Fodor's Expert Review Washington Slagbaai National Park

Caribbean Historical Fodor's Choice

Once a plantation producing divi-divi trees (the pods were used for tanning animal skins), aloe (used for medicinal lotions), charcoal, and goats, the park is now a model of conservation. It's easy to tour the 13,500-acre tropical desert terrain on the dirt roads. A truck or jeep is recommended for clearance along the rutted roads. As befits a wilderness sanctuary, the well-marked, rugged routes force you to drive slowly enough to appreciate the animal life and the terrain. (Think twice about coming here if it has rained recently—the mud you may encounter will be more than inconvenient.) If you're planning to hike, bring a picnic lunch, camera, sunscreen, and plenty of water. There are two routes: the long one (22 miles [35½ km]) is marked by yellow arrows, the short one (15 miles [24 km]) by green arrows. Goats and donkeys may dart across the road, and you may catch sight of large iguanas camouflaged in the shrubbery.

Bird-watchers are really in their element here. Right inside... READ MORE

Once a plantation producing divi-divi trees (the pods were used for tanning animal skins), aloe (used for medicinal lotions), charcoal, and goats, the park is now a model of conservation. It's easy to tour the 13,500-acre tropical desert terrain on the dirt roads. A truck or jeep is recommended for clearance along the rutted roads. As befits a wilderness sanctuary, the well-marked, rugged routes force you to drive slowly enough to appreciate the animal life and the terrain. (Think twice about coming here if it has rained recently—the mud you may encounter will be more than inconvenient.) If you're planning to hike, bring a picnic lunch, camera, sunscreen, and plenty of water. There are two routes: the long one (22 miles [35½ km]) is marked by yellow arrows, the short one (15 miles [24 km]) by green arrows. Goats and donkeys may dart across the road, and you may catch sight of large iguanas camouflaged in the shrubbery.

Bird-watchers are really in their element here. Right inside the park's gate, flamingos roost on the salt pan known as Salina Mathijs, and exotic parakeets congregate at the base of 784-foot Mt. Brandaris, Bonaire's highest peak. Some 130 species of birds fly in and out of the shrubbery. Keep your eyes open and your binoculars at hand. Swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving are permitted, but you're asked not to frighten the animals or remove anything from the grounds. Absolutely no hunting, fishing, or camping is allowed. A useful guide to the park is sold in the visitor center. To get here, take the secondary road north from the town of Rincón. To enter, you'll need a photo ID and proof that you've paid the Bonaire National Parks Foundation's annual Nature Fee.

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Historical Views Fodor's Choice Family National Park

Quick Facts

Washington Slagbaai National Park, n/a Bonaire  Bonaire

599-717–8444

www.stinapabonaire.org/washington-slagbaai

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Park: Annual Nature Fee proof of purchase ($25 nondivers, $45 divers). Visitor Center: $3

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