Exploring Mt. Apo's Realm: Peaks, Cultures, and Culinary Adventures in Davao Del Sur

December 25, 2023 Travel

My heart is always filled with joy whenever I revisit memories of climbing Mt. Apo. While the Philippines’ highest summit holds a special place in my adventurer's soul, I often find myself thinking about the beauty of Davao del Sur, the picturesque starting point of our ascent. 

So, when an invitation to explore the treasures nestled in the shadows of Apo arrived, I was filled with excitement.


Mesmerizing view of Mt. Apo from Camp Sabros

For six days, with Mt. Apo as the backdrop, we immersed ourselves in the rich tapestry of Davao del Sur’s vibrant communities, cultural gems, and natural wonders.

 

Cultural Ascents

 

The spiritual bond between the people of Davao del Sur and the towering Mt. Apo, known to them as Apo Sandawa, is profound and deeply woven into the fabric of their culture. This majestic mountain is not merely a geographical landmark; it's a sacred place of worship, a living embodiment of their connection to the divine.

 

One cultural community that calls the foothills of Mt. Apo home is the Bagobo-Tagabawa group. We had the privilege of visiting the Tibolo Cultural Village, nestled in the upland barangay of Tibolo in Sta. Cruz, where we were treated to a rich showcase of their traditions and way of life.


Bagobo-Tagabawa group

 

The highlight of our visit was the traditional dances that celebrated bountiful harvests and a feast of traditional dishes. One standout was the chicken, cooked and tenderized inside a bamboo. Taro root and leaves cooked in coconut milk, steamed sayote tops, and grilled fish completed the meal.


Our lunch spread at Tibolo Cultural Village

 

We also met members of the indigenous group called Blaan or B’laan at Humbled by Nature Farm, located in Matanao, who also performed elegant traditional dances for us.


The Blaans 


Mountain Riches

 

The mountain unfolds not only picturesque landscapes but also a bounty of nature's treasures. Beyond the scenic beauty, the highlands of Davao del Sur are fertile grounds that yield a bounty, sustaining livelihoods.

 

During our visit to Humbled by Nature Farm, we had the pleasure of picking grapes. The vineyards were not only fruitful but also set against a backdrop of breathtaking beauty.


panoramic view from Humbled by Nature Farm

At The Berries Farm Cabin & Restaurant in Bansalan, amidst foggy and cold weather, we had the delightful opportunity to pick a variety of berries – strawberries, mulberries, and raspberries. The berry fields, shrouded in mist, added an extra layer of enchantment. 


It was a nostalgic moment tasting the berries of Mt. Apo again, reminiscent of my first encounter at its boulders.


Mt. Apo berries

 

Our journey also took us to the coffee farmers of Balutakay Coffee Farmers Association (BACOFA). Over a cup of coffee, we discovered how these farmers are transforming lives through coffee and making coffee experiences around the world more special with their unique blends.

 

Peaks & Pixels

 

Flower farms are blossoming into new and captivating tourism destinations. In Davao del Sur, worlds filled with colorful flowers and a gentle mist that adds a touch of magic are attracting tourists now.

 

At Jardin de Señorita and Haven’s Dew, both in Digos City, guests can have their photos taken with flowers as a backdrop and popular tourists attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Merlion, a windmill, and a telephone booth.


The Eiffel Tower of Jardin de Señorita

 

The allure of Jardin de Senorita is particularly enchanting, with its well-thought-out design creating a dreamy and calming ambiance.


At Jardin de Senorita

 

Mountain ledges have become hotspots for breathtaking photos in tourism destinations worldwide. These elevated spots offer stunning views of expansive landscapes, towering peaks, and swirling clouds, making them ideal backdrops for memorable pictures.

 

And at Humbled by Nature Farm and The Berries Farm Cabin & Restaurant, tourists lined up for stunning photos. I had my turn, of course. The glass ledge at Twin Mountain Resort in Bansalan, one of our lunch venues, was also a memorable moment.


Tranquil Thrills

 

One of the many reasons we retreat to the mountains is to be away from the hustle and bustle. Mt. Apo Agri-Eco Tourism Park’s tranquil landscape lets guests bask in the beauty of stillness. At its center is Lake Cometa, also known as the "Mirror Lake" because it reflects the majestic Mt. Apo in its waters.


Misty Lake Cometa

 

People come here to fish, but it is also good for quiet reflections, which was mostly what I did.


Another offering was ziplining in Camp Sabros, where the adventure spanned distances of 380 meters, 520 meters, and 800 meters. Surprisingly, the zipline journey, gliding through the forest canopy, was a relaxing ride for me.


Ziplining at Camp Sabros

 

Savoring Views

 

Dining at Davao del Sur’s numerous establishments is always a feast for the senses, with each set against the breathtaking canvas of nature's grandeur.

 

Our gastronomic exploration led us to the newly-opened Casa Teresa at Altamer’s Mountain Resort in Digos City. Here, we indulged in a delightful spread featuring Kare-kare, the crisp freshness of Chopsuey, and the comforting warmth of Tinolang Manok. This flavorful culinary affair reached its zenith as we sipped on a cup of coffee, with the soothing melody of rainfall providing the perfect backdrop.

 

Another gem on our culinary adventure was Sir Ped’s Coffee in Bansalan, which became a comforting refuge for us during the rains. The coffee shop is nestled within a beautiful mountain resort, that is also filled with Instagram-worthy spots.


The view while having a cup of coffee at Sir Ped's

At Twin Mountains, we savored Filipino classics—a medley of grilled chicken, stir-fried vegetables, grilled pork, bangus sisig, and pork sinigang.

 

Another lunch venue, The Berries Farm Cabin & Restaurant, our appetizers were a delightful fusion of freshness, featuring berries alongside the ever-popular nachos, vibrant salads, grilled chicken, and mixed seafood.


Berry sweet and delicious!

 

Morning Mistscapes

 

Waking up to the gentle caress of misty mornings at Montefrio Garden Resort in Digos City felt like a touch of magic. Besides the enchanting mist, we reveled in top-notch customer service and savored hearty buffet dinners and breakfasts at this Department of Tourism-accredited Santorini-inspired haven.


Room with a view at Montefrio

 

As we bid farewell to Montefrio, the majestic Mounts Apo and Matutum revealed themselves, leaving an indelible memory.

 

We also stayed at Haven’s Dew, where we found ourselves surrounded by vibrant flowers. The al fresco breakfast by our villa, with the garden as our picturesque backdrop, became a cherished moment.

 

Our evenings at Haven’s Dew were equally enchanting, with flickering lights casting a magical glow.

 

Throughout our stay in Davao del Sur, Camp Sabros emerged as a standout and personal favorite. It seamlessly blends design with nature's grandeur, offering an intimate connection with the trees and a unique closeness to the natural surroundings.

 

What sets Camp Sabros apart is not just its design but also the captivating views of expansive landscapes, featuring the majestic presence of Mts. Apo and Matutum.

 

Have your own Mountainscapes and Magical Moments!

 

So for those, like me, who profess their love for the mountains, this is an invitation to immerse yourselves in the beauty of Davao del Sur.

 

Thanks again to Davao del Sur Tourism Development and Promotions Office and Tourism Promotions Board for this surreal sojourn.

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