The Hostel in the Forest is not like any other hostel. In fact it is not a hostel to party. It is a place to live in a natural setting with very few trappings of the outside world. Some call it the heaven on earth and it can easily meet the expectation.
Built on one hundred eleven acres, this hostel is the place for self discovery, spiritual healing, or wandering on the beauty of the forest and spending time with the kind of people it attracts. For those who do need to be in touch the outside world, fast food restaurants are as close as a couple miles away. A day at the beach is also a manner of minutes away.
There are eight treehouses/huts and a two-story bunk house mostly have power and the rest plenty of candles. There are three outdoor showers with steaming hot water which drains directly onto the forest floor. The bathrooms include compost toilets. There is library and a glass house used for a quiet moment with yourself. On arriving for the first time, a complete tour is given to the guests. There is also a two-mile hiking trail through the forest. Two spring water lakes on the property are used for swimming, canoeing, or lying in the sun on the floating dock in the main lake. In addition there are two organic gardens.
You may want to go barefoot on the ground. You may find a couple hen's eggs here and there, you may go nude in the lake, you may hang around the fire at night, but you should get back for the dinner. If you stay there long enough, the spirit of the place gets to you and slows you down. Your mouth may even water as the first sound of the dinner bell rings, anouncing that the dinner is ready in thirty minutes usually around seven. The last ring is the five-minute anouncment. The guests all gather in the big dining room to hold hands and introduce themselves. The food is an effort of everyone and is included in the low price of the stay so everyone usually feels responsible to participate in a part.
At night you are sleeping in your bed mostly in a tree house with the occasional breeze. In the morning if the rooster sound won't wake you up, the sun will. There is a kitchen for those who want to cook something and usually the guests hang out in the main lodge.
On special occasions such as the night of full moon, a sweat lodge by the lake becomes the tradition of the hostel. Originated by a Native American descent guest of the hostel this attracts a lot of people to wash their pain and ask for guidence from the spirit. Each three sections are about one hour with a five-minute break outside the lodge. If claustrophobic or you can't take heat generated by the stones which have been sitting on the fire for hours, then this may not be for you. Try to test your strength as it may surprise you there and if you can't stay you are free to leave any time you need to. It is important to participate for the full day process of preparing the lodge. Make the reservation ahead of time if you are attending the ceremony. The participant usually fasts the day of the sweat -- drink plenty of liquids (no alcohol) and at the end he or she jumps into the lake for a reward. Most of the people are in the lodge nude but it is optional.
The Hostel in the Forest also promotes and teaches environmental sustainability and serves as a spiritual retreat, as well as hostel for international and domestic travelers. One can easily give a pause for the fact that this place can easily be a money generating business but it is not. You can easily have your own tree house for about twenty dollars and they try to avoid overcrowding the place with the big dorm facility.
The nearby attractions are Okefenokee National Park (forty-five minutes away), St. Simons Island (twenty minutes away), Howfyl Plantation and Jekyll Island State Park (about fifteen minutes away). You can also take the ferry to Cumberland Island National Park which also is forty-five minutes away.
If your heaven is non-smoking and only vegetarian then you've got the wrong place. Unfortunately it is also a challenge for handicapped guests mainly due to rough forest trails. Try to avoid mosquito season especially in May and June by wearing long clothes to cover your skin. Also if you are addicted to the use of internet then you have to go to the library. This heaven is worth your life but make sure you bring a flashlight.
by Maryam Aghamiri
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.