Pekelmeer is a vast series of salt plains and lagoons where salt has been harvested by the power of the sun for decades. It is also one of the last breeding locations of the Great Flamingo and, as such, has been designated a wetlands of international significance  by the Ramsar Convention.
Bonaire – Been There

Why Bonaire’s airport is painted pink

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Bonaire – Been There Why Bonaire’s airport is painted pink

Pekelmeer on Bonaire is a vast series of salt plains and lagoons where salt has been harvested by the power of the sun for decades. It is also one of the only breeding places of the American Flamingo.

Daphne Huineman
Daphne Huineman Travel Writer

I leave the built-up area of Kralendijk behind me, pass the pink Flamingo Airport, the luxury homes of American and European celebrities, then I’m suddenly alone. To the right there’s the bright blue sea, to the left the shimmering Pekel Lake. The salt mountains break the monotony of the horizon. The view is breathtaking – “Weird” and “moon-like” are how I later hear it described by two American tourists in the City Café. Indeed. There are only a few fallen palm trees along the coast and a marker pointing out directions to Paris, San Francisco and Melbourne. A flock of flying flamingos add a splash of color to this bleached white, light-saturated scene.

The Dutch West India Company, then the Dutch multinational AKZO and finally US company Cargill have all worked the salt. Not much else has changed over the centuries. Seawater streams onto the shallow salt pans, the sun evaporates the water, the salt is left behind and can then be collected. What is new is the protected status of the flamingo reserve on the salty Pekel Lake. Thousands of the birds can now breed here in absolute peace. This status is important as this is one of their last remaining breeding colonies, and of course, Bonaire treasures its national symbol.

It is closed to the public, but with a good pair of binoculars it is easy to watch the birds from the road. Besides the flamingo, Bonaire has more than 170 other bird species.

Fly me to "Flamingo"!

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