Christoffel National Park – Discovering Curaçao’s wildest side

JUAN MARTINEZ

July 7, 2020

Christoffel National Park – Discovering Curaçao’s wildest side

Who could imagine that tucked away in the middle of this island paradise are some of the most beautiful hiking routes of the Caribbean? This is Curaçao’s Christoffel National Park.

When I think Curaçao, the first images in my mind are perfect white sandy beaches, tropical cocktails in front of the ocean and a radiant sun warming my skin. However, Curaçao offers so much more, and after exploring the deepest parts of the island, I discovered natural getaways unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean. The Christoffel National Park is one of those, and after spending three days inside this nature reserve, I realised that the iconic Christoffelberg mountain itself is just the cherry on top.

Christoffel-National-Park-hiking-view from the top
View from the top of Christoffelsberg

Climbing Christoffelberg, Curaçao’s highest peak

Located at the north-western end of the island, Christoffel National Park is mostly known for being the home of Curaçao’s highest peak, Christoffelberg. This 375-meter giant is known as the most scenic and exciting hike on the island. Depending on your level of fitness, climbing Christoffelberg can take anything between 2-3 hours.

Entrance fee is just 25 ANG (around 12 EUR) to foreigners, which makes Christoffelsberg not only the most scenic, but also the most popular attraction among visitors. Due to the extreme heat of Curaçao later in the day, it is recommended to climb up between 6 and 8am only. I visited the park very early in the morning and was the first one to reach the top that day. It was truly captivating, as I sat alone at the top of Curaçao for at least half an hour. The sounds of the birds singing, the sun coming up over the horizon and the refreshing sea air of Curaçao were the perfect backdrop for a quick bite before heading back down.

Check all prices to the national park here

NOTE: Christoffel National Park is open to visitors Monday to Sunday from 6am to 3pm. However, there is no admittance to the park after 1.30 pm and climbing Christoffelberg is not allowed after 10am.

Christoffel NationalPark-cactus
Flora at the National Park

Other hikes at Christoffel National Park

With eight different hiking routes at Christoffel National Park, Christoffelsberg is just a glimpse of the natural beauty you can find in the reserve. These are some other scenic hikes travelers can enjoy while visiting Curaçao.

National Park-Christoffel - Park Map
Hiking Routes at the Christoffel National Park

North Coast Routes

Located on the east side of the highway, these routes are mostly flat and very easy to walk. They are great for getting a first glimpse of Curaçao’s flora and for a gentle stroll on a hot day.

Plantation and Boka Grandi Trail

  • Duration: 1,5 hours
  • Level of fitness: 2/5

A simple walk through the former plantation. Travelers wandering this path will encounter a mahogany grove, wells, and dams. The hike also passes Boka Grandi, a small beach with several limestone terraces located in Christoffel National Park’s only inlet. This is one of the most scenic spots of the park and a great place for a long break.

White Tail Deer Trail

  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Level of fitness: 1/5

A very short, shaded walk which passes through the white-tail deer sanctuary and stops at the Dos Pos picnic area. Good for spotting different types of giant cactus, flowers and maybe a lizard or two.

White-Tail Deer Trail

  • Duration: 40 minutes
  • Level of fitness: 1/5

Another easy trail that passes Dos Pos. It is considered a nice walk for deer watching from the observation tower and to see some more of the landscape from the top.

White Tail Deer/ Boka Grandi Trail

  • Duration: 1,5 hours
  • Level of fitness: 1/5

Short and easy. This 1,5-hour trail will take you through the picnic area and the deer sanctuary. It ends at the north coast in Boka Grandi. Its limestone terraces and panoramas alone make this walk worth the trip.

Christoffel National Park- vegetation
Vegetation in this part of Curaçao

Mountain Routes

These routes are all located on the west side of the highway. Even though they are considered a little bit more difficult than the North Coast Routes, the views from each one of these routes will be worth the extra effort.

Zorgvlied Trail

  • Duration: 1,5 hours
  • Level of fitness: 2/5

A medium length hike to the Landhouse Zorgvlied ruins. Once there, travelers can enjoy the panoramic views and the unique flora Curaçao offers.

Santa Cruz Rooi Trail

  • Duration: 1,5 hours
  • Level of fitness: 2/5

Another popular hike among locals, this trail will take you to an area with abandoned wells, unique geological formations and the famous Zevenbergen ruins.

Orchid Trail

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Level of fitness: 2/5

Known as one of the most beautiful hikes in the National Park. Travelers at the Orchid Trail will pass though the seven hills of Curaçao. With several photo ops along the way, this is a beautiful hike to combine with Christoffelsberg.

Curacao Hiking National Park
Top of the Christoffelsberg

A National Park with a lot to offer

With limited opening hours and most visitors gathering early in the morning, many see a visit to Christoffel National Park as a short plan for the first half of the day. However, the National Park service offers several special activities, where travelers can experience more of the nature of the park in a more personalized way. Full moon walks overnight, wildlife safaris and overnight stays at Boka Grandi are activities that will become the highlight of your trip and let you forget for a moment that you are on a Caribbean island.

One of the most beautiful experiences I had while visiting Christoffel National Park was when I had the opportunity to stay overnight at the private and protected beach of Boka Grandi. As I mentioned before, this beach is located in the National Park’s only inlet and surrounded by several limestone terraces. It’s the ideal place to be by yourself.

Read more: Photo Essay – 15 photos of 15 incredible places around the world

National-Park-Christoffel - stay on the night
Zero pollution in this part of Curacao

By far its best feature is its simplicity. This is not a beach resort or glamping area. Visitors booking an overnight stay at Boka Grandi will have to bring their own food, tents, and everything else you might need to survive in the wild. Most travelers prefer to sleep in a hammock and wake up once the first rays of sunlight come out in the morning.

Since this is also a protected area, you will be far away from any parties, loud music, or city lights. One of the park rangers will also spend the night at Boka Grandi with you, which makes the whole experience feel more comfortable in case any emergency should occur.

Read more: How to photograph the milky way while traveling abroad

Christoffel-National Park-overnight
Accomodation inside the national park is simple, but unique

NOTE: With a standard price of 200 USD per night for 1-10 people and only 1 booking per night available, staying at the Christoffel National Park is an activity that gets fully booked quite quickly. Make sure to call several days in advance if you want to give this activity a try.

Curaçao is an island to remember. It did not only offer the Caribbean atmosphere I wanted, but also brought me closer to nature. Curaçao is an island of contrast and for those escaping the traditional beach spots, breath-taking rewards await.

Read more: This is the perfect 1 week road trip in Curaçao

NationalParkChristoffel-Boka Grandi
Boka Grandi’s landscape from the air

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