Introducing Washington-Slagbaai National Park

Covering the northwest portion of the island and comprising almost 20% of the land, Washington-Slagbaai National Park is a great place to explore. Roads are rough and all but impassable after rain, but it’s well worth the effort. The terrain is mostly tropical desert, and there is a proliferation of cactuses and birds. Look for flamingos in the lowlands and parrots perched on shrubs. Large bright-green iguanas are just one of the many reptile species you might find. You’ll also see lingering evidence of the aloe plantation and goat ranch that used to be here – don’t run over any wild descendants of the latter.

An excellent information center, small museum and cafe are at the entrance. From here you can take one of two drives: a 2½-hour, 34km route or a 1½-hour, 24km route. There are picnic, dive and swimming stops along the way.

Two hikes are best done well before the heat of noon: the 90-minute Lagadishi loop, which takes you past ancient stone walls, a blowhole and the rugged coast; and the two-hour Kasikunda climbing trail, which takes you up a challenging path to the top of a hill for sweeping views.

The park entrance is at the end of a good 4km concrete road from Rincon.

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