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Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok

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A small nature preserve near the town of Barber, Hofi Pastor is best known as the home of Curaçao’s oldest tree. We spent an afternoon here, checking out the ancient kapok and exploring a couple short trails that snake through the park.

Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok

I’ve seen a lot of trees. I mean, I’m not bragging; everyone has seen a lot of trees, it’s nothing special. But what I’m trying to say is that, out of all the trees I’ve seen during my time on earth, and it must be in the hundreds of thousands, there have been maybe two or three that made me gasp in wonder. Well, now there’s another.

It’s all in the presentation. After entering Hofi Pastor, you start along a trail that leads into the woods. You’re walking across a narrow bridge, scraping past cacti, and ducking under branches, until without warning, the path opens up and you’re confronted by this massive, 800-year-old kapok tree. A huge tree, completely in contrast with the plant life which surrounds it, with tall, flat roots more solid than walls, and with more character than you knew that trees could have.

Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok

And as you’re standing in awe underneath this behemoth, it dawns on you. In the grand scheme of things, it would actually be more tragic for this majestic kapok to be chopped down, than for you to die. You rate higher than most trees, sure. Almost all trees. But not this one.

We lingered for a long time at the kapok, until somehow sensing it had grown tired of our presence. The trail continues past it, ever deeper into the woods. There are two paths, one marked red and one yellow. Both are nice, and the yellow path leads up a hill for a good view over Hofi Pastor. Completing both trails makes for a pleasant hike of about 45 minutes, and although there’s nothing especially remarkable about either one, it provides a good bit of exercise in some beautiful nature.

On your way back to the exit, you’ll encounter the kapok again, and those weird feelings of inadequacy will return. You want to be nonchalant in front of it, so you kind of slap it on the root while passing, like “Alright dude, catch ya later.” But you know the kapok could care less. It’s just so much cooler than you.

Location of Hofi Pastor on our Map

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Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
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Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok
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January 30, 2016 at 10:33 pm Comments (0)

The Badlands of Curaçao

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The inland region between Vaersenbaai and Grote Berg is known as Malpais, which can be translated as “The Badlands.” Despite the rather uninviting name, we embarked on a hike through this undeveloped, uninhabited terrain, following the Biná and Jamanika trails, and ending with a swim at the secluded Boka Unico.

Malpais Hike Curacao
Lago Dispersa

Our adventure in the Badlands started easily enough, with a leisurely stroll through a forest populated by twisting trees, following a trail that leads to Lago Dispersa. As its name suggests, this lake tends to disappear in summer, but we were visiting in the rainy season, so there was plenty of water. Pretty, untouched and isolated, this was the kind of nature we love to discover on hikes.

Malpais Hike Curacao
A clingy new pal

However, now we entered into the sort of nature we could do without. We found the Jamanika Trail, which leads up a large hill of the same name to the north of the lake. As we ascended, the pretty trees were replaced by giant cacti, the shade-giving leaves by flesh-gouging thorns, and the shade itself by scorching sun. The path was relatively obvious, but often blocked by a fallen cactus or overgrown brush… we always found a way around, but not without some anguish. Twice, I felt something pinching me, only to discover a prickly pear cactus pod fixed securely to my skin — once on my calf, once on my forearm.

Malpais Hike Curacao

It wasn’t easy, but we made it to the top of the Jamanika Hill and were rewarded with views over the landscape. We could see the lake from which we’d just come, and behind it the somewhat less-charming Malpais Landfill. Otherwise, the rest of the view was one of wild nature. Curaçao isn’t a big island, so it’s surprising to see that such a large swath of it hasn’t yet been developed.

The way back down was easier; the westernmost of the Jamanika Trail’s two halves is far less troublesome, with less cacti and a wider path. If we were to do it again, we would both come up and go down this side of the hill.

Malpais Hike Curacao
Boka Unico

Our day ended at the Boka Unico. After leaving the Badlands, we found a trail to this little-visited spot on the other side of the road. Only accessible by foot, Boka Unico is not a sandy beach where you could spend all day luxuriating in the sun, but a small, rocky cove. Good enough for us! We stripped down and hopped in the water for some snorkeling. It was a refreshing way to end a long day of rough Curaçaoan nature.

Locations on our Map: Lago Dispersa | Boka Unico
Our Route on WikilocA long part of this route was wiped when my phone lost GPS, and appears as a straight line on this map. Luckily, the trail at this point is easy to follow.

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Malpais Hike Curacao
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January 17, 2016 at 11:23 pm Comments (0)
Hofi Pastor and the Great Kapok A small nature preserve near the town of Barber, Hofi Pastor is best known as the home of Curaçao's oldest tree. We spent an afternoon here, checking out the ancient kapok and exploring a couple short trails that snake through the park.
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