Do you fancy going in a challenging mountain trek, spelunking and rappelling in a cave, camping atop a wildlife reserve mountain, kayaking & SUP-ing towards a marine reserve and a sumptuous breakfast in a floating cottage? If you do then I know the perfect place for you who offers all of these for only Php 500.00 per pax. I know it sounds tempting they also throw in a free tshirt, certificate and a little badge of Palompon. This is an experience you shouldn't miss when you're visiting Kalanggaman Island.I was fortunate enough to be one of the first group to try it first hand and I must say for its price it is pretty much a give away!
|Palompon Eco-Tourism Office|
TIP! Medallion Shipping Line ticketing station is only available in Pier 3.
The activity started with an orientation around 12 noon in the third floor of the Eco-Tourism Office. Herein, the rules are laid out, route explained and questions answered. It is wise to listen well during this part and ask the right question that's on your mind. Like they won't provide free dinner so you have to pack up some food for your dinner in the camp. Let me breakdown the experience by the checkpoint & pit stop in the map.
This serves as a warm up of what lies ahead. It starts with a fairly easy trail like a walk in the park and it started to get tricky once you reach the dry riverbed. You will regret if you didn't wear the proper footwear at this point because the rocks here are sharp which can hurt the soles of your feet if you are wearing slipper.
We reach the junction for the first assault climb of the trail. Going straight lead to Kapagngan Cave and going uphill leads you to Tangkal Cave and the route we took. We waited for the newbies before going uphill. It already started raining lightly at that point which help energizes everyone. My right hand strayed on some leaves and I feel something crawled on my hand so I pull it out right away. Lo' and behold it is a Phasmatodea or commonly known as stick insect. It is the perfect example of evolution to evade from predators and their natural camouflage can make them extremely difficult to spot. I could not believe my eyes that I could see one in person and it is creeping in my hand. This is one of my favorite highlight of this climb and after showing it to everyone I eventually let it go to where I found it.
The first assault climb is not at all that challenging and serves as something to prepare our body for the challenge ahead. Endurance is the only thing you need here because is wide and not that difficult to navigate.
The newbies are exhausted when we reach this spot and I need to rehydrate with the sweat I easily let out so decided to take our first break here and the rain started to get stronger. The cave has a unique look wherein you have to crawl inside a small opening to get to a bigger chamber inside according to the guide. Everyone have zero interest to explore the cave and as much I want to I don't want to stray from the group so I wasn't able to go spelunking inside Tangkal Cave. We continue the upward climb after 10 minute break.
We arrived in a high ceiling cave after a few minutes of assault climb. This is the cave where we spend most of our time rappelling and spelunking its cavern. Tres Naves means three navel and the cave does have three upper openings perfect to rappel down. The cave has a huge chamber and really beautiful in some parts. The guide says this cavern perfect is a favorite spot for healers and witches during holy week to recharge their magical energy and I see traces of burnt charcoal everywhere where they probably cooked their potions.
Spelunking - there is not much to explore in the cave because it might have a huge chamber but the indoor area aren't that deep. It's just a short tour in all corners of the cave. You do get your fill of living stalactites & stalagmites and lots of bats. I thought spelunking would be one of the route to proceed with the trail but that wasn't the case. It is there to offer as a choice while the others are waiting in line for the rappel.
Cave Rappelling - if you like adrenaline rush then you will surely love this activity. The labor is trekking up again after you rappel down. It'd be better if they offer this as the only route to proceed with the trail to have some purpose of it.
This is the hardest part of the first assault climb. The trail is getting really steep and we ourselves holding on to some rocks and ropes that they have set up. I noticed that the inexperienced nurses from Ormoc are having a really hard time navigating this trail this trail because it takes a good upper body strength to feel secure but the guides will come in handy at this part. The descending part was no less easy as well I depend most of the time in the trees because the ropes are just not my thing. Rest assured for the newbies that majority of the area have ropes all over to grab hold.
We made our third stop in Kabyawan Cave. We have to rehydrate and get a few minutes of break before we tackle the harder second assault climb. The sun soon will set and it'll be hard to navigate in darkness. The stench of a strong, rancid, ammonia scent is so perceptive in your sense of smell when you stand close at the entrance of the cave. It is a good sign that a colony of bats lives in the cave because such smell can only be produced from their droppings on a decomposition phase. The cave has an inviting beauty with some parts covered in green moss but exploring it is out of question at this time.
This is the part where I feel that I am in a real challenging climb and I love every moment when I found a route of my own and get ahead of the group. It kicks off with the second assault climb, this time way harder, which took almost an hour of straight ascending path. And then a series of four or five ascend & descend follows.
The rain started pouring heavily at this point which is a very welcome difficulty. The rain water softens the ground which turns the hard soil to mud thus adding another layer of challenge for us by being slippery. The newbies are literally crawling when faced with a steep path even if there are ropes and locals guiding them every step of the way. They have become a liability and slows down our pace as well. The harder part comes near the end when the platoon leader decided to take the longer safer route because the usual one proved too much of a challenge for the nurses. It was getting dark and I was literally drained at this point with my body begging for some rest and my stomach for some food.
And so night comes and our line of sight are limited to where the light torch is aimed. This is the first time I have tackled a technical trail in complete darkness and I love the sense of danger that comes with it. The light are mostly focused on the newbie nurses so I feel like a blind man climbing a mountain with that darkness. I depend on my other senses to sense where the cliffs are and where the trees to grab hold. I end up a lot of small wound in my legs whenever I bump on some sharp rocks. I can feel the newbies exhaustion. They started out as noisy crickets who never runs out to topics to talk about into a muted old man who barely have enough energy to talk.
Hope comes when we see camp fires in our last checkpoint in a ranger station close to the quarry campsite. The other group made it early in the campsite because they face the challenge of the shorter route. A sense of relief resonates in all of us when we hear the guide saying we will just tackle one last descent to reach where we will camp for the night.
It has a huge bungalow in the middle and a bathroom with a good supply of fresh water. The participants started setting up their camps around it. I envision that when I reach the quarry I will freshen up but my body's need for some rest proved too much that I decided to sleep after eating my dinner. We have an early call time the next day as well.
Everyone wakes up on time and disciplined enough to follow the leader right away to start the trek to the exit point. We are rewarded with a breath taking of a sea of clouds in valley below us but we weren't able to stare at it for long because the trek started quickly right after everyone done packing their bags.
Getting to Broken Rock Station is a walk in a park and everyone have rested well so the pace is much faster. It didn't take long before reaching the vicinity on where we should supposedly camp but cancelled due to high number of women in the group. Broken Rock Station don't have any bathroom or freshwater to indulge in.
This station has a really unique feature which got me a little excited. They said an earthquake separated this huge rock and it would seem like it. There is a huge crevice that I have to cross with a wooden bridge before hopping to this spot. It offers a scenic view of Baranggay Tinubdan with the mountains and sea as the back drop. They offer rappelling and wall climbing here as well with the steep wall of the rock. We took a group shot here before going down.
It is all steep descend from here to reach the exit point. And I must say it is the most challenging descent for us because it is so steep that one simple mistake will leave you rolling down endlessly. The wild monkeys playing on some trees in a distant was a good sight in that morning.
We eventually reach the highway where we will all regroup and wait for our ride back to the tourism office in Palompon.
|Tabuk Island as seen in the Eco-Tourism Office|
After reaching the Eco-Tourism we are tasked with either a kayak or SUP to paddle our way in a floating cottages near Tabuk islet. I enjoyed this part the most even with the scorching heat and one kilometer distance I opt to use a kayak. It was literally draining but our bodul fight breakfast awaits on those cottages and that is more than enough motivation to get there as fast as I can. We did our closing ceremony in the cottages and they're giving out those certificates before we devour the seafood breakfast.
|Mind Over Matter Package for only Php 500.00|