Protected Area Overview
|Managed by||Fundacion Parke Nacional Arikok|
|Size||3,400 ha. (8,400 ac.)|
Parke Nacional Arikok was officially established in 2000 to protect and preserve the area’s flora, fauna, geology and historical remains. It is located on Aruba’s northeastern shore and includes approximately 18% of the island’s total land area. The park contains examples of nearly all of the island’s flora and fauna against a backdrop of amazing geological complexity that includes rough hills formed of volcanic Aruba lava, rocks of batholithic quartz-diorite, tonalite, and limestone rock formations of fossilized coral.
The park’s 3,400 hectares (34 km2) land area is mostly covered in xeric shrubland, with small areas of dry forest. The landscape is dotted with majestic candelabra cacti and thorny bushes. Over 50 native tree species are found within Parke Nacional Arikok, including Calabash (Crescentia cujete), Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) and Brasilwood (Haematoxylon brasiletto). The park actually plays an especially important role in the regeneration of the island’s vegetation and of a number of rare, endemic or endangered plant species such as the Holywood Lignum-vitae (Guaiacum sanctum). As a result of large-scale deforestation, a number of plant species found on Aruba have become locally endangered. Parke Nacional Arikok offers them a safe habitat in which to recover and proliferate.
The park’s windward coast may not offer the sheltered and calm sea conditions of the south, but a number of sheltered bays (‘bocas’) offer impressive white sand beaches and sand dunes. Parke Nacional Arikok boasts cave systems that contain fresh water environments as well as culturally valuable historic rock paintings and sites. The island’s two highest hills also are located within the park: Mount Jamanota (188 metres/617 feet) and Mount Arikok (176 metres/577 feet), from which the park gets its name.
Parke Nacional Arikok serves as an important refuge for several key species. Found mostly in the park’s rugged and mountainous areas, Aruba is home to the rarest rattlesnake in the world, the Aruba Island Rattlesnake (Crotalis unicolor) or ‘cascabel’. It became close to extinction but the creation of Parke Nacional Arikok has given the population a safe habitat in which to recover. The snake has been the focus of significant and successful conservation, public awareness and research programs. The park also is also an important habitat for the endemic Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia arubensis) or ‘shoco’, the endemic Brown-throated parakeet (Aratinga pertinax arubensis) or ‘prikichi’, the endemic Whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus arubensis) or ‘cododo’, as well as the endangered Southern Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae), which roosts in the park’s caves.
The park offers much in the way of culture and history. Pre-Columbian Indian rock paintings are found in the Cunucu Arikok and Fontein Cave and the park logo is a copy of one of these paintings. Old plantation sites, or ‘cunucus’, tell the story of an active yet challenging agricultural past. Two adobe houses (at Cunucu Arikok and near Plantation Prins) have been restored. Gold was found in Aruba in the early 19th century, and traces of gold mining are spread throughout the park region. The shafts and ruins of the largest gold mining complex at Miralamar have been made accessible and can be visited.
For anyone who enjoys a beautiful hike, Parke Nacional arikok is a dream come true. There are 23 hiking trails within the park that target a variety of hiking interests. One of the park’s most popular hikes is up Mount Jamanota, Aruba’s tallest hill, from which visitors have spectacular views of the rest of the island. Other trails lead to areas of great natural beauty, such as the natural pool ‘Cura di Tortuga’, as well as a number of cultural and historical landmarks. Various grottos and caves, such as at Fontein, Quadirikiri, Baranca Sunu and Huliba are located on the park’s eastern side and can be visited.
Park Management Organisation: Fundacion Parke Nacional Arikok
Fundacion Parke Nacional Arikok (FPNA) is a non-governmental organization established in 2003 with a mission to preserve and manage Parke Nacional Arikok’s natural and cultural heritage. It took over management of the park from the Department of Agriculture (LVV) in 2005 and is subsidized by the Aruban Government.
Fundacion Parke Nacional Arikok’s mission is to preserve, protect and administer the present flora, fauna, landscapes, ecological habitats and cultural-historical heritage, so that present and future generations can profit from this. The Foundation aims to fulfill this mission by achieving the following goals:
- Protect and conserve a unique part of the natural and cultural landscape of Aruba.
- Raise awareness of the importance of preserving the park through public outreach, excursions, and the like.
- Develop educational programs.
- Promote scientific research on aspects of the park.
- Develop recreation and tourist sites of interest in the park.