Climbing Mt Apo
Looming in the distance of Davao is Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines at 2,954 meter (9692 ft). Mount Apo literally means the lord or grandfather of all mountains, although it is actually in inactive volcano. The mountain is located within Mount Apo national park and is covering an area of 72000 hectares (180.000 hectares). Among the flora and fauna are Philippine Eagles, wild pigs, exotic ferns and carnivorous pitcher plants. Three official trails lead to the summit; the easiest one is through Kidapawan city. The hike to the top is best undertaken during April / May and the roundtrip will take 3 to 4 days. The scenery on the way is breathtaking. You will pass by several thermal areas and solfataras. At 2200 meter (7200 ft), 4 hours before the top is Lake Venado where most hikers spend the night before the final hike to the summit. Views from the top are stunning and on a clear day you can see whole Mindanao. Temperatures at night can drop to 5 °C/ 41°F, so bring enough warm clothes and sleeping gear. Permits for the climb and a guide are required and issued by the tourist office in Davao, but increasingly difficult to obtain due to environmental concerns. Alternatively you can join the city’s annual summer climb in October.
Wild Water rafting
The Davao Wildwater adventure is organizing rafting trips on the Davao River. The trips starts in the morning from Davao and you will arrive around 11.00 at the entry point. The exciting rafting trip covers some 30 rapids, ranging from difficulty levels of class 1 through 3 and lasts 4 hours in which you will cover a distance of 15 kilometer. Expect some hard paddling and prepare to get soaked. The wildwater adventure is located on the premises of the Davao Crocodile park. Price for the trip is 2000 PHP (including all gear, lunch, guide and drinks) and there need to be a minimum of 5 participants. Website: waterrafting.psdgroupph.com
Davao is home to the “The Accelerator”, longest and fastest zipline, in South East Asia. The zipline has a length of 1 kilometer and you can reach a speed of up to 100 km/hr, meaning you will travel the whole length of the line in under 40 seconds. The whole experience will cost 300 PHP. The line is operated by the Outland Adventure cooperation and located at the President P. Garciah Highway, across the GAP farm. Best way to get there is to take a taxi from the city as public transport is infrequent. For more information check their website: www.outlandadventure.org. Camp Saros, is another zipline near Davao in Digos city a 2 hour drive by bus from Davao City. The camp is nested some 1,5 kilometers above sea level in the cool highlands of Kapatagan and has two zip lines with a length of 400 meters. On a clear day the place offers great views of the surrounding mountains, including the majestic Mt. Apo. Other attractions of the camp include a cable lift and tree top rappel. Costs for the zipline are 280 PHP or 500 PHP if you combine it with the cable lift and tree top rappel. Fairly comfortable cottages are available for rent and are a good option if you want to stay a couple of days in clean mountain air. They have a facebook site:Facebook
Several outdoor activities including ziplining and horseback riding are also offered by Eden Nature Park and resort. Packages including lunch and snacks are available for 630/430 PHP (adults / below 10 yr). The park is located 50 km south of Davao, on the way to Digos. Take a jeepney to Toril and get out at the Mercury drug store in Toril. From there tricycles and motorcycles will take you to the park. Website:edennaturepark.com.ph.
The Samal and smaller Talicud Island a few kilometers across the bay from Davao city harbor over 20 excellent dive sites in the surrounding waters. The 30.000 hectares big Samal island has most of the sites and is a popular destination in the weekend for city dwellers from Davao. Many of the dive shops in Davao or located near the Santa Ana Wharf from where bangkas shuttle to Samal and Talicud and are organizing day trips to the dives sites surrounding the two island. There is not really a reason to stay in Samal island, as accommodation is rather pricey and most resorts use the dive operators located in Davao. Expect to pay 1000 PHP including gear and guide for one dive.
One of the easiest dive site is Marissa on the southeast side of Samal Island just off shore Pearl farm resort and a 40 minutes bangka ride from Davao. It has some nice soft coral and plenty of reef fishes all at a depth above 20 meters (66 ft). Another good site for novice divers and snorkelers is Angels cove on the southwest of Talicud with plenty of soft and hard coral formations. You can expect to see large schools of Tunas and Jack Fish here. Pindawon wall on the east side of Samal is one the most impressive site and features large table corals and big overhangs. A variety of macro life such as nud branches, razor fishes and harlequin shrimps inhabit crevices in the wall. Other notable divesites include Malipano with two Japanese WWII wrecks and ligid caves: a site with two penetratable caves teaming with sea life.
Carabao Dive Center is located right opposite the Sta Ana Wharf and is one of the cheapest places in The Philippines to learn diving. An Open water course costs just 11000 PHP and introduction dives are only 850 PHP per person including the rental of equipment.
Every weekend they are organising fun dives to dive sites around nearby Samal Island. Their big banka leaves in the morning around 8:30 and you are back in the afternoon around 16:00 hours. Have a look at this link for more pictures about diving In Davao.