On Tuesday the 19th of February I went to one of the most spectacular, breathtaking nature hike on Curaçao. From the roundabout, at Chogogo you walk from the asphalt into the rough off-road terrain, also known as ‘Mondi’ as the locals call it or the wilderness of Jan Thiel, Curaçao.
The Salt Pans of Jan Thiel is an amazing and popular place to hike on the island. The salt pans, which is a stretch of untouched nature that connects Jan Thiel to Mambo Beach Boulevard. In a sense, you are walking the pure and gorgeous shore of the South Eastern coast of Curaçao. This hiking spot is a favorite of locals, who we encountered during our walk, and tourists.
Time to Smile, Chogogo
At four in the afternoon, I met up with our lovely guide Ans in the middle of the roundabout of Chogogo, where several benches and palm trees for shade are located. My small group consisted of me and a small family of five, a mother, her two sons, and her parents. This roundabout is located at the entrance of the Time to Smile Chogogo Resort, just a bit further from the entrance of Jan Thiel Beach. Just left of this resort is where our path begins.
From the dirt, rocky path we were one is an old path that soldiers once traveled as they monitored the southern coast of Curaçao to protect the island from hostiles. After a few meters we traveled left and onto a path dense with green vibrant trees and bushes. Immediately, as far as the eyes can see is nothing but this dense vegetation and occasionally vivid green spots. These spots belong to trees, who adapted so well to their climate were able to stay this lively green year-round.
The path I was on was completely untouched and unspoiled with a wilderness that was serene, with walls of green life surrounding me. Soon after we turned left, in a path that steadily went downwards full of Divi Divi trees, with unique reddish-brown curved seeds. Our guide told us that these seeds in the past were once collected by children and later used to create black ink and as well could be turned into a fashion accessory. As we descend to the bottom of the path, I can hear the ocean with its waves coming ashore.
The path leveled out as we reach the bottom of the limestone cliffs, where off the path was a small valley with small bushes or thin trunks that were covered in these small white shells. The ground was covered with the empty shells while the trees and branches covered with shells stuck to them. Only here on the island could you find these pure white shells. On the other side is a small saltwater pond with these tiny green jellyfish. Truly remarkable these creatures are!
At last, we have reached the bottom of the path, and towards the ocean and across the sea I can see Jan Thiel Beach. As we walk towards the west, to right, we could see the start of the red root mangroves. The mangroves have a specular way to surviving here on the island and pollinating their spores. The spores or seeds grow with a branch already coming out of it so that when they fall, bobbing in the water till they find a spot to root themselves in the ground they are ready to grow.