Arikok National Park (Aruba)

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Arikok National Park (Aruba)

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 18:53
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Arikok National Park occupies nearly twenty percent of the total land area of Aruba. It was formed to protect and preserve the flora, fauna, geology, and historical remains present. The National Park hosts three primary geological formations and a variety of habitats.

Arikok National Park

Arikok National Park is approximately 34 sq km (13 sq mi) of natural area, located in northeastern Aruba, which contains examples of most of the island's flora and fauna against a backdrop of great geological complexity.

Officially established in 2000, Arikok National Park occupies nearly 20% of the total land area of Aruba. It was formed to protect and preserve the flora, fauna, geology, and historical remains present.

Arikok National Park sits slightly southeast of the center of Aruba. It lies close to the locality of Fontein and runs to the rocky eastern shore of the Caribbean Sea.

The National Park includes three primary geological formations:

  • the Aruba lava formation

  • a quartz diorite formation

  • a limestone formation that extends inward from the coast

There is great geological variety within the park. The main aspects are the rough hills of the volcanic Aruba lava formation, the mysterious rocks of the batholithic quartz-diorite/tonalite, and the limestone rocks from fossilized coral.

Volcanic Tuff, a type of rock made of volcanic ash ejected from a vent during an eruption, is also abundant due to the island's volcanic history.

Much of the parkland comprises uplifted reef carbonates. This abundance of limestone has been worn away by acidic groundwater to form several caves ranging from small to hundreds of feet in length, some of which can be easily accessed within the park./p>

Notable caves in Arikok National Park include:

  • Fontein Cave, where pre-Columbian cave drawings can still be seen

  • Quadirikiri Cave, famous for its two chambers illuminated by the sunlight streaming through holes in the roof of the cave

The two tallest hills on the island are situated within Arikok National Park: Jamanota hill, 188 m (617 ft) and Arikok hill, 176 m (577 ft), from which the name of the National Park is derived.

Map of Arikok National Park, Aruba

Map of Arikok National Park, Aruba

The permanently wind-and-wave-beaten North Coast line is broken by several bays (Boca's). Most of them are small yet impressive inlets at the mouth of dry riverbeds.

Some of these bays are spectacular sights adorned with white, sandy beaches and dunes, as is the case at Boca Prins and Dos Playa.

Arikok is also home to Conchi, Aruba's most important natural attraction, also known as the Natural Pool. The journey to the Pool is an adventure, only possible by foot, horse, ATV, or 4x4 vehicle.

Old plantation (Cunucus) sites tell the story of an active yet challenging agricultural past. These Cunucus were also residential areas for the few families that worked the land. These families found ways to survive under challenging conditions and erect their homes with materials found in the area.

Two of these adobe houses have been restored. Park rangers are learning many old building techniques to preserve these unique Aruban mud houses, which can be found at Cunucu Arikok and near Plantation Prins.

Flora and Fauna

Arikok National Park hosts a variety of habitats. The main ecotype is the xeric scrubland. Candelabra cacti are scattered across the landscape, along with thorny bushes.

During the dry season, many plants lose a portion and sometimes all of their foliage. However, plants that retain foliage often have other adaptations to maintain moisture and limit evaporation, for example, thick leathery leaves.

Indigenous reptiles include the small Cascabel (Crotalus unicolor), the slender Santanero or Aruban Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira bakeri), the Boa (Boa constrictor), and the Aruba whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus arubensis).

Birds include the Shoco or Aruban burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia arubensis) and the Prikichi or Aruban parakeet (Aratinga pertinax arubensis).