Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Richmond Vale Hiking Center

Affordable accomodation in the Caribbean

I spent 5 nights at Richmond Vale Hiking Center and absolutely loved my stay. It is foremost an academy for volunteers around the world who come to St. Vincent to learn about organic gardening, etc so they can teach those less fortunate in third world countries where they travel after their training. If you choose to eat with students (food is very basic, but extremely affordable) you will meet people from all over the world and will surely have many interesting conversations as I did. Meeting so many great people was my favorite part of being there, aside from the beautiful surroundings and fabulous hiking. Everyone was very warm, friendly and welcoming as well. There are no restaurants anywhere nearby, only a couple of tiny bars, so unless you bring food with you, there aren't any other options. Food is cooked by students and served family style and on a schedule. Should you not get back in time for dinner, they will save a plate for you.

The buildings used to make up a home for abused boys. While they look like they have been around for awhile, they are very light and airy inside. I was pleasantly surprised by my accomodations. There is no air conditioning, but I found it pleasantly cool for sleeping in the evening. My room was very cute, with a full size bed. The only drawback for me was that it had a bit of a musty smell. Other than that, it was great.

The large bathroom is down the hall and was clean enough. My biggest complaint was that there was no hot water. In a climate such as St. Vincent, you might think that this is not a big deal. However, if you take a shower before the sun comes up or after the sun goes down (which is typically what I did due to hiking most of the day) the water is VERY COLD!! I really dreaded taking a shower.

There is a commons area which is also used by students as well with table tennis plus a lounge/ tv area. The atmosphere is much like a college dormitory, though most of the volunteers are finished with college. Students are not allowed to drink, however that rule does not apply to guests. I got the impression that they prefer you not to drink in front of students. There are a couple of bars (I use that term loosely) within walking distance. When I stayed there, I was their only guest for my entire stay, and I was very well tended to.

The surroundings are absolutely beautiful, with very mature trees, as well as crop fields of bananas and passion fruit. The views to the ocean and of the surrounding mountains are stunning. There are numerous hikes which you can start right from the center to waterfalls as well as the less travelled path from the Leeward side to the volcano, La Soufriere. The ocean is about a 10 minute walk as well which has a lovely black sand beach.

I would absolutely go back and plan to soon. This accomodation woulod be suitable for people who love nature, are looking for an affordable place to stay, and enjoy the company of others. For more pictures of the grounds, you can look at my travel blog photos from Hiking La Soufriere, St. Vincent. Please feel free to send me a message with any questions you may have. Happy travelling!