Within rural hillsides of Westmoreland Jamaica, RastaSafari grants a true insider experience by combining adventure with community tourism. The guided excursion lies in the backyard of the Shrewsbury community. These green lands are rich in nature, culture and history. You and a companion will drive comfortably through the countryside within a 2-seater utility terrain vehicle (UTV), in the company of 2 community guides on bikes. The UTVs handle the jerky terrains with ease, navigating dirt roads and pasture trails in the verdant village.
We had one of the first tours of the morning. A handful of residents had already gathered at the community bar, while the neighbouring gift shop was being adorned with Jamaica merchandise by its owner’s daughter. Both businesses pulsated from the rhythms of reggae. Even as a local, the captivating vibe reeled me in! Morning smiles and mellow music made us feel welcome before stepping through the red, gold and green gate.
Quick reminder before we get into the rest of this post…
Pin for future travels!
RastaSafari Experience Jamaica
A goat herd trotted past the branded entrance a few minutes before our excursion began, as if they were showing us the starting point. To begin the RastaSafari Experience in true local style, we were greeted with a mix of overproof rum and an energy drink. This is a blend mostly ordered at bars and parties, but it was my first time being offered this mixed drink on an excursion! We also got a chance to meet the RastaSafari owners and operators before embarking on the guided experience.
From there, a guide will accompany along a ~5 minute stroll to the parked adventure vehicles. While walking, you’ll learn about an array of fauna and medicinal plants through the nature footpath. The 45-minute motor excursion is packed with surrounding views of nearby hills and pastures dotted with grazing farm animals. It’s a joyfully bumpy ride with scenic swimming stops along the rushing Roaring River! It’s not meant to be a fast-paced ride like an ATV excursion near Negril; it’s a cultural experience.
The 1st swimming stop is a buzzing watering hole at the mouth of the river, landmarked by a low bridge and community bars. This section of Roaring River is a major recreational spot for swimming and events. During our 15 minutes here, we took photos and greeted residents, some of whom were preparing for a party there later that day.
The 2nd swimming spot is a small lagoon brushed by an overhanging curtain of green vines. Carlos ̶ one of our guides ̶ parked his bike and immediately scooped a handful of freshwater to quench his thirst. Limestone of the source Roaring River Caves filters the waters which probably explains why they were crystal clear that day, despite heavy rains most of the weekend.
Roaring River and Caves, Westmoreland Jamaica
Roaring River Heritage and Nature Park refers to the garden space, swimming hole and caves collection managed by the Tourist Product Development Company (TPDCo). Roaring River and Caves is about an hour’s drive from the hip strips of both Negril and Montego Bay. It was once a plantation owned in the 17th century by Colonel Peter Beckford called Roaring River Estate. He emigrated to Jamaica and served as the first Custos of Kingston and the Lieutenant General of Jamaica.
Today, the Roaring River is an integral water course and largest source of potable water in Westmoreland, including Shrewsbury and the surrounding communities that form the cultural RastaSafari Experience. It waters the estate along with about 45% of western Jamaica. This is in a completely different area from known spots along Roaring River in St. Ann.
The source of the river springs from the nearby limestone cave. Roaring River Cave is one of Jamaica’s few caverns that are used for commercial tourism. It has multiple grotto chambers and even a swimmable mineral spring (yes, I’ve tried and pre-approved it for you lol)!
RastaSafari Jamaica Weed Tour
Among the rejuvenating stops of the excursion is a marijuana field tended to by a young, licensed farmer. This RastaSafari Experience was the 8th weed hot spot around Negril I’ve visited via Toke & Tour recommendation! Farmer Junior waltzed through the towering green rows to enthusiastically share info about his high-grade garden. The collection boasts a variety of flowering, aromatic buds and herbal strains. Gentle squeezes of the buds can reveal each distinctive fragrance.
This Jamaica weed tour included a complimentary sample of 2 herbal wines– a sorrel and ginger-based blend, and a honey-based blend. Junior also shared a multitude of natural remedies provided by the area’s abundant produce. Some elixirs were available for purchase here, including marijuana-infused oils and sweet wines.
RastaSafari Ital Food
Our RastaSafari Experience ended with a home-cooked, ital (vegetarian) meal! This is the main diet of Rastafarians, though some also eat fish. The mesh door of the kitchen opened to reveal a resident cook attentively plating food over large Dutch pots on the stove. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal of the day― a deliciously hot plate of curried veggie chunks, rice & peas, and steamed vegetables. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it the chunks were meat based on how well they were seasoned.
RastaSafari Experience is what its name suggests― an immersive, nature-focused way of life that showcases some of Jamaica’s cultural bounty. I consider it a top option for visitors who wish to step out and safely immerse in the characteristic good vibes of “real” Jamaica, away from the tourist traps. The excursion shares riches of the land with guests through agriculture, food, and sense of community. The way I see it, RastaSafari Experience embodied multiple reasons to love being Jamaican, at least for me. The community tourism and bond of the Roaring River districts are on display from beginning to end!
Reserve your RastaSafari Experience at 876-445-7203 or via their social media pages.