Latest update: 22 April 2021
Sweaty and exhausted, I reach the top of the Christoffelberg (the Christoffel mountain). At its top height of 372 meters, I already know that I will have sore legs in the coming days. The climb is challenging but a welcome sportive change from beach bumming. And that panoramic view makes me forget the hardship on the way up instantly.
The largest national park on Curaçao
The Christoffelberg, also called Seru Christoffel, is located in the largest national park of Curaçao: the Christoffel National Park Savonet. 2300 hectares of flora and fauna. I know close to nothing about plants and trees, so I can’t describe it better than green: I feel like I am in the jungle. If you want all the ins and outs of the park and its flora and fauna, visit it with a ranger. If you want all the ins and outs of the park and its flora and fauna, visit it with a ranger. You have to book such a tour in advance, you can do that on the park’s website.
Car routes and jeep safaris in the Christoffel Park
A guide is certainly not required in the park – you can easily explore the park by yourself. There are eight walking routes and two car routes. There is a 9 km car route that takes you to the north to see caves, birds, and Boka Grandi beach. And of course, the mountain car route has the Christoffelberg as a highlight, although you can just drive past it if you don’t feel like climbing today. The Christoffelberg car route (the green route) is 7.5 or 12 km long as there is a shortcut – handy if you want to start the climb as early as possible.
The roads of the Christoffelpark are asphalted so you can easily visit the park with any rental car. I had rented the smallest car from Sunny Cars, and that was completely fine. If you don’t have a rental car, or if you would like to hear all about the park from a guide, a jeep safari through Christoffel Park is an excellent and affordable option. Book a jeep safari tour of no less than 4 hours online.
Good shoes warmly recommended
The entrance to the Christoffelpark is located in the west of Curaçao, just after Barber. Most people will stay on the other side of the island, so it will be quite a drive to get here. Therefore, it is wise to combine a visit to the Christoffelpark with Shete Boka and chilling on the Grote Knip (you have earned that after the climb). On one side of the road, you will find the parking lot and the visitor center. There you pay an entrance fee, and you get a park map. Cross the road by car to start the route. Or, for the die-hards, leave your car and start the walk here.
A ranger looks a bit worriedly at my flip-flops when I step out of my car. I assure him that I have my good hiking boots (from Salomon) in the back, and he smiles with relief. I feel like it’s too hot to put on those shoes now; the ranger thinks it’s cold and closes his cardigan. We’ve got a different internal thermometer.
Climbing the Christoffelberg: what can you expect?
With my best friend, I follow the green car route and cut a piece so that we quickly reach the parking lot at the mountain. There, a hungry bird of prey awaits us, wishes us luck, and happy and carefree, we follow a path to go up the mountain. I am still pretty optimistic at this time. There are obstacles like stones and rocks on the trail, but I can maneuver around and across them quite easily. If this is it… Easy peasy, I think to myself.
But this is not it. Soon the path becomes steep, very steep. I don’t walk but climb and clamber. Every now and then, I stop to determine the best route. Do I go via the steep, short climbing route or via the long but less steep side? This is just great for someone with a fear of heights – NOT! The heat is intoxicating, and I am happy with the occasional rain shower and cool breeze. Extra bonus: a rainbow.
On the way, we occasionally encounter someone coming down, but it is quiet on the trail in general. I notice that many people pick up and take plastic waste on their way down. Good job! I only have eye for the next spot to put my feet. Here and there, a yellow blob of paint marks the route, and halfway through, someone has kindly painted “half” on a rock. The further I get up the mountain, the more I wonder why this seemed like a good idea. The last part is practically mountain climbing, and I have to squeeze through and along the cracks in the rocks. This is also the place where many people think it’s been enough and return.
While I try very hard not to think about the descent, I absorb the view. Pooh, that’s breathtaking, people! Here on top of the Christoffelberg, everyone takes a break, takes a photo, and mentally prepares for the way back.
How long will it take you to climb the Christoffel mountain?
How long does it take to climb the Christoffelberg? Online I find very different experiences, ranging from 1.5 hours (extremely fast if you ask me) to more than three hours. It takes us about 2.5 hours to complete the climb, up and down. We reach the top of the Christoffelberg in about 50 minutes and have a break for a bit over fifteen minutes before sliding and clambering back to the car. It’s such a relief to me when we pass the biggest rocks. A rock-climbing career is definitely out of the question for me.
We then drive the last part of the green car route and stop at the sights, but actually, we are shattered and need clean clothes and deodorant. So we immediately agree that we have to go back someday to do the other car route, without the climbing.
Preparing for the climb
I found climbing the Christoffelberg really tough. I am not in the best condition, but certainly not the worst, and I have made a lot of beautiful hikes, such as the Colca Canyon in Peru. The Christoffelberg is really not a flip-flop kind of walk, but with a bit of perseverance and by keeping your own pace, it is doable for many people. Make sure you leave early, pack light, and think about:
- Good walking shoes can be bought at, for example, Decathlon or Bever, but sturdy sneakers are also okay.
- Sporty clothing that can get dirty
- Plenty of water, at least one liter per person
- A snack, for example, a muesli bar or a banana
- Some plasters and disinfectant – just to be on the safe side!
- Sunscreen – preferably sustainable sunscreen
- Your camera
Best time to climb the Christoffelberg
Start your climb as early as possible! It is really a challenging task, and you don’t want to climb in full sun. In fact, it’s not even allowed. You can start the climb until 10:00 in the morning at the latest.
I think the best time of year to climb Christoffelberg is the rainy season, which roughly runs from September to December. Thanks to the rain, the Christoffelberg is beautifully green and lush. But when it rains, it can also be dangerous to go up the mountain. It can get very slippery, so wear good walking shoes. If it’s really irresponsible, the rangers will also ask you to come back on another day.
Opening times Christoffelpark
The Christoffel Park and the Savonet Museum are open daily from 6 AM to 2 PM. You can buy an entrance ticket until 1:30 PM, that’s when the ticket sale closes for the day.