Curacao: Christoffel National Park Photo Gallery

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The northern tip of the Dutch Antilles island of Curacao is dominated by 4,500-acre Christoffel National Park, a massive swath of desert terrain and dense jungles that was once three privately owned plantations until the park was established in 1978.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Mount Christoffel, arguably the park's most visible asset, is the island's highest point at 1,240 feet. While that might sound modest, remember you start climbing at sea level. 'One guy from Colorado joked that what we had wasn't really a mountain,' the park ranger told me. 'Until I saw him when he was done. Then he said it was a mountain.'  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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A well-marked route leads from the trailhead parking lot, and the ascent takes about two hours. Be sure to pack a lot of water and avoid the middle of the day, when the equatorial sun is at its highest.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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En route you'll pass over a small stream. Well...it might be there. My visit to Curacao was predated by ten centimeters of rain—an unseasonably large amount—and the creek bed was transformed into what likely passes for raging whitewater in Curacao.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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On our way to the trail, the ranger had described the somewhat-seminal event as a series of waterfalls. And while that might've inflated my initial expectations, after seeing how proud he was to be standing in the water, his enthusiasm was understandable. And considering he's been on the island for most of his life (save for a stint in Holland for school), if he says it's a rare event, I believe him.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Of course there's more to the park than its highest peak. Four well-marked hiking trails weave throughout Christoffel, along with a maze of dirt roads. Grab a guide at the park entrance, and you can lose yourself for hours in the park's flora, fauna, Indian rock drawings, orchard-studded hills, and stunning vistas.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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There's also a small museum at the main gate, where you pay a modest park entry fee and can pick up guides to the park, its trails, and a map for a DIY driving tour (4x4s recommended). The park is also renovating a plantation at the entrance, which will certainly lure more cruise ship day-trippers.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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