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  • Writer's pictureDave Jackson

How to get from Minca to Medellin by bus

Maybe not as common a route as those hoping to get from Cartagena or Santa Marta to Medellin, but hey, that's just one bus ride so it doesn't need much help explaining. Getting from Minca to Medellin is a little more complicated, but not much. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to get from Minca to Medellin.


First off, for those not on a budget and visiting Colombia for only a short time there are direct flights between Santa Marta and Medellin which will save time but it will cost much more. The base fare of the flight between Santa Marta and Medellin is around $60 without a seat or baggage and the overnight bus for the same journey at the time of writing (in July 23) is $11 so if you have time, save a bit of cash and do your bit for the planet!


Map of how to get from Minca to Medellin by bus



Minca to Santa Marta bus


Minca is a small town on the outskirts of Santa Marta which is great for hiking and coffee. This small town should be a stop for anyone visiting this side of Colombia but understandably being so small it doesn't have long-distance buses running from it. Like so many of its neighbours, such as Tayrona National Park and Palomino, the way to get to and from Minca is connecting through Santa Marta.


The buses (well actually shuttle buses) between Minca and Santa Marta take 30-45 minutes depending on traffic. Unfortunately, it is common for these shuttles to get a little cramped so expect your bag to go on the roof of the van (a waterproof bag cover is advisable in rainy season!) and a seat isn't always guaranteed; I had to perch on the engine bay on the back of the front seats on one journey.


To get the shuttle from Minca to Santa Marta head to Cootrasminca—Minca-Transportadora Sierra S.A.S, which is just next to the bridge in the centre of Minca and ask for a ticket for the next bus. The buses between Minca and Santa Marta leave every 30 minutes and the cost is COP 9,000.


There are 2 stops at which the shuttle from Minca to Santa Marta stops, the first is at Transportadora Sierra S.A.S's office in Mamatoco, the 2nd at the bus terminal next to the central market in Santa Marta. DON'T make the mistake we did and stay on the bus and hope it will take you to Terminal de Transportes de Santa Marta when they say the next stop is the Terminal! Get off in Mamatoco, unless you want to go into Santa Marta centre for anything, as it is much closer to the bus station you need to continue you're journey.


From Transportadora Sierra S.A.S's office to Terminal de Transportes de Santa Marta, you can walk but it is easier to grab a taxi. Uber doesn't work in Santa Marta and as a general rule, we try to avoid the local taxis to avoid getting Gringo prices. In Santa Marta, the best app to use is InDrive which is a sort of mix between Uber and BlaBlaCar in which you say a price you will be happy to pay and the driver accepts you (the app does suggest a price). You pay in cash to the driver like a normal taxi though.


Buying bus ticket for Santa Marta to Medellin


The good news is that there are direct buses between Santa Marta and Medellin running regularly. The better news is that for some reason using Guatego.com they are incredibly cheap! Websites like Busbud show the price to be about 4 times higher! Of course, do your due diligence and make sure it's still the cheapest, but it's definitely worth checking out Guatego! We opted for the 5:30 pm bus from Santa Marta to Medellin which although left 15 minutes late actually arrived into Medellin at 8:10 am, which was 20 minutes before it was scheduled to arrive. We had read a few blogs suggesting that buses in Colombia were always late so we were pleasantly surprised. Our friends took the same route another night and it arrived on time taking 15 hours. Through Guatego we booked a bus with Expreso Brasilia, which is considered a first-class bus in Colombia and the journey cost $11!!!


The Expreso Brasilia bus from Santa Marta to Medellin was really comfortable, not quite as good as buses in Argentina and Brazil but much nicer than the ones we had experienced for months in Central America. After booking with Guatego I received a WhatsApp asking to confirm our names and passport numbers. Then within 10 minutes, we were emailed our tickets with our seat numbers. We only booked 24 hours in advance and got the front seats as most people in Colombia book at the bus station. This is great news for Becca as she suffers from motion sickness and towards the front of the bus is always less bumpy, she did however wear her trusty anti-nausea bands though which she swears by!


Santa Marta bus station


As we were a little nervous as we had paid so little for the bus tickets upon arriving at the bus station we proceeded to the counter to make sure we actually had genuine tickets. At the Expreso Brasilia desk, they asked for our passports and printed off our tickets. I'm pretty sure you don't need the paper ticket, as I did see others when boarding the bus just showing their phones, but it's always good to make sure if you have time. At Santa Marta bus station, Expreso Brasilia has its own waiting room with aircon, fans, plugs for charging devices and Wi-Fi. There are also plenty of shops selling drinks and snacks at the bus station but the prices are inflated.


Bus from Santa Marta to Medellin


As mentioned above, the buses were really comfortable compared to Central American buses, the seats reclined to about 140 degrees and there was a half-decent legroom (we had loads as we had the front seats). The main observation from the journey is the driver seemed to like having the aircon set to sub-Arctic mode and I was half expecting to wake up with icicles attached to my beard. Make sure to pack layers, I'm generally a warm person and I was still chilly with a jumper on and needed to put my coat around my legs. Becca was very thankful for her travel blanket. Another great option, if you are travelling with a sleeping bag liner, take it aboard. Sadly we had ours packed in our main bags in the hold of the bus!


Someone did get on our bus selling empanadas, but there is no meal stops on the way, so it's a good idea to pack snacks and water for the journey.


Summary


The bus route from Minca/Santa Marta to Medellin is an easy one and taking an overnight bus was pretty comfortable and as it saves a night's accommodation it is the way to go for budget backpackers!


If you take this journey we'd love to hear how you got on. Please add a comment at the bottom of the page with any price updates too so we can help other travellers with what to expect.


Happy travels!


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