Friday, September 21, 2018
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Winter escapees from Canada warm up in Mambukal hot springs

One of the picnic areas in Mambukal Resort. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

MURCIA, Negros Occidental — Yearning to channel your inner healer?  Craving for a fix of clean air and butterflies?  How about trekking up a nature trail to see where a mountain stream, fed by several tributaries, cascades down a series of seven waterfalls?

Winter Escapade 5 participants found all these and more on February 6, 2018 when they visited Mambukal Resort, a nature preserve that serves as gateway to Mt. Kanlaon National Park.  Mambukal is spread over 23.6 hectares at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon, an active stratovolcano that has two craters.   Mt. Kanlaon, at 2, 465 meters above sea level, is the highest point of Negros island.  It divides Negros island into two parts–Oriental (east) and Occidental (west).

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Mudpack Festival dancers entertain Winter Escapade 5 visitors. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

It took about an hour’s travel time from Bacolod for the Escapaders to reach Mambukal Resort.  It had just rained shortly before the group’s arrival, so the smell of freshly showered forest combined with the mild sulfur odor from the hot springs.  The participants piled out of the buses and gazed up at the canopy of trees, where hundreds of chittering winged creatures hung upside down–fruit bats.

Mambukal has several species protected under Republic Act No, 9147–the Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat, and three species of flying foxes, namely the endangered endemic giant golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon Jubatus, the world’s largest bat species found only in Mambukal resort); the large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus); and the common island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus).  These, along with other bat species, take the flying mammal population in the nature preserve close to 8,000.

Signage tells of benefits of Mambukal sulfur spring water. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

Mambukal is located 1,200 feet above sea level and has cool temperatures year-round.  The tropical and sub-tropical tree cover, pines, ferns, and various orchid species find the climate and the rich soil, called Mambukal clay, conducive to growth.  This clay is the focus of an annual Mudpack Festival held every third week in June, to commemorate the signing of Republic Act No, 1964 by then-President Carlos P. Garcia on June 22, 1957.  This Act formally handed the administration and management of the resort town of Mambukal to the provincial government of Negros Occidental.

The healing qualities of Mambukal’s multicolored clay becomes the centerpiece of the festival where artists showcase their ethnic music, dances, and arts.  At this festival, clay body painting, installation art, mixed media art competition, drumbeating competition, and tribal dance competition, are featured, among other artistic activities.

Melbalina Mauro from Edmonton waits for ice cream at Mambukal. INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

Mambukal Resort has an enclosed Butterfly Garden, where local species are raised.  The life cycle of the butterfly, from egg to larva to cocoon, is displayed in the exhibits inside the premises.  There is a gift shop where preserved endemic butterflies are laid out in frames.  Visitors may also purchase t-shirts with butterfly motifs, hats, pins, and other butterfly souvenir items.

Mt. Kanlaon’s volcanic activity is the cause of Mambukal’s numerous hot sulfur springs.  A Japanese architect, Kokichi Paul Ishiwata, built picnic gardens and the Ishiwata bath house in 1927.  Pipes draw almost boiling sulfuric water from the springs and cool water from the mountain streams tempers this hot water to a tolerable 40 degrees Celsius. The bath house, the newly constructed Japanese Ofuro, the recently opened Blade spa, and the dipping pools are all fed by the healing medicinal waters of the springs.

For the adventurous visitor, there is a climbing wall, a hanging bridge, and a 200-meter zipline.  There are paddle boats and kayaks for visitors who want a more leisurely pace.

Mambukal Resort is currently undergoing a huge construction project to add more accommodations for visitors.  Conventions, seminars, workshops, and conferences are the target markets of Mambukal Resort’s expansion.

Current facilities include 28 fully furnished rooms in the Villas–there are four honeymoon suites, eight triple sharing rooms, and 16 quadruple sharing rooms for small families.

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There are three family cottages, each able to fit six to ten persons.  There are 44 LGU (Local Government Unit) cottages, each with 11 double occupancy rooms, 22 quadruple occupancy rooms, and 11 family rooms with six beds.

Yes, those pictures are made with real butterflies! INQUIRER/Marisa Roque

There is a food court where visitors can buy food, some cottages have kitchenettes, and there are barbecue grills in the picnic areas where families can cook their own meals and dine al fresco.

Mambukal Resort also offers its own catering service for large groups and the food is organic and sustainably sourced from local growers and from gardens within the resort.  The Escapaders were able to sample the delicious dishes cooked by the Mambukal food and beverage team, because the welcome luncheon during the tour, and all the food stations at the Governor’s Ball, were all catered by them.

 

Those who want more information and the rate sheets for the cottages may visit www,mambukalresort.negros-occ.gov.ph.  For reservations, email mambukalreservationoffice@gmail.com or call (034) 433 8516 or (034) 709 0990.

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TAGS: butterflies, flying foxes, hot sulfur springs, Mambukal, Mambukal Resort, Marisa Roque, Mt. Kanlaon National Park, Philippine tourism, tourism destination, Winter Escapade
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