Through off-road alleys and nature valleys you will eventually reach the top of the mountain that assures you an astonishing 360 view. Put on your walking shoes, grab your selfie-stick and get to the top!
The day started bright and early meeting up with our Yellow Adventures tour guide and other passengers. My boys and I are looking forward to a full day adventure on an off-road Jeep Safari tour to the Christoffel National Park. Following mention of some general safety rules to follow on the “Wild Curaçao” terrain, we leave the hotel to hit the paved road but minutes later, they are left behind then I notice smiles getting bigger as the ride gets bumpier. This tour was about to take us to the rough north shore on off-the-beaten paths, to the foot of Mount Christoffel and then a ride up to its glorious summit.
Our knowledgeable guide provides us with “inside info” on the natural history, folklore, geology, plant life, and local fauna that inhabit the landscape as we make our way to San Pedro Heights. Even though the vegetation is desert-like in most places on the island, on the way to the park it is surprisingly lush and green with giant cactus plants. With a keen eye and a little effort we spotted some birds of pray perched on top of cactuses and stumbled upon white orchids, but they’re tough to spot if you don’t know where to look. We also appreciated these occasional stops to catch the breeze and the sound of silence.
Curaçao wind that never stops blowing.
They are the first thing many visitors see from the plane window as they approach the island: A row of tall white towers gleaming in the sun, stretching along the island’s rough north coast and pounding surf. These towers are two of the most successful wind-power plants in the Caribbean, and in terms of efficiency, anywhere in the world.
Curaçao’s windfarms generate electricity. Not only does this save the cost of expensive imported oil, it also helps power the island while generating zero pollution or global warming.
After we enjoyed our lunch in a local well-appointed restaurant, we continue our route towards Ladhuis Savonet which is the oldest plantation house on the island that serves as the entry point and visitor center to the park, it is also the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The Christoffel National Park combines beautiful nature and amazing historical sites from the time of the slave trade and slave plantations.
Yellow Adventures is the only tour company allowed to visit the famous “Orchid Route” located at the highest viewing point on Curaçao. Then we walked up trails that lead us to the top of the remote, wind-swept, awe-inspiring summit.
Christoffel Park is situated on what used to be four separate plantations which were purchased in 1978 by the government and merged into this breathtaking park of highlands and coastal wilderness. Today it is a protected 4,000 acre space in the care of the CARMABI Foundation; alive with incredible wildlife, beautiful botanicals. Located at the west end of the island, Christoffel Park is about 40 minutes from Willemstad and proudly boasts the island’s highest point, Mt. Christoffel which stands a proud 1,240 ft.
We will never get bored of the idyllic beaches on the South Coast of Curaçao, however the rugged North Coast of the island is a welcomed change. We follow the signs on the dirt road to Watamula, between the NorthPoint and the WestPoint and past Playa Kalki. On foot, we approach the Curaçao Hole that pushes the water above creating a bubbly, misty pool. The rocky coast line with contineous waves pounding against the massive limestone is surreal.
When the waves are heavy, the water splashes through the hole making sure you don’t escape before getting wet.
This rugged coast is safest to explore with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle and many tour operators offer quad tours as well. These little buggies are fun, safe and definitely get you dirty. Be ready to cross through the mud, race over rocks and really explore nature.
Speaking of which, we crossed paths with a quad tour and the tour guide graciously offered us to join in with their passengers to explore a bat cave nearby.
The unexpected was about to add another dimension to our explorative tour thus far.
We enter carefully ducking our heads through the mouth of the cave. A narrow passage into a dimmer area leads us deeper and darker into the moist and refreshing habitat for bats. My boys and I are following the group closely as we cut into little corners watching out for stalagmites and stalactites, some of which are hard to see in the darker areas.
Fun experience for kids.
There’s something mysterious about a cave that excites my kids and turns them into little explorers trying to locate secret passages. Our voices carry and reverberate on the cave walls. Everyone talks in whisper which adds to the eerie sensation. Why whisper? Did I not mention the colony of long nose fruit bats? To help them find their prey in the dark, most bat species have developed a remarkable navigation system called echolocation which makes them very sensitive to sound. We have never seen these many bats hanging around, literally. From one cave ceiling to the next, they are perched upside down in clusters and many take flight over our heads. They are harmless creatures but one can’t help but squirm when there are this many.
It is now time to head back to civilization, but before hitting the paved roads again, we have the chance to see the wind turbines up close and catch a few refreshing ocean sprays at the impressive look-out on the edge of the limestone cliff. What a fun-filled day!
Did you know the first inhabitants of the island were the Arawak, a tribe of Indians? They left parts of their history hidden in nature through petroglyphs on rocks.
An easy way to get a look at these drawings is at the Hato Caves. The Arawak used to live there and the staff can tell you all about their history and show you the relics of their petroglyph on the rock walls.
written by Sheila Botton