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Quarantine Daydreams: Minca, Colombia

Quarantine Daydreams is a new content series in which travelers can share which destinations they’ve been daydreaming about while in lockdown, and how we can all make a positive impact on those destinations when we can finally visit — and also while we can’t. This week’s edition features Hidden Lemur founder Conor Armor’s memories of Minca, Colombia. If you’d like to contribute to this series, please reach out at conor@hiddenlemur.com. 

To arrive in Minca, Colombia is to feel an immediate sense of relief — relief from the wet, oppressive heat of Santa Marta, relief from the bends and curves of the mountainous road that every jam-packed colectivo ascends to get you there — a sense it’s finally OK to decompress.

The Caribbean coast of Colombia boasts vibrant culture and plenty of natural beauty to gawk at, but the region won’t always reward the traveler simply looking to relax. As you walk through Cartagena’s old town, you might be proud to learn how many irrepressible street hawkers consider you “my friend” as they follow you for blocks at a time. A trek to the Lost City will reward you with incredible views and exhausted legs. A trip to La Guajira will leave you stunned by its endless desert but troubled by its indigenous people’s living conditions.

So how is it that tiny mountain village of Minca — which, until roughly a decade ago, was still a paramilitary hotbed — became the region’s closest proxy to Shangri-La?

Sustainable tourism in Minca

Minca is the type of town that doesn’t demand that you make plans. (With perhaps one exception: you should most definitely make a plan for where to watch the sun set over Santa Marta.)

You can load up your daypack with snacks and bug spray and hike to Pozo Azul or Las Cascadas de Marinka. You can sprawl out with a book on one of the area’s many oversized hammocks. You can hop on the back of a moto-taxi and hold on for dear life. You can take a coffee tour or a chocolate tour or a birdwatching tour. You can do nothing at all.

Likely due to Minca’s remote location and the fact that it is still in the early stages of development as a tourist destination, stores and accommodation in Minca are typically locally-owned — or are owned by expats who’ve started small businesses in Minca — and stay true to the village’s laid-back, unpolished spirit.

That said, overdevelopment tends to encroach on even the most hidden destinations. That’s why it remains important that while visiting Minca, you support local businesses that contribute positively to Minca’s sustainable growth and help to maintain its unique character. Below, you can find a quick list of recommendations.

Where To Stay In Minca, Colombia

What To Do In Minca, Colombia

  • Search for toucans, macaws, hummingbirds, and many more of the Sierra Nevada region’s 345 species of birds, on a birdwatching tour with Jungle Joe.
  • Cool off in the pool beneath Las Cascadas de Marinka, and dry off in the gigantic hammock suspended above those same waterfalls.
  • Hike to the top of Los Pinos, or simply join the guests as Casa Loma, to take in one of Minca’s famous sunsets.
  • Go on a coffee tour or chocolate tour at Finca La Candelaria.
  • If you’re keen to mix it up with a more local crowd, play a game of pool at Billares Central.

How To Support Locals in Minca From Afar

Though every tourist destination has undoubtedly suffered from a lack of visitors due to COVID-19, villages like Minca, which has rebuilt itself over the past decade due in large part to its fast-growing tourism economy, are sure to be hit especially hard. Mision Gaia an NGO based in Minca that leads projects spanning from animal health and well-being, responsible tourism, and sustainable development. You can read more about their work and contribute a donation if you would like, through their website.

 

Conor is the founder of Hidden Lemur. He's deathly afraid of bees.

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