Adventures in CDO and Bukidnon

Travel Blog by J
November 2011

CAGAYAN DE ORO (CDO) is fast becoming a popular destination for thrill seekers for its whitewater rafting and the zip line adventure in nearby BUKIDNON.  These two activities have opened up this Northern Mindanao city to tourists, both local and foreign, thereby making its economy boom in recent years.  

While the city proper of CDO boasts of malls and restaurants not found in Manila, you would have to venture out of the city for the major attractions:  (1) Camiguin, a 3-hour land and ferry trip from CDO, known for its white sand beach and hot springs; and (2) Bukidnon, for the Del Monte plantation and recently rediscovered for its zip line.  

We chose to do Bukidnon this time.  From CDO airport, we got on our hired private van to head to Dahilayan Adventure Park in Brgy. Dahilayan, Bukidnon.  I read in an article that Bukidnon is supposed to be just 45 minutes away from CDO.  However, because of the on-going road construction, it took us 2 hours to get there.  The road is mostly paved until it gets to the Del Monte pineapple fields.  From here, it just 20 km to Pine Grove Mountain Lodge inside Dahilayan Park where we stayed for the night.  

Pine Grove sits on a hill dotted with pine trees.  The place is charming, reminiscent of Baguio during its earlier years.  The cool night breeze is refreshing for anyone living in the city. What's also nice about this lodge is that it's just steps way from where the zip line starts.  We beat the crowds the next morning by signing up early.

The first zip line is a combination of a the 320 mt and 150 mt (Cost:  Php 250.00 per person/ride).  You ride this sitting down and it takes you past Pine Grove Lodge -- short and sweet :)  

At the 4,500 feet level of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Brgy. Dahilayan is Asia's Longest Dual Cable Zipline  (Cost:  Php 500 per person/ride). The ride runs for 840 meters, zooming past pine trees and guaranteeing extreme adrenaline rush!  It was scary being wrapped around the harness and positioned like Superman.  Getting off was particularly heart-stopping but as soon as I was pushed off the tower (the crew heedless of anyone's pleads and whimpers at this point!), I couldn't do anything anymore but enjoy the ride.  Yeah, I screamed my lungs out...again and again :)  

Me thanking God I made it in one piece!

There is an All-Ride ticket (320 mt + 150 mt + 840 mt) which costs Php 600.00 per person/ ride.  I suggest choosing this so that you get mentally  prepped before the big ride.   For an additional fee (Php 50-100), you can purchase photos taken by their professional photographer.  You'll also be given a Ziprider's Certificate together with the photo.

Aside from the zip line, you could also go to the nearby Forest Park.  It's essentially a family park where there are picnic tables, figures of animals and Indians, a playground; and activities like the Zorbit, ATV and tree-top adventure.  There are also rooms for rent here.  We had very limited time in Dahilayan so we did not do any other activity here aside from the zip line.  The ATV trail looked challenging though.  Maybe next time :) 

After Dahilayan, we headed back down to Del Monte Clubhouse to sample their famous steak.  It said that the beef is tender and juicy because the cows are only fed crushed pineapple peelings.  I ordered a small sirloin steak (250 grams for Php 425.00) which came with mushroom soup, salad, a fruit dessert and bottomless pineapple juice.  My verdict:  it is tasty but it's not the best steak I've had. Still worth a try though if you're passing through.  

Bukidnon is Pineapple Country.  Del Monte has its pineapple plantation here and provides livelihood for many of the locals.  Camp Philips, which showcases a row of colorful, identical houses is home to the company's employees. We enjoyed taking pictures in the middle of the pineapple fields!  We were told that if it was harvest season, we could sample the sweet pineapples for free.

Del Monte welcomes you to Bukidnon!


From the Del Monte Plantation, we drove to the  Monastery of the Transfiguration in Brgy. San Jose, Malaybalay, Bukidnon (Travel time:  2 hours from Del Monte).  The Benedictine Monks from Montserrat, Barcelona set up a foundation here in 1981.   The shrine houses a replica of the Virgin of Montserrat. 

Their gift shop sells the famous Monks' Blend Coffee - a combination of Robusta and Arabica beans.  This is 100% grown and roasted  in Mindanao.

The shrine designed by National Artist, Leandro Locsin

Next stop was the Divine Mercy Shrine in CDO  (Travel time:  3.5 hours from Monastery of Transfiguration).  We arrived past closing time but was fortunately let inside by the security guard.  There is a  prominent 50-ft statue of Jesus Christ here, with rays coming out of his heart as if enveloping everyone in an embrace.  The rays are actually steps which can take one inside the heart of Jesus.

This would be our last stop for the day before the CDO rafting adventure the following morning.  

Last day in CDO:  We were picked up from out hotel at 7:00 am for the Whitewater Rafting.  Whitewater rafting in CDO was opened in 1997 and ever since then, more and more tourists (80% of which reside in Manila), flock to CDO to seek this thrill.  There are many tour companies that provide packaged rafting tours, which usually includes return transfer from your hotel and lunch.

The 90-km stretch of Cagayan River actually starts in Bukidnon and drains out to Macajalar Bay in CDO.  Going downstream, Bukidnon would be on your right and CDO on your left.  Quite nice to say that you can just paddle from one city to the other in minutes, right? :)

We chose to do the  beginner's course that ran for 12.9 km, took 3 hours to traverse, and had 14 rapids of classes II-III.  The course is quite exciting for a novice, with the guide effectively drumming up team spirit every time he shouts "High Five!"  Rapid intervals are between 10-15 minutes of each other, allowing plenty of time to also enjoy the backdrop of mountains, limestone rock formations and little waterfalls.  There was also time to take a dip.  The ride is safe, for as long as you follow your guide's commands and safety precautions while in the raft and if you fall off.  Our guide said that it is prohibited now to intentionally let the raft capsize just for fun-- which I think is just right for the safety of all rafters.  

We finished the course at about 12:30 pm. Lunch was then served:  chicken barbecue, grilled fish, steamed prawns, rice and bananas.  This was a fitting finish for an action-packed morning!  After lunch, we then headed to CDO airport for our flight home.  CDO airport is just 10 minutes away from the endpoint of the course. 

So this is my CDO-Bukidnon adventure in 3 days...or 1.5 full days! Whew! Lots of traveling done to and from the places but hopefully, the length of time spent on the road will be cut short once all the road work is completed.   Do visit CDO/Bukidnon--- they promise a fun-filled, action-packed weekend! :)