After a wonderful few days in Cartagena it was high time to hit the road again to discover one of Colombia’s greatest beauties, Minca. Having been out the night before getting to the bus station on time was a mission. In order to get to Minca from Cartagena old town you need to first get a taxi to the bus station which is out of town, then get a bus to Santa Marta (approximately 6 hours), followed by a collectivo van from Santa Marta to Minca. We had read online that the last collectivo’s left around 6:30pm so the midday bus was the very last one we could get. We managed to arrive at the station at 11:50 just in time to buy our tickets for the 12:15 bus. The bus dropped us off just on the outskirts of Santa Marta in the main bus terminal, we then had to get a taxi to the collectivo station in town. We managed to get the last 2 seats on the last collectivo of the day. We were staying in the Mundo Nuevo hostel which was up in the mountains, so from the van stop we had to then get a motorbike taxi each with our big bags up the 2.5km dirt track road to the hostel. By the time we arrived it was dark so if you’re doing this journey definitely give yourselves more time than we did.
We went to check in at reception with one person in front of us who had hiked the whole way up with a huge bag, this same guy had no reservation and the hostel was fully booked for dorms with only private rooms available. After saying to reception that a private room was not in his budget, the staff decided to free up some dorm space by upgrading us into their nicest private room for no extra cost so that this guy could stay! Our room had 1 double bed, 1 single bed and ensuite bathroom. By the time we had done this it was time for the communal dinner at 7pm. For our first night we had vegetarian pizza with a salad. You got a huge piece of delicious pizza topped with a lot of veggies. After dinner we turned in for an early night ready to start exploring the area in the morning.
A little bit about the hostel – Mundo Nuevo is dedicated to sustainability, it’s a lodge and farm located high in the mountains above Minca in the Sierra Nevada. They aim for self-sustainability in food production, water, energy and finances. The hostel hosts numerous activities to help with the learning of organic farming, indigenous culture and environmental sustainability. If you’re interested in sustainable living then take a look at their website for further information on the efforts they have gone to, to create this magical place.
Our first morning we awoke to the most breath-taking view across the valley and down to the four Awindua huts, these are used by the workers and by the local indigenous people who use them to rest as they travel through the mountains. Breakfast with a view is taken to a whole other level here. We were treated to tomato and shredded cheese on homemade toasted bread served with fruit and coffee. After breakfast we put our hiking boots on to begin the walk through the mountains down to Pozo Azul. The walk down took us past a coffee and chocolate plantation, a dried up waterfall, lots of avocado trees, past a local school (in the middle of this valley) and through the back gardens of locals.
After one and a half hours walking mostly down we eventually arrived at the waterfalls that hosted three different pools to swim in. The first was quite busy so we decided to make our way to very top one which involved scaling up some rocks which were quite steep. The very last pool only had three others making a yoga video so we decided to swim here for a bit to cool off after the sweaty walk. Thirty or so minutes spent in the freezing water was enough so we dried off and began the VERY hot and steep walk back up to our hostel. This was seriously hard on the legs and we took several water breaks in the two hour trek back up. Our initial plan was to get back and walk up to the mirador viewpoint however our legs told us otherwise so we relaxed for the rest of the day and enjoyed to view. That evening we watched to sunset from their own viewpoint at the hostel with a few others which was beautiful, you could see all the way to Santa Marta. Food for that evening was a vegetarian lasagne which was delicious and needed after no lunch and a long trek.
For our last morning we woke early for breakfast of rice porridge, fruit and coffee as we wanted to walk up to the mirador before our bread-making class. The mirador walk took us further up the mountain, past a hostel even higher than ours and through a lot of trees. The walk was hard on the legs and when it was time to turn off the bigger path to the small steeper path leading to the viewpoint we realised long trousers would have been a good option. The path was overgrown so we had a few scraps to the legs but this was worth it when we arrived at the 360 view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. This really was in the middle of nowhere and we didn’t see a single person the whole time. After enjoying the view we started the walk that turned into a run back down just in time to shower before our bread making class.
The class was hosted by Martha one of the chefs that cooked all of our delicious meals. She explained the process of making the sourdough, the ingredients and how long to let it rise for. After the explanation it was time to make the dough into whatever shape we like, in her words “shapes like trees, circles, twists or boobs – anything you like!!!”. We were to make enough bread for the whole hostels lunch and dinner. We made a total of 10 different shaped loafs ready to bake. We got to keep two huge loafs of bread one seeded and the other garlic, onion and oregano which we packed up well for our walk down to Minca.
The walk down with our big bags and small ones on the front was seriously hard on the knees but worth the hour and half down just for the views, swing and exercise. Once at the bottom we bought our tickets to El Rio hostel which is situated near Tyrona park in a secluded area on the river. We spent two nights in hammocks under a huge avocado tree where we met some great people, swam in the river and joined in on watching the big final England game.