A complete travel guide to the incredible Marinka Waterfalls in Minca, Colombia. Includes how to get here, what to expect, photography to get you inspired!
The small town of Minca near Santa Marta is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and offers plenty of amazing hikes, beautiful waterfalls, and world-renowned nature experiences.
One of the absolute best things to do here is to visit the Marinka Waterfalls. These are two sets of large jungle cascades situated amidst beautiful forest and offering a deep swimming pool, an onsite cafe, and a few giant hammocks.
In this guide, I’ll outline everything you need to know about visiting Marinka falls in Minca, Colombia. I’ll include details on how to get here (2 options), what to expect when you arrive, and of course, some photos from my trip.
Featured in: 21 Awesome Things to do in Minca
About Marinka Waterfalls in Minca, Colombia
Although often overshadowed by the very popular Pozo Azul swimming hole, the Marinka Waterfalls are much more beautiful and far less busy!
Here, you’ll discover two large cascades set in a dense, green forest, with the opportunity to swim in a deep freshwater pool. There is also a cafe/restaurant on-site, and some huge net hammocks overlooking the lower cascade.
These cascades are referred to in Spanish as “Cascada de Marinka”.
As you’ll find out, you can also combine a visit to Marinka falls with other waterfalls and other notable viewpoints in the area, making for an awesome day trip from town!
Tip: You don’t need a tour guide to visit these waterfalls.
Tip: Best Nature Experiences in Minca
Before I get into this guide, here’s a rundown of my favorite tours and experiences in Minca.
- Ciudad Perdida Trek – Perhaps the most fulfilling trekking experience in Colombia. Trek to “The Lost City” in the Sierra Nevada, an archeaological site built some 650 years before even Machu Picchu!
- Birdwatching Tour – Minca is world-famous for its wildlife, especially its birds. Let a local show you the best spots to photograph and spot beautiful tropical birds like toucans and hummingbirds.
- Minca Full Day Tour – The best-rated tour in town which covers all the highlights in one day. Includes waterfalls and cacao plantation tours.
Where is Marinka Waterfall?
These jungle cascades are located approximately 3.6 kilometers from the town of Minca in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. You’ll find it at the end of a dirt road, which begins at a turn-off on “Cerro Kennedy Oriente” leading from the pueblo.
The Marinka Waterfalls are well-marked on Google Maps and finding the location is very easy from town. Below is a convenient map with the correct and up-to-date location.
How to get to Marinka Falls
Since these waterfalls are located near Minca, the first step is getting to this town. From Santa Marta, you can take a taxi which costs 40,000 – 70,000 pesos. Alternatively, there is a shared bus (colectivo) running daily from the main square in Santa Marta for 9,000 pesos per person.
If you’re already in Minca, you now have two options to get to the Marinka Waterfalls.
Option 1: Hike to Marinka Waterfalls from Minca
The first option is to simply walk the 3.6-kilometer road from town. This is a pleasant, roughly 1-hour walk, following a shaded and unsealed road called “Cerro Kennedy Oriente”. This begins at the end of the main strip (past the church).
This road is easy to follow and climbs gently. Along the way (roughly halfway), you’ll pass a small trail with an inconspicuous sign on the right-hand side. This leads down a short 100-meter dirt track to another waterfall called “Oido del Mundo“, or Ear of the World. This is another beautiful 2-tier waterfall and swimming spot worth checking out on the way!
Soon, you will arrive at a small dirt-road turn-off next to a large MotoMink sign and a restaurant/lodge called “Villa Verde Colombia”. Turn left here and take the short hike up the slightly steep dirt track for about 10 minutes.
On the way, you’ll pass a few small cafes and strangely, an artificial rock-climbing setup that looks like it’s abandoned.
This is the cheapest way to visit the waterfalls since it doesn’t cost anything!
Soon, you’ll arrive at the entrance to a complex where you will pay the entrance fee.
Option 2: Moto taxi from Minca
If you’re feeling lazy, you can take a motorbike taxi from the centre of Minca. The drivers are located near the yellow bridge in town and their business is called MotoMink. They weill take you as far as the dirt road at the fork above.
This costs 10,000 pesos per person each way.
Note you will still need to walk the last 10 minutes to the waterfalls from the main road.
What to Expect at Marinka Waterfall
Entrance Fee: 10,000 Colombian Pesos
Upon arriving, I immediately noticed that these waterfalls had some serious tourism infrastructure, which isn’t too common for waterfalls in South America.
At the entrance, the guard asks for the entrance fee, which seems to have gotten more expensive (it used to be 5,000).
From here, you’ll take a short walk following a clean, concrete path passing some impressive net hammocks. These hammocks offer a very scenic view of the huge trees, dense forests, and the lower falls.
We stopped here for a few minutes and had a quick snack before heading down.
The First Waterfall
Passing the restaurant where you can get a cup of coffee or rest in more large net hammocks, turn left and you’ll make your way down to the lower falls.
This is the most spectacular and is the best one for swimming as it has the deepest swimming hole at the base of the waterfall. I’d say at the deepest point the water is roughly 1.5 meters.
The falls are set amongst magnificent scenery and flow down rocky creeks with overhanging forests and vines. Furthermore, visitors will find a wooden boarded section near the edge of the swimming hole. This has some bench seats to sit and relax on as well.
The Second Waterfall
To reach the second Marinka Waterfall, you need to walk back up past the restaurant and up a short concrete path.
The second waterfall upstream is slightly larger than the first but finishes in a very shallow pool that is not great for swimming.
However, it’s still a very impressive sight and great for photos. I climbed up on the rock face on the right-hand side to capture some unique angles of this beautiful Minca waterfall.
Related: 4 Awesome Waterfalls in Minca
Is There a Third Waterfall?
When I visited, I noticed that there was an old sign indicating a way to “waterfall three”. However, on the official map (which seems to be new), this wasn’t included. The path was also closed off, and when we tried to go around, we were told by the restaurant staff not to.
Either way, I was happy to experience the two tiers of Marinka Waterfalls, spending roughly 2 hours here swimming and enjoying the beautiful and calm atmosphere.
Tip: Continue to Los Pinos & Sierra Minca
Looking to include these awesome waterfalls on a full-day hiking trip from Minca? This is exactly what we did, and I’d highly recommend following our route!
Once you leave the complex at Marinka Waterfalls, look for a rocky trail leading up the hill on the left-hand side. This is marked as “Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro”.
This trail leads up through an amazing nature reserve (great for bird watching) and continues to climb up banana plantations and coffee farms to the famous Sierra Minca hostel, Casa Elemento viewpoint, and eventually, Los Pinos– an amazing viewpoint over Minca.
If you have time, you can even do coffee tours from the cacao and coffee plantation you’ll walk through (another essential travel experience in Minca). These plantations are smaller and less commercialized than the popular Finca La Victoria.
Also, this route can be combined into a 2 or even 3-day journey on the way up to Cerro Kennedy (the best viewpoint in the region).
Typical itinerary: My Strava
Related: 360 Mirador (Viewpoint) in Minca
Where to Stay in Minca
The main town of Minca is quite small, and you’ll discover that some of the best places to stay are on the jungle foothills of the surrounding mountains.
While everybody knows about the famous Sierra Minca, there are several other great places to consider as well. Minca has some of the best hostels in South America, and the unmissable ones sell out frequently, so it’s best to book in advance!
- Stay at an Organic Cacao & Coffee Farm: Finca San Rafael – This is where I stayed, and it was one of my favorite lodges in all of Colombia. Set in the jungle just outside of town, this beautiful oasis offers a pool with mountain views, private or shared rooms, and offers plantation tours to learn about the cultivation process of cacao and coffee.
- Finca Carpe Diem Ecolodge – 9.6/10 rating on HostelWorld with over 800 reviews! This is an absolute backpacker heaven with 3 swimming pools, amazing jungle views and is well-located close to amazing hikes.
- Casas Viejas – Winner of the best hostel award in South America! Unfortunately this place was booked out when we visited but many claim that this is one of the best hostels in the world!
- Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro – The best place to stay near Minca for couples and those wanting absolute serenity. Offers amazing private rooms with a river view in the jungle, an incredible breakfast and is actually very affordable for what you get!
More Photos of the Marinka Waterfalls
More Colombia Travel Guides
I hope this short travel guide to visiting the beautiful Marinka Waterfalls in Minca, Colombia has been useful in planning your adventures!
While you’re here, make sure to check out some of my other guides and articles to Colombia and beyond!