The 1,239-foot Mt. Christoffel, Curaçao's highest peak, is at the center of this 4,450-acre garden and wildlife preserve. The exhilarating climb up—a challenge to anyone who hasn't grown up scaling the Alps—takes about two hours for a reasonably fit person. On a clear day, the panoramic view from the peak stretches to the mountain ranges of Venezuela.
Throughout the park are eight hiking trails and a 20-mi (32-km) network of driving trails (use heavy-treaded
tires if you wish to explore the unpaved stretches). All these routes traverse hilly fields full of prickly pear cacti, divi-divi trees, bushy-haired palms, and exotic flowers. Guided nature walks, horseback rides, and jeep tours can be arranged through the main park office. If you're going without a guide, first study the Excursion Guide to Christoffel Park, sold at the visitor center. It outlines the various routes and identifies the indigenous flora and fauna. Start out early, as by 10 am the park starts to feel like a sauna.
Watch for goats and small animals that might cross your path, and consider yourself lucky if you see any of the elusive white-tailed deer. Every day at 4 pm, guides lead 15-minute expeditions to track the protected herd. Birds are abundant, and experts lead the way twice daily. White-tailed hawks may be seen along the green hiking route, white orchids along the yellow hiking route. There are also ancient Indian drawings and caves where you might hear the rustling of bat wings or spot scuttling, nonpoisonous scorpions.
Most island sports outfitters offer some kind of activity in the park, such as kayaking, specialized hiking tours, and drive-through tours.
5999-864–0363-for information and tour reservations; 5999-462–6262-for jeep tours