Hostel Review: Jungle Palace

After years of backpacking and hostel after hostel all of the places I’ve stayed in tend to become a blur. Not many places I’ve stayed in are memorable or they are memorable for the wrong reasons. The Jungle Palace in El Panchan near the Mayan ruins of Palenque would be a glaring exception to that rule. You really are IN THE JUNGLE. You live with the plants, bugs, and animals. In fact when you first arrive you begin to wonder if you live with monsters too, as in the mysterious “monster” from LOST. You hear this horrific noise in the distance that surely has to be otherworldly or from another time. If you watched the video clip above you can hear what I am talking about for yourself. As it turns out the noise is actually from the howler monkeys that are your neighbors here in El Panchan.

I stayed in El Panchan for 3 nights and if you can live without wi-fi I recommend that you do so as well. I didn’t stay in Palenque town, but I imagine if I did I would have already forgotten what it was like. If you really are suffering withdrawals from the Internet you can take a 10 minute ride into town if you need to connect back to the outside world. Or better yet, this may be your only vacation from the “internets” in a long time. Although you do not have Internet, the Jungle Palace does have electricity and clean bathrooms with hot water showers. The beds in my room were comfortable and hanging around in my room listening to the sounds of the jungle was relaxing, at least when the howler monkeys were not around. Another important feature is the free use of metal lockers for valuables as many of the rooms feature screen windows that could be easily broken into. The Jungle Palace can also arrange your transportation or tours to nearby places and attractions. In fact I booked my 8 hour trip to Flores, Guatemala with the receptionist.

Another fun thing to do at the Jungle Palace is to strap on some thermal vision glasses borrowed from Arnold and pretend you are in “Predator“. Make sure you turn up the volume to eleven. Check it out-

bridge over the stream

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Hostel Review: Casa Angel Youth Hostel-Oaxaca, Mexico

I stayed 5 nights in the Casa Angel Youth Hostel in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The hostel was very clean and comfortable.  The staff was nice, helpful, friendly and yet incredibly low-key at the same time.  The staff spoke some english and was knowledgable about any tours offered or sights to see in the area.  I took a day tour to sights in the area and was pleased with the tour.

Breakfast was included with the room and was cooked for you every morning from 8-10a.m.  The breakfast was enjoyable if lacking in variety.  It included fried eggs or scrambled eggs with or without chopped-up hot dog, cereal, bread, bananas with coffee or tea every day, without fail and without change.

I slept in two different 3 bed dorm rooms during my stay.  The rooms were very clean and the bunk beds comfortable, but the rooms were slightly cramped if occupied by three guests.  Lockers were provided inside the rooms free of charge.  Luggage storage was also provided free of charge, which came in handy for the common late night bus departures.  The bathrooms were well kept and the showers had a good amount of water pressure and hot water.

The common area on the ground floor had a couple of comfortable couches to watch cable TV or a movie on the DVD player.  A good selection of quality films on DVD were available to select from free of charge.  The wifi was reliable and 2 computers were also provided free of charge.  The kitchen had an oven, microwave, refridgerator, cupboards, and a good amount of counter space to work with.

A nice feature of the hostel was a rooftop terrace which included a bar.  It was a good place to relax with a book, suntan, or just chat and enjoy the view.  On Sundays a good BBQ lunch/dinner was available.

The hostel was located about 10 blocks from the main plaza of the city.  A few cheap restaurants with good Mexican food were just around the corner as was a place to drop off your laundry.  A small convenience store with drinks and snacks was right aross the street. Walking to and from the main sites of the city was a pleasant stroll with plenty to see so it didn’t seem like a long haul.

Overall, I was very happy with my time at Casa Angel Youth Hostel.  The friendly, unassuming staff along with the cleanliness of the facilities and the amenities provided were a good value for the budget-concious backpacker.  My only minor complaints would be the lack of variety in the included breakfast and the slightly cramped rooms.  These minor drawbacks were substantially outweighed by all of the positive aspects of this well-run hostel.

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