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Albay Nature and Wildlife

Kawa-kawa Hill and Natural Park: A Hill Without a Hilltop

“A hill without a hilltop” sounds intriguing ain’t it? I wondered myself how the summit looked like. Albay have always been known for Mt Mayon. For an area with high volcanic activity, it would be natural that the surrounding landscape would have dramatic land forms too. Kawa-kawa Hill and Natural Park in Ligao, Albay, stands just 236-meters above sea level and is just around 5.8 km away from the foothills of Mt Mayon. Aside from its intriguing hilltop, it is a famous site for pilgrimage flocked by thousands especially during holy week.

Divine Mercy Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity
Divine Mercy Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity
Divine Mercy Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity
Stairway with foot and hand patterns
Divine Mercy Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity

Divine Mercy Monastery

At the jump-off to the top of the hill is the Divine Mercy Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity. Bicol have always been known for its magnificent age-old churches but it’s nice to see modern ones like this which was constructed in 2014. Materials used were modern but the arches are classic in design. I love the large painted glass windows. The interior layout almost looks like an amphitheater.

Divine Mercy Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity
Each of this foot and hand print are worth a P1,000 donation to help build the church.

What drew my attention though were the foot and hand prints on each brick used at the stairs. It turns out people can donate a P1,000 and have their mark on the church. It was really a people’s church as this was built by the community.

Kawa Kawa Hill
Station 5 on the way up to the hill
Kawa Kawa Hill
Life-size statues like the “Last Supper”
Kawa Kawa Hill

Stations of the Cross

Past the side of the Divine Mercy Monastery is the start of the pavement walkway to the summit. Aside from a few stalls selling souvenir items and snacks there’s a life-size statue of the “Last Supper” which is the prelude to the events at the stations of the cross.

Plenty of trees along the path
Plenty of trees along the path

I love the forest cover in the area. Towering trees remained and the pavements even adjusted to make way to some trees. The pavement extends from 400-500 meters in winding and ascending design. There are a few narrow shortcuts though parallel to the main walkway. Better to slip a footwear that have a good traction. The pavement can be slippery when wet and there are sections with steep ascents.

Nevertheless, it was a pleasant climb depending of course on your pace. Six of the 14 stations of the cross are found along the ascent. The remaining eight stations are at the summit rim.

Arriving at the viewdeck overlooking the depressed hilltop
Arriving at the viewdeck overlooking the depressed hilltop

No Hilltop Hill

The climb to the top is fairly easy. But still this depends on your level of fitness. It only took me less than 20 minutes to reach the hilltop. It was fascinating as the center is depressed. The natural formation is like a cauldron, hence the name “kawa”. I love that the place still feels natural with all the thick vegetation in the area. There’s a pathway along the rim of the summit where the other 8 stations can be found. Along with this are amazing views of the surrounding areas from Ligao, Mt Masaraga and summit of Mt Mayon.

A lifer! A blue-tailed bee eater
A lifer! A blue-tailed bee eater
Kawa Kawa Hill
Brown Shrike
Striated Grassbird
Striated Grassbird

Private Kawa-kawa Hill

It was one enjoyable hike and I was ecstatic to spot a few birds here. Among them are the common yellow-vented bulbul, striated grassbirds, collared kingfishers and brown shrike. I got to take home a lifer! A fairly common blue-tailed bee-eater which I spotted for the first time walking along the rim of the summit.

The entire Kawa-kawa Hill and Natural Park is privately owned and managed by Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzalez and his group of developers but kept it public for pilgrims and nature lovers to enjoy. They certainly did a good job to keep the ecotourism site clean and organized. Now I know another attraction in the area aside from Mt Mayon where people can take a spiritual journey, for birdwatching or simply bask in its the natural surroundings.

Paddyfield pipit
Paddyfield pipit
Collared Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher
Exploring the rim and view of the hill
Exploring the rim and view of the hill
It's nice they kept the trees along the path.
It’s nice they kept the trees along the path.
A tunnel leading to the center of the hill
A tunnel leading to the center of the hill

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