I was visiting a friend who was working at a beach hostel when we decided to check out the jungle town of Minca up in the mountains near Santa Marta, Colombia, and the famous giant hammocks. Everybody we met who had been there raved about the place so we decided to check it out. One of the main draws was to stay at a place called Casa Elemento, which boasts the largest hammocks I have ever seen.
The Road to Casa Elemento
Getting to Minca was fairly straightforward from Santa Marta. All we had to do was take an inexpensive cab ride for 20 minutes into the mountains. Right when we arrived we were swarmed by people offering ‘moto’ taxi rides (a ride on the back of a motorcycle) up a mountain road to Casa Elemento. We each had to pay 50 000 COP for the moto ride, which equated to about 15-20USD at the time. It was either that or a 2-3 hour steep hike with all our stuff. Luckily we both left our main travel bags back at the beach hostel.
The moto taxi ride to Casa Elemento was probably the most intense transport I’ve taken. It turned out to be 45 minutes up one of the worst possible roads on the luxurious back seat of a motorcycle with a helmet nowhere to be seen. Initially, for about 4 minutes the road was paved and then it turned to dirt.
As we climbed higher the effects of a recent rainfall could be seen and the road started to become wetter and wetter until at one point we actually crossed over a point where a small stream was crossing the road. After about half an hour of trying not to sink into the muddy road, we finally hit a point where the mud was too deep and my driver and I actually fell over onto the road while he tried to make a slight turn. We were going very slow and neither of got hurt, I’ll always remember this as the first and only time I’ve fallen off a motorcycle. A small sign indicated ‘beers ahead’ signaling that we were almost at Casa Elemento, and a few short minutes later we finally made it.
Casa Elemento and the Giant Hammocks
It was dusk by the time I entered Casa Elemento. I could immediately tell why everybody suffers through the grueling moto taxi ride up there. The views were amazing. The jungle lodge was on a mountain overlooking a valley with Santa Marta and the ocean in the distance.
There was a bunch of hammocks set up for sleeping, huts built on the side of the mountain, dorm bedrooms in the main building and even a tree house for guests lucky enough to book far enough in advance to take advantage.
A kitchen offered delicious vegetarian meals prepared nightly. Furthermore, there was an outdoor bar to enjoy a few cold craft beers after a day of trekking or chilling.
The coolest part about Casa Elemento was the gigantic hammocks they had built. Each hammock could hold up to 10 people and they were built overlooking the valley with unrestricted views.
The one larger stationary hammock was built just below a deck and jutted out over a steep slope so it felt like you were suspended in the air over the valley.
Another giant hammock slightly smaller was built to function as a swing. Multiple people could lie on it and sway up and down as long as thye liked.
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The next day I decided to do a trek to a waterfall with a couple other travelers. I took a picture of a trail map somebody drew so we wouldn’t get lost somewhere in the jungle.
We followed the trail up by the coffee processing unit. Then all the way down the to waterfalls near the road at the bottom.
After 2 sweltering hours of walking in dense foliage, we finally made it to the waterfall.
There were multiple pools for us to swim and cool. In addition, a small restaurant nearby sold us some wonderfully cold beers.
We returned to Casa Elemento via the dirt mountain road that the people of Minca believe is excellent for regular motorcycle travel.
That night, as daylight fell away, everybody grabbed a drink and a place on the deck or one of the giant hammocks.
It was incredible to see the sunset situated so far up in the mountains.
After the sun disappeared everybody quickly realized we had lost power, but Casa Elemento had ample candles to compensate and somebody built a fire to sit around. With no power and being so isolated up in the mountains, there was no light pollution at night time. I laid in the swinging hammock with a couple people and just stared at the extremely lucid stars above. It was surreal lying there in the biggest hammock I’d ever seen slowly swinging up and down whilst staring at the clearest night sky I could remember. A girl next to me started laughing uncontrollably to the point of tears because her mind was being supremely blown by the whole experience. She may have smoked something beforehand.
The next day we awoke with the power still out. After a quick breakfast, we waited for a 4×4 pickup to get down the mountain back into the town of Minca. The 4×4 cost a little bit extra than the original moto taxi ride, but it was well worth it for the return.
Minca was an incredible place and Casa Elemento with their giant hammocks was the Clamato to the Caesar. It is a must see if visiting the Santa Marta area of Colombia.