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Curaçao's Flamingo Hiking Trail: ‘De Zoutpannen’

Sure, the majority of visitors are drawn to the beautiful Caribbean island of Curaçao for its beaches and the diving wonderland that can be found in the surrounding seas but there is so much more to be discovered for those that are willing to explore. In fact, avid explorers will be pleased to learn that this little island is truly an adventurer’s paradise.

With hiking trails galore, those looking to stretch their legs to get the adrenalin pumping while taking in some stunning vistas are in for a real treat. So, if a little land-based adventure sounds like your idea of fun, come prepared. Bring a sturdy daypack and some good walking boots as some fun times lay ahead as you prepare to hit some of Curacao’s magnificent trails.

The Island of Trails

Reaching the peak of Christoffel Mountain will certainly leave you with a sense of accomplishment but the challenge is arduous and not for the fainthearted. For some stunning rugged coastal trails head to Shete Boka Park. But if you just happen to be staying at LionsDive Beach Resort, there is a spectacular little trail that is just moments away from your home away from home, and we are sure is perfect for most guests and certainly one not to be missed.

See flamingos between Jan Thiel and Mambo Beach at the Zoutpannen

De Zoutpannen

Located just between Jan Thiel National Park and Mambo Beach, you’ll find ‘De Zoutpannen’. Here you can take a stroll through spectacular salt pans, tackle some rocky paths and gaze at the wondrous saltwater lakes. And the piece de resistance: if you are lucky, you’ll even manage to spot some flamingos on your adventure.

This area was once used as a plantation where salt as well as other natural commodities such as cotton could be extracted. The plantation which was known as Damasco at the time was bought in 1737 by a merchant from its Dutch owner, Jan Thielen, who the area is named after.

Now that you are au fait with a little bit of the park’s history, let’s get back to the trail. The early bird catches the worm as they say. And you’ll need to set out at the crack of dawn, ideally at about 6 am, for the best chance to have an up-close-and-personal experience with Curacao’s largest population of flamingos. Setting off early is also great when it comes to avoiding the heat!

‘De Zoutpannen’ really is the trail that has it all. From fantastic vistas over the salt lakes to adventurous rambling paths that take you through the bushes, visitors to Jan Thiel National Park are sure to experience a different perspective to the usual view of Curacao.

See flamingos between Jan Thiel and Mambo Beach at the Zoutpannen

Some Final Words of Wisdom

Finally, whether you are an avid hiker or novice there are a few basic precautions you should bear in mind before you embark on an island adventure.

Never attempt to hike alone or in the dark. While it's great to head out early to avoid the blazing sun, be cognizant of your safety and watch the time as you don’t ever want to find yourself lost in unfamiliar territory after sunset. Water is essential, especially when hiking in the Caribbean sun so be sure to bring enough to keep yourself hydrated throughout the hike. Some light snacks to keep your hunger at bay and those energy levels in check is another wise idea. Finally, be mindful of the environment. Visitors to Curaçao fall in love with the island's pristine beauty and we’d like to keep it that way - so be sure to take all your litter back with you. ‘Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints’ as they say.

Enjoy the hike! Be sure to give the flamingos a wave. A trip to ‘De Zoutpannen’ is always a memorable outing.

See flamingos between Jan Thiel and Mambo Beach at the Zoutpannen