Minca, Colombia: motorbike burns and hiking

IMG_4282Minca is a small, tranquil town in the mountains about an hour away from Santa Marta, with lots of cafes, hikes and bird-watching spots.

From the hostel in the centre of Santa Marta, we caught a taxi, costing us 60,000 pesos between four of us. When we told the taxi driver our hostel, he said that he couldn’t take us all the way as the only way to the hostel was to take a jeep or mototaxi as it was a narrow path.

Once we arrived there, the taxi driver was really helpful and messaged a moto group to drive us up there. We waited about 10 minutes for all the motorbikes to come. It was going to cost us 30,000 pesos each, which was extortionate but we had no other choice.

With our bags on our backs, we hopped on the mototaxi. We were told that the path was steep. It was about 9pm so it was dark. As we started driving up, I realized my bike had no lights and it was relying on the bike behind. I’m used to riding motorbikes so nothing really scared me about the journey. However, this was different. With no lights, on a windy, bumpy path with hundreds of ditches on an extremely steep hill, I had to hold onto the guy to make sure I didn’t fall off. It was terrifying. To make it worse, my bike crashed about 5 times due to it being dark. I had to climb off and on as well as strolling up the really steep parts as the bike couldn’t cope with 2 people. Also when the bike got stuck in ditches, I ended up burning my leg 3 times on the exhaust, with my driver just laughing. I think I was more in shock so it didn’t hurt st the time and I couldn’t see how bad it was until I got to the hostel. About half way up, the guy gave me a dim torch to project on to the road to help him see but it was useless.

IMG_4279What seemed like forever, I eventually reached the gate of the hostel. I tried to get a discount but the driver was having none of it.

We checked into the hostel and dropped our bags in our room. Then we sat outside, eating food that the hostel had prepared for us. They only do vegetarian food which was grand for me.

The receptionist gave me some ice to put on my burns (which I think made it worst as it blistered. I should have just soaked it under cold running water).

After the tiring day, I was ready for bed, where I slept peacefully.
In the morning, I woke up really early before the others. As I walked out of my room, it looked onto a magnificent view of the hills and valleys. I just sat here for a while just mesmerized by the landscape, chilling.

Once the others had woken up, we were given a complimentary breakfast of bread, fruit, chutney and coffee, where we decided to eat it near our room in the sun looking over the mountains. Then we got ourselves ready for the day and packed up our bag. We asked about the hike to the waterfall, where the receptionist just kept asking us if we wanted to check out. When we were ready, it took forever to check out as so many others had lots of repetitive questions and problems with paying using their card. Eventually, late morning, we started on our hike. I knew I had to be back at a certain time as I was getting a bus to Medellin later in the day.

IMG_4268The first part of our trek was easy to the other house, on a flat path in the woods. We were told that to find the Pozo Azul waterfall, we had to find the red strips on the trees and that this would guide us. It was a lot hard to navigate than we thought. For the first hour, it was mostly down hill, passing a few house, where we would ask for directions. Then we got to a school and the kids stopped us on the path, telling us we couldn’t go through unless, we paid. We knew this wasn’t true so we convinced them to let us pass. After the school was where it was difficult; there were many paths going off and no definite main path. We lost track of the red painted on the trees but could hear water. We eventually found the water source but no waterfall. By this time, I needed to go back so I said farewell to my friends and hoped I wouldn’t get lost on the way back. I pasted up the hill, sweating in the sun and from the hike. Generally, I have a good visual memory so I didn’t get lost and over an hour later I was back at my hostel.

I washed my muddy legs, changed into some comfortable clothing for the bus and collected my bag. I decided to take a motorbike taxi (OK, this might be a risk after yesterday’s incident) as it was quicker and cheaper to get to the bus terminal in Santa Marta.

As I was riding down to the main road, I then realised how dangerous the path was, seeing it in daylight. It was so bad going downhill in the light then once we got on the main road, my driver zoomed to at full speed to the bus terminal, only taking about 40 minutes in total.

IMG_4286When I arrived there, I booked a ticket, which was actually leaving in the next 10 minutes… better than I thought. It was going to be a long journey, lasting
around 17 hours through the night, where I was due to arrive in Medellin around 8 in the morning. On the bus, each seat had its own screen, where I could listen to music or watch movies but unfortunately they were all in Spanish with no subtitles. I did watch two films but my head was hurting by the end of it. The rest of the journey was uneventful.

After sleeping, I was pretty much in Medellin, where I ended up arriving around 9 at the north terminal. Now I had one day to wash clothes, pack and leave Colombia as my visa was about to expire.

Where I stayed:

Mundo Nuevo – It is a lovely, environmental friendly hostel which supports the local community. The spacious dorm rooms have shared outside bathrooms and cold showers, with not many plugs in the room. The views from the hostel have a spectacular view with an outside eating and social area. The staff are informative and friendly. The biggest disadvantage is the location, yes, the views are amazing but you either have to get a jeep or mototaxi there, costing extortionate prices (30,000 for a motortaxi at night or 20,000 during the day) or walk about 2km uphill.

How to get to Minca from Santa Marta (all takes about 45 minutes):

Taxi – 50,000 -60,000 pesos

Shared taxi from Calle 12, carrera 9 in the centre – 8,000 pesos

Moto Taxi – 8,000 -10,000 pesos

Read my blog post, If you want to know how to afford to travel for longer