Camiguin de Babuyanes: Playground of the Giants

Humpback whale

In a far off land there lies a wonder of nature never yet spoiled by insatiable human greed.

Separated from the bigger Luzon Island by the oftentimes treacherous waters of Babuyan Channel, Camiguin is every inch a tropical paradise. Within the depths of its waters and the breadth of its forests and mountains are diverse wonders of nature. None more stunningly breathtaking than the cetaceans that call Camiguin as its home.

Camiguin de Babuyanes Whale Watching and Expedition TripBased on the research works of Balyena.org, humpback whales regularly visit the island to mate, breed, and play in its waters between the months of February and April. They are part of the Asian stock of humpback whales in the western North Pacific. The humpback whales can grow up to 50 feet and weigh up to 40 tons. Among the species of baleen whales, the humpbacks are the stars in whale watching expedition trips. Globally, whale watching is a multi-million dollar ecotourism activity.

The are other cetacean species that can be found in Camiguin and the rest of the Babuyan Group of Islands. They include spotted dolphins, spinner dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Fraser’s dolphins, melon-headed whales, pilot whales, pygmy killer whales, and dwarf sperm whales. Sea turtles and whale sharks are also seen in the islands.

Mount CamiguinDominating the southern tip of the island is a densely forested active stratovolcano called Camiguin de Babuyanes. Standing at 712 meters above sea level, Mount Camiguin is known to have last erupted in 1857. At the base of the volcano are several fumaroles, emitting less than tolerable sulfur dioxide.

Beside one of these fumaroles are ancient jar burials. However, all have been excavated as locals hunted for treasures and amulets. Yet another structure left in state of ruins is the Spanish Colonial Era watchtower. A banyan tree has since hugged and dwarfed the tower.

Tapao-FallsPopulated mostly by first-growth trees, the thick forests of the island created and preserved watershed areas. Naturally, there are waterfalls that can be explored in the depths of the Camiguin. The easiest to reach is Tapao Falls. An hour hike from the main village of Balatubat is this segmented waterfall which makes a journey to Camiguin a lot more awesome and rewarding.

The forests are teeming with flora and fauna. Just recently, the team of Doc Nielsen Donato of Born To Be Wild discovered a new snake species. Mistakenly identified by the locals as karasain or King Cobra, the new species is called the Philippine Mountain Rat Snake (Ptyas luzonensis). This non-venomous snake was confirmed by the Herpetology Department in the National Museum of the Philippines as the first record of such species in the Babuyan Group of Islands. The Philippine megapode (Megapodius cumingii) or Tabon scrubfowl is also found in Camiguin.

Camiguin-beachesAlong the western coast of Camiguin are unspoiled beaches, never been desecrated by the insatiable greed of man. From the northern barangay of Minabel to the southern village of Pagitpit, these unobstructed pristine beaches are a gentle reminder of the kind of life the island has: laid-back, unassuming, serene.

The longest uninterrupted coastline is the beach in barangay Naguillian. Probably, the powdery white sand beach runs up to two miles. The pebble beach in Pagitpit has boiling spring. It is also one of the best places for whale watching.

Life in Camiguin IslandLike other rural areas in the Philippines, farming and fishing are the two major economic activities in the island. Rice and corn are the main crops planted with the produce transported by boat to Aparri. Although gainful employments are hard to find in the island, the living conditions are nevertheless decent and respectable. They find subsistence in the bounty of the earth and in their industry, resourcefulness, and simplicity.

Camiguin Norte Expedition TripIn the days leading to the expedition trip organized by LEGENDHARRY TRAVELS, LegendHarry resolved that regardless of the actual number of participants it will push through as scheduled. Led by LegendHarry, they were five in the trip. Less definitely was more. This proved to be very beneficial when the group had to stay five more days in the island as sea conditions did not permit for safe voyage.

The team was properly taken cared of. There was a constant supply of food and provisions. For the first three dinners, the team had red crabs and lobsters. Then, native chickens were served at some point. Ultimately, a pig was slaughtered so that there will be dinakdakan (Ilocano’s version of sisig), dinardaraan (pig’s blood stew), nilaga, and grilled belly. Instant coffee, iced tea, and ice-cold Coke were also readily available. There were days when they had pasta, donuts, some breads, and bibingka.

The expedition team stayed in a newly built house with spacious bed room and living area, clean bathroom and toilet, kitchen, refrigerator, and a satellite TV. Electricity was supplied by the electric cooperative and augmented by a solar panel. A local was commissioned to prepare and cook the food, clean the house, and do the laundry. Aside from outdoor activities, Rummikub and movie marathons occupied their time. They even cheered the Azkals during the joint 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying match versus North Korea. The expedition trip was more like a vacation or better yet a stay-cation.

For the best Camiguin Norte Whale Watching and Expedition Trip Package, you may contact LegendHarry at +639176274945 or email him at harry.balais@gmail.com.

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