Date of Travel – April 2006
Davao City is located in the Southern part of Mindanao in the Philippines. Its land area is 2,444 km (943.6 sq miles) making it the second largest city in the country. Because of its size, one would expect a number of tourist spots present in the vicinity. Some of it can be accessed by hiring a taxi for P500 to P700.
Tourist Spot # 1: Philippine GAP Farm
First tourist spot is at the GAP Farm in Barangay Ma-a, Davao. This place is mostly visited by students who are having their field trips. I’ve been there twice and all I can see are picnic tables, Olympic-size swimming pool, statues of different witches believed to inhabit the Philippines, a man-made cave and the biggest carabao (domesticated subspecies of the water buffalo) statue near the entrance of the farm. Despite of its artificial attractions, many people frequented the place because of its garden filled with exotic flowers and tropical fruits. It also has a horseback riding facility. Entrance fee to the place is at P20.
Tourist Spot # 2: Davao Crocodile Park
A few meters away from the Gap Farm is the Davao Crocodile Park. As the name implies, the place is home to a hundred crocodiles. But don’t worry, they can’t roam around freely. They’re inside their cages at all times except for a baby crocodile bound in the mouth used for photo ops. Entrance fee is P150 for an adult and P75 for a kid.
Please note that if you are planning to go to the Philippine Eagle Center after the crocodile park, you have to wait four days to avoid disease transmission. If your travel time is lesser than that, please choose only one of the two. Or you can go first to the eagle center before going to the crocodile park.
Tourist Spot #3: Jack’s Ridge
The third and last stop for the day was at Jack’s Ridge. It is located at the Shrine Hills, Matina, Davao City. It gives a panoramic view of the city and Davao Gulf. It is best to go there when twilight approaches. You can see the mesmerizing city lights below. You have the option to dine here. Various Filipino, Italian, French, and Mexican restaurants are in the area. The prices of the food start at P200. If you can’t have enough of the place, cottages for overnight stay are available for P950.
Tourist Spot #4: Philippine Eagle Center
The Philippine Eagle, declared as the country’s national bird, is one of the rarest, largest, and most powerful birds in the world. It is gravely endangered that’s why the Philippine Eagle Foundation simulated a tropical rain forest environment for them. The place is called the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) and is home to 36 Philippine eagles or Monkey-eating eagles, 10 species of birds, 4 species of mammals and 2 species of reptiles. PEC is located at Malagos, Davao about an hour drive from the city. A public utility bus departs every 15 minutes from Annil Terminal located at corner Quirino and San Pedro Extension. Bus fare is P30. Upon arrival at Calinan, take a pedicab to PEC for P6. Or you can rent a van for P2000 in Davao City to take you there and to Eden Nature Park. Entrance fee at the PEC is P50 for adults and P30 for 18 years old and below. Another P5 will be collected by the Davao Water District before entering the premises of PEC.
We had brought a packed lunch with us. We ate at one of the kiosks in the center free of charge. If you don’t want to have a picnic there, you have the option to leave before lunchtime and eat at one of the food chains in Calinan, Davao or you can go straight to Eden Nature Park for lunch.
Tourist Spot #5 : Eden Nature Park and Resort
This 80-hectare mountain resort situated 3,000 feet above sea level is home to over 100,000 pine trees, gardens of herbs and organic vegetables, exotic flowers and tropical plants, and a variety of fruit trees. Barangay Eden, Toril in Davao, about an hour and a half away from the city proper, was made popular among tourists and locals alike when Eden Nature Park and Resort opened to the public.
Eden is accessible by hiring a van for P2000 or a taxi for P1700 including a trip to the Philippine Eagle Center. Or you can avail of their shuttle service to the park with pick-up point and drop-off point at Matina Town Square (MTS) on weekends at 8:30am and 11am (with return trips at 1:30pm and 4pm respectively) at a cost of P200 per person. But be sure to book the shuttle service beforehand to avoid inconvenience.
Day Tour Packages are available depending on your budget or preference. There’s a buffet lunch package for P450 for adults and P280 for 4 to 10 years old kids. Or a plated snacks for P180 for adults and P150 for the kids. Both packages include entrance to the resort, a meal or a plated snack, and a complimentary entrance to the fishing village, swimming pool, or horseback riding.
Upon our arrival at the park, we immediately went to the reception area to book the guided shuttle tour which costs P100 per person. We waited for our turn since it’s a first-come, first-served basis. The tour consisted of exploring the various parts of the park. We were given at least 5 minutes for taking pictures. My favorite place was at Lola’s Garden particularly at Mayumi’s wishing well.
After the tour, we claimed our snacks at the restaurant. While waiting for it to be served, we rode the Indiana Jones just beside it. It was so much fun. We did it again and again until it was time for us to eat.
While we eat, we discussed where to use our complimentary ticket. Two of our companions opted for the horseback riding and the rest of us went to the fishing village. It was my first time ever to go fishing. I did not realize until then that it felt exhilarating when a fish tugged at my rod. I excitedly pulled it off the water only to face the reality that I have to unhook the fish myself!
We each got a tilapia (freshwater fish) and paid P60 per kilo which includes cooking. They stuffed some spices, wrapped it with banana leaves, and grilled it. Half of our catch was deep-fried in butter. We ordered rice and ate our supper at one of the huts before leaving the park.
Our trip in Davao City is not complete until we tasted their famous delicacy, durian. We stopped at one of the stores selling assorted durian products but I had my eye fixed on the durian yema. The creamy, fragrant, tasteful candy was the perfect dessert for me.