most of our meals here, ranging from pesto pasta to stuffed peppers to veggie burgers.
I heard a lot of people rave about the food at Casa Elemento, the more well-known hostel in town, but when we visited we were very unimpressed. Casa Loma is the place to be for fine dining (although admittedly, it has very few Colombian influences.
Now, the sunset. Casa Loma has a specially built little terrace with seating and a dedicated bar, right in front of the perfect spot to view the sunset. We went up here both nights, taking advantage of the Happy Hour specials for some mojitos and chatting with everyone around us. This is where we met Anne, our German friend I talked about in this post.
I slept incredibly well in both our cabana and the dorm we moved to the next day. I thought I’d be afraid that the jungle was so close, and we did find a few big spiders, but the mosquito nets made me feel quite secure. In our dorm I slept on a third-level platform, with nothing separating me from a view straight into the trees. It was amazingly peaceful, and there’s nothing like the feeling of waking up in the midst of nature.
Las Cascadas Marinka
There were a ton of hikes I wanted to do here, but alas – the draw of wifi-less relaxation proved too strong. And also, I’m lazy. But let’s just say it’s because of Theresa’s ankle.
Anyway, we DID make it up to a certain gorgeous waterfall on our way to Casa Elemento, and it was so worth the hot and sweaty walk through the jungle. Whilst trying to breathe, we talked about all of our future dreams and schemes…opening a hostel, becoming travel writers, marrying hippies and raising our kids on the beaches of Central America…you know, the usual.
We paid a local family around 4,000COP to get in, while giggling at how cute the little boy was. There’s a little cafe with snacks and the CUTEST PUPPIES OF ALL TIME. I actually almost cried while looking at this precious little baby.
But of course, the main attraction is the waterfall itself! It’s just the most amazing setting, with the jungle all around, very few tourists to be seen, and the calming noise of the water rushing down. The water is freezing, but we were so hot from our hike that it was pretty darn refreshing. We had a little GoPro photoshoot, swam around a bit and then got out, our teeth chattering.