Sunday, June 24, 2012

Escaping to Davao's Eden Nature Park

In the highlands of Davao lies a slice of heaven here on earth where those who crave to escape the din and drudgery of urban life—that includes me!—can head for to experience the plethora of pleasures waiting to be relished by nature lovers.

The fun and excitement that you will experience in this sanctuary begin the minute you drive high into the mountain south of the city. Ascending through a largely smooth road, you’ll be treated to an awe-inspiring vista of hills and valleys swaddled with vegetation as the visually arresting panorama of the city emerges from behind you. 

Davao as seen from Eden Nature Park

Up ahead, the looming figure of Mt. Talomo—believed to be the Philippines’ highest peak before it literally blew its top and got overshadowed by majestic Mt. Apo—zooms into view and takes your breath away. 

This is Eden Nature Park, one of the must-sees that tourists ought to explore when they’re in Davao. 


Eden's Skyrider
The amphitheater
Together with some coworkers, I first saw this haven in the highlands way back in the late 1990s after the Ayalas opened to the public what was once their family’s private hideaway. Over the years, the resort kept on reinventing itself, adding a number of facilities and amenities that have clicked so well with city slickers from Davao and elsewhere who usually go there on weekends and long holidays to bask in the beauty of the natural surroundings while enjoying the company of family, friends and relatives.

Nestled at the foothills of Mt. Talomo, it’s the nearest mountain resort I can readily visit if I want to be close to nature. Rising some 2,630 feet (800 meters) above sea level, it’s a veritable slice of paradise roughly 45 minutes away from the downtown area just waiting to be visited (or revisited, in my case, for the nth time?) by those yearning for some mountain magic while communing with nature.  

One of the things that I guess make the resort extraordinary is the lush pine tree forest that surrounds it, touted to be the only one of its kind in the city. Varieties of these lofty evergreen trees are extensively cultivated in the park’s nurseries. Another feature that will intrigue visitors is the scattering of rocks and boulders, said to be remnants of Mt. Talomo’s eruption.

Matinlo Falls

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One of the colorful peafowls roaming around Eden's grounds

There are also resting sheds located at various points along the pine tree-shaded road where hikers can take a break and catch their breaths. Signs and markers containing verses promoting environmental consciousness are also strategically entrenched along some points of the trails.   

Indiana Jones
Once a privately-owned orchard planted with exotic fruit trees, vegetables and rare blooms, Eden Nature Park has expanded into a natural wonderland that’s replete with excellent amenities: a children’s playground, a restaurant, a fishing village, a large swimming pool, a souvenir shop, vegetable gardens and greenhouses, a prayer garden, tree and ornamental nurseries, a sprawling  sports field; a camp site with camp huts; and a mountain trail, among others.

One of the beautiful creatures found in Eden

Its most raved-about features include an amphiteater-cum-flower-garden, which is a favorite venue of debuts, birthdays, weddings, soirees and the like; a 200-meter adrenaline-pumping zipline called “Sky Rider” as well as its predecessor, “Indiana Jones”; an outdoor museum/cultural park named “Tinubdan”; a flower garden featuring indigenous flora; a deer park and a bird and butterfly sanctuary.

Mayumi’s Wishing Well

Day tourists can choose from two packages offered by the park. A lunch package entitles you to a sumptuous buffet lunch and a whole day access to the nature resort and its facilities. If you opt to stay for only half a day, there’s also a snack package. Regular tours around the nature park are also available, with a guide rattling off a volley of facts and trivia about the resort and answering some inquiries from guests. Overnighters and campers can also choose from a wide variety of accommodations with very affordable rates.

In the morning, when the sky is clear, the sun shines and the mist blows away, Davao City, its gulf, and its vast plains far below appear serene and beautiful beyond belief, making you feel like you’re in seventh heaven. Silently, you’ll be thanking God and asking Him to make them stay that way for a long, long time.  That’s exactly what I did very recently. :D

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