Sunday, October 30, 2011

Moving up to Negros Occidental's Mambukal Resort

Sitting at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon, the 24-hectare Mambukal Mountain Resort is considered the “it” hideaway in Negros Occidental since the ‘70s. It’s said that you haven’t been to the province if you didn’t make it to the resort. Nestled at 366 meters (1,200 ft) above sea level, anyone who visits this popular hideaway would surely have a great time bonding with Mother Nature.

So, what can nature lovers expect from this resort that’s just 45 minutes away from Bacolod City? I found the answer when I visited Sugarlandia recently. Together with friends from Manila, Davao and Bacolod, I moved up to Mambukal for a short but sweet visit, a welcome break from the hullabaloo of the festivities we attended in the City of Smiles.

From the city, our group composed of Juju, Jojo, Jim, Bobby, Minnie, Letty, Lily, Marisa and their kids drove all the way to the municipality of Murcia where the resort is located. En route to that town, we were treated to a picturesque vista of the countryside whose unspoiled images made me prouder of this country. It was a relief to see that there’s still so much rustic beauty in the countryside that is largely unscathed by the inroads of unbridled development. I just hope they’d remain that way for many more generations to appreciate.  

When we reached the resort, Mambukal was overflowing with people from all walks of life because of the long weekend break brought about by the celebration of the Masskara Festival. It was evident though that the resort can accommodate everyone because of the presence of several amenities such as picnic huts and cottages, a dormitory and lodge for those staying overnight and a camping ground for those who want to pitch their tents.

Since it was almost lunch time when we got there, the first thing we had in mind was food. It’s a good thing that the resort has its own canteen where you can order fresh meat, seafood and other delights and have them cooked anyway you want. With that taken care of, we went on exploring the resort.

Because of its proximity to one of the Philippines’ most active volcanoes, Mambukal has a good number of sulfuric springs that are said to be therapeutic. In many of its rocky parts, sulfuric water gushes out naturally. To collect this water, the resort’s management laid pipes that channeled it to a huge pool where people can enjoy swimming in it.

Tourists are also lured to the resort because of the series of seven falls that supplies cool spring water to its swimming pool and boating lagoon. The water from the falls is said to be coming from a huge mountain stream that’s being fed by various water channels. Together with Juju, Letty and the girls, Ira,  Alyssa and Paola, we attempted to scale the seven falls of Mambukal, with the help of two guides whom Juju hired to assist us in our trek into the rainforest where the falls are located.
Going to the first waterfall was quite effortless. After that, the winding trail leading to each of the other six falls became challenging to negotiate. One false step and you could fall flat on your face in the narrow, slippery footpath. I think it was quite harder for me because I had to keep my balance what with all the backpack, camera and tripod I was carrying that time. Good thing, there are handrails that people could hold on to at some parts of the path.

Pressed for time, our group only managed to make it up to the third falls. Also, our guides discouraged us from climbing any further as the trail upward had become treacherous due to the heavy rains the night before. Even so, snapping at three of Mambukal’s lovely cascades was more than enough for me. The excursion really made my day.

pic courtesy of S. Paner
Aside from the sulfur swimming pool and seven falls, the resort has other tourist attractions that the adventurous would surely love: boating lagoon, slide for life, canopy walk with hanging bridges, rock climbing wall, to name some. For me, however, it’s the trek to the seven falls that I’d consider the definitive experience for anyone who goes to Mambukal.

Though we only spent a few hours in the resort, there’s something I learned about it which I’d treasure for a long time: whether you go swimming by the river, dipping into the sulfuric pool, trekking into the rainforest, taking pictures of the seven falls, or simply watching water rushing down the cliffs above you, Mambukal can give you the much-needed breathing space from the cares of the world. Or, in my case, a sought-after mental respite from the whirr and whirl of the workplace.

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