As a veteran camper from wet and muddy festivals, I felt well prepared for jungle living. So I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the jungle set up at Kalani. A platform base and a sturdy tarpaulin cover awaited my arrival, making it very easy to keep dry. It’s all about expectations. If you show up looking for a room at The Marriott, then you probably will be in for a shock.
Arriving in Lower Puna for the first time, I was struck by the lushness of the tropical foliage. Explosions of green abundance are all over the district that is home to Kalani, and the forty-five minute drive from Hilo, through the rustic village of Pahoa and south to the ocean was a spectacular welcome.
I arrived in the winter months and there are only two seasons – wet and dry. And yes, it can rain a lot. It was difficult to get a straight answer about the weather before I arrived, because it is entirely unpredictable. I have been at Kalani for two winter months and I’ve experienced a week when it rained every day, and an entirely dry week of glorious sunny skies. Every day is different. When it does rain, it never lasts for long. And I’ve gone through two large bottles of sun tan lotion.
There are four types of creatures that I encounter daily in my Kalani jungle life: The brightly-colored geckos that scurry around the campground, vacuuming up the bugs; the friendly feral cats that live across the property, each with their own domain and their own personality; the wild pigs that harmlessly snuffle around my tent before running back into the jungle; and the infamous coqui tree-frogs who fill the warm night air with their two-tone koh-ki mating call. (Interestingly, on cooler evenings the coquis take the night off – apparently they are not so inclined to desire a mate when it’s chilly!)
The jungle is an adventure playground for the nature enthusiast. Ancient Hawaiian sacred spaces offer a chance for meditation and reflection for those working on their inner journey. A beautiful monkey pod tree has its home near the campground, with its gigantic sprawling roots twisting through the rainforest and it is a favorite place for the horticulture volunteers to gather after work. And before too long, you will start to learn the best place to pick up ripe and juicy fruit such as lilikoi or passion fruit, strawberry guavas and mangoes.
I have found it easy to adapt to jungle life, and my large tent keeps me protected from the elements, while offering a great vista to the foliage beyond. Practicalities of electricity are solved by acquiring some decent rechargeable products to provide light and entertainment, although my lifestyle here is such that the amount of time I spend in my tent at night is minimal – there are far too many other exciting things to do! The wildlife in Hawai’i entertains, inspires and delights me, and provides me with such a backdrop of rustic beauty I cannot help but feel well in this environment.
Come and experience the jungle for yourself.