While in Bacolod, I had the pleasure of visiting- and in the case of one, actually living in- a couple of interesting resorts in the area. To most of us, when we hear the word resort, our mind conjures the images of sand and pristine waters. And while I did have some of that on this trip (to be shared on another post!) these two resorts we visited were primarily land-based. They’re located in the mountains to be exact! Some of my favourite experiences from this trip happened in the following two places, so I decided I would just lump them together in one travel diary entry to keep the mood going.
And hopefully after reading this you guys will consider paying them a visit! 🙂
The first resort I want to share is the 20-something hectare Mambukal Mountain Resort. It lies 1,200 feet above sea level and is made up of a mix of manmade and natural attractions.
The bustle of activity is the first thing that greets one upon arriving. Along the mountain paths that lead to its many air-conditioned living areas, there is a group of flower sellers sitting together side by side, and further along still is a bridge overlooking the rocky stream where the water from the waterfalls of Mambukal flows to meet the earth.
Mambukal is also quite famous for its sulfur hot springs that boast of medicinal properties that can soothe the weary body. They even have private bathhouses and spas for those interested in a more personalized type of relaxation.
The resort is also a nice place for picnics, but because we were given only a short period of time to explore, my family and I decided to take on the most interesting challenge the resort had to offer: trekking up the mountain to visit Mambukal’s seven waterfalls.
Now I’ve never trekked up a mountain as rocky as this one before so I was looking forward to what it would be like. I’ve climbed up the Taal Volcano years ago, but that had been about navigating through sandy dirt and basically trying not to slip thanks to the fineness of the earth. It wasn’t all that difficult. This one was different, and admittedly more physically challenging. You would occasionally need to climb up giant rocks with the help of your hands, requiring some balance and strong legs to find footing. I always like being physically challenged so I was game, and I work out regularly so I didn’t find the experience extreme, but this sort of thing certainly is not for everyone. If you are going to attempt this, I would definitely not suggest wearing slippers. 😀
Before you begin the trek you sign up on the visitor’s log, you know, just in case you get lost or something. I would strongly suggest getting a guide because honestly it can be kind of hard to navigate unfamiliar territory full of rocks like this one. There are parts with railings you can follow but most of the mountain rocks have been left untouched. It’s easy to mistake a dip in the path to be the right direction when in fact you are supposed to follow another elevated pathway nearby. So yes, get a guide! They are free but it would be only right to tip them once your trek is done.
I wish I could’ve snapped pictures of the steeper, more dangerous areas of the trek but my hands were kind of busy holding on to the rocks for dear balance…
You also have the option to go up on the Canopy Walk, which we did not do, but it looks like it provides a great vantage point to see the area more wholly. Sometimes looking at things from above can make them much more impressive.
So going back to the trek, the purpose was to pay a visit to the seven waterfalls of Mambukal. If memory serve me right, the time it took to travel to the first waterfall was about thirty minutes. From that point on the other waterfalls are a little nearer, I guess you could say. The first waterfall was a pretty little thing that looked to be just the right height to jump from. Unfortunately no swimming is allowed until you get to waterfall #6! The second waterfall was about 15 minutes of more climbing away, but it was even smaller than the first waterfalls.
Since waterfalls 3 to 5 were closed we went straight to waterfalls 6. Time was running out so we decided not to swim when we get there, but my expectations were really high for this waterfall. Since we were higher up on the mountain the rocks were getting bigger and climbing got a little harder, (no more railings to hold on to at this point) but when we got there my idea of the grand waterfall did not match with what I saw.
I had been imagining something like Yosemite Falls, but this waterfall honestly looked more like a stream for people to take a dip in!
At least on one part it looked like a bunch of kids were enjoying diving from the rocks down to the calm waters.
In the distance was the mouth of the waterfall, and it looked to be a cave where people could sit for a dip too.
I wanted to move on to the seventh falls to see if it is indeed the highest and most impressive point I had been imagining in my mind, but we had reached our time limit for this part of the tour and was supposed to prepare to head to another destination. (Tours!) I had no choice but to follow the rest of my tour mates back. Despite the underwhelming nature of the falls, I was really energized by the experience of the trek! I at least get to say that this year I managed to try mountain trekking for the first time.
But this was not to be the only first I was getting to experience for this trip. 🙂
We traveled through insanely rocky roads to get to this little piece of wonderland hidden in the mountains of Talisay City. The Campuestohan Highland Resort is this sweeping 5-hectare mishmash of assorted fun things that will leave visitors with plenty of things to do during their stay. I was really surprised to see the Hulk and King Kong in the distance haha!
Before we unleashed ourselves unto the resort, we first deposited our luggage in our rooms. The rooms are located in this gigantic log cabin type house that is composed of I believe 12 rooms? Each room is surprisingly spacious, with queen-sized beds good for two people, plus another sofa bed by the window. There are ceiling fans and no air-conditioning, but since this is up in the mountains the weather is relatively cool all day long with drizzles here and there. At night it can get really nice and cold though! I slept like a baby the two nights we were here!
If you are unable to reserve a room, then you can always go the au naturel way and camp out!
Now after leaving non-essentials back in the room, we decided to explore the place before deciding on what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Some of the activities require payment before you can gain access to them, but many of the attractions are free.
There was a lot to see, that was for certain, and we were immediately drawn towards the statues of famous comic book heroes and quite possibly the celebrity favourites of the owners of the resort. There is this yellow dome at the center of the resort which I like to call the superhero area. Elvis and Michael Jordan seemed kind of out of place there, but who would not want to be in the presence of guys like Superman and Batman right?
This is also a great place to have fun with your photos. We were all smiles, as you can see! 🙂
A few meters away from the superhero dome was an area with Kung Fu Panda characters, and near that is the gigantic King Kong! You can totally lie down on its hand, take photos, and look like he’s picking you up to eat you. Yes, it is that big.
If you’re in the mood to swim, the resort has a swimming pool too. I had initially planned for a little night swimming but it was literally too cold to swim in the evening so I would suggest some morning swimming instead. It’s also nice to swim in a freshly cleaned pool.
Possibly the most challenging of all attractions in the resort is the obstacle course (Php 200). Some of my tour mates actually tried this and ended up with bruises all over their bodies. I didn’t get to try it though because I had no proper footwear. I would later find out that this place rents out sneakers for Php 50! 🙁
If you’re up for something interesting, then you probably would enjoy trying out this kind of cycling experience (Php 200, I think). The secret to successfully crossing to the other side is to keep yourself steady and KEEP PEDALLING! I witnessed a lot of people giving up after moving just a fe inches away from the starting point.
But if you prefer walking, then the sky bridge might be the one for you instead.
The first thing I set my sights on when I got here was the zipline, so I really rushed to line-up for that. I was adamant in my mission to cross this off my to-do list. The zipline is 340 meters long and for my first time, I thought this was a decent length. I wasn’t scared though maybe a tad nervous, wondering if the feeling is the same as riding a roller coaster (which I happen to like). But when I rode it I experienced one of the best feelings in the world. Now I understand why some people dream of flying. I could feel the air brushing past my cheeks as I went, and trapped in a feeling of floating I felt like my chest was about to burst with this strange and happy and unexplainable emotion. Suspended up in the air I felt… Free.
And then it ended. But now that I know how INCREDIBLE it feels, I am doing it again when I get the chance!
The weather here is always foggy, but as the day was ending I was faced with one of the clearest, most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed– the sort that pours out light like liquid gold, washing through everything in sight and turning them equally golden. It was stunning, and it’s going to be something I’m not about to forget anytime soon. I was lucky to be at the right place to photograph this.
And of course as the sun dipped a little further down behind the mountains, the sky began to bring forth its usual sunset shades. It’s always a pleasure to shoot during this hour, because the people turn into black silhouettes against a darkening sky presenting its last dance of colour.
A great majority of the visitors to the resort are locals, and I know this because when night came there weren’t a lot of people left in the resort except for those who lived in the other rooms in the cabin. We were called out to dinner and it was good, but I was truly delighted by the soup they served which had coconut water as its base. It was naturally sweet and very filling.
And when the sun permanently bowed its head for the day, I watched the glittering lights of the city of Bacolod in the distance, thinking about the things I experienced and discovered in the past few days I was here. I remember thinking about how despite my lack of sleep I was just filled with so much fervor and energy to keep going and looking and seeing. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how I knew I was having a great time during this vacation. And it wasn’t even over yet.
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