Friday, February 27, 2009

the Mambukal Mountain Resort

A close friend has been inviting me to Mambukal for years but it was not until 2006 that I finally relented and said yes. Perched on the foot of the active volcano of Kanlaon, the Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia is long considered the summer capital of Negros Occidental because of its cool climate especially during summer.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 2.5s, f/22, 42mm, ISO 100

Mambukal falls
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/8s, f/22, 28mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV

Since the 1970s, it has become an “it” place in the province. Over the years, the 24-hectare resort has developed a wide array of accommodation facilities from overnight cottages, day-use cottages, camping grounds and even a food court.

before the plunge
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/30s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 100

Its main attraction continues to be the thermal sulfur springs that are believed to cure skin diseases. Its potential was originally tapped and developed by a Japapense architect named Ishiwata who in 1927, designed and opened an onsen bath house and picnic garden.

sulfur spring
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/8s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV

Hot steam spas are a feature of Mambukal which saddles the slopes of the active volcano that is Mount Kanlaon. The pool below is the hottest spot of the resort where sulfurous steam emanates. The waters from this hot cauldron are pumped into the nearby dipping pool and diluted with cold spring water so as to maintain the onsen baths near a soothing and comfortable 35 degrees centigrade temperatures.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 3/5s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 400, -1/3EV

Here, we did not even dare dip our hands as the temperatures are approaching 80 degrees C already. Dangerous scalding, this pool is only for sauna steaming.

the sulfur spring of Mambukal, Murcia, Negros Occidental, the Philippines
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1.3s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 400
phototip: We had to wake up early at dawn to get a shot that shows off the steam playing against the heavy cold morning mist. In brighter light, the hot white steam gets lost.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 2/5s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 100, + 1/3EV

Nature-trekking is a given. There is a canopy walk or a series of hanging bridges which culminates in a thrilling attraction called slide for life. There is a facility for rock-climbing and for the hardy, climbing directly to the peak of Kanlaon is an option .

canopy walk
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/25s, f/3.5, 18mm, ISO 400, +1/3EV

Bird-watching is popular. The place also boasts of a reserve for a large population of nocturnal bats, which like clockwork flit daily around the resort, leaving the area over the dipping thermal pool at daybreak and coming back by sundown.

bat reserve
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/8s, f/5.6, 47mm, ISO 100, +2/3EV

Agriculture thrives richly in Mambukal, thanks to the fertile Mambukal clay. It is this red earth which is celebrated annually in the Mudpack Festival.

Camera: Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 400

Fresh cold water runs freely in Mambukal, which is dissected by a series of seven falls that feed into natural swimming pools and a wide boating lagoon. Consequently, the resort is constantly green and lush, with thick tropical forest cover and peppered with a wide variety of pines, ferns and orchids, not to mention endemic exotic fauna.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/6.3, 55mm, ISO 1600, +1/3EV

Whether you prefer swimming by the river, or just watching water cascading several storeys, Mambukal could give anyone some emotional rush. Or in my case, a rare moment of mental respite.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/200s, f/5.6, 18mm, ISO 100, -2/3EV

Mambukal Mountain Resort
Barangay Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental
tel +6334 7100800, telefax +6334 7100801
Bacolod reservations at +6334 7090990, telefax +6334 4338516

Getting there
Murcia is about 30 kilometers away from Bacolod City, accessible by car or by jeepney (7AM-7PM). From Cebu City, the suggested route is to drive to Toledo City (2 hours), take the ferry (1.5 hours) to San Carlos City and drive through the Don Salvador Benedicto highway to Murcia.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/320s, f/4.5, 24mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV
roadside rice terraces frame the volcano of Kanlaon at Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental

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2 comments: said...

very nice photos, love the slow shutter speeds... i will visit this place soon said...

nice photos. love the slow shutter speeds.