Tagged as the City of Golden Friendship, this beautiful place is a widely-known tourist destination for those who seek fun and daring adventure. Cagayan de Oro was the first place in Mindanao that I had set foot in. It was special and very memorable.
It was summer in 2013 when two of my highschool friends (Bharny & Eliane ) and I decided an abrupt trip to CDO so we can experience the “White River Rafting” the place is popular of. I am adventurous, but I have this fear of speed and height when combined. At the time, I wasn’t sure of what I will face to. I just thought it would be fun just rafting through those rapids, and boy, was I wrong. It was perfect!
Since we were all from Cebu, and we needed a budget friendly expense, we decided to travel by boat. It’s roughly around 8 – 9 hours trip, so we have to book an air-conditioned cabin in Trans-Asia ferry for a good night sleep. At the time, it costs around Php 1115.00 including the terminal fee. Night time is the best schedule and we took this so we can get on with our first activity once we arrive.
It was my first time staying on a big boat longer than 3 hours so I was very excited. It’s really comfortable but you just have to mind your belongings as the sleeping units provided are open to public. We woke up at around 4am to witness the sunrise. We had to play around a bit and took some shots to amuse ourselves. The sunrise was so lovely just looking at it from the boat reminding me of the simple pleasures in life.
One of my friends has a relative in the city of Cagayan de Oro. We stayed there for a total of 3 days. They were so kind to let us stay in their home. They even prepared breakfast when we arrived. We were a bit shy but they were so accommodating. This is a natural gesture of Filipinos, and we have received this warm hospitality from them. There is no doubt that Cagayan de Oro is really the City of Golden Friendship. Thank you, Auntie Nelia Calma and family for welcoming us!
There are a lot of budget hotels to stay in Cagayan de Oro. There are also packages that include accommodation and adventure. At this time, it should no longer be difficult to get tour packages as the Travel Agencies in the Philippines have boomed a lot because of social media. We only booked for a tour guide so we can roam around the city and to the tourist spots in Cagayan de Oro. Since we have a lot of time and the neighboring province, Bukidnon, is just a two hour drive, we didn’t let it slip without a visit.
White Water River Rafting
On our first day, it was very sunny so we headed straight to do the White Water Rafting. The day before was raining and we feared that the next day it might rain again. We were not that prepared, but there isn’t much to prepare of. Just wear your rash-guard and all the gears required will be provided by them. There is an office where you can get changed and keep your valuables in their lockers and just claim them after the activity. It was almost an hour drive before we reached the starting point and we had a stopover at Makahambus Cave. They said it houses a colony of bats, it was dark but it wasn’t that creepy at all. At the end of the cave is a veranda overlooking the Cagayan River, which will be the river we will be rafting through in some minutes later. Usually, the river is white and clear, hence the name white water river. But since it rained the night before, then we have to endure the muddy colour of the water, anyway, it didn’t bother us at all.
We had the Beginner’s Rafting and there were 15 rapids that we have to pass against. I felt excited as I thought, they were all easy. And boy was I wrong again. Haha To me, it was the most extreme adventure I have faced to at the time, but it was the most enjoyable. White water rafting is navigating through a heavy flowing Cagayan River with strong rapids that makes the watersport much more enjoyable. We had a very funny and delightful guide, so the whole trip was fantastic. Every time we came close to a rapid, the guide would tell us to pose for a picture and hold our oars up. This was a trick he would do so we would lose our balance and snap out a funny picture of us. Well, it worked for some couple of times until we realized they were all traps.
Each rapid has its own name, but I only remember one, The Pacquaio rapid. It was the strongest “obstacle” or rapid we’ve encountered in the river rafting. The other guide took a video of our demise, they all fell down from the inflatable raft except me. Haha (video below)
Bharny, one of my friends got caught in a small whirlpool and the current was really strong. She didn’t go up for 2 minutes or maybe less so we got worried. The guide hurriedly rescued her and got her up from the water. It was the scariest experience for her, but everything went fine. No need to be scared though, the guides are skilled for their jobs and they won’t leave you behind. We ended the activity with a very memorable experience.
After the river rafting, we headed to the city to change and start a 3-hour tour. Just enough time to roam around the city and see the beauty of Cagayan. First, we visited the Divine Mercy Shrine. It features the 15-meter statue of Jesus as the focal point of the hills that overlooks the bay. Just like other holy places, you must dress decently. Since we wore shorts at the time, “sayas” or skirts were lent to us so we can enter the shrine. The place is really beautiful and holy. They have a daily schedule for the mass. We were able to attend the 3 o’clock mass but didn’t have time to climb going to the statue. They also limit the people in each schedule.
After this, we headed to the nature park they call – Malasag Eco-Tourism Village and Gardens. It doesn’t just let you get in touch with nature, but also to the native tribes that still exist in their province. They will dance with you and pose for a picture. They have a mini zoo with some endemic animals in it. There are also native souvenir items that you can buy that’s locally made by the villagers in the area. There is also a pool and rooms that you can rent for overnight stays. Definitely a good place to visit when you go to CDO.
Our second day was spent enjoying the neighbor province of Cagayan de Oro, which is Bukidnon. The place is famous for its huge production of pineapples and other agricultural products. They have enormous farms of pineapple and you can smell them everywhere.
There are a lot of activities that you can do in Bukidnon. We made sure we tried the first longest dual zipline in Asia. Like I said, I wasn’t into extreme adventure, and to me this was one of them. But then again, I have friends who are so into it. It took me a while to get the courage and I am glad I did try it because it felt good.. and scary at the same time. We took the unlimited zipline ride and it costs 600 per person at the time. You can also do gocarting, zorb, ATV and other sport activities in the area.
Aside from the recreational activities that Dahilayan Adventure Park offers, the place is also a beauty. It is a bit commercialized, but you can still see how they preserved nature. I somehow tagged it as mini-Baguio because of all the big Pine Trees everywhere in the park. There are also some figures that you can pose and take pictures with.
Before we head home, our guide said we can do a stopover at a newly built small Eco-adventure park at the time. Ofcourse, we wanted to see it. The place is called Kampo Juan. The place is also a beauty. It didn’t have that much activities available yet.
One operating was the Anicycle, or the skybiking. It’s a bicycle hanging 100 feet from the ground and you have to pedal to move the bike forward. It is held with cables and the bikers are provided with harness for safety. Well, it’s too extreme for me, I couldn’t do it so I just have to take a picture with it in stationary.
The place is really cool. There was only a treehouse at the time that overlooks a river and the rock mountains. It wasn’t that developed but it was really breathtaking and relaxing. The furniture they used were recycled from old tires and plastics. Such pretty display of creativity and a great aide to nature.
We ended the day full of fun and filled with adventure. Third day was spent on shopping and looking for “pasalubong” or delicacies that we can take home with us. The popular delicacy is pastel bread (we tried the malunggay), roasted cashew nuts, and pineapple – and I mean the whole fruit itself.
It was such a wonderful experience and I have savored the moment as I wasn’t sure when I could come back. Definitely one of the best travels that I had. It’s true what they say, Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a Storyteller.
Thank you for reading my story. 🙂