Profile | History, big splashes at Yaaman Adventure Park
Just outside of the town of Ocho Rios, St Ann, at Prospect Plantation, a world of adventure and unforgettable experience awaits, courtesy of Yaaman Adventure Park. With activities that cater to people of all ages, the hours in a day will pass by without notice, and it would be well worth it!
I visited the park, and the journey started as soon as I drove past the sign signalling that I was near my destination. Going up Forest Drive to the reception area and parking lot, I could hear the sound of nature with birds singing in the trees.
As soon as I entered, the birds in the aviary, chirping happily, caught my attention, and I was met with a friendly smile from Alexander ‘Alex’ Sale, general manager of the park, who took me through the different activities that the park offers.
“We have ‘Flavours of Jamaica’, which is a culinary tour that we do at the Georgian-style great house overlooking the ocean. It was originally built in 1774 and is approximately 1,000 feet above sea level,” Sale explained. “We also have the camel ride. This is the only place in Jamaica that has camels; the Wet and Dirty Buggy ride, which is full of mud and excitement; and we have the Jitney Tour, which is the first activity to be mainstreamed here.”
He explained that while they do not operate the segways anymore, they have recently added the ATV attraction.
After hearing all the options, I was treated to the Yaaman Full Hundred which includes all the activities, with a choice between ATVs or the Wet and Dirty Buggy Ride. While I waited for the trip on the Jitney Ride, I was directed to the bird aviary, where I got to feed some of the most colourful birds I have ever seen, and watch them in their habitat.
Soon, the Jitney Ride was ready and Donovan took us on a tour of the 1,000-acre plantation, giving us a history lesson, punctuated with laughs and anecdotes, we won’t soon forget. This brought us to the cooking tour with Adgura, also known as ‘Chef Irie’, who taught the visitors how to make jerked chicken, with a jerk sauce, festival, steamed vegetables and coconut rice. Once this was enjoyed, Donovan was back with the tractor-drawn carriage and we were off to ride camels.
This is where I met Cindy, Katie, Julie and Moses – all camels living on the plantation. They were very friendly and allowed us, with guidance from the staff, to ride them. This was a well-needed break before we went to one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had – the Wet & Dirty Buggy Ride.
Well worth it
This ride took us on a journey all over the plantation, and through big puddles or water, which soaked us thoroughly. If you don’t mind a little dirt, and a little water, this is the ride for you, but be sure to bring a change of clothes and wear something you do not mind ruining; I was not that smart, but it was worth it.
The perfect thing to do afterwards is relax at the Secret River. This included one last ride on the carriage to a little hideaway that is untouched by man, and very serene. It was perfect to sit on a rock and have a back massage from the rushing water, or take a dive in the depths with lifeguard Shawn to guide you.
Yaaman Adventure Park has evolved over the years, according to Jenere Medwinter, operations manager of the park. She explained that Yaaman was once a place for cultural experience.
“The park itself has been opened as an attraction to the public since 1974. It has been through a few entities before Yaaman Adventure Park, which was established in December 2015,” she added. “At first, it was a cultural experience – more horseback riding tours – and it was more of a forest trail. The Jitney Tour that you experienced with Donovan, our guide, that was more like it; giving the culture side of St Ann.”
At the end of the day, and after working up an appetite, a well-prepared, buffet-style lunch was provided.
The attractions, friendly staff, location and history of Yaaman Adventure Park came together to create an experience that tops my list as my favourite attraction park.
Visit their website at yaamanadventure.com for group rates and more information.