As I embarked on my kayak, the tranquil ambiance of the San Vicente – Talisay river system in Talisay, Camarines Norte enveloped me. The chorus of cicadas and the melodious songs of countless birds created a symphony of nature. My aim was to catch up with my friends who had already embarked on a floating cabana towards the Centennial Wharf. However, my paddling skills fell short, and I found myself embracing the serenity of the San Nicolas Mangrove Forest instead.
The 230-meter-high El Nido Taraw Cliff is an imposing natural landmark in El Nido town. I remember the strenuous climb up its craggy limestone cliffs years before. It was not easy but definitely rewarding panoramas. I wanted to climb up again when I came back to El Nido coming from Balabac. Unfortunately, the Taraw Cliff climb is not being offered by any tours. Pandemic restrictions were just easing out and the next best thing is the El Nido Canopy Walk. I could actually see the view deck just behind the bed and breakfast where I’m staying. I thought it was rather low, but since I’m already there and have an afternoon to spare, I decided to try the El Nido Canopy Walk.
“Talon! (Jump!)” our whale shark interaction officer shouted. Suddenly, there were splashes everywhere and we were in the water. It took a few seconds to find my orientation underwater and make out the direction of where I am looking. I saw our guide pointing to a direction but it was too late. I saw only a visage of a whale shark descending deeper. We’re already past 2 hours in our Donsol Whale Shark Watching activity and already had a few jumps into the water yet still no decent sighting. Will we be lucky enough to get really close and interact with a whale shark?
“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.
Birding has been one of the activities I enjoy while traveling lately. It gets me really immersed in nature. It’s a calming activity. And being able to observe bird behavior and the species found in the area gives me an idea on the state of the environment is. My travel to Coron and Busuanga got me excited to spot more birds in the province. Palawan alone has 23 bird species out of the 218 endemic found in the Philippines. Birds of Coron and Busuanga is a collection of birds I encountered from my last trip. Surely bumped my list of bird lifers.
Coron may already be marvelous as it is, but Busuanga municipality adds a more rugged and idyllic experience to visitors in Busuanga island. I call Busuanga as the wild west. Imagine an island where exotic animals roam freely. An island with imposing limestones and stunning soft white sand beach. Our first stop in our exploration of Busuanga is the Calauit Safari Park. Ever wondered how the exotic animals are now? Me too.
I wanted to end my last day in Penang with something breathtaking and worthwhile. I didn’t get my desired sunset at Kek Lok Si temple so I made sure to wake up early for the sunrise this time at Penang Hill. Hoping the odds for good light would be better. Also known as Bukit Bendera, the distinguishing peaks seen from the city of George Town is easily accessible. With only around 6km from the city center to its jump-off at Air Itam, it’s one of the favorite cool escapes for the locals and tourists alike.