Tras di Montaña driving trail

Tras di Montaña driving trail (1 hour)

This agricultural area is called Tras di Montaña, which means: behind the mountain. A driving trail and two hiking trails are marked to experience Tras di Montaña at its best. You can visit a Bonairean goat farm and a botanical garden. There is a nice picnic area along the trail. On this trail special attention is given to the native fruit trees and important Bonairean trees. The driving trail of Tras di Montaña is approximately 8 kilometers in distance. If driven nonstop with limited speed, it will take one hour.

What to Expect

Explore the countryside of Bonaire

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Airport

Bonaire’s first airport was situated here in 1936. The name airport is a fancy name for the facility, it was no more than an airstrip with a little shed, and that’s all. In fact, the road between Kralendijk and Rincon had to be closed off when a plane arrived or departed and goats and donkeys had to be removed from the strip. American soldiers arrived at Bonaire in 1942, and their commander insisted that a new airport should be built. The new Flamingo Airport was put into service in 1945.

Shimaruku

This fruit tree is a shimaruku or West Indian cherry. If you see bright red juicy cherries on this tree, feel free to eat them. The fruits have a sweet and sour taste. When eating the cherries, one should be careful not to swallow the seeds. After heavy rains the tree blooms with light purple flowers and very soon after they produce fruits. Three cherries contain as much vitamin C as one orange.

Palu di Taki

The taki tree is a beautiful tree that can grow 6 meters tall. The small fruits are pale yellow and velvety. They can be eaten, the flavor is a bit sour. The seeds can be eaten like a nut, but they have to be boiled first.
The trees grow from Bonaire to Argentina. You can see many more taki trees along this driving trail.

Chanti Wawa

If you drive 3 m. past this beautiful taki tree and look up to the left, you will see the bulge of the limestone hill. This is called Chanti Wawa by the Indians. Bonaire is the top of a volcano that erupted in the sea. While still under water, coral grew on the volcano. The movement of the continental shelf forced Bonaire to the surface. The corals were exposed to air, and it became limestone. The hiking Trail Chanti Wawa starts here.

Aletta’s Goat Farm

Aletta’s Goat Farm is also called Semper Kontentu, which means ‘always content’. Aletta is the only goat keeper who milks her goats, and makes cheese and yoghurt. She does all of the work, like the milking, by hand.
This farm is open to the public on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. For details about the opening hours and prices, see the front of this map.

Agave

The agave was imported on Bonaire in the 19th century and was used to make rope. Because of its sharp spikey leaves, it was also used as a fence, to keep people and animals out.
Agave is one of the few plants that produces its own babies. The plant will grow a tall stalk with beautiful yellow flowers that can grow up to 23ft or 7m, far out of reach from animals. These flowers will grow into plantlets. Then the stalk gets too heavy and will fall over. The new plants will take root.

Palu di Sia

Here you can get out of the car and admire the trunk and the branches of this white saddle tree or palu di sia blanku. On the other side of this road, you will see these trees in a line. Often branches were used as fence posts. The branches developed roots and grew into trees. The soft wood of the palu di sia was used to make donkey saddles. The red saddle tree or palu di sia korá can be seen on the hillsides. Because of its red peeling trunk, this tree is also called ‘tourist tree’.

Botanical Garden

Visit the Botanical Garden and enjoy the abundant nature and the birds. When you take a tour of the Botanical Garden, herbalist Mr. Manuel will show you how he made a beautiful permaculture garden in a dry climate. He has a broad knowledge of organic herbs that can cure or prevent diseases. You can also see the soil regeneration, fast composting process and alternative energy. The tour is followed by a complimentary herbal anti-stress tea.
For information about opening hours see the information on the front of this map.

Tanki Maraka Heritage Park

During World War II, this was the site of a U.S. military camp from 1942 to 1947. The soldiers were on Bonaire to protect the island from Germans who were here with their submarines. Curacao was an important producer of fuel for airplanes.
The Tanki Maraka site is an open air museum that provides a self-guided tour through the old base. Just behind the entrance is a picnic table with a BBQ you can use. Bring your own food, drink and charcoal!

Watapana

The watapana you see here, is one of the thickest trees of Bonaire. It must have been 200 years old when it sadly died in 2016. There is a disease that impacts many old watapanas. Fortunately, they have spread their seeds, and now many young trees are growing in the surroundings. When you drive further, you will see them.
For a long time the pods were an important export product. Until 1954 they were harvested because they contained high quality tannin which was used for preparing leather for farmers’ boots in Germany.

Brazil tree

The Brazil tree is a tropical hardwood tree, its most striking features are the fluted trunk and larger branches. In former centuries the wood was used to prepare a red dye which was used to color cloth, hence the Dutch name Verfhout (Dyewood). The wood was shipped to Holland where it was rasped in detention centers, also known as “rasphouses”, to extract the dye. After the natural salt lakes, the presence of dyewood was the second reason why the Dutch conquered Bonaire.

Kunuku Maravia

On Bonaire the small-scale farms are called kunukus. This is one of the larger goat farms, with up to 400 goats. Goats are kept for the meat, which is used for goat stew, a national dish.
The farmer comes twice a day to take care of his goats. In the morning the goats leave the farm to look for food. They can walk about 8 km or 5 mi from the farm. In the afternoon the goats come back and get water and food, they sleep on the farm.
In front of this kunuku there is a beautiful watapana tree.

Apeldam

The Apeldam is the Bonairean apple tree. After blooming, the small, round, yellow fruits will appear, resembling miniature apples, hence the name Apeldam. They are indeed edible and have a mellow taste.
In 1885 Mr Cornelis Gorsira made a voyage to the Holy Land. On his return trip to Curacao he brought with him all kinds of native plants and seeds like this apeldam, also called Christ’s thorn.

View of the hills

From here you have a great view of the central hills of Bonaire, and the top of Seru Largu with the Millennium Monument. It stretches from Kralendijk to Rincon.
More information about Bonaire’s geology can be found at the museum at Washington Slagbaai National Park.

Seru Largu Viewpoint

On top of the Seru Largu, which means large hill, at a height of 123m you can overlook Tras di Montaña, Kralendijk and the east and west coasts of Bonaire. When the weather is clear, you can even see the mountains of Curacao.
In the year 2000, the Catholic Church placed a big cross here, called the Millennium Monument. It says “Kristu, Ayera, Awe, Semper” which means “Christ, Yesterday, Today, Always”.
You can visit the reforestation area across from the parking lot.
The Millennium Monument is the starting point a hiking trail.