Christoffel Park


Christoffel Park

The volcanic crest of Mt. Christoffel rises up from the northwest corner of the island to form the highest peak in Curaçao. The caves built into these cliffs once served as refuges for the Caiquetio Indians, the island's first inhabitants, and their culture can still be found preserved in the paintings and petroglyphs they left behind. The 4,500 acres of wilderness area surrounding this point have been marked off by the government as a natural preserve. The park has become home to a wide variety of plants and animals, some of which are to be found nowhere else in the world. Here, cactuses can reach up to ten feet in height, and several different species of orchids, some of them extremely rare, can be found growing out of them. A herd of over 100 small, shy, white-tailed Curaçao deer, originally brought over by the Caiquetios from South America in the 14th and 15th centuries, roam through the grounds, along with wild goats and neon-blue iguanas. Hummingbirds, parrots, bats, and Trupial birds contribute to the park's vibrant ecosystem by helping to pollenate the many different varieties of plants and trees.

The old Savonet plantation house at the entrance to the park serves as a nature conservancy and visitors' center and houses the new Museum of Natural and Cultural History. A guidebook of the park may be purchased here to point out the geological, botanical, and zoological features of the place for hikers taking any of the park's three well-marked trails: the Zorgvlied Route runs along the northern side of the island and circling around the eastern flank of the mountain, passes by the Indian caves; the Zevenbergen Route which takes in the southwest corner of the park features some fantastic views, including two rare species of orchid that cannot be found anyplace else on earth; the Christoffel Trail also has some excellent vistas and great opportunities for bird-watching. Guided tours are also available either by jeep or on foot.

Every day from 4:00 pm until 6:30 pm, guides lead groups of no more than eight people up to the observation tower for ten-minute sessions to watch the deer as they congregate. A short presentation accompanies the deer-watching, and reservations are required in advance due to the limited capacity.

The park is open Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm and from 6 am to 3 pm on Sundays. Admission is US$9, and guides can be hired for about US$14.

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