Apr 27

Casa Elemento in Minca: The Best Hostel View in Colombia?

Casa Elemento Minca Colombia


We’ve written a lot about hostels previously on the Colombia Travel Blog: our Top 5 in Colombia, the best ones to stay at in various cities…I’ve even declared my favorite in the country to be the Casa de Francois in San Agustin…Hostels are the lifeblood of the travel industry for budget travelers (and, increasingly, for the growing number of ‘flashpackers’, who want the hostel experience, but with a little bit extra). A bad hostel can taint your memory of an entire city, or, in an extreme case, country: I can say that from personal experience – a rubbish hostel experience is still the first thing that pops into my mind when I remember my visit to Siem Riep in Cambodia; rather than, say, the majestic temples of Angkor Wat! Therefore, the hostel is not simply a place to lay your head at the end of the day: it’s where you wake up, meet other travelers, relax or even, in my blogger capacity, work.


Casa Elemento Minca Colombia
It’s pretty stunning, right?!


The criteria for a good hostel is wholly subjective; but one thing that makes a hostel special for me is an incredible view – it’s a brilliant bonus when the place you’re staying feels like an additional part of your travel experience…think the Plantation House in Salento with it’s own coffee plantation, or the Parklife Hostel in Popayan, attached to the cathedral of the city. It just makes the experience that little bit more special if you ask me. One such hostel is the Casa Elemento, near Minca in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which I’m going to go ahead and declare has the best hostel view in the country…

I say near Minca because Casa Elemento is, in fact, another 45 minutes or so up the mountains, which is partly why the view is so incredible. And it is incredible: panoramic vistas stretch out from the communal gardens of the hostel, taking in the vastness of the Caribbean, the jungles of the Sierra and the faint glimmering lights of Santa Marta in the distance.


Casa Elemento Minca Colombia
Santa Marta in the distance…


And the folks behind Casa Elemento have clearly recognized that this view is their major selling point and acted accordingly: hanging over the drop at the edge of the hostel grounds is the largest hammock you’re likely to see; a huge net contraption that allows at least 10-15 backpackers to simultaneously relax and soak in that magnificent vista. Just look at the photos: there’s no way I can truly do it justice!


Casa Elemento Minca Colombia
The giant hammock…need I say more!


The hostel itself is a different kind of hostelling experience in Colombia as well: the communal thing is much more prevalent here than elsewhere, which has it’s downside, but mainly it’s a great way to increase interaction among hostel guests. Meals are served communally (manly dinner) along a large banqueting table (it’s not the place to be a fussy eater!), and there’s no wi-fi or computer for guests. With a few dorms and private rooms, and the option to rent a tent as well, it’s a wonderful place to unplug and drop out for a few days. I spent Christmas at the hostel, and it was a wonderful base for hiking in the mountains, and birding my way through the Sierra’s massive endemic list.


Casa Elemento Minca Colombia
The pool and camp-fire area


But it’s really all about that view: lying on the that huge hammock in the pleasant warm sun of the Sierra Nevada, feeling joyously insignificant as the distant Caribbean shines, still as you’ll see it, and the bright green forests of the one of the world’s most ecologically important mountain ranges, snakes it’s way up from the coast, right into your back garden. Toucans and parrots skimming over the nearby treetops, and a cold beer in hand – this is one hostel that’s worth staying at just for the view…


6 thoughts on “Casa Elemento in Minca: The Best Hostel View in Colombia?

  1. Andrea on

    Hey Chris!

    I know Casa Elemento has an amazing view, but I wanna let you know the Canadian guy, whose name I don’t remember stole something very special from my friend. Also, he takes share cabs from Santa Marta to Minca, and he never pays and always steals money from the travellers. It’s a pretty serious issue and a very nasty person. Don’t support this place!! There’s a lot other amazing places in Minca

  2. Carmen on

    Hey Chris! I had originally planned about 2 nights in Minca followed by a yoga retreat in Parque Tayrona. Unfortunately, the yoga retreat just got cancelled. You think I should just go ahead and spend 5 nights at Casa Elemento? Or is there something else nearby I could check out? I already got flights in and out of santa marta. Also, given the itinerary for the rest of my trip, I don’t really have room to pack camping gear.


      Chris on

      Hi Carmen! Sorry about the yoga retreat, but there’s no reason not to still experience Tayrona with 3 nights to spare – tents are available there for hire or you can sleep in a hammock and a 5 day combined visit to Minca and Tayrona is always a good little trip. If you don’t fancy beaches then there’s no reason why 5 nights at Elemento couldn’t be an amazing experience, especially if you’re active and like hiking. If you fancy something a little more isolated and adventurous you could always head further up into the mountains for a couple of nights and stay at Los Pinos Hostal, which is even further up the mountain than Elemento. If you’re looking for other ideas around the Colombian Caribbean then take a look here too: https://seecolombia.travel/blog/2014/07/2-week-colombian-itinerary-caribbean-coast/

      If you have any other questions, please let me know: you can email me at chrisseecolombia@gmail.com




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