Today’s guest photo essay and article is by Josh Aggars. Josh is a travel and surf blogger with his twin passions taking him to amazing places around the world. Visit his London Launchpad blog for both London and worldwide travel tips and advice or connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.
You know when you’re happy, when you’re really, really happy, and wonder whether life will ever be this good again? Well that is the feeling I experienced on my recent stay on Samal Island in the Philippines.
As one of the 7,017 islands that make up the beautiful country Samal sure has a lot of competition. Nestled in the Davao Gulf off the second largest island of Mindanao, the Garden City of Samal, to give it its official name, is one of breath taking beauty, sumptuous beaches and crystal clear waters.
Kicking off in style
When we arrived we headed straight for the Maxima Aqua Fun beach resort which is only a few minutes drive from the main port, Babak. Now I’m all for cultural study, appreciation of architecture, history and lifestyles but sometimes on your travels you just have to go with the flow and kick back and relax.
You can choose from a number of packages on offer. We plumped for the 200php day tour which grants you unlimited access to the diving board, trampoline, giant slide, floating giant ball and snorkeling equipment – bargain!
The most famous attraction is the giant tarpaulin slide otherwise known as the Super Drop. You wait in queue for a few minutes, climb the stairs and say your prayers before being jettisoned out into the abyss.
The Hagimit Waterfalls
After enjoying a few hours at the resort we decided to pack up and catch the bus to another well known attraction on Samal, the Hagimit waterfalls. These tranquil falls are surrounded by lush forest and the sound of hundreds of wild birds. There is little development in the area and no shops making it an ideal place for people to camp out especially along the riverbank. The local government collects a small fee of 20php to help maintain the preserve so have some change ready.
The natural plunge pools are a welcome relief and a great way to beat the humidity thanks to the cold natural spring water.
Monfort Bat Cave
The next day, we went to Samal again this time paying a habal-habal driver from the main port in Babak to the Monfort Bat cave sanctuary for 40php.
The Monfort Bat Cave Sanctuary houses a range of bat species from fruit bats, such as the Geoffreyís Rousette, to large flying fox and even bats who suck blood such as the Lesser False. The sanctuary holds the Guinness world record for the worldís largest colony of Geoffreyís Rousette also known as the Rousetteus Amplexicaudatus.
There is a minimal entrance fee for development purposes which seems only fair not least for the short tutorial before you see the Bats.
As you near any of the 5 openings to the Bat cave a very strong ammonia-smell overwhelms the senses courtesy of the Bat Guano. The Guano (droppings) is said to cost a hundred dollars per kilo although Ms Norma Monfort, the owner of the sanctuary, never harvests this so as not to disturb the Bats.
It’s fascinating to watch millions of bats huddled in the cave together and to hear them squeaking like an orchestra. According to Norma, the management is planning to create an artificial bat cave, since the number of bats is rapidly increasing and the colony is already exceeding the capacity of the cave and the protection it affords from predators.
An evening sunset to remember from a great couple of days on Samal.