Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ECOTOURISM: The Philippine's Under-Explored Pearl of Great Price


Located at the northeastern tip of Luzon, the Pe├▒ablanca Protected Landscape [3] is known for its countless caves and lush, fertile land. It is a verdant junction to some of the region’s greatest landscapes—the Cordillera and Sierra Madre mountains lie on its western and eastern borders, providing the perfect setting for some truly intense eco-adventures. Try your limbs at spelunking in some of the best-preserved caves this side of the province.

Get your feet wet, literally, in white-water kayaking expedition. Should you wish to keep your feet dry, there is also a host of less-hectic activities for the eco-tourist.

The Pinacanauan River is lined with the mountain edge of the Pe├▒ablanca Protected Landscape in Cagayan Valley, which houses the seven-chamber Callao caves.
One of the seven chambers of Callao cave.
The Gran Central Cordillera mountains [4] is a vast, 23,000 sq. km. portion of mountainous terrain in Northern Luzon mystified by cool foggy weather and made majestic by rice terraces. It is essentially a landlocked region with its lush valleys, and pine-covered summits making it one of the Philippines’ most popular destinations for mountaineering and other related activities. The Cordilleras are home to numerous ethnic communities—around eleven of them are in the highlands, all of them possessing their own unique cultures.

Everything that excites a mountaineer is in there—a vast terrain reaching out to the horizon, dotted with hills, mountains, streams, and rocks of all sizes from pebbles to boulders even bigger than the size of cars. Then there’s the ubiquitous sand spewed from the mouth of Mt. Pinatubo decades ago, getting into everything and everywhere else. Finally, there’s the journey itself—sixty minutes of bouncing, crushing “4x4” action, followed by three hours of trekking.

Rugged yet stunningly glorious on top, Mt. Pinatubo [6] is not for the faint of heart—you have to pay with your profuse sweat and bold guts. Devastating Central Luzon in 1991, it ejected tons of ashes and vomited raging rivers of lahar and ferocious lava but gave birth as well to tons of livelihood activities in addition to its being an ecotourism site.

The aerial view of the crater of Mt. Pinatubo
The Hundred Islands, Pangasinan
 The Hundred Islands National Park [5] is Pangasinan’s provincial pride, consisting of a small archipelago off the coast of Alaminos. Often referred to as a tiny version of the Philippines, it has more than 200 green vegetation-topped, white sand-ringed islets set amidst a brilliant backdrop of deep green-blue waters.

Climb the world’s smallest volcano or simply view it from the cool foggy slopes of nearby Tagaytay City.

Aside from being fairly challenging and rugged climb, Taal Volcano [9] is a major lesson in earth science. Situated among red oxidized soil and smoking vapour vents in the main crater, which houses a small lake of sulfur and water. Up there, the wind is cool, atmosphere calm and the view breathtaking. Such a lovely sight, one might say, belies this land’s awesome and yet violent nature.

“The Whale Shark Capital of the World” is Donsol [12], one of the 14 municipalities of Sorsogon, because of whale sharks or butanding, the largest living fish species, taking a haven in the waters of this town during summer months. It is the biggest marine attraction in the Philippines that turned Donsol into a world-class tourist destination. Whale shark interaction despite the assurance of the presence of a BOI, butanding interaction officer, and the knowledge of its being amiable will give you a formidable emotional combination of fear and thrill—an unforgettable experience you won’t forget.
Taal from the point of view of Tagaytay.
The crater lake of Taal Volcano

Butanding interaction in Donsol.
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