Discover the Adventures Along Curaçao’s Captivating Coastline
By Richard Varr
I hear the rustling sounds of lizards scurrying through the brush as we hike along the winding trails of Christoffel National Park. Prickly pear and columnar cacti shoot up from the dense jungle and hills before us. Views are capped with Mt. Christoffel’s towering summit at almost every turn. The landscape is verdantly lush; the sun strong, but tempered by a cooling Caribbean breeze. I couldn’t ask for a better day to explore the wild side of Curaçao, the largest of the ABC Islands.
Christoffel National Park
“You hear lizards all the time, but you don’t often see them,” says park ranger Briand Victorina as he leads me through the 4,450-acre wildlife and nature preserve dominating Curaçao’s rugged western tip. With its eight hiking trails and 20 miles of twisting, single-lane driving paths, the park is just one stop on my outdoor adventure that also takes me to the rocky northern coastline, bat-filled caves with ancient Amerindian paintings, and up-close views of flora and wildlife. And it’s all within a short drive or day trip from the colorful Dutch colonial buildings of Willemstad, the island’s pulsing capital city and port of call.
“If you can imagine, this was once clear land with only crops,” says Briand of the former plantations that once stretched across the meandering hills, now home to white-tailed deer, eight species of bats, 168 bird species, green iguanas, and blue-tinted blauw lizards. Our hike takes us past the concrete ruins of old plantation buildings and along trails dotted with white orchids, the yellow-green leaves of bromeliad plants, and hardwood wayaka trees. “In the past, the Spanish made cannons from wayaka,” points out Briand. “It’s very strong wood and it doesn’t burn fast.”