My wife and I first visited Zion Country for three weeks in June of 2007. We were looking for an experience of “The Real Jamaica” – the culture which brought reggae to the world. We found about Zion Country through their website (zioncountry.com) and decided to take a chance. Reservations were easy to make online, and we were able to pay our deposit through PayPal. We arranged transfers from Norman Manley Airport in Kingston. All of our emails were answered within 48 hrs, with detailed information.
Anyone who has travelled in Jamaica knows that things/people can be “unreliable” at times. That’s what makes Free-I, the owner of Zion Country, such a valued host. Not only did he shuttle us safely through very treacherous road conditions to and from the airport, but looked out for us throughout our entire stay. When we made an error in the exchange rate, and overpaid for our stay, he pointed out our mistake and returned the balance – a mark of honesty and integrity!
Free-I runs the place virtually single-handed (with help from Owen and Tamara, who take care of cooking and cleaning), so he’s frequently busy with his many jobs which can make him seem “brusque.” To be fair, he is a practical and sensible person, and if you act reasonably and don’t expect to be treated with a VIP attitude, you’ll do just fine!
We took several trips with Free-I, including Reach Falls (an absolute must!) and rafting on the Rio Grande. We were also invited along for weekend outings to nearby Long Bay beach.
Your experience of Zion Country will depend on your expectations. If you’re looking for plush, comfortable rooms, all-you-can eat buffets, and a generic top 20 disco, do yourself a favour: go to Montego Bay!
Zion Country is a traveller’s oasis in one of the least “touristy” areas of the country. Use it as your home base for outtrips and adventure. Plan on a very light breakfast, getting your own lunch (there are several places only a short route taxi ride away), and then finishing with a delicious dinner (fresh chicken or fish) cooked beautifully over pimento charcoal. In the evening, enjoy beautiful sunsets, warm evening breezes, a smoke and a game of dominoes with your hosts and fellow guests. Zion Country is a place for community. During our stay, we met amazing people from all across the globe.
We fell in love with Zion Country, and came back again three years later!!! This time, we travelled with my mother (who is in her late sixties), and my wife was seven months pregnant. Despite the steep staircase, unheated showers and communal washroom, we all had a great time, and fell in love with Zion Country all over again.