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Welcome to the Quill / Boven National Park. The Park was pronounced the first official national park of the Netherlands Antilles in 1998, making it a protected nature reserve. The park was created to protect unique biodiversity and ensure sustainable use by all stakeholders. This 3.4km2 park consists of the dormant volcano ‘The Quill’ and ‘White Wall’, the limestone formation located on the south side of the volcano. The park boundaries include the Quill slopes above 250m, the interior of the crater and White Wall down to sea level.

Geology

The volcanic cone of the Quill (Dutch: kuil = pit) dominates Statia’s landscape. The highest point is just over 600m above sea level and is called Mazinga. The bottom of the crater is 273m above sea level. This strato-volcano is built up by magma that was violently ejected, blown to great heights and deposited back on earth to form layers of material which created a perfect cone.

The last eruption of the Quill dates back to around the year 400 AD and the present period of inactivity is regarded as a stage of dormancy.
A thick, white limestone formation is visible on the southern slopes of the Quill volcano, and is known as White Wall and Sugar Loaf hill. This formation was formerly part of the sea bed that was thrust upwards to the surface during an active volcanic period of the Quill. These marine sediments subsequently combined over time with ash and pumice to be converted into layers of sediment that is seen today from viewpoints on the ‘Around the Mountain’ trail and Fort de Windt. [go up]

Vegetation Zones - Quill Slopes

As a result of former agricultural activities, the vegetation on the outer slope of the Quill is mainly thorny woodland. The most abundant plants are Casha (a species of the Acacia) and Mimosa (Leucaena leucophala). Also found on the western side of the outer slopes are the West Indian Cherry (Malpighia emarginata), Blackberry (Randia aculeata), Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa) and Cacti. On the eastern side, in addition to the Acacia, arid vegetation of the Cappris family can be seen.

On the northwestern slopes from about 250m above sea level, the vegetation changes from thorny woodland to semi-evergreen seasonal forest. Most of the adult trees have low branches and umbrella shaped crowns, for example the Linana and the Epiphytes, while some of the larger trees, such as the Silk Cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra) have buttress roots. Other plants found here are the White Cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla), Locust tree (Hymenea courbaril), Yellow Plum (Spondias mombin), Mappoo (Pisonia subcordata) and the Gum tree (Bursera simaruba). [go up]

Vegetation Zones - Crater & Crater Rim

If you descend to the floor of the crater to a depth of 273m above sea level, you will enjoy the evergreen seasonal forest. This rich forest type is closely related to a tropical rainforest, with the highest trees reaching 40m. Trees found in the crater are the Silk Cotton Tree (Ceiba pentandra), the Yellow Plum (Spondias mombin) and the Trumpet Wood (Cecropia schreberiana), which has large lobed leaves with a silvery-white underside. Another tree you will definitely see is the Gum Tree (Bursera simaruba), which has red skin. Begonias and Bromeliads are often seen, and you may also encounter the Wild Banana (Heleconia bihai) on the crater floor. Human influence, however, is also noticable and you will discover cultivated plants like the Cacao (Theobroma cacao) and the Mamaya (Mammea americana), which has leathery leaves.

The elfin forest covers a relatively small part of the rim. Only the highest point, Mazinga (600m) has this very rare vegetation type. The trail to Mazinga peak is hazardous and should be taken in company of a National Park ranger. Wild Balsam (Clusia major) is dominant. Elephant ears (Philodendron giganteum) and epiphytic mosses are abundant. [go up]


Birds

The crater of the Quill with its steep inner slopes provides an excellent habitat for some of the birds found on the island, like the Red necked Pigeon (Columba squamosa) and the Purple-throated Carib. The Green-throated Carib and Antillean Crested Hummingbird and Bananaquit are more common birds on Statia that also visit flowers in gardens.

The Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, the Grey Kingbird, the Zenaida Dove, the Common Ground Dove, the Caribbean Elaenia, and the Yellow Warbler are all species that live in drier habitats.The Bridled Quail Dove is the only species on St. Eustatius that is listed in the IUCN red list. It is listed as a near threatened species. On St. Eustatius this bird is only known from the forest and woodland around the top and in the crater of The Quill.

The American Kestrel or Killy Killy (Falco sparverius caribaeum) is a widespread small bird of prey, that is listed on CITES. The species is markedly numerous in areas with human activities, and has a preference for open parkland. [go up]

 

Fauna

The Quill / Boven National Park provides habitat for a number of endangered species. Most of them are protected by local laws and some also through international treaties. Of particular interest is the Antillean Iguana (Iguana delicatissima), a rare and threatened species, which varies in colour from bright green to dull grey, and feeds on flowers, fruits, leaves and bird eggs.

The Red-Bellied Racer (Alsophis rufiventris) is a small snake (50-80 cm) found only on Saba and Statia. This snake is not poisonous and feeds on small reptiles and young rats. An abundant lizard population includes the Ground Lizard (Ameiva erythrocephala) and the smaller bright-coloured Anolis Lizards (Anolis bimaculatus and Anolis schwartzi).

Hiking

There is a network of 8 trails around the Quill and they offer a variety of hikes, from an easy rambling trail up to the rim, to a more difficult trail to Mazinga Peak or Panorama Point.

  • Quill Trail (50min): a hike from upper Oranjestad to the crater rim
  • Crater Trail (90min): takes hikers from the rim to a loop in the crater
  • Mazinga Peak (60min): a difficult trail from the rim to the highest point on Statia with views of the entire island, the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day you can see St Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.
  • Panorama Point (30min): medium difficult trail, taking hikers to a fantastic view point to Saba, St Maarten and St Barts
  • Round the Mountain Trail (5hr): winds around the boundary of the National Park and is the longest hike passing great viewpoints to St Kitts
  • Botanical Garden Trail (30min): connects the Botanical Garden entrance to the Round the Mountain trail
  • Bird Observation Trail (20min): meanders through the natural vegetation area of the Botanical Garden and links to the Round the Mountain trail.

Regulations

Visitors are requested to refrain from touching or removing any trees, plants or animals. Please keep to the trails and do not litter. In order to cover trail maintenance costs, there is a hiker entrance fee of $6 payable at the National Parks Office or Tourist Office. Guided hikes can also be arranged by the Park.

We hope you enjoy your visit to the Quill / Boven National Park. To enhance your hiking tour and find out more about the geology, reptiles, amphibians, birds and flora of the Quill / Boven National Park, take a look at the information guides, brochures and posters that are on display and for sale at the Park’s office.

 

 

The Quill volcano seen from the Boven sub-sector

 

Typical vegetation on the higher slopes of the crater

 

 

Bromeliads

 

Crater forest seen from the viewpoint at the top of the Quill trail

 

Killy-Killy and Hummingbirds are often seen on the Quill

 

Antillean Iguana
(Iguana delicatissima)

 

Colour vs. camouflage; the Anolis bimaculatus (left) and the Red-Bellied Racer snake

 

Click to view large hiking map

 

Island overview from Mazinga Peak