Benta River Falls is a family-owned business found in the lush verdant outskirts of Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland. The property features a beautiful river with seven small waterfalls flowing underneath tall bamboo trees and other tropical plants which filter out the piercing afternoon sunlight to cast a cool viridescent glow over everything. What’s lovely about this gem is the owners’ commitment to sustainable tourism. Very little has been done to modify the grounds, and the the building materials for the limited buildings and staircases are eco-friendly.
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One of the reasons I looked forward to relocating to Mandeville, besides being persistently 5 degrees cooler than Kingston (or more), is the closer proximity to the southwestern sides of this island which I haven’t explored much. Mandeville is located in the centre of Jamaica, as opposed to Kingston which is on Jamaica’s south-eastern coast. Thus, driving to Benta River from my new home of Mandeville took a little over 2 hours, while from Kingston the drive-time would be roughly an hour and a half longer. For the non-Jamaicans reading this, that may not sound like much travel time for a day trip, but us islanders get impatient when any drive takes longer than two hours. Or maybe that’s just me? Okay. 🙂
Anyway, I scarcely know Westmoreland at all so Google Maps was my friend and it took me to the entrance of this gem quite easily. Benta is marketed as “off-the-beaten-path” and I suppose you could call it such since many people have never heard of it before and it was filled with only local faces when I went (perhaps because of the pandemic travel restrictions), but my personal experience with “off-the-beaten-path” usually means requiring a guide, or getting lost a few times without one. Certainly there’s usually no reliable map marker either, but that thankfully wasn’t the case with Benta. Admission is JM$500 and $250 for local adults and children respectively, while foreigners pay US$20 or the Jamaican equivalent. Guided tours are available at an additional cost, but you don’t need one. The activities to do here include getting an all-natural mud bath, grabbing something to eat and drink from their restaurant and bar, climbing the tiny waterfalls and my favourite: getting an invigorating massage from nature by sitting under the falls. Of course, you can jump from things too if that’s your thing or you can just watch and applaud the people jumping like I do!
P.S. Outside food is allowed, and the bathrooms/changing rooms were a bit dark but decent otherwise.
Benta River Falls
Travelling in a pandemic? Unpopular opinion perhaps, but I felt safer here than I do at work every day. Our temperatures were checked, we were provided with hand sanitizer and given reminders about maintaining ‘social distance’. I went with two coworkers-turned-friends and we interacted with practically no one else despite there being several cars, a few buses and vans in the ample parking lot. The property is HUGE! We avoided the parts that were filled with people, and went hiking upstream following the length of the river. After a few minutes, there was hardly a soul in sight. The river was cold and refreshing, and conversation wasn’t too difficult to maintain over its soothing gentle purr. The waterfalls, on the other hand, were loud but who’s complaining? The Garden of Eden may just have been here in Jamaica. Benta River Falls is just another spot that will leave you convinced.
The river was really easy to navigate for even non-swimmers. Climbing on fallen tree trunks or holding onto conveniently placed rope are the modus operandi for crossing only two or so parts.
Lastly, pardon my humble city-gal ignorance but do you realize I post pictures of this plant below in nearly every waterfall post? Yes, we have the same flora at every waterfall in Jamaica– towering bamboo plants, gorgeous ferns, mosses, lichens, a handful of tropical flowers, perhaps a palm or coconut tree here and there and then this plant.
I’ve always wondered about the name of these beautiful gigantic leaves which I always imagine Thumbelina, her tiny friends and marriage-minded toads would inhabit. Someone I know posted a picture of this plant and called it “elephant ears plant” on Instagram so I, happy to finally have a name for it, decided to Google it, and guess what? It’s dasheen! Dasheen (taro) is a popular Jamaican root crop which I’ve eaten many times, but I literally had no idea its leaves were so beautiful. Also, I got so excited when I saw this plant which looks like cocoa, but my friend from rural St. Andrew who has cocoa at home says she wasn’t so sure since the pod looks different from the ones she’s used to. Can anyone else confirm or deny that this fruit is cocoa? For me, it’s cocoa until proven otherwise, but I decided not to pick and try it since we weren’t 100% sure. I guess having a guide would have come in handy at this point. Ha!
Jamaica has so many delicious treats– there are very few Jamaican foods and drink I dislike, even if I don’t make regular practice to eat everything every day since many are fried or salty, and as such not the healthiest options. Nonetheless, this route is a good one to sample some of our delicacies from the places purported to serve the best in the country.
Consider stopping by:
- Melrose Hill Yam Park in Manchester for the best roast yam and saltfish (if travelling from Kingston).
- Scotchie’s Jerk Centre in Spur Tree, Manchester for excellent jerk chicken, pork and sausage.
- Middle Quarters, St. ELizabeth for pepper shrimp.These red hot gigantic shrimp, or crayfish, are boiled in salty water with crushed Scotch Bonnet peppers, Jamaica’s national pepper if there was such a thing.
- Border, on the border of the St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland parishes. They have the best seafood in this side of the island, rivaling Hellshire in Portmore, St. Catherine.
Here is my food haul!
Benta River Falls was the best $500 I’ve spent in a very very long time. Would you believe at the start of 2020 I’d planned to visit a new waterfall each month? Well, now it’s September and this is the second waterfall I’ve visited, the first being Konoko Falls in January. Let’s all laugh together. Anyway, I highly recommend this waterfall, and rate it 5 out of 5 stars, ☆☆☆☆☆. In fact, Benta River Falls is one of my favourite ten places in Jamaica!
Are you on Instagram? If so, you should follow @adventuresfromelle for regular Jamaican content.
Also, welcome this newcomer @goodyonabudget to the Instagram scene! Go check out her blog and Instagram page for tips and tricks to navigate life on a budget, especially from the Jamaican perspective.
‘Til next time.