The smell of fresh baked bread and lush, rich chocolate. Quiet classical music. A high arched ceiling, dark exposed wooden beams against bright white. Artistically placed vintage treasures. A tiny, carefully selected menu, changing from day to day: artisanal bread with cream cheese; coffee from a local farm; thick fudgy oat cookies; gooey brownies baked with fresh cacao, also from a local farm.
Are we in San Francisco? No, we’re in an artisanal bakery in Minca, Colombia: a tiny village in the midst of jungle-covered mountains, an hour outside of Santa Marta and 6 hours from Cartagena, Colombia.
Duni is a foodie find in little Minca that would fit into most modern city settings. With its carefully curated, locally sourced farm to table menu, it would fit perfectly into a New York, San Francisco, or London setting: a quiet reprieve for the busy hipster to enjoy a coffee and some truly outstanding fresh-baked bread while browsing the internet. As it is, the only hipsters here are fellow travelers and the owner’s fashionably dressed children, and while we are browsing the internet as we enjoy our bread, it’s also the only currently functioning WiFi in the tiny town of Minca.
We sit outside on the little patio of Duni, sipping our coffee, surveying the mountains to our left, the dirt path leading to the iglesia and some tiny mercados straight ahead, and a crumbling colonial home to our right.
The peaceful, sleepy little town of Minca is a Colombian treasure that is just beginning to be discovered by travelers and backpackers. Lush with mountain views and thick with jungle vegetation dotted with waterfalls and swimming holes, Minca is the gateway to the famed Ciudad Perdida trek – Colombia’s answer to Macchu Picchu. For travelers gearing up for or recovering from the trek, Minca is the perfect town to relax and take in the incredible sunset – and some soft, airy fresh baked bread.
We ask one of the owners of Duni, Tatiana, a little bit about the cafe. Turns out that she and her business partner, Janni, opened Duni only 5 days before we arrived, and there are big plans for expansion: an organic food shop, fresh sandwiches, myriad new menu items. 2017 Update: Duni is now an artisanal cafe in addition to a bakery!
As we talk, steaming focaccia bread cools tantalizingly behind her. Tatiana explains that not only are the ingredients from local farms, but Duni is also sourcing from the local Sierra tribe, descendants of the Tairona Indians, who have been living in this area since well before the Conquistadors invaded South America (click here for more information).
The indigenous population is alive and well still, existing much as they always have but integrated into the blossoming tourist culture here: you can meet them on the way to Parque Tayrona, where many of them live; hire one of them as a guide to trek to the ancient “lost city” of Teyuna (though it was in fact abandoned during the invasion of the Conquistadors, not lost as its name implies); or catch glimpses of them playing soccer or walking through Minca in their traditional garments of all white, carrying beautiful handmade woven bags.
With such exceptional quality, we were expecting Duni to be out of our price range. Not so. We were pleased to find that breakfast at Duni fit perfectly into our budget: A coffee, quarter-loaf of bread with soft cream cheese, and a cookie cost 10.500 COP – roughly $3.50 USD.
We returned the next day on our way back to Cartagena for a passion fruit juice, a cinnamon roll, iced coffee, and a half loaf of bread to take with us on the road. They were all delicious!
How to Get to Minca Colombia
Getting to Minca is an adventure in and of itself, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
From Cartagena, take a bus or collectivo to Santa Marta – we recommend air-conditioned Berlinasur, 40.000 COP per person (about $14) which you can pick up at the Marbella estacion (just ask any taxi driver).
From Santa Marta, any form of transportation can get you the 45 minutes to Minca: collectivo, taxi, or public bus, prices vary. We took a public bus from Estacion Minca, at Carrera 11 y Calle 12 in the Centro area of Santa Marta for 8.000 COP per person (about $3). You will get dropped off in the center of town.
To find Duni, simply walk to the Iglesia in the center of Minca, and turn left after you walk past the Iglesia. Duni is just up the small path. We found it on our way to our hostel, Casa Loma Minca.
Other Things to Do in Minca Colombia
There are a ton of amazing things to do in Minca! We’ve written a whole post about our love for this surprisingly amazing little town in Colombia, which you can view here: why you should visit Minca Colombia.
To round out a terrific day trip to Minca, we suggest hiking to La Finca Victoria, the local coffee and chocolate farm. To find the farm, from the main junction in town, turn left (as though you’re returning to Santa Marta), walk over a bridge and pass the police station, and then take the first right. Walk for about an hour and a half to the farm. After a tour and a tasting, take a mototaxi (the most fun kind of transportation in Colombia) or hike back.
Or there’s Pozo Azul, a waterfall in Minca – actually, 3 swimming holes and a waterfall – where you can do some beginner-level cliff jumping! Pozo Azul is a 2-hour walk or a short moto-taxi ride from central Minca.
If you’re visiting Minca for a few days (which we highly recommend) one of the best places to stay in Minca is at Casa Loma Minca! This is one of our absolute favorite hostels in Colombia (and one of our favorite hostels ever, actually).
Minca is off the beaten path, but well worth a trip while exploring the Caribbean coast of Colombia!
Hey, we’ve got a ton of other resources for Colombia that you’ll want to look at before your trip!
- What to Pack for Colombia
- The Best Hostels in Colombia
- Colombia Itinerary: Ultimate Guide to 1 Month of Backpacking Colombia
- 30 Things Nobody Tells You About Backpacking in Colombia
- A Complete Guide to Transportation in Colombia
- The Best Colombian Food: What to Eat in Colombia
If you are looking for more tour tips during your visit to Colombia the amazing guys over at ViaHero will connect you with a local person who will share all their juicy knowledge and help you plan your perfect itinerary. Check it out here.
Have you ever discovered a tiny hidden gem where you least expected it? Leave us a comment below!