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Mar 4, 2012

Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon: Thrill Seekers Haven (3 days and 2 nights Travel Guide)

If you are someone who loves adventure and the thought of flying and braving the rapids give you a natural high, then heading to Northern Mindanao should top your list.

Cagayan De Oro, dubbed as the City of Golden Friendship, is the provincial capital of the Province of Misamis Oriental and also referred to as the "Melting Pot of Mindanao" because of it's accessibility, business growth, tourist attraction and the warmth and hospitality of its people.

Bukidnon, on the other hand, is comparable to Baguio City when it comes to weather. Temperature in the province is chilly, especially in the afternoon. Malaybalay, the province's capital is accessible via land from Cagayan de Oro (CDO). Bukidnon got its name due to its mountainous terrain. Bukid, in Visaya, means mountain.

If you are a thrill seeker and looking for a one of a kind experience with friends, then this 3 days and 2 nights tourist travel guide to CDO and Bukidnon will definitely give you the adrenaline rush you've been looking for.
Photos by: Liz Reyes
Getting There

By air: Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Zest Air and Air Philippines has daily flights to Cagayan de Oro.

Cebu Pacific

Tel no: (02) 7020-888
Website: www.cebupacificair.com
Facebook: Cebu Pacific Air

Philippine Airlines

Tel no: (02) 855-8888
Website: http://www.philippineairlines.com
Facebook: Philippine Airlines

Zest Air

Tel no: (02) 855-3333
Website: www.zestair.com.ph
Facebook: Zest Air

Air Philippines

Tel no: (02) 855-9000
Website: www.airphils.com
Facebook: Air Philippines


By water: Several shipping lines ferries to CDO so it is advisable to contact the following shipping companies for their schedules:

- Super Ferry (http://www.superferry.com.ph/)
- Negros Navigation (http://www.superferry.com.ph/)
- Suplicio Lines (http://www.sulpiciolines.com/)


Things You Need to Know

Accommodation: There are plenty of hotels and inns in Cagayan de Oro but like in any travel planning, it is advisable to book ahead of time to avoid any hassles. Cagayan de Oro is a business district so the place is swarming with hotels.


Malberry Suites Business Hotel
Telephone Nos: (088) 851-8988 cell no. +63917-717-6910
Email: info@travelerspod.com
Facebook: Travelers Pod

Travelers Pod

Telephone Nos: (088) 851-8988 cell no. +63917-717-6910
Email: info@travelerspod.com
Facebook: Travelers Pod

Pryce Plaza

Telephone Nos: (088) 858 4537 and (088) 858 3111
Email: reservations@pryceplaza.ph
Website: http://www.pryceplaza.ph
Facebook: Pryce Plaza Cagayan de Oro Fan Page

Hotel Conchita

Tel/Fax nos: (62-08822) 72-7355 (63-088) 856-3856
(63-088) 856-3857
Website: http://www.hotelconchita.com


Meal: There are lots of restaurants and malls in Cagayan de Oro so looking for a place to eat won't be a problem. Just to remind though that their malls close as early as 9:00 PM even on weekends so if you are looking for a place to have dinner with friends and grab a few bottles, Limketkai Center has a long line of restaurants, cafe's and bars to choose from.


 CDO used to have their very own version of Banchetto in Divisoria every Friday but since some people took advantage of this once a week event (pickpockets, etc.), the local government decided to have it stopped.

That's our rubber boats
Tour: There are only few touring companies that have CDO-Bukidnon-Camiguin package so make sure you book ahead of time, especially if you plan to join a group so they can reserve a slot for you. Note that public transportation is available in CDO to some tourist spots, but to save time, it is advisable for you to join a group tour. You can opt for a private tour but it is more costly especially if you are just few in the group. When in Cagayan de Oro, you can visit nearby provinces like Bukidnon, Camiguin and Iligan, depending on the length of your stay.


Touring Companies and Rent-a-Car:

Ms. Brenda: 0917- 5490866 (they also offer private touring)

La Montana Tours: (920) 9600-192

Joffuls Renta-a-Car: 639209548619; 639061338788; 639053619223; 639184617073

* If you know someone from Bukidnon or CDO who owns a car or knows someone who has, might as well ask him/her for a favor tour you and just offer to pay for the gasoline. This will be a lot cheaper and more fun.

Important Things You Need

Sunblock (you'll need lots of it)
Camera (no brainer)
Snacks (for the long drive)
Shades (protect your eyes)
Jacket (it gets chilly in Bukidnon, especially in the afternoon)

Budget

Good for 2 persons

Airfare: Php 1, 374 (airline promo)
Php 10,244 (without promo)

Accommodation: Php 3,000 (2 nights, depending on the hotel's rate)
Food: Php 2,500
Pasalubong: Php 500 (trust me, your Php500 can really go a long way. If you wish to buy shirts, key chains and magnets, then allot at least Php 1,000)
Miscellaneous: Php 6,000 (touring, etc.)


You need to have:  Php 15,000 for 2 persons is a very conservative budget. This is also considering you were able to score an airline promo fare to CDO. To be safe, it won't hurt to allot at least Php 20,000 to this trip. You'll never know.


Daily Itinerary


First Day: Catch the earliest flight to CDO. Make sure you were able to book for a slot for the water rafting. White Water Rafting has two schedules everyday. Pick up time for the morning tour is usually at 8:00AM while the afternoon tour's pick up is at 12:00NN.

Below are some rafting companies that you might want to try. Some tour companies packaged the WWR and Bukidnon tour so you might want to inquire to them. Nonetheless, if you want a DIY WWR adventure, you may try inquiring to the following rafting companies below.

Kagay (http://www.cdorafting-map.com) -Highly recommended. Choose Kuya Howard as a tour guide, he's so funny.
Red Rafts (www.http://theredrafts.com)
Great White Water Tours (http://www.riverraftingcdo.com)

If you still have enough time to go to your hotel right after your arrival at the Lumbia Airport, you can leave your things first and ask the water rafting company to just pick you up where you are billeted, on the other hand, you can opt to be picked up at the airport then go straight to the rafting place.  Don’t worry about your luggage, you can leave them at the jeepney because the driver will look after them for you.

Ready to brave the rapids

1st Stop: White Water Rafting. Water rafting takes a half day so your first day in CDO is usually just dedicated for water rafting, not unless you still have enough energy to go to Iligan or Bukidnon right after.

Others perceive water rafting as a dangerous sport and is only advisable for swimmers, but on the contrary, even non-swimmers or first timers can try this river rafting escapade. One must take into account though that necessary precautionary measures must always be observed because the fast-moving river with big boulders and rapids can easily take life, but the services of professional rafting outfit, expert tour guides and first aid teams are just enough reasons why the whole trip should be worry free.

White Water Rafting comes in different levels and you have the option to choose what to try depending on your experience and well, courage. There’s the Beginner Course, Advance and Experts. (In our case, we were all first timers but we opt for the Advanced Course. ^_^)

Run and Rates (Kagay’s running rate)

1. Beginners Course P700 / head
    (3hrs. Actual River Run) 14 Rapids
    Class I-II Minimum of 6 pax

2. Advance Course P1000 / head (highly recommended)
    (4hrs. Actual River Run) 24 Rapids
    Class II-IV Minimum of 6 pax

3. Experts I Course P1200 / head
    (2hrs. Actual River Run) 14 Rapids
    Class III Minimum of 6 pax

Optional Add-Ons:
    Pictures P250/CD for Basic or Experts Course, P300/CD for Advance Course.
    Video P1000
    Lunch P180 / head

Rapids!

Calm part of the river

If you are still hesitant to dive into this adventure, this FAQ’s (http://www.cdorafting-map.com/faq.html) from Kagay’s site might be able convince you

Before heading for a trip to the rapids, make sure you wear something that will cover your arms, because whether you take the morning or afternoon session, it is inevitable for you to get sun burned.  There are arm stockings being sold at the starting point of the rafting (Php50-60 a pair) but wearing long sleeves or light jacket and sun block lotion is already enough for protection.

You can opt to bring with you an underwater camera for documentation, but since your hands will probably be busy paddling, it is best to just get the photo and video services of the rafting company so you can focus more in enjoying the ripples and rapids.  In our case, every rapids that we overcame, we always do this sort of high five, but instead of using our hands, we use our paddles. Overcoming rapids is really something, the feeling is great. Like, "wow! we did it!"  One can actually get off the rubber boat and swim in the calmer parts of the river, mind you, the water is freezing cold.

Lastly, once you have reached the "take off" point, don’t forget to buy a rafting boat magnet or a paddle key chain with the words “I survived water rafting. Cagayan de Oro” written on them. I think they should also award a certificate like in bungee jumping. ^_^

We conquered 24 rapids!!! ^_^

Please view a short clip of our rafting tour below


2nd Stop:  Siesta time. After a long and tiring trip in the rapids, there’s nothing more relaxing than taking a siesta in the comfort of your hotel room.  Expect some muscle aches but all’s definitely worth it. Especially right after you see the videos and photos of your trip.


Limketkai Center
3rd stop: Food trip.  After a long sleep, try CDO’s gastronomical delights by exploring the town of CDO, specifically in the Limketkai area. Limketkai Center has a long strip of restaurants and their bars are very alive at night, so if you want to experience nightlife in CDO, then you can never go wrong with Limketkai Center. Satisfy your sweet tooth by dining at Candy’s. Their pasta and cakes are delish.

Just a caution though, don’t drink too much unless you want a headache the next day and eventually skip the Bukidnon trip, which for sure is something you don’t want to miss.

Second Day:  Wake up early, make sure you have called your touring company a day before to make sure they pick you up on time for the trip to Bukidnon.  Tours usually start as early as 6:30AM-7:00AM so take an early breakfast, bring some chips and H2o and prep yourself for a long road trip to the Food Basket of Mindanao.


1st Stop: Camp Phillips. Camp Phillips is a small town in Bukidnon, in one of Del Monte’s plantations.  A big Pineapple landmark will be the first one to greet you upon arrival at Camp Phillips. The place is where almost all of Del Monte’s employees live. It actually looks like an American village because all houses have no fences but only porches.  Before reaching Camp Phillips, you would be able to pass by a long road full of Pineapples plants on both sides. Make a brief stop over and take your chance to take a quick jump shot in the middle of the road.


2nd Stop: Dahilayan Adventure Park. Although it is nice to go to Dahilayan in the afternoon because of the chilly weather, it is advisable to visit the park in the morning just to be safe because it usually rains in Dahilayan in the afternoon.

Brave Asia’s longest dual zipline and fly like Clark Kent from a launch point at 4,700 above sea level.   The zooming 90kph speed of the zipline will give you an extraordinary view of the lush greeneries and experience the freezing temperature of Dahilayan.  The exhilarating ride on the 840m zipline costs Php500, not bad considering the one of a kind thrilling experience you’ll get. Zipriders are transported to the launch tower via 4WD Safari Cruiser and the ride to the top is already an adventure itself. Try it for yourself to know why.

Pine Grove Mountain Lodge

Aside from the Asia’s longest dual zipline, Dahilayan Adventure Park also boasts of its 320 and 150m ziplines, ropes course, wall climbing, drop zone, winch boarding and zorbit 

The 840m zipline
If you wish to stay overnight at Dahilayan, the park has a very nice and rustic accommodation so guests can fully enjoy what the park has to offer.  Pine Grove Mountain Lodge is a very rustic and cozy nine-room ski chalet inspired Manor that sits on a hill with a 180-degree view of the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park at the restaurant floor, and a private garden patio for intimate barbecues and bonfires. Rate starts at Php2,800 for a Standard Room good for 3 pax and can go up to Php5,000 for a Family Room which is already good for 7pax. This rate is actually a good deal already considering the 20% discount on all zipline rides for all registered guests.

If you are familiar and have watched the movie “Forever and a Day” of KC Concepcion and Sam Milby, then most probably you are already familiar with the place.

Dahilayan Adventure Park Website: http://www.dahilayanadventurepark.com


Del Monte Golf and Country Club golf course
3rd Stop: Del Monte Golf and Country Club.  Take your sumptuous lunch at Del Monte Golf and Country Club. Their steak is really a must try. It’s tender plus the serving is really BIG. One order of steak is actually good for 2 persons already. Aside from their juicy steak, you can also drown yourself with their unlimited Pineapple juice for only Php20.00.  This is actually a no brainer since you are in a Pineapple plantation. It was also said that all the cows in Del Monte are only fed with crushed Pineapple peelings that’s why all the steaks being served at the country clubs taste very good. 

Surprisingly, a set lunch of steak with gravy, fresh garden salad, soup, choice of mashed potato or rice, fresh fruits and pineapple juice only costs less than Php500.  Aside from their famous steak, also a must try is their hamburger. They also sell pasalubongs at the canteen so be sure to take home some cheese flavored banana chips, Pinaditas and Pineapple tarts.

This is only half of the steak that we ordered

4th Stop: Monastery of Transfiguration.   The Monastery of the Benedictine Monks or commonly known as the Monastery of Transfiguration is located at Barangay San Jose in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. This is actually a two to three hours drive away from CDO depending on the road condition.

The chapel is nestled on top of a small hill giving people a breath taking view of the Bukidnon mountains or Mount Kitanglad to be specific. Monastery of Transfiguration’s chapel was designed by no less than the late National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin and the plans of the chapel was said to be the last he signed before he passed away.
 It is also here in this serene place where the Benedictine monks live in vow of silence and life of continued prayer. So if you want to experience the full tranquility and peace of the place, the monastery is definitely the perfect center for a spiritual retreat.

Aside from its chapel, which is dubbed as “Magnum Opus”, a Latin word which means “Great Work”, the monastery is also known for its Monk’s Blend Arabica Robusta Coffee, this coffee is produce, grown and processed by the Benedictine Monks themselves and available at the monastery’s souvenir shop. One can also buy souvenir shirts, cards and religious articles that can also be blessed on the chapel itself if you wish. Also, please bear in mind that sleeveless tops, short skirts and shorts are not allowed inside the chapel, so if you plan on wearing any of the mentioned clothing above, just bring a spare jacket or long skirt. If you happen to forget one, there are skirts that are alloted for tourists who are not wearing a proper attire but still want to enter the chapel. Just get one from the guards before entering the chapel.

There are actually two chapels in the Monastery so don’t be confused, upon entering the compound, turn right for the new chapel, that’s the pyramid shaped chapel, or turn left to see the old one.

Third Day:  Granting your flight is still late in the afternoon, take time to visit the Malasag Eco-Tourism Village and the Mapawa Nature Park. These two tourist destinations are actually located in CDO so no need to cram just to be able to catch your flight back to Manila. No need for tourist guides as well because the places can be reachable via public transportation.

Photo taken from Iggy Pelaez's Multiply Site
1st stop: Malasag Eco-Tourism Village.   Malasag Eco-Tourism Village has replicas of tribal homes, endemic plants and trees and also gives one a panoramic view of the Macalajar Bay. This park is perfect for picture taking and for communing with nature. It gives visitors a glimpse of the rich ecology and ethno-Filipino heritage of Northern Mindanao through various artifacts, flora and fauna amidst a reforestation setting in the slopes of Cugman Watershed in Cagayan de Oro City.  It was also said that Malasag Eco-Tourism Village was inspired by the picturesque gardens of Granada in Spain and Butchart Gardens of Canada.

2nd stop: Mapawa Nature Park.  If the rafting and zipline adventures are still not enough and you’re still up for more adrenaline rush, then put your guts into test as you go through the five waterfall challenges (25 ft. waterfall slide, raging waters rappel, fun waterfall slide, 30 ft. free fall jump and 65 ft. waterfall rappel) at the Mapawa Nature Park.  Please note though that it is necessary for you to make prior reservations before availing of their package. Aside from the waterfall trekking, Mapawa Nature Park also has horseback riding, rock climbing, rappelling, camping, zip lining and trampoline jumping.

Watch video of Mapawa Nature Park Waterfall Trekking below  
(video courtesy of mhichye25 on YouTube)


3rd stop: Pasalubong shopping.  Before heading home don’t forget to buy some pasalubongs at Vjandep store in Tiano or Montalban streets of CDO. Your Php500 can actually go a long way already. Grab some Vjandep Pastels, cheese sticks, flavored polvorons, flavored banana chips and barquiron among others. 


Truly, Mindanao is a place for brave souls only. Just thinking of the heart-pounding and thrilling activities in store for locals and tourists alike can already earn Northern Mindanao the tag line “Warning: Not for the faint of heart.”




***Special thanks goes to Ms. Jen and family for the fun and convenient trip. ^_^***

7 comments:

mrvince said...

very helpful indeed. for those from manila and wish to come come here in cdo, here's how. http://philippinestravelandgetthere.blogspot.com/2012/03/going-to-cagayan-de-oro-from-manila.html

Amy Alex said...

You have a great tour with your friends i wish i will be there but it is not possible i invite you to pass vacations in Pakistan during season you can find cheap flights to pakistan with discount due to season i m telling you to make you ready for coming here.

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Eli Monroe said...

Looks like you really enjoy on what you experience in white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro.. :-) You must try as well the extreme course.. :-) CDO Dev

Toni said...

Hi Eli,

Yes I enjoyed it a lot! I will try extreme course in my next visit to CDO. =)

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