Updated: Mar 10, 2019
18th - 20th September 2018
Casa Loma is a magical place, nestled in the mountainous rainforest, overlooking Santa Marta. It's been my favourite place in Colombia so far, and this blog post is basically going to be a list of how great it is. (Update March 2019: It is still the greatest, most beautiful place and I'm planning an express trip back to this paradise)
We stayed in hammocks which are on a sheer drop into the forest. I've never been surrounded by so much green..
The food at the hostel was the best we've had so far and completely vegetarian YAAAASSSS KWEEN!
My friend and I got VERY excited about their hot chocolates. They are the best I've ever had IN MY LIFE. It was the most glorious thing to drink one in the communal area, in the rain, in JUMPERS, overlooking the incredible view. An experience not to be missed.
Loma have a wonderful, grumpy doggo called Lola and she sits under the table if you're eating. So precious.
NB: We thought we hadn't got enough cash out for our time in Minca, but the hostel takes card and there are cash machines in Minca. Although there is no WiFi, if you are with the network 3, you will get signal. The romance is still there of being cut off from the outside world, but you aren't completely (which was lucky for us regarding our funds).
On arrival, we lounged for a few hours, and checked out the activities around Minca. We already knew we wanted to do a bird-watching tour and coffee tour respectively. We signed up for Jungle Joe’s tour which would start at 6am the next morning. Ouch.
Our bird guide was the man himself, Joe, and he was enthusiastic, kept everyone informed of which birds were which and was chatty and lovely. We'd read reviews about him being the complete opposite, and you being able to walk the route by yourself… the tour is for beginner bird watchers so if you're confident in your South America bird knowledge then head on out alone. If you're not, Joe is perfect, and so worth the money. We had the best time spotting 35 different species of bird (including 3 toucans and 3 different species of hummingbird). We also had an additional guide: a doggo we christened Lucius, who came with us for the whole 3 hours. Joe was so pleased we'd had such a great time and told us he loves to make people happy. Joe, you were a wonder.
We finished our tour at 9am, and went to Cafe Tienda, just next door, for a smoothie and brownie. The cafe is lovely and promotes recycling and says NO TO STRAWS *shout out*.
As we are doing the Inca Trail in Peru next month, we decided to walk to La Victoria coffee tour, which took 2 hours up hill, to break in our walking boots. We are 2, relatively fit and active gals (Update March 2019: Sarah is athletic and has WELL above-average fitness... I am/have neither. Pity me), and the walk was manageable (aside from the sweating… that was difficult to manage). The farm is beautiful. It's surrounded by bamboo and multicoloured plants and the place is humming with birdlife… and spiders. We loved the tour, it was just the right length and we actually had the owner take us round which was pretty special. There was a sadness about the tour though. As climate change increases, the crop starts earlier each year but yielding lower as the coffee berries are ripe at different times making them difficult to pick.
Afterwards, we shared a sandwich and had a smoothie at the cafe. The food was excellento *recommendation* and we sat in the window and birdwatched, using our newly acquired skills. We're professionals now, y’know? We even spotted a toucan on the way down, after hearing and recognising its call! I know you're impressed...
We walked back down the hill, which was sooooooo much easier, and back up the steps to the hostel. Sarah counted over 300 steps… I struggled up behind her and tried not to cry. We did however brave the cold showers afterwards, which seemed more like a reward, before watching another stunning sunset. It really is breathtaking.
We played cards with the guys we'd met the day before and got an early night at 9:30pm. I watched glowworms on the ceiling which alternated with the silent lightning. It was surreal.
Casa Loma has been the best. It is a relaxed hostel, not for the party-goers, but for those wanting a time-out and a special, Colombia experience. We got that, ten-fold, and we don't want to leave.
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