Davao City promises its visitors an “islands to highlands” experience. Last week we took you to Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort as part of the “islands” part of the adventure. This week drove to Eden Nature Park & Resort to bring you the “highlands” part of the Davao City promise.
Eden Nature Park is located at the foothills of Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines. In fact, Mount Apo National Park is just close by. The park is sprawled over 80 hectares of man-made forest with mostly pine trees. I learned recently that the area was once destroyed by illegal logging. A Dabawenyo Ayala acquired the property and rehabilitated it. Years after, this beautiful resort opened its gates to the multitude of local weekend warriors and tourists who don’t seem to mind the hour-long ride from the city center.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have been to Eden Nature Park multiple times. Even so, I keep coming back when the need to reconnect with nature becomes too much to shake off. During previous visits, I never availed of the guided tour. I’ve always preferred to just explore on my own, get lost a few times and marvel at my ability to find my way back.
Day Tours at Eden Nature Park start (or end) with a meal (either lunch or snacks) at the Vista Restaurant. Since we arrived just before noon, we had to go for the buffet lunch which cost P520. The price is little hefty, yes, but totally worth it even if you don’t binge. If you opt for plated snacks, it’s P330. I haven’t tried this before so I have no idea what’s served. Find out more about the restaurant here.
I decided to join a guided shuttle tour this time around just to see if there’s anywhere in the park I’ve never been to before. It’s for an extra charge of P120 but I could not have made a better decision!
The shuttle tour was to begin at 2PM so we still had plenty of time to eat, take photos and explore a little. Just outside the Vista Restaurant is the park’s Indiana Jones, a free ride where you hang on to a rope while you zip to the other side much like the fictional character it is named after. It’s not that exciting but it’s a great warm-up if you’re planning on doing the SkyRide or SkyCycle.
There’s also a playground situated among the trees. Rides and slides in the playground are not in their perfect shape so if you have toddlers in tow, be sure to keep a watchful eye. My usually playful two-year-old did not find the playground exciting so don’t expect too much. What you can expect though are drizzles. They’re very common in these parts but they last for just a few minutes.
The Guided Shuttle Tour
The drizzle stopped just when our tour began. We were with a local family entertaining US-based relatives, and a Chinese couple. Our guide was knowledgeable about the area and candidly answered all our questions. The tour was to take 45 minutes to an hour with three stopovers.
Our shuttle passed by a deer sanctuary but did not see one at all; our guide explained that the animals were camouflaged by the ground. We also passed by the vegetable garden where the ingredients of Vista Restaurant’s winning salads are sourced. Produce from this garden are also sold in supermarkets in Davao City, including the salad tomatoes that grow as large as apples.
FIRST STOPOVER: Flower Garden. Your eyes will grow wide with excitement as you take in the multitude of colors in the area. There are mini-fields of flowers all that seem to vie for your attention. Never mind the guide who was enumerating the names of the flowers. I had never been in this part of the park before so I was completely mesmerized by it. Towering native durian trees can be seen in the area but what pried my eyes off the flowers was the beautiful sunken amphitheater that offers a stunning view of the city and the Davao Gulf. Right beside it is the Rainbow Pass, a cutesy “tunnel” covered in vines bearing flowers with the colors of the rainbow.
We passed by orchards of mangosteen, marang and lansones on the way to our next stop. There were also a few large villas and a function area that resembled an oversized tree house. The paved path was lined by lush foliage on both sides; our guide would often point out narrow foot trails that were part of the 4-kilometer long Mountain Trail.
SECOND STOPOVER: Tinubdan. This is another part of the park I’ve never seen, partly because it’s too far a leisurely walk. Tinubdan is Eden Nature Park’s tribute to the indigenous tribes of Mindanao. Dominating the area are sculptures of local artist Kublai Milan, the same person behind the artwork in Davao City’s People’s Park. There is also a manmade cave, called Langub sa Kaalam (Cave of Knowledge) where you can see more artwork and an area which I can only assume to be a venue for small cultural presentations.
The short ride from Tinubdan to our final last stopover passed by more towering trees, an orchard for expensive dragon fruits, and an herb garden. Aromatic herbs are grown in patches just like in traditional backyard gardens. These herbs are also used in the Vista Restaurant.
FINAL STOPOVER: Lola’s Garden. It’s called such because everything in this garden are things which any grandmother (Lola) would like. Gumamelas (hibiscus), yellow bells, and a few shrubs with colorful leaves are scattered in the area. There’s also a nipa hut, a rattan hammock, an almost life-like concrete carabao and the iconic Mayumi’s Wishing Well. The garden overlooks the herb garden and a breathtaking view of Davao City.
The guided shuttle tour came to a full circle right on schedule. Some in the group were quite disappointed that we did not pass by the pool area which used to be part of the tour. The outdoor swimming pool is a short walk from the Day Tour Center but since we did not bring any swimwear, we headed to the Fishing Village instead.
The Fishing Village
Entrance to Eden Nature Park’s Fishing Village costs P40 per head which already includes a bottle of water each. Anything you catch will be weighed and paid for by the kilo; you can either have it cooked for a fee or packed for you to bring home. A kilo of tilapia costs P200 while hito (catfish) costs P220. We easily caught 2 kilos of fat tilapias in less than 15 minutes but since we still had a long drive home, we opted to have them just cleaned and packed. Needless to say, our dinner was a delicious one.
A day tour at Eden Nature Park can leave you quite exhausted at the same time totally reenergized to face the challenges of the city again. There is something about the pine-scented fresh air that makes you feel new again.
But hey, there’s still so much to do that can’t be covered in a day so we’ll be back in the highlands pretty soon. This time to try the SkyCycle, follow the Mountain Trail again and maybe stay for a night to see the fireflies. Who wants to come with us?
Eden Nature Park and Resort
Sales and Reservations Office
Matina Town Square
McArthur Highway, Matina
Davao City, Philippines
Tel. Nos: +63 82 299-1020, +63 82 296-0791
Fax: +63 82 299-0313
Mobile No.: +639189307590
Downloadable Resources: For a closer look at Eden Park’s Guided Shuttle Tours, Philippine Traveler has prepared a photo review for you. The Eden’s Guided Shuttle Tour Review is available as a free PDF download or free Powerpoint download. Enjoy this review at your leisure or share it with a friend!
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