Monday, March 1, 2010

Mambukal Resort

It’s not really my style or purpose of this blog to talk about tourist destinations in the Philippines as I do believe it is best to get out and experience the lifestyle of a culture when you visit a country and not just enjoy the amenities of the hotel and shelter yourself away from the true essence of the people, but this is an exception to my rule. Feel free to click on any of the photos to see the bigger print.

One place I had heard so much about before my trip to Bacolod in the Philippines was Mambukal Resort, located at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon which is an active volcano. Many people said that if I got the chance to go there then I should and I would not regret it. To be honest it really wasn’t in my travel plans and not because of lack of money or time but due to the fact that I really just wanted to live life like a Filipino during my time there and stay away from resorts. After I did a little research online during my trip there I started to realize that it really wasn’t a resort as I tend to think of resorts. Sure it has rooms to rent if you so choose and a swimming pool but the natural beauty of Mambukal is not to be missed if you can help it and the price is right.

Mambukal Resort is about an hour bus ride east of Bacolod towards the mountains. We had 7 people with us including me and the total cost for everyone’s bus ride was not much more than 200 pesos which is around $4.00 so the price was right for the bus ride there. The scenery was very nice on the trip there. I saw sugar cane fields, rivers, farm land with caribou grazing, open air markets, and locals going about their daily activities. The only down side was all the road construction going on, it created a bumpy ride at times and a few stops here and there due to only one lane being open. Other than that the bus ride there was comfortable and it’s a good way to see beautiful parts of Negros Occidental away from the bigger cities.

When the road ended we were there at Mambukal Resort. As I mentioned earlier there were 7 of us on this trip and the entrance fee was 30 peso per person so we paid 210 peso which is a little less than $4.00. We had to walk down a paved road quite a ways since the bus drops you off right at the entrance. The road is surrounded by forest with a few buildings popping up here and there. We decided to get a small picnic hut for 300 pesos for the day since we brought a bunch of food with us. They do have places to eat there but we were more comfortable bringing our own food. To get to the hut you get off the paved road and go onto big rock paths that are not easily navigated. Good walking shoes are important or you could sprain an ankle. After a small trek through the woods it opens up to a swimming pool and right next to it was our picnic hut. All the walking involved at first could be a little taxing on elderly people and even in the shade of the trees it is still humid in the Philippines.

The main thing I heard from other people in regards to Mambukal Resort was the many waterfalls that were there, 7 in all. Now going to all these waterfalls is not for the faint at heart. You will be required to walk through the forest at slowly increasing heights and the paths are very rough to walk on. We were given a tour guide to lead us onto the first waterfall. After about 20 minutes of hiking uphill we finally arrived at the first waterfall. It was well worth the walk to get there. There were a few other families around which at first made it hard to get any good pictures but we waited until they filtered out and we got the pictures we wanted. The waterfall looked have a drop of about 20 feet into a deep pool of water that flowed out into a small stream. Once again the terrain around the pool of water is very rocky and if the rocks get wet then you have to be very careful to keep from slipping on them. We decided that we would save the other waterfalls for another time as we weren’t prepared to go hiking all day. It truly was beautiful and really showcased the natural beauty of Mambukal.

One of the other beautiful places in Mambukal Resort is the lagoon. The walk to get to it was easier for us since there is a paved path to get there. Only authorized vehicles can travel on it as it is more for foot traffic. To get there we took the long way along the paved path. It took about 10 minutes from our picnic hut to get there, all downhill and shaded by the forest. When you get to the lagoon it opens up and it is truly a site to see. A small stream empties into it and the lagoon empties into another stream on the opposite side. You can see all this from the bridge. There are a few picnic huts surrounding the lagoon and if I would have known that in advance we would have gotten one of them instead of being near the pool as we were. As you can see from the picture it is not a sight to miss when you travel there. The lagoon holds a special place in my heart as it is where I proposed to my fiancée.

Besides the waterfalls and the lagoon there are a few other things to see while visiting Mambukal resort. The butterfly house which is located near the lagoon is not all that big but it is very cozy with many butterflies flying around all the plants in it. I saw many different species and colors. There are a few displays near the entrance showing many different types of butterflies and other types of insects. It will cost each person 20 pesos to enter it which is around $.50, well worth the price of admission. It has a large screen overhead to keep the butterflies in and a small little pond inside.

The sulfur spring was very interesting but it does stink. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs and the sulfur spring does also. It was located off the paved path on our way to the lagoon. The water there is very hot and supposedly you can boil an egg if you put it in the water for 15 minutes. We didn’t try it but I did see a few egg shells around from others that had. Getting inside it is not recommended but if you do want to enjoy getting into some hot water then there is another place for you there.

There is a hot spring located near the swimming pool right at the entrance to get to the first waterfall. The cost to enter the hot spring is 50 pesos which is around $1.00 per person. Many people talked about the healing powers of this pool. I saw a few older people enjoying the pool and maybe it had something to do with its healing powers. The water is very warm and does not smell like the sulfur spring does. It is surrounded by many trees and has many lounge chairs around the pool to relax when you are tired of the water.

Last but not least were all the fruit bats in the trees overhead. When it was calm the bats looked like leaves on the trees. When they were startled then the sky became alive with activity. There were many of them flying around and they looked like a bunch of birds. It was an experience for me to see bats being so active during daytime hours. From the picture I have included you can see what I mean.

I would recommend for everyone that is traveling to Negros Occidental, especially Bacolod to go and see Mambukal resort. Set aside one day to really enjoy the scenery. Not only do you get to see a lot of natural beauty in the Philippines on the trip there you will get to see many scenes of Filipinos going about the daily lives while riding the bus. Calling Mambukal Resort a resort is almost misleading, in my opinion it should be called Mambukal Oasis. I almost didn’t go and visit it since it was being called a resort which makes me think of tourists in nice hotel rooms hanging out in a pool not experiencing what it is really like in the Philippines. There were many Filipinos there with their families sharing one of the many beautiful places in the Philippines. Not to be missed!

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