Jungle Bay Dominica
We just returned from an adventurous retreat in Dominica. Martha and I stayed at Jungle Bay Resort (really an eco-retreat like the Edge in philosophy) . Our getaway was truly inspiring. Sam and Glenda have a unique take on tourism in the Carribbean, like the Edge blending Adventure, Yoga and other holistic retreats into a community economic development project that makes those who stay at Jungle Bay feeling like part of an extended family.
I was delighted to learn that most of the staff have been working at Jungle Bay for years, many of them from the time that the first shovels were put in the ground to create this remarkable home in the jungle.
The scenery on the island is unbelievable greenery, with no biting bugs and no large animals to make adventuring a challenge. What really brought our adventures to life were the enthusiastic, knowledgable guides including Brother and Ervine, the latter who is likely to scramble to the top of any nearby Mango tree to bring guests in his care a fresh snack. In fact, our drive from the airport to Jungle Bay with Ervine resulted in me sampling four fruits that I had never tasted before as we pulled over a half dozen times to learn about the greenery that is Dominica, the Nature Island of the Carribbean.
I’ve never experienced a vacation where I interacted so intimately with the staff as I did at Jungle Bay. With cooks Kenneth, Janet and Joanne, we learning how cocoa is made, what the best plants are for making tea, learning what fresh nutmeg and coffee looks like, and how to make fried plantain with coconut and green banana salad. If you go, be sure to order a warm mug of cocoa tea as an after dinner treat!
Morne Trois Pitons National Park — 17,000 acres designated a World Heritage Site, in Dominica’s southern region — is host to dozens of adventures. Most of them will have the hiker or true adventurer feeling pleasantly tired at the end of the day. Packed with primordial rain forest, numerous fresh running streams and steamy hot springs, the preserve offers countless routes, ranging from a short gentle walks to the Emerald Pool for a cooling dip, to challenging full day hikes on well-marked rocky trails.
Our guides led us on adventures ranging from 5-7 hours on mild to arduous excursions like the six-to-eight-hour (round-trip) trek to Boiling Lake. The 200-foot-wide pool heats to nearly 200-degrees Fahrenheit, creating an eerie cloud vapor hovering over its bubbling blue-gray water. The eight-mile hike to the site is muddy with many narrow ridges and steep rocky sections requiring scrambling. Walking across the spine of the mountain tops gives hikers the first sight of the Boiling Lake. But first we walk through the Valley of Desolation. Photo-ops of simmering steam vents and jagged volcanic rock are everywhere in this unearthly place. Our guide invited us to try on an impromptu mud-mask before the last ascent to the Boiling Lake.
Our return hike through the Valley of Desolation brought with it an opportunity to bathe in the hot pools in the jungle, before enjoying a hard boiled egg prepared in one of the boiling pools before our two hour hike out .
We so much enjoyed our stay, that we are planning a scheduled visit to Jungle Bay next winter. Stay tuned for details.