I’ve always loved camping. There’s something about carrying my belongings in a bag on my back, cooking my food over an open fire and even traveling by kayak deep into a forrest to find my bed for the evening that just makes my nerve endings feel like they are alive in a way that can’t be duplicated by other experiences.
This excited feeling is also present when I watch others camp. You know the scenes in “Out of Africa” when they are traveling through the plains to hunt and he washes her hair, cooks her dinner which they eat on china, plays music on a phonograph … my pulse is starting to race just thinking about it.
So, when I found myself perusing the itinerary for my recent trip to Costa Rica that included what looked like luxury camping in the jungle — I was filled with more than a few high expectations for how incredibly enjoyable my stay at Almonds & Corals would be.
As I well know, but seem to have forgot, pictures can be a little deceiving.Almonds & Corals is very much in the middle of an active jungle. Snakes, monkeys, sloths, birds, and so many different varieties of bugs are a constant presence. At night, there is a chorus of animal calls that could cause a nervous person to fall off the brink and a light sleeper want to make themselves deaf (the latter being me). A path to the ocean, which one cannot swim in due to deadly riptides, is guarded by snakes that do not hide their eating habits from resort guests. Mosquito coils stand guard at every dining table, their trails of smoke like signals as to the danger of dengue fever. During the middle of one of our three nights in residence at Almonds & Corals I was stunned awake by a bite on my foot only to be unable to find the source of the attack. I did find, in the light of morning, large patches of dried blood in my sheets and a swollen ankle that called to mind “The Elephant Man”. Walls made of simple window screening did little to actually keep out creatures which crawl, fly or slither. Though it was so-called dry season, my clothes were damp for three straight days because of 100% humidity and while a cup of coffee might have warmed me to the bone, I was forced to fight bugs with every sip and that eventually soured me to the caffeine cure.
Sleep deprived after three nights of no rest, and cold in still-damp clothing, as we pulled away from Almonds & Corals – I was forced to begrudgingly admit: I hate camping in the jungle.
Give me the dry forests of Colorado and or the mountains of Vermont, even the desert of California. Just please don’t make me stay in a tent-on-stilts in the jungle of eastern Costa Rica.
All that being said, and being true of my own feelings – I would still highly recommend Almonds & Corals to people who are more adventurous than I and who long to be as close to wildlife as is possible in any country they visit. The staff is a very kind, very welcoming group of people who are passionate about Costa Rica and about preservation of the jungle which surrounds them. Adventure activities like zip lining are available right on property and the food is very very good. Even though guests cannot swim in the ocean – long walks on the wild, abandoned-feeling beach in this area are relaxing. It’s very quiet since the area has such a small residential population and is not overrun by tourists. As the property is so highly ranked in green travel as well, it’s a place that should be considered by those who endeavor to only frequent sustainable businesses.
I’m going to stick to sky diving the next time I want adventure. That doesn’t mean you should avoid Almonds & Corals. It just might be the very experience you are looking for, even though it wasn’t what I expected!
My trip to Costa Rica was provided by the Gift of Happiness campaign sponsored by the tourism board. As always, thoughts and opinions are mine.