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The Hostel in the Forest

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Hostelz.com's Review
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.

Exclusive Hostelz.com Review
July 2006

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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
4   A fun place as long as you know what to expect I enjoyed it here. The sawdust toilets take some getting used to and the showers are outside with only 3 walls, so you have to plan to get your shower at night if you dont want anyone to peek in and see you! The showers were hot enough, and if you close your eyes, I guess the toilets arent too scary. The tree houses were interesting and unique and the little chickens were cute to see running around. I did the maze and meditated and did yoga, etc. but didn't find my Chi or enlightenment. I was very disappointed, so I guess I have to go back again and try harder. The people who work there (and guests) you kind of have to take with a grain of salt. I guess they think they are being green by not shaving or wearing deodorant! Basically good people, I guess they just have different priorities. The group meal was good. My only complaint is that it took them AGES to cook it! I was thinking it was going to be around 7;30, 8:00, but we didnt actually sit down until around 10:00 and then they spent about 30 minutes going around the tables introducing everybody and saying what they were thankful for. Nice idea, but I almost passed out from starvation! I just wish they would have told us ahead of time when we actually were going to eat, because I could have picked up something from the grocery hours earlier and avoided waiting around in starving anticipation!  , USA ()
4   Most interesting hostel I stayed in I stayed at this hostel in 2001. I stayed in hostels all over the United States during a several month trip. I found this one to be very different and although I never was a hippie this was a very interesting experience. The treehouses reminded me of a youth camp. The other buildings were very special and things like the outdoor showers were something I have never experienced anywhere else and very cool! The people I met were great too!  , USA ()
1   Just bad all around. I visited the Hostel in the Forest in 2007 and I will never go back. Roaches and rats in the kitchen, poor sanitation like washing dishes in cold water because they didnt want to use the electricity for the water heater, and the buildings were all in disrepair. The screened tent rooms were fine but the "spring fed pool" was a concrete tank with no moving water and no filtration of any kind. It was just a big muddy gross pit. And it had no fence around it making it very dangerous for small children. If you're still in your "I don't have to bath, free love, trade you some shiny rocks for a nug, dude" stage because you haven't gotten herpes or a staph infection yet this is a good place to find both.  , USA ()
5   Truly tranquil I found this when searching for places to stay and visit on my RTW trip, in a library book in New york, and it didnt disappoint. Everyone has a different personal experience there, but for me, it was where my spiritual awakening took place which changed my life's direction for the better. There is something about the place, that if you allow it, is very healing. I shall never ever forget it, or the people there or those that literally built it! In fact 6 years later a friend from the UK will be staying there, because she has heard how much of a positive experience it had on me. Thank you Tom and John!  , UK ()
5   The Best After living for a week without a computer or clock/watch, I must admit, I never wanted to leave. People from all walks of life practicing living a life full of "real" food, non-judgment, love. During the day you can swim in the lake, do an art project in the art room or walk in the woods at night you have a wonderful shared meal that has been picked fresh that day and cooked with love. Afterward there is music and dancing and story telling around the fire only to fall into your bed up high in the air and let the sounds of the forest lull you to sleep. You wake up to friendly faces, fresh coffee and tea in the kitchen, and the feeling as I said before that you NEVER want to go back to that crazy thing that the rest of the word calls life.  , America ()
5   Memories to last a lifetime Make SURE you stay here!! My friend Kim and I spent a few days, including St Valentine's Day, 1994 here when traveling around The States. It was such a wonderful, peaceful break to our manic backpacking that brought lots of partying along the way. We didn't want to leave this spiritual paradise!! Fabulous people pass through this hostel -- lasting memories to carry through life. 15 years later and I was living in Alabama with my husband & 3 children. Hubby was away with work so I packed the kids up and we made the pilgrimage to the hostel I remembered so well, hoping that it hadn't changed! Our children were about 2, 3, and 5 yrs old. They LOVED it! Grubbed around with the chooks in their pjs, had outdoor showers overlooking the forest, slept in a tree house, and made dream catches. The people we met were not those from the children's "usual circles" and they embraced them eagerly -- and vice versa. This place brings all people together in tolerance and love. My favourite part of the day was standing around the fire before dinner, holding hands and saying what each of us was thankful for. Something we need to do more often probably! Almost 3 years later and the children still remember and talk about our stay. Often it starts with, "Mum, when can we go back and stay at the treehouse hostel?" As the bumper sticker says, "May The Forest Be With You!"  , Australia ()
5   A place we found by accident and have longed to return ever since Way back in 1990 while backpacking around the world we came across this heaven on earth. the manager was Pete from ireland and his wife marty and they accepted us like their own children. We stayed for a week and in that time made the best friends. We sat up late and played the game spoons where the looser had to jump into the spring pool. played guitar on the porch and had big communal meals and BBQs. My wife and I often talk about it 20 years on now as it made such an impact on us. I dont think there is a better hostel on this planet. and I have been to most of them.  , Australia ()
5   A place where beauty and peace come easily The hostel in the forest opened up a new chapter in my life. My first night there was December 31, 1999. I rang in the new year with some good friends and several new friends. The magic of the hostel is powerful -- it attracts soulful, big-hearted people from all walks of life. On every return visit I have met several interesting people. No matter what goes on in life, staying at the hostel allows me to realize that I am not my circumstances. I am neither my thoughts nor my feelings. As well I have learned a lot about living with a small physical impact on the Earth. The hostel isn't for everyone. If you cannot get by without the plushest of accommodations, stay far away. If nature is your bitch, stay far away. If you feel -- or at least have a sneaky suspicion -- that the universe is a magical and beautiful place, then go! Call in advance though -- space is limited.  , USA ()

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