Without a doubt, Curaçao’s most popular hike is to the top of the Christoffelsberg. Practically speaking, it’s the island’s only popular hike. But as we’ve learned, there are plenty of other trails which merit attention. One of the best is also within the National Christoffelpark: a rarely-used path which leads through a region called the Zevenbergen (Seven Peaks) and to the summit of Seru Bientu, where a unique type of palm tree grows.
At the park office, we signaled our intention to hike the Zevenbergen Trail, but the woman behind the desk strongly advised against it. “It’s poorly marked! You can’t drive to the trailhead! You’ll get lost!” But we have a lot of faith in GPS, and had mapped the trail on our phones beforehand, so we assured her that we’d be fine. “Well, at least make sure to stop by the office afterwards, so that I know you made it. I don’t want to spend the rest of the evening worrying.”
Her concern was genuine, and the warnings weren’t mere exaggerations. The Zevenbergen Trail really is poorly marked, and the road leading to the trailhead really is closed. After leaving your car at a small parking lot, you have to walk nearly three kilometers before even arriving at the trailhead. Under the Curaçaoan sun, the extra distance can turn a moderate hike into a strenuous one.
But as long as you depart early, bring plenty of water, and come equipped with both a GPS-capable smartphone and a solid understanding of the route, there’s not much to worry about. Although it’s largely unmarked, the trail itself is never difficult or overgrown, and if you know where you are, you’ll be fine.
And it’s worth the effort. The Zevenbergen Trail ascends nearly to the same heights as the Christoffelberg, and the scenes are just as stunning. Actually, the vistas from this trail might even be better, because the impressive, jagged peak of the Christoffelberg is always present in the immediate background.
Halfway around the Zevenbergen loop, a side trail leads to the top of the Seru Bientu (Windy Hill). The name is no joke; at the summit of this hill, the gusts of wind are so strong as to be alarming. And this makes the presence of palm trees even more curious. These squat, sturdy Sabal Palms don’t grow anywhere else on Curaçao; just on top of this one mountain. I suppose they enjoy the breeze, but we preferred the views… from here, we could see up and down the coast from Playa Jeremi to Grote Knip.
Overall, including the walk to and from our car, this hike was eleven kilometers long, and took us well over three hours to complete. It was difficult, but nice to be on a trail that’s almost completely ignored by others. We didn’t see another soul the whole time, which was in stark contrast to the heavily-trafficked Christoffelberg Trail.
Here’s hoping that the park eventually puts more of an effort into the Zevenbergen Trail; at the very least, some additional signs would be nice, as would a paved road to the trailhead. But even without these conveniences, this trail offers another option for a great day of hiking in Curaçao’s biggest national park.
February 23, 2016 at 10:27 pm Comments (0)