Have You Heard? The Sierra Nevada Is Glorious (No Not the One in the US)

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sierra nevada

Have You Heard? The Sierra Nevada Is Glorious (No Not the One in the US)

One of the highest coastline mountain ranges in the world, Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a magical place with astonishing fauna and flora. From cold paramos (moor) to tropical rainforests, the Sierra is diversity at its best – a green lung by the sea untouched by civilization. The koguis, wiwas, arwacos and kankuamos inhabit these mystical mountains, still hidden from modernity and isolated in the wilderness of the high mountain.

The most popular place in La Sierra is Minca, located just 15 km from Santa Marta (a 30-minute ride). You can go there from Santa Marta’s market or from El Yucal. At 650 meters above sea level, with many ponds, cascades, tropical vegetation and bird species, Mincal is an ideal place for birdwatching. Other activities include rafting, trekking, rock climbing and other outdoor activities.

Accommodation in Sierra Nevada

There are many hostels and restaurants in Minca and prices range from 10 thousand pesos for camping to 30 thousand pesos for a single room in a regular hostel. We recommend La Fuente Hostel, a good place to retire about 25 minutes from town with a private river. Casa Elemento offers something more fancy. Located up in the mountains with a beautiful view and enormous hammocks hanging over the jungle. Mundo Nuevo is anther option for those looking for a real permaculture experience.

Activities in Sierra Nevada

There are tours to visit the coffee and cocoa farms in La Sierra – we recommend you take the guided tour with Jungle Joe. You can also take a walk to Pozo Azul, a stunning cascade just 30 minutes walking from Minca. If you go, we recommend you pass by La Jugueria or Donde Camarita, great places to eat or have a drink. If you go hiking, Los Pinos, San Lorenzo and Cerro Kennedy are a must – you will see the changes in flora and fauna whilst you walk amidst the singing of the various birds that fly around. It takes around 5-4 hours to reach Cerro Kennedy at 3000 meters above sea level, and if you plan to go higher, remember to take the appropriate equipment.

For those looking for off the beaten path destinations in La Sierra Nevada, El Trompito and San Rafael are two farming communities that are slowly growing in interest. At just a 15-minute walk from Cañaveral (the main entrance to Tayrona National Park), these communities are great to retire to for a while. There are many fruits and vegetables to pick, the rivers and cascades are astonishing and beaches like Los Cocos, Los Angeles and Costeño Beach are reachable by foot. There are several places where you can stay for even cheaper than in Minca, around 10 thousand pesos a day, but most of them are camping facilities. Volunteering opportunities are also available. For hiking, the Kogui is a magical place two hours walk up the mountain. Be sure to visit – it will send back you 500 years!

Sierra Nevada Beaches PIC: RM

Camping, hostels, spas, bed and breakfasts and other lodgings are all over the Sierra Nevada. In the beach or close to the mountains, the options are many for all budgets. If you visit this wonderful place, travel through it, it’s the best opportunity to discover the magic in it. For the best experience, take the Ciudad Perdida Trek. It will cost you some money and physical effort (it takes 4 days to reach this ancient civilization), but it’s worth every penny!

Food in Sierra Nevada

The food in the Santa Marta Area is varied, mostly seafood and fish. The typical costeño dish comprises fried fish (mostly red snapper), patacones (fried green plantains), coconut rice and a salad. We recommend the soups, mondongo, sancocho de pescado and sopa de mariscos. Fried pastries are also popular.

Examples of the Food in the Santa Marta Area PIC: RM

So take the chance and visit an ancient mountain by the sea. With astonishing flora and fauna and beautiful beaches, it is an incredible place. The best time to visit the Sierra Nevada is between December and February. If you visit during the other months, bring waterproof equipment because it rains a lot. Sun lotion and mosquito repellent are also a must.

Ricardo Meier

Ricardo Meier

My name is Ricardo Meier and I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Since I was little, I have had an urge to connect with people, but for me it was really hard because I am a natural introvert. As I grew up, I discovered I had a passion for languages, arts and music - all of these tools helped me get through my shyness, I studied languages and got a degree, I did drama for 3 years in order to find the tools to communicate with others, I’ve been making music (the soul language) since I was 16 and now work as a street musician and I’m a part-time online translator. Travelling has always been my favorite hobby, I feel free when I get on the highway and discover new places, people and their cultures. I’ve been on the road for two years, travelling around South America and Europe. I believe travelling is a way to cure one of the world’s biggest problems, intolerance. Not comprehending the other is what brings war to the world, so in order to open our minds and discover ourselves we must first discover what others have to offer and find peace.