Kapatagan – A Sneak on Mt. Apo’s Peak

Few minutes before sunrise, we were traveling along the road of Davao del Sur from Agusan. A jolly conversation ended when someone asked if we already have been in Kapatagan. I only knew the town of Kapatagan which is in the province of Lanao del Norte. I was so curious for I didn’t hear such place.

We rerouted to a new unfamiliar road. We turned right from the main highway before reaching Digos City proper even we were all first timers. The road to Kapatagan was already cemented and developed. It was believed that sunrise was best seen here on the lake that mirrors the peak of Mt. Apo. We traveled more than 30 minutes with winding, downward and most upward hilly roads. This remote barangay is a village situated on the highland. Our ears felt the changes on atmospheric pressure.

DSC_0594.JPGOur first sight of the peak was so amazing. We stopped on the road side and took a beautiful view with the peak of Mt. Apo as the background. We didn’t reach the lake nor catch the sunrise. However, the romantic and beautiful place was already worth discovery.

We were not familiar with the place but as long that the car’s wheels were still touching the cemented road, we were still on the track. We decided to see the proper village for breakfast. We traveled far and it was not good to return back while our stomachs need refueling. The last restaurant we sighted was still on the main highway.

DSC_0628DSC_0592DSC_0597Along the road, we noticed few numbers of car parked on the signage of Dhen Yho’s Place. We thought of a restaurant so we decided to stop and walked uphill. The site was so marvelous as we never expected it. There was an entrance fee but we didn’t know who is collecting and where to pay. We headed to the restaurant but it only serving coffee and packed crackers.  There was a swimming pool and we also saw tents as there were groups who stayed overnight. The towering pine trees covered the place’s hidden attractions. The place is a must to visit to see an artistry landscaped hills with a big letters sculpted “Land of Peace”. Due to lack of research, I just found that it was the Kublai Art Garden, a master piece of a well known Mindanaon artist. We saw the Bagobo’s tribal ways of living through displayed sculptures.

DSC_0617DSC_0604DSC_0626We really enjoyed few minutes of our free tour and left the area as we oversaw the village proper from the site. The peak of Mt. Apo was already covered by clouds. We took our affordable but heavy breakfast at the village where we found that it was a drop point for sacks of newly harvested vegetables such as potatoes and cabbages.

As we were heading home, we asked if there was a strawberry farm and a local told us to visit Hillside Resto Civet Farm. We confirmed the existence of a strawberry farm. We noticed that the place was actually Mt. Apo Highland Resort and we were on the altitude of 1,160 meters above sea level. The resort has also bee farms and started materializing their honey-coffee production. We left the resort after a sip of their cheapest brand of the world’s most expensive civet coffee.

DSC_0630DSC_0632DSC_0642Kapatagan is another starting trail of mountaineers who wish to visit the inactive Mt. Apo aside from Kidapawan City in North Cotabato.  It became famous because of its majestic beauty, nature friendly environment, and cool climate. The fogs covered the road as we were traveling down back to our normal route.

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Bathing at Hinatuan’s Enchanted River

DSC_0310Nowadays, the Hinatuan Enchanted River is one of the most visited site in Southern Philippines as most of the educational field trips of both government and private companies, including small group outings in Mindano are always pointing there. The place was highlighted and recommended several times by tourists who had been there and experienced its charming scenery.

Location: Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Terraza Viktoria, Borobo, Surigao del Sur

Buddies: Family (8+)

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Sole standing tall tree greeted us while on the way to Hinatuan.

We stayed overnight at a friendly paid accommodation in Trento, Agusan del Sur. The accommodation was supposedly not accepting outsiders but because we have a family friend whose working there, we availed its guest room and bed at a super cheap rent. The group left at 6:30am to have a longer time in the Enchanted River.

Moderate rain showered so early and the weather was acting accordingly to the local weather forecast. We reached the small village of Hinatuan and the parking area to the river at 9am. We brought our valuable things as there was a need to hike from the parking area to the entrance gate. At the entrance, we registered and paid the entrance fee. Also, at the right side of the gate is a row of stalls offering fresh fish and sea foods. They can cook it according to the costumer’s liking and deliver it to the cottage at a given time for a small fee.

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DSC_0306After the entrance gate, we hiked entering the secluded vicinity.  The surrounding trees and undisturbed forest are hiding the serenity of the site. Only the resort’s private vehicles have access on the entrance road while the rest of the visitors should have to walk. We reached the checked-in building where a staff guided us to our reserved bamboo-made cottage. The place is like a resort with cottages, benches, tables, and full of people. There are also stairs down to the water. We also rented life jackets which are required and very important while swimming on this river.

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DSC00542This river is believably enchanted and that is where the locals acquired its name. There are mythical stories known to the locals about its legend. Its depth is never measure even by professional divers as it is like a continuous underground tunnel filled with water. The appearance of the fishes from below during feeding time at 12nn is still a mystery. However, you can still see the people (including me) bathing and diving on this dangerous mysterious water source.

There is a shallow part at the side of the river for kids but it was too dangerous for them without the guarding adults. Mosquito repellent lotion is also necessary to bring because the thick forest is covering the vicinity. These insects normally attack the victim once rise up from the water.

DSC_0357The river is temporarily cease for swimming few weeks after our visit but there is certain area where the tourist can enjoy its cool water. It is now only for photography which is for me is good enough to preserve its mysterious beauty. I had no chance of peeking the real dark bluish color of the water as signage of its deepest part during my visit. The water appears so blue and majestic on a regular sunny day but since the entire week was raining, the water was not as clear as what I expected.

Side Trip to Stingrays

At the dock, downstream of the river, there were rental motorized boats for P150 per hour. They brought us to the resort stationed in the middle of the sea with a small entrance fee. They offered us feeding of stingrays and swimming with other fishes. They also have rooms for an overnight stay especially in Sibadan Resort which has a restaurant too.

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DSC_0425At 4pm, we left Hinatuan and before we headed to our accommodation in Borobo, we visited the Wakat Cave and freshened us in the pool of cold spring water supplied inside the dark cave. The cave is normally public bathing area of the locals which is hidden from the knowledge of the tourists.

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