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After an hour, we pass through a well-eroded river gorge and traverse muddy terrain that sends me sliding towards the edge of the canyon.

Thankfully, I avoid my own ET-style leap into the abyss and slam on the brakes instead. It’s the closest I come to flying over the ridge, and I sheepishly receive a reminder from Tom to not let my need for speed get the better of me.

Minutes later we’re winding through bamboo thickets and arrive at one of the Sierra’s oldest working coffee fincas, dating back to the early 1900s.

We disembark, stiff legs grateful for the stretch, and I salivate at the thought of a freshly roasted coffee.

After a small tour, we’re greeted timidly by a handful of workers who continue the physically taxing job of collecting, drying and roasting the beans according to traditional techniques.

We learn through an interpreter that the Colombians keep the lower quality, watered-down filter coffee to sell locally and ensure the tourists enjoy the A-grade beans.

It explains why previous roadside-bought Colombian coffees haven’t hit the spot (and are usually loaded with sugar to compensate).

Reuniting ourselves with the path, we bomb it the rest of the way through the valley, with fallen, mashed avocados littering the track like a giant guacamole trail as ears pop and signal our descent back into the outskirts of Minca town.

It’s only taken us two hours and 40 minutes to carve up the Sierra Nevada range on two wheels, but I feel like my appetite for the entire region is not even close to sated.

I hit boutique hillside hostel Casa Loma to lose myself in yet another startling sunset.

It gilds the entire mountainside in a magical, rose blush, and I swear I can see the lookout of Los Pinos from my lazy horizontal vantage point in an alfresco hammock.

Just when I think things couldn’t get any better, Elemento’s Tom pushes a large maracuja fruit laced with rum into my hands and declares, “I think you might have earned this today, chica.”


Best of the rest: Sierra Nevada on foot

Climb up to Las Cascadas de Marinka

Start your day spotting tropical birds and butterflies galore at this pretty waterfall. You can spend time ambling under the 30-metre bamboo arches or ‘guadua’ as they’re known, and when you’re feeling sticky, cool off in the waterfall, which is probably the cleanest, most refreshing shower possible.

This beautiful, gentle hike takes about an hour from Minca (ask for directions from your hostel).

Visit Pozo Azul

Take a picnic and combine it with a dip in these two gorgeous swimming holes.

There’s even a rope swing installed here, so make like Tarzan and plunge into the cool water if you dare. Be warned, though: the water is unexpectedly chilly here.

Los pinos

Still got some strength left? The day trek to Los Pinos and back is a tough uphill journey, but it is definitely worth it.

The path takes you through cloud forest at the top and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular mountain views once you reach the pinnacle.

The weather changes constantly here, but on a clear day you can see the snow peaks from Los Pinos.

The total walking time is between five and eight hours, but you can cheat by hailing a motorbike as far as El Campano (it’ll cost you about £2.50) and taking the dirt road to the right, cutting your trek down to three hours.


Elemento Outdoor Adventure’s Los Pinos tour costs £100pp and includes 4WD transfer up to the ridge, overnight accommodation, dinner and breakfast, and all equipment. 

Photos:, Jennifer Carr, Spencer Gordon, Getty, Axis Travel


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