So, it turns out, I hate camping. In the jungle.

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.

  • February 22, 2012
    Dana de Brito

    Ha ha.. this is an awesome post – and so true.  I wish I like it as well, but sadly I don’t. I hope you have fun on the rest of your trip!

    • February 22, 2012

      Thank you for the comment! Kind of glad I am not alone and hey – the world is a big place, there are all kinds of adventures and places to experience.

  • February 22, 2012

    Love the title. We’re kinda the same way. Bring on the backcountry camping – bears and all – and we’re ok. We’re not so great with jungles, though, because we are NOT snake guys. One time we stayed at an electricity-free eco-lodge in Ecuador. We loved it. That is until nighttime when we went back to our hut and turned on our lantern. You should have seen all the freaky s*** in that place. Changed us forever.

    • February 22, 2012

      Hello, this is yet another reason why we get along 🙂 !!!! 

      I completely believe the freaky things you would have experienced in Ecuador, now that I’ve been to Costa Rica. Sorry you had to go through that – but then, I think it’s great to have these “bad” experiences to teach us what we do like and guide us to experiences that will be enjoyable.Also, let’s go camping with bears sometime soon. I could use a cuddly friend 😉 LOL

  • February 22, 2012

    I’m with you on liking this kind of adventure. As much as I love Costa Rica (I studied there in college), I can do without all the creepy-crawly things that move around, especially at night. The resort looks beautiful though.

    • February 22, 2012

      Thank you for the comment Leah! I didn’t know you studied in CR in college. 
      I too love Costa Rica and am looking forward to writing about the parts of it that really were my style. A gorgeous resort on the Pacific side was one of the nicest places I have ever stayed.

  • February 23, 2012

    Hun, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I empathise with you. This place sounds exactly like the place I stayed in in Palenque and, while I’m glad I did it, jungle life definitely isn’t for me. 

    • February 24, 2012

      Awh! Glad I’m not alone Ceri 🙂 But I agree with you that I think HAVING these experiences is still an important thing. Even if it makes us decide we don’t want to have them again.

  • February 24, 2012

    This reminds me of my stay in Africa! I woke up with bites everywhere, swollen from head to toe. But I would do it all over again…call me adventurous, I guess 🙂 The photos are beautiful though!

    • February 24, 2012

      I am actually glad you’ve had a similar experience and would gladly do it again!! I wish I was like that! And honestly, I would try camping in Africa. Never know, could be worse, could be better. But I will try anything *once*. 

      And thank you! So glad you liked the photographs.

  • February 24, 2012

    You and me both sister. I’d rather face a bear then a tarantula. Which, I realize, sounds utterly ridiculous, but is true.

    • February 27, 2012

      It may sound utterly ridiculous to some but I completely understand (and agree with) the reference Dalene!!

  • February 25, 2012

    Sounds like an adventure that is best read about 😉

    • February 27, 2012

      LOL Laurence. You may be right. Thank you for the comment!!

  • February 25, 2012

    Dear God, no.  I’ll happily take the critters of Kentucky over jungle things.  Best drink for jungle adventures?  A G&T, the quinine in the tonic helps against malaria.  And a random mosquito repeller?  Vodka.  Just spray it on you and they’ll stay away.  Perhaps I shouldn’t know all these alcoholic things…

    • February 27, 2012

      ROFL Erin!!!! We are definitely in agreement then. I love the way you think with the G&T. Let’s meet for a Hendrick’s Poor Man’s Punch in London soon m’kay 🙂

      (I love how much you know about alcohol cures FYI.)

      • February 28, 2012

        I can’t remember where I heard that G&Ts are the preferred drink of archaeologists because of the quinine.  I learned the vodka tip from Real Simple.  I don’t really like vodka so I was looking up alternative uses.  And I’m totally up for a Poor Man’s Punch in London.

        • February 29, 2012

          Well, let’s just put it this way — I am glad you know all these creative fixins!! 😉 … Also, reunion in NYC with you, Shannon, etc SOON.

  • February 26, 2012

    I’m sorry your camping trip didn’t turn out as well. But your photos are stunning!

  • February 27, 2012

    Ah yes, the humidity. As much as I want to enjoy such an experience, I am afraid the dampness would take away from the beauty of the experience. Thanks for sharing and for being honest.


    • February 27, 2012

      Thanks for the comment Mark! It’s interesting how high humidity can really effect an experience. Glad you’re ok with my honesty, I try to report on the good and the bad but always end on a high note if I can.

  • March 04, 2012

    Secretly happy to hear you had an awesome experience in that resort on the Pacific side, since I’m partial. 😉 I had a great time on the Caribbean coast, and a photo I took of one of those deserted beaches at my screensaver. But it is very, very different! And you do get used to the tarantulas, etc., but I still check my sheets for scorpions!!

    • March 06, 2012

      Awh!!!!!! Yes – the Pacific side was FABULOUS. I could have stayed forever. And certainly, the Caribbean side had its merits too. The camping just was … too much. But I loved Puerto Viejo and a few other things.

      And I did think of you every single day that I was in Costa Rica. Spencer too. You two put that country on the map for me. How could I not think of you both.

  • March 09, 2012

    I am leaving on the same trip in a week and I have to say this post makes me a little nervous but great hearing about it.

  • March 18, 2012

    Even in our resort on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, I felt the same! We were in a five-star place, and there were bugs everywhere–inside and out–and I couldn’t sleep soundly for fear of what might fall on me from the ceiling when I turned off the lights.

    Guess I really am a girly-girl =)

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