advertisement

Aruba's showcase ecological preserve sprawls across nearly 20% of the island. Rock outcrops, boulders, and crevices create microclimates that support animal species found only in Aruba, including the Aruban rattlesnake, Aruban burrowing owl, and Aruban parakeet. Iguanas and many species of migratory birds live in the park as well, and goats and donkeys graze on the hills. Examples of early Amerindian art, abandoned mines from Aruba's gold-rush past, and remains of early farms dot the park. Sand dunes and limestone cliffs ornament the coast. It's easy to explore the preserve, but bring water, sunscreen, and food, and wear a hat and comfortable walking shoes. Birds and animals are most active in the morning. The government has plans to develop the area responsibly, but for now the sites can be reached by dirt road and hiking trail only. Routes are clearly marked, and signs are becoming more frequent and informative. If you're really into it, though, stop by the park's new office at San Fuego z/n, on the main road between the Low-Rise area and Santa Cruz, to pick up a map. The office is open Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 3:30pm.