Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Short Summer Escapes in Iloilo

Nature in Iloilo is spectacular with breathtaking sceneries of evergreen vegetation, jungles with impressive waterfalls, rare wildlife, mangrove forests, hot springs and an array of islands and islets with sandy beaches. With adventures that include kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding, inter-island tours, and cave exploration, Iloilo peaks in the summer with a variety of experiences available for a unique and exciting Eco-adventure.

the cabin type rooms of Casa Fiammeta in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo , photo by Pearl Arroyo

If you have always wanted to have a ‘real west’ adventure and maybe even ride a horse then Casa Fiammeta is just for you. This is a guest ranch located in Barangay Tabucan, Barotac Nuevo (a 28-kilometer or 40-minuter drive north of IIoilo). This five-hectare ranch has riding, camping and kayaking activities. It also has horse and bike trails and a 60-meter swimming pool. It has a riding school that offers lessons on English Equitation with modules from basic, intermediate and advance courses. It also has a covered riding rink situated just opposite its campsite. And of course their horses and staff are capable of working with all riding levels. Great care has been give to make the ranch accessible without being obtrusive so everyone will feel welcome. Accommodations include six air-conditioned log cabins with bath suitable for singles and couples and family. Commanding views, excellent food are but a few of the reasons to visit Casa Fiammetta.

photo by Ramon Ramirez

Exploring caves is a timeless outdoor activity that can provide a unique and alternative path to learning about nature. With a number of locations to enjoy across Iloilo, caves, especially in the central part of the province are in no short supply; the adventure of spelunking is a great pursuit. Cave explorations involve crawling through passages, walking and crawling through maze-like tunnels, all while discovering geological formations such as crystals and walls. The 854-hectare protected area of Bulabog Puti-an National Park in Barangay Moroboro in Dingle is gaining popularity especially among the students as one destination for their field study. Known as one of the very few remaining forest in Iloilo, Bulabog Puti-an showcases many attractions like caves, springs, and old growth forest trees. The caves are its main asset. One of its caves, Lungib, was even used during the Spanish occupational period of the Philippines as a hideout for the revolutionary forces in Iloilo. There are 33 known and named caves here lined with limestone edges, and a many of more to explore. To get to there from Iloilo City, a Dingle jeepney in Tagbak Terminal in Jaro is readily available. Upon reaching the town proper, hire a tricycle going to the park. There is a very minimal entrance fee and professional local tour guides are readily available inside the park.

Every island especially in the northern area of Iloilo is different. Each has its own character made up of beaches, mountains and mangrove forests. Some, even uninhabited, others are shelter for small fishing villages and their local inhabitants. With small pockets of mangrove and little beaches which nestle in the many coves, tiny seaside villages, secluded swimming beaches and areas of wilderness are tucked away all over Ajuy. This is a beautiful destination for a weekend drive - especially in the bright sunlight of summer. If you fancy staying longer, there are plenty of things to do. Activities include sailing, fishing and scuba diving and trekking. You can beach-hop your way down the Island of Binongan-an, home of Marbuena Island Resort. It is situated seven kilometers from the poblacion of Ajuy, a two-hour bus ride north from the city of Iloilo. It boasts of white sand surrounding the island; home to birds and fruit bats; and perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling. Marbuena Beach Resort is located at Barangay Pantalan Nabaye. To get there take a pump boat to Marbuena at Barangay Mangorocoro in Ajuy.

photo by Ramon Ramirez
Located at the center of Panay is the municipality of Lambunao, an hour jeepney ride from Iloilo City. It is known for its many waterfalls and cascades. Some of the most popular is the Maasin Falls with an elevation of 30 feet and drops 2,000 gallons of water every minute to its basin with a depth of 20-30 feet. It is considered as the most famous in the province. Another breathtaking waterfall is Mahangin measuring about 140 feet in height and is 3,360 feet above sea level and because of this it has a cold and windy atmosphere. It is located in Sitio Budian, Cabatangan. Found in the lower cascade of the Mahangin Falls is the Dalhayan Falls with a smaller area for swimming, it is a sanctuary of freshwater crabs and shrimps. An ideal hideaway for swimming and picnics is the Inas Falls located inside the premises of the West Visayas State University College of Agriculture and Forestry in Barangay Jayubo. It measures 15 feet in height and with a swimming area of 320 square meters. Nalisong Falls in Sitio Budian has a small area for swimming. It is located in a rainforest where it is quite dark and the water is very cold. The ambiance is very tranquil and is described by some as seemingly enchanted.

The options vary by districts, and guidelines to carry forward your summer adventure are necessary for the best trip. These escapes are made to quickly unwind you and spellbind you.

For more information, please contact the Provincial Tourism Office at (033) 3384910.

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