Explore the Hato Caves located about 30 minutes from Willemstad, Curaçao. Formed below sea level millions of years ago, these caves were first inhabited by Amerindian people called Arawaks and then by runaway slaves.
The slaves used the caves as a hiding place. Evidence of their stay is the black soot left behind on the ceiling from their fires, near the entrance of the cave.
Explore the Hato Caves
The Hato Caves are worth a visit. Guided tours about the history and nature of the caves are offered most days, every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
To reach the caves, you must first climb up 50 stairs. At the top of the stairs, you are rewarded with a spectacular view of the ocean.
Once inside the caves, a paved walkway winds though the various chambers. Embedded fossils can be spotted on the cave walls, left behind when the sea retreated.
The caves are inhabited by two types of bats; the long-tongued bat and long-nosed bat. The bats can be seen during the day, as they sleep in clusters, hanging high above your head deep in the cavern. Keep your mouth closed and wear glasses while viewing them, to avoid bat droppings (guano) and urine.
The caves can be hot inside, however, there are ventilators to keep a cool breeze moving.
During your visit the Hato Caves be sure to take the 20-minute self-guided tour along Indian Trail. The trail takes you through typical Curaçao vegetation to view the 1,500 year-old drawings attributed to the Caiquetio Indians.
A variety of native cacti are found in the Cactus Garden along the walkway from the parking lot. Keep a lookout for two types of lizards and other small animals of the area.
The Konènchi is a species of rabbit. They build homes of small pits in the ground and cover it with leaves. We were told during our visit to Hato Caves that this species of rabbit is the only one of its kind in the world.
There are two types of bats found in the caves; the long-tongued bat and long-nosed bat.
If you plan to visit other caves on your travels be mindful not to wear the same shoes as they may transfer disease to other species of bats.
The red-footed tortoise is found in the rainforests and wetlands of northern South America. The tortoise is also found on a few islands of the Caribbean.
This species of tortoise can live up to 50 years.
There are 168 types of birds found on the island of Curaçao. Look for these colourful species as you tour around the Hato Caves property: yellow Oriole, the American Krestel, the Bananaquit, and the Crested Caracara (looks like a hawk).
Facts about the Hato Caves
• The cave opened to the public in 1991.
• Runaway slaves hid in the caves.
• Two types of bats live in the caves, the long-tongued bat and long-nosed bat.
• Amerindian are Indigenous people from South America and the Caribbean.
• Antillean Arawaks are a subgroup of the Amerindians and left the island before the Spanish arrived in 1499.
• The Caiquetio Indians came from Venezuela.
For more information about the caves and tours, visit http://curacaohatocaves.com/
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