After a lot of effort to find a car to hire for the day we ended up getting a pickup truck to share with Totem, Adults in the cab, kids in the back. The aim to see as much of Bonaire in one day as we could.
Slave Huts – by Max Deeley
Our first stop were the slave huts and obelisks. The slave huts were built in 1850 to house the slaves that were working in the salt ponds. The slaves would collect the salt and take it to the ships. Salt is Bonaire’s most exported product. Every Friday the slaves would walk for seven hours to Rincon to spend the weekend with their friends and families. The slaves would then return on Sunday to continue their work. The four obelisks were shore markers to guide ships that were coming in to load salt and were painted white, orange, red and blue which are the colours of the Dutch flag.
Tristan in front of one of the slave huts looking a bit like Gulliver. Tristan, Mairen, Ava and Siobhan in front of the white slave huts.
Salt Pans – Max
The next stop was the salt pans and the flamingo reserve, although you could not enter either, you can see the pans, machinery and flamingos from the road. The Dutch took over Bonaire from the Spanish in 1620s and also the salt production. The salt production slowed after the abolishment of slavery in 1863. Today the Cargill Corporation is responsible for the production of salt and Bonaire’s booming salt industry which produces 400,000 tons of salt crystals a year, 30% of this salt is used for table salt. Flamingos, which are protected by the law and can be seen in the salt pans. The salt in the salt pans stimulate the growth of plankton and aquatic invertebrates which is what the flamingos eat.
Flamingo on the salt pans
Willemstoren Lighthouse – Max
The third stop was the Willemstoren Lighthouse. It was the first lighthouse in Bonaire, built in 1837. The locals now go there to collect driftwood in many different shapes and make pyramids out of objects on the shore. The driftwood that is collected is used for various things, often tourist-related.
The lighthouse is easily reached, just pull off the side of the road when you see it on the south end of the island. While you are not able to go inside the lighthouse you can walk around the outside of it.
Lac Bay – Tristan
On our drive to Lac Bay we spotted this wild donkey. He was a little shy, Max took a carrot but he wouldn’t come close.
Lac Bay and a whip tail blue lizard
Donkey Sanctuary – Ava Deeley
In 1993 a Dutch couple, Marina Melis and Ed Koopman set up a donkey sanctuary in Bonaire to protect and help donkeys in need.
Marina, the founder of the sanctuary with the kids.
Donkeys in Bonaire die from dehydration, starvation, illness, car accidents, human abuse and foals being taken away from their mothers. Luckily many donkeys have been saved and nursed back to health and are now protected. There is also a Special Care Unit which have donkeys that are suffering from illness and also mothers and their foals. There are seven hundred donkeys in the sanctuary and a further four hundred more donkeys in the wild. Very little is grown in Bonaire so they have to import food pellets from Holland and they get hay from Venezuelan fishing boats.
Totem and my family drove around the donkey sanctuary in a pick-up truck. We brought packets of carrots which we fed to the donkeys from the back of the pick-up truck and we spent time petting them. We hopped out of the car and looked around at all the donkeys around us, we had some come up to us and nudge us with their noses to be patted. As we drove along again we had some donkeys trotting alongside us, others stood in the centre of the road to get us to stop and then they would surround us. Our last stop was the Special Care Unit, where we saw a 4-week-old foal who was brave enough to eventually walk up to us and we got to pat its fluffy little head.
In a matter of minutes of entering the gate we were surrounded by these lovely donkeys.
Dad up close and personal with this donkey
Eventually the kids climbed out of the pick up and petted the donkeys. Even after the carrots were all gone they were still happy for the attention.
Max and Ava with the four week old foal
Behan up close and personal with baby foal
Our final stop at the Donkey Sanctuary was the special care unit, which included this little girl, a four week old foul whose mum was rescued just before she was born.
Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire
You can bike, scooter, drive or walk around the sanctuary and they have carrots for sale or bring your own to feed the donkeys.
Open: Daily from 10 am – 5 pm, last entrance is 4 pm.
Cost: $7 US for Adults/$3.50 for U12
Phone: +599 95 607 607
Boka Onima – Indian Inscriptions – Ava
The Arawak Indians originally came from Venezuela and they came to Bonaire in wooden dugout canoes. Arawak Indians painted in red, symbols and pictures onto the cave walls at Boka Onima about 500 years ago. We stopped there to have a look at the cave walls, there were also whiptail blue lizards around the nearby cactuseand some were also sun bathing on the warm rocks.
The Indian Inscription and a whiptail blue lizard
Gotomeer – Ava
In the Northern end of Bonair there is a saltwater lake called Gotomeer which you can see flamingos, also called ‘pink clouds’. Gotomeer is beautiful with the lake, roads, trees and cacti spread out here and there. You can find the lake at the edge of Washington-Slagbaai National Park. The flamingos are so pink and pretty from the food that they eat. They eat crustaceans which have beta-carotene in them and there is also beta-carotene in the plankton too, which gives them there pink colour. We stopped by briefly to have a look at the lake and at the flamingos. There were lots of flies, but the flamingos were very pretty.
Gotomeer saltwater lake with its flamingos
Echoe’s Conservation Centre – Tristan Deeley
Brown Throated Parikeet of Bonaire
Echoe’s Conservation Centre (Yellow shouldered Amazon Parrot)
Tour the rescued and released parrots at Echo’s facility and walk through the dry forest.
Bring water with you and wear appropriate footwear for walking (not flip flops)
Open – Wednesday’s at 4.30, no booking necessary and you meet at the windmill at Dos Pos (near Gotomeer) Lasts 1 – 1/2 hours. Cost is donation based.
Private Tours – Are available at either 7 am or 5 pm by appointment 48 hours in Advance, with a minimum of two people, cost is $25 per person. Bookings can be made online or by phone: +599 701 1188