My Caribbean Adventure (Copyright ©2010)

ZiNG Magazine, July 2010

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My Caribbean Adventure

Mara Etienne-Manley gets back to basics with Caribbean Camping

For many of us Caribbean residents, it’s easy to get jaded by the everyday. We even forget to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. In a time of everyone asking for more, it’s good to be reminded of the simple ways we can enjoy life. An adventurous twist on a romantic break, or weekend away with family and friends, is a great way to unwind and connect with the outdoors; a welcome reprieve from your mundane routine. Who wouldn’t benefit from a little change of scenery whilst capturing the joie de vivre’ of island life?

Camping in the Caribbean is a fun and interesting way to awaken our senses and recharge, while spending quality time with those we care about. Whether it’s on a palm-fringed beach or in the lush, tropical rain-forests, breath-taking sunsets and gorgeous views all around compel you to forget your mobile phones and laptops, and release the stresses of work, activity schedules and financial commitments.

Watching the sun rise and set, lying under a blanket of stars, feeling the warmth of a campfire against your skin and being lulled to sleep by cicadas clicking in the distance, all allow you to appreciate how lucky you are to be in this place at this particular time.

This weekend, why not get away from the daily grind, pack your sleeping bag and tent and have an inspiring weekend of self-nurturing? Planning a camping trip is exciting and can be inexpensive. I have camped in forests, on beaches and glaciers and the preparation is pretty much the same. As long as my basic camping equipment comprises a waterproof tent and sleeping gear, cooking utensils, sufficient food, drinking water, emergency supplies and toiletries, I’m all set.

Once at the campsite, with no rules or itineraries, I immediately feel a new energy. I scout around, select my turf, pitch my tent and transform it into my new home. I liken the experience to being on the television show Survivor — it’s all about living outdoors with few to no creature comforts.

My camping crew and I go swimming, fishing, cook on open fires, pick fruits, collect treasures, sunbathe and nap as and when we please. For once, there is time to do the little things that help me relax, as I am in no rush to do anything other than enjoy the experience.

In the mornings I awaken to the sweet chirping sounds of birds, beautiful morning sunlight, fresh air, and the murmurs of those around — reminders of how beautiful life is.

When the time finally comes to take my tent down, I realise I have embraced the true essence of living in the Caribbean.

Just do it! What are you waiting for? Here is a list of Designated Campgrounds for adventure seekers in the Caribbean:

ST LUCIA Anse la Liberté. Natural forest reserve with twelve camping sites owned by the St Lucia National Trust - US$25-$75 Per Night/Person - Contact: St Lucia National Trust (758) 452 5005

DOMINICA 3 Rivers Eco Lodge/Rosalie Forest Eco-Lodge. A small, family run eco- lodge in a lush rainforest valley - US $15-$25 Per Night/Person - Contact: Jem Winston (767) 446 1886 - Email: info@3riversdominica.com

GRENADA Grand Etang National Park. This natural forest reserve in the island’s interior is popular with campers for its rich diversity of flora and fauna, tropical birds, waterfalls and hiking trails. There are over 300 campsites on the island. - Prices vary - Contact: Grand Etang Visitors centre (473) 440-6160

GUADELOUPE Parc National de la Guadeloupe Home to La Soufrière volcano, the park is a UNESCO site in Basse-Terre covering more than 74,000 acres and offering stunning views, hiking trails and waterfalls. In Guadeloupe, there are many campsites located along the northwest coast near Deshaies. If you want a ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping) experience, try Grand Anse Beach and Pointe-Noire. - Contact: 05 90 99 03 15

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO Vessigny in Trinidad and Canoe Bay in Tobago. Camping on the beaches in Trinidad and Tobago is very popular and many have facilities such as restrooms and changing areas for campers. - Contact: Forestry Division (868) 622 4521/(868) 622 7476

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