How to get from Cartagena to Minca? Minca is one of the dream destinations in Colombia. Located in the middle of the Sierra Nevada jungle, the highest coastal mountain range in the world, Minca attracts many backpackers. Here you can enjoy nature, hike and just relax. We think that Minca should not be missed on your round trip through Colombia. But how do you get from Cartagena or Santa Marta to Minca? You will probably travel from Cartagena in the west or from Palomino in the east. What are your best alternatives for getting to Minca we want to tell you in this travelogue.
First you have to get to Santa Marta
Getting to Minca is not as difficult as you might think. In general, it is very easy to get to Minca by bus from anywhere in Colombia. But first of all you have to get to Santa Marta. How to get there by bus we tell you in the next section.
Alternative: By plane to Minca? If you are coming from far away, we recommend a flight to Simón Bolívar International Airport in Santa Marta. From here you should take a cab into the city center to the Centro Comercial. From there take the minibus to Minca. It is best to read the next section for this.
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We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Step 1 | From Cartagena to Santa Marta
If you want to go from Cartagena to Minca, you first have to go to the small bus terminal of Berlinastur a little outside the city. The best way to do this is to take a cab, which will cost you about 20,000 COP (about 5 €). The exact location of the Berlinas bus terminal you see here on Google Maps. But it is best to tell the cab driver the keywords “Berlinastur a Santa Marta”.
Every cab driver in Cartagena should know where the terminal is located. From here, minibuses leave several times a day (about every 20 minutes) in the direction of Santa Marta. The price for this is 44,000 COP (about 11.50 €) per person. There will be a stopover in Barranquilla so you can use the restroom and buy snacks. It is not necessary to reserve a ticket beforehand. You can just show up at the terminal and buy a ticket for the next bus.
To the Mercado Publico by Cab
The bus from Cartagena stops near a shopping center a bit away from the bus stop to Palomino. Get off and find a cab to take you to the Mercado Publico. This should cost about 8000 COP (2 Euro) and take about 15 minutes. If you tell the cab driver that you want to take the bus to Palomino, he should know exactly where it leaves from. If not, here is the exact location marked on Google Maps.
Berlinastur or Marsol?
There are in fact 2 bus companies that will take you from Cartagena to Santa Marta. Berlinastur and MarSol. Both bus companies have air conditioned buses with windows that you can also open. But what are the differences and why did we choose Berlinastur?
Advantages and disadvantages of Marsol
Marsol buses pick you up directly from your hotel and also takes you directly to your hotel in Santa Marta. This is probably the biggest advantage, but also the biggest disadvantage. Because the route takes a lot longer than with the buses from Berlinastur. Also, you have to book the shuttles at least the night before and decide on a departure time and then have a time window of 30 minutes in which you will be picked up.
You can ask your hotel to do the booking for you or you do it yourself by phone or Whatsapp (online booking is currently not yet possible). The website with the contact information is: Transportes Marsol The cost per person is: 55,000 COP (about 14.50 €)
Advantages and disadvantages of Berlinastur
The biggest advantage of Berlinastur is probably the flexibility in departure time. You just show up at the terminal, buy a ticket for the next bus and go. Buses leave every 15-20 minutes. However, you will have to take a cab to the Berlinastur bus terminal. Tickets cost 44,000 COP (approx. 11.50 €), a little less than at MarSol. But the buses are also somewhat less modern than those of MarSol. Berlinastur drops you off at the Mercardo Publico. And that fits perfectly, because from here the minibuses start in the direction of Minca.
How long does it take to get from Cartagena to Santa Marta?
No matter which carrier you choose, the drive to Santa Marta from Cartagena takes just under 5 hours. Probably more, depending on how bad the traffic is and how long the stopover in Barranquilla is. On the way you will have a break to get some snacks and drinks and also to use the restroom.
Step 2 | From Santa Marta to Minca by bus
In order to get from Santa Marta to Minca you have to get to the Mercardo Publico or Centro Comercial. I already described this in step 1 above. The buses from Cartagena or Palomino go directly here. If you get off the bus and walk back 50 meters, you will see the small minibus that will take you to Minca for 8000 COP (about 2,00 €). But this bus only starts when it is full. And by full I mean completely full! There is even an additional seat in the minibus, which is not bolted to the floor, just to take one more person.
Especially if you sit in the last row you barely have room and are super cramped between the other (9!) people. I would not take this bus again, but rather take a more expensive cab. Even though the ride only took about 40 minutes it was anything but pleasant. We felt like sardines in a can. But if you want to save money and take the bus, you can see the exact location of the buses to Minca here on Google Maps. Link to Google Maps
Step 2 (alternative) | Take a cab to Minca (instead of a bus)
If you want it more comfortable and also faster than by bus, we can recommend you a cab. If you take the bus to Santa Marta then the bus stops a bit outside the city at the Mamatoco traffic circle ( link to Google Maps). There, some passengers get off and there are also some cab drivers waiting for you, who will take you to Minca for just under 60,000 COP (about 16.00 €).
This will not only save you time, but also some nerves. Compared to the small buses, the cabs are much more comfortable. If you travel, for example, four, then it is almost worth it financially to take the cab instead of a bus. You can also get buses to Tayrona & Palomino from here and save the trip to Santa Marta.
Hotel Recommendation in Minca
The Colores de la Sierra in Minca
This hotel is located about 30 minutes by cab or motorcycle from Minca, is wonderfully quiet and secluded, but still offers some comfort. The accommodation is located at almost 1000 meters above zero and thus also 400 meters higher than Minca itself. You can definitely feel that in the temperatures. The rooms are kept simple but there is a great lounge area with billiards and many board games.
In addition, there is a mega cool viewpoint with hammocks from which you can look down to the sea and even a pool. If you need a little more action, you can also walk along the hotel’s own hiking trail or just chill out at one of the many hammocks. Hummingbirds are also frequent visitors here, as extra nectar pots have been hung to attract the small, beautiful birds.To Colores de la Sierra at Booking.com*
If you want to learn more about Minca in Colombia, then we can recommend our great travel report about the village in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada:
Do you have any questions about getting to Minca or did you have different experiences on your trip than we did? Then write a comment under our travel report.