The surrounding areas of Davao City have much to offer to the weary: fresh air, a cold, relaxing dip in the river, scenic vistas. Beware of the occasional leech though.

By Angely Chi

DAVAO CITY — If living the city life in Davao may lose some of its appeal and excitement after sometime, retreating to the boondocks might be a good alternative.

The surrounding areas of metro Davao have much to offer. To the northwest and southwest of the city are the mountains and hills of Calinan and Toril, which are set with long trails, rough terrains and both short and long climbs that are sure to delight the hiking enthusiast.

Although parts of these areas have been deforested to make way for various plantations of vegetable and fruits, there are still the untouched zones within these areas that brim with rich flora and fauna and panoramic sights.

In the Calinan District, Tamayong is one of the best places to explore. Before reaching the campsite at Purok 8, you have to climb five hills and cross three rivers. One sight to see after arriving at the campsite is an old almasiga tree, the biggest and the tallest in the area. It is located 50 meters from Datu Ilando’s house in the campsite. There is also an abundance of waterfalls around Tamayong; there are seven in all, enough to satisfy and relax any weary hiker with their cold water that can sooth tired and aching muscles.

You can also take the Tamayong Trail leading to Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines. Although this is the longest and hardest way to Mount Apo, the scenic beauty and the diverse display of vegetation and animal life that the environment of this trail presents rewards the hiker with an incomparable experience. Along the way, you can see century-old trees, well preserved by the locals and environment groups. You will also traverse creeks, rivers and several waterfalls.

Kilometers away from Tamayong, Calinan, is another hiking spot, Epol, which is a three-hour bus ride from the Ecoland Terminal in Davao City. If the destination you set at Epol is the TRIMMOC falls, the hike would take four hours through a dense forest, and a steep climb on a 60-degree slope back to the dirt road for a ride home in a jeepney.

But if you wish to prolong your stay at Epol (two more days perhaps?), you can camp at the Bagobo settlement on one of the hills there and ask a Lumad (native) to guide you to explore a cave nearby. Before you leave for home, you can buy souvenirs from the natives.

While at Epol, you can also take a detour to Sandawa falls, a very tall cascading falls. You can ask the locals for the trailhead or tread the alternative route of barangay Namnam.

Southwest of the Davao City is Toril, which has Busay as one of its hiking spots. Busay is uphill from the town center, on the same road toward Eden Nature Park. Upon arriving at Eden, take the road north from the church and you’re off to a hilly terrain. If you start off early in the morning, you may get the feel of being in Baguio City because the temperature gets very chilly and a thick fog rolls down from the uppermost part of the area.

Steep slopes and climbs abound in this place. Not only that, the ground could be very muddy and slippery, and make sure to spread shampoo or soap on your body because leeches are aplenty. But the presence of leeches in the hiking site is only proof that it is still livable for creatures such as these. The ground and the atmosphere are still moist, and wide varieties of flora abound and are maintained to keep the moisture in the air.

Busay has also been made home for a flower plantation due to its temperature quality. Before reaching the small waterfalls resort further north, you may pass through rows and rows of blue million flowers, daisies, roses, etc.

After the long hike through the muddy terrain, you can treat yourself to a swim in the waterfalls. Take time to relax yourself and get rid of the mud on your shoes and body, because the hike back would again be muddy. Just be careful to swim in the shallower and calmer parts of the waterfalls because the leeches stick also abound in these places. It is much better to swim nearer the waterfalls where the water pressure is strong, preventing the leeches from venturing there.

Other hiking spots to explore in Davao are Baracayo, Toril, Tudaya, Sta. Cruz, Puting-Bato, Samal, and Bani, Marahan (where the Bani Falls is found).

Hiking through these sites provides you with ways to experience and enjoy what nature has to offer — fresh air, a cold, relaxing dip in the river, scenic vistas to see whether you are atop a hill or a mountain or surrounded by tall trees and limestone walls.

So pack up your clothes, put on your hiking boots or sandals, and explore these places. (Angely Chi/

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