Christoffel National Park
The Zevenbergen Hike
Part 1

This trail also leads to Mount Christoffel.

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The Zevenbergen Plantation Hike, almost 7 miles long, takes between 2-3 hours to complete. Constant exposure to the sun and occasional climbing make the Zevenbergen Hike moderately difficult.

The Trailhead is in the Parking lot at the visitor entrance. Marked in yellow, this undulating road passes through the Curacao Lava Formation and ends up at the base of Mount Christoffel.

Start by making about a 10-minute climb of Seru Tinta. Besides excellent panoramic views and the chance to view more of the island's geology, the real reason for the climb is Piedra di Monton--what looks like a large heap of stones deposited by several dump trucks.

Instead, they represent the dreams of escape of 18th and 19th century slaves. The legend handed down is this: salt is a crucial in the tropics because without it, you lose your own body salts by sweating.

Slaves apparently believed that if they didn't eat salt, they would be able to fly (probably because of the feeling of light-headedness symptomatic of salt deprivation). It was believed that every slave who had not eaten salt could place a stone at the foot of Mount Christoffel and sing a song that would enable them to fly back to Africa.

In the 20th century, the stones piles (Piedra di Monton) were appropriated to help maintain the park roads. Although it may be tempting, it is now forbidden to collect anything, even stones, in the park.

Taking the main yellow route, climb a little over 600 feet for an excellent view of Santa Martha Bay to the south. In this spot are the only two species of orchids that occur on the island.

The prettiest is the purple orchid, which blooms in July and August. White orchids peak in December and January but are present anytime there's sufficient rain.

Continuing along the main road, you'll come to the Seru Bientu trail, a 10-minute path to the top of a hill whose name literally means "wind" (bientu).

The climb is not steep but the wind can be strong enough literally to stop you in your tracks. The trail begins among dyewood trees and shrubby kamalia, although lichens and bare rock soon become characteristic on the right side. In the valley below, on the left, is a manganese mine that closed in 1881.

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