After escaping Eden with a bag full of sweaty and damp clothes we were delighted to make it to Palomino for a cold juice and a quick chat with our French friends from Happiness Hostel who had also recently left there because they were fed up in Riohacha. Having no cash, and desperate need of a laundrette we took the bus to the big city.
We stayed at Masaya, easily the chicest hostel we’ve been in, and despite the cost we were so happy to have a little bit of luxury. Santa Marta is an oven, so air conditioning, two pools and a laundry service were exactly what we needed.
We ate like kings at a modern cafe and took full advantage of the civilised world around us cold beers, cocktails, meat and supermarkets. The city is a giant port, so if you want anything plastic or cheap you can find it here.
24 hours later we were in a bus headed to Minca. This is a small village about an hour outside of Santa Marta. It’s high up, so much cooler than the oven below. The town itself is at that crossroads where it’s become well known to tourists and travellers but hasn’t reached the tipping point of becoming completely developed.
There are three famous hostels that everyone recommends. They are up the mountains, isolated, very cool and self contained (And frankly a bit pricey). We opted to stay in the village atba cheaper option and have more flexibility around.
We did a bird watching tour with a local guide who was able to spot the crazy range of birds that live in Minca. So many colours. He also gave us a great history of the town from the guerilla takeover followed by a government backed paramilitary invasion. While he was growing up there were several battles in and around the town. The violence only stopped about 15 years ago which is when tourism started to trickle into the town.
We made friends with Paul from Hamburg. He joined us for a mountain biking trip that took three hours uphill with a Savage 30 minute downhill ride back down.
We got too see la Victoria coffee plantation and now brewery, waterfalls and amazing views of the valley while getting caked in mud on the way down.
The atmosphere was great in the town, our hostel, the locals and other travellers were sound. We had great chats with a business owner Rafa at the bar of a restaurant one night and slowly got know half the town.
Minca is probably the right balance for us. Not too basic like Eden, but not too developed or overwhelming like a long stay in a city like Santa Marta or Riohacha.
What makes Minca interesting is that the tourism business is growing fast. There’s construction work all over the town and most of the business owners are foreigners (The very first hostel was run by an Irish guy called Niall). With Colombia becoming a bigger and bigger international destination it will be interesting to see how a town like Minca will change.
Next stop is Medellín for our fix of ultimate.
- The downside of our hostel was that I was bitten by one of the owners dogs not once but twice. Didn’t break the skin, but the fucker nipped the back of my knee on two separate occasions. He was supposed to be tied up. Thankfully it wasn’t worse.
- We met two Irish lads from Galway on the bus to Minca and had a couple of beers. Good to have some Irish banter.
- Julie left her rain jacket at the hostel and had to jump on the back of a Moto taxi to grab it before our flight to Medellín.
- World’s fattest snail