Arikok National Park is almost 20 % of the island. It fosters a wide variety of local flora and fauna and some species that only exist on the island. Initially created in 1997 and in 2003 became national park. The park has almost 8000 acres of space and it is located in the north-eastern section of the island.
The National Park holds the two highest point on the island, Jamanota hill 188 meters (617 ft) and Arikok hill 176 meters (577 ft), from which the name of the park is derived.
The park offers a place for outdoors and nature lovers, it has almost 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, making them the longest around the island. Aruba is making a big push for more a bigger eco-tourism on the island and they are making sure that the best place to do it is at the park. It is a complete opposite from the high and low rise area of the island, in which offers all modern amenities.
Arikok Park is geological marvel; its main aspects are the rough rocks hils of the volcanic lava. The eastern side holds a variety of caves and grottos, such as the Fontein and Quadirikiri. It also holds what is know as bocas or small bays, some of these small bocas have some of the most spectacular sights on the island, since it has white sandy beaches, like in the case of Boca Prins and Dos Playa, making it a great place for picnic. Access to these caves, grottos and bocas must be done on a tour or by renting a 4x4 Jeep.
About the fauna, the park holds five species that are unique for Aruba, such as the Cascabel which is Aruban rattlesnake and is one of the rarest rattlesnakes in the world and at the moment on an endanger species list. Animals in the park entail mostly birds and reptiles. The birds are most active during the early morning hours and at sunsets. The birds are concentrated in wind-shielded, vegetated areas, for instance at Cunucu Arikok, located on the west side of Arikok Hill.
One thing is important if you are planning a excursion to the park, is to bring water, sport shoes and wear light colors to help you against the sun, that on late morning or afternoon, it could be torching and excruciating.
On the center of the park, there is a visitors and community center that is going to open in the summer of 2009. Center is going to be open by the Queen and marks big investments that Aruba is making on keeping Arikok as a sanctuary that will preserve the fauna and flora on the island.
Like many natural attractions in Aruba, Arikok National Park is free for tourist and visitors, and that probably could change once the center opens, but up to now it continuous to be free for your enjoyment.
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