Aruba is well known for its gorgeous long white sandy beaches, great Restaurants, and Resorts but not yet for its fantastic Bird Watching Adventures. Mr. Win Schumacher, a travel journalist well known by the German market, discovers Aruba and enjoys Aruba Nature Explorers Bird Watching tour on a fantastic adventure.
Says Mr. Win in his article about Aruba Hiking & Birdwatching experience
“It’s not easy being a bunny owl! At least the little owl child doesn’t exactly give the impression of enjoying the first rays of sunshine that fall through the mangrove thicket onto his cave entrance this morning. Unlike most of its larger relatives around the world, owls on Aruba have to stand in front of the burrow early in the morning and look out for anything to eat.
“Shocos are everyone’s favorite on Aruba,” explains Jorge Zarraga as he watches the little family of owls line up in front of their burrow on the Spanish Lagoon. “Who can’t be charmed by such cute birds?”
Like the owls, the 42-year-old nature guide likes to get up early to show tourists the varied bird life on his island. With around 250 registered bird species, almost half as many species have been recorded on Aruba as in the whole of Germany, although the island is smaller than the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn. Compared to other Antilles islands, that’s a particularly large number. “Due to the proximity to the Venezuelan coast, we have both Caribbean and South American species and many migratory birds here,” explains the guide. Among them are many seabirds and shorebirds such as brown pelicans, roseate spoonbills and frigatebirds. Other favorites on birding tours include the iridescent mosquito hummingbird, the magnificent orange trupial and the brown-cheeked parakeet, known in Aruba as the prikichi.”
Mr. Zarraga From Aruba Nature Explorers recommends Aruba’s Arikok National Park
Mrs. Win S. continues; “IIt’s really a shame that many tourists hardly ever leave their hotel complexes and the beach,” says Zarraga. “There is so much more to see in Aruba.” He particularly enjoys showing his guests the Arikok National Park, which is almost 20 percent of the island surface. Here he leads them on hikes through the cactus forest and to hidden bays.
When the Spaniards discovered the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao at the end of the 15th century, they had already been inhabited by Arawak Indians for centuries. Since they found neither gold nor silver there and considered the land overgrown with cacti, agaves and thorn bushes to be unprofitable, they paid them little attention. In the middle of the 17th century, the Dutch West India Company took possession of the islands and built the most important settlement of Willemstad on Curaçao, one of the most important port cities in the Caribbean and a trading point for luxury goods such as sugar, tobacco and indigo. Aruba and its capital, Oranjestad, have always remained in the shadow of the larger neighboring island. The culture of the indigenous population, their centuries-old knowledge of animals and plants was quickly forgotten.
From a limestone cliff in Arikok National Park, Zarraga steps into a cave that once served as a retreat for the Arawaks. Silver rays of sunlight fall through holes in the vaulted ceiling and give the Guadiriki Cave an almost sacred aura. With the flashlight on his smartphone, the guide illuminates mysterious reddish-brown rock carvings, some of which date back to pre-Columbian times. “No one can say for sure what they mean,” says Zarraga, “but it is evident that this place also had spiritual significance for the Arawaks”. In the nearby Fontein cave the enigmatic geometric signs and abstract animal beings cover much of the cave’s low ceiling and walls. However, some have been damaged by cave tourists in recent decades. “Many Arubans are just rediscovering the motifs,” says Zarraga. “They are appearing more and more frequently in culture and art.”
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