When talking about the most beautiful forests, rarely it happens that the Philippines is mentioned. But the country has something grand to be proud of, too—Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, Mindanao’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It boasts of a beautiful pygmy forest, one of the very few all over the world, and hosts a rich biodiversity and endemicity of flora and fauna, an embodiment of ecological balance, which in this age and time, we can seldom see and behold.
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary’s biggest draw is its sheer diversity and variety of its resident wildlife. As visitors delve in this mysterious forest, encountering astonishing plants and animals, many of those found nowhere else in the world, is a regular sight.
Curious already? Let’s find out what this majestic mountain has to offer!
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary being a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons
The 5,315 feet above sea level Mt. Hamiguitan gained its fame after it claimed a coveted spot in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.
According to UNESCO, it is home to 1,380 plant and animal species, eight of which are found nowhere else in the world except Mt Hamiguitan, and 341 of which are endemic to the Philippines that include the iconic Philippine Eagle, Philippine cockatoo, golden crowned flying foxes, the Philippine warty pigs, Philippine mossy-pygmy fruit bats, and more.
One of the reasons that Mt Hamiguitan was inscribed as a UNESCO WHS is that it represents a complete, substantially intact and highly diverse mountain ecosystem, in a significant biogeographic region of the Philippines.
UNESCO added that the fragile tropical “bonsai” forest that crowns the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary epitomizes nature’s bid to survive in adverse conditions. As a result of its semi-isolation and its varied habitat types growing in dissimilar soil and climate conditions, its biodiversity has shown a significantly high level of endemicity that has led scientists to believe that there may be more globally unique species waiting to be discovered in the area.
According to some locals and mountaineers, Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary also features a “Tinagong Dagat” (hidden sea), a lake that mysteriously experiences high tide and low tide.
These, among many other things, are what make nature-lovers and hikers’ paradise.
Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park
Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park and its amenities are situated at the buffer zone area of the heritage mountain covering around 12.84 hectares which houses the interpretation site, a natural science museum, research center and cabin, bird-watching viewdeck, a hanging bridge, a nature trail for leisure hiking, sunset viewdeck, and Cafe Hamiguitan.
For the more adventurous guests, they can also enjoy other features of the park like the tree-top obstacle and a flying lemur gliding ride.
The trek to Mt. Hamiguitan can be challenging and may take up to three days. If you have no time or energy for that kind of adventure, you can still learn about the mountain range at the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park, which features a modern natural science museum with a central ramp modeled after the mountain’s five levels of vegetation.
Located in the town of San Isidro, the Mt. Hamiguitan Natural Science Museum is an interactive facility that not only showcases the wonders of Mt. Hamiguitan but also advocates for people’s participation in the mountain’s conservation efforts by introducing them to its rich flora and fauna, and what it means for humanity.
This interactive facility showcases the wonders of this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary wasn’t revealing its beauty too easily. Each visitor has to earn it.
How to get to Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park
From Manila, you can book a flight bound for Davao City. From Davao Ecoland Terminal, take the bus going to the Municipality of Governor Generoso which will usually take 3.5 hours at most.
Another option is to ride the bus heading to Tagum City and from here, ride a jeepney bound for Governor Generoso or Sigaboy. Tell the driver to drop you off at the junction leading to the museum, where you can ride a habal-habal motorcycle.
Other places you can visit near Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary
1. Aliwagwag Falls
Known for its staircase-like boulders, Aliwagwag Falls is among the top tourist destinations in the province. This picturesque 84-tiered falls with more than 130 cascades stands at 1,110 feet making it the highest waterfall in the Philippines.
2. Cape of San Agustin
Facing the great Celebes Sea, the Cape of San Agustin mixes remains of the Spanish colonial rule and the beauty of the Philippine beaches. Many divers frequent this place because of the diving experience at the famous diving site known as “the wall.” Cape of San Agustin houses three lighthouses which offer equally breathtaking views of the sea. You can also visit an amazing rock formation called “the altar.”
3. Lake Carolina
Located just 15 minutes away from the national highway, Lake Carolina in Baganga is a perfect destination for people who are looking for a one-of-a-king experience. Although called a lake, it is actually a lagoon filled with brackish water and abundant marine life. Close to Palawan’s turquoise waters, every corner is definitely Instagrammable! The surrounding green trees makes the place even more relaxing.
4. Dahican Beach
Dahican Beach is popular with surfers, skimboarders and beach bums, that offers a simple, unspoiled slice of paradise with a stunning crescent-shaped coastline and thrilling waves for an adrenaline rush.
5. San Victor Island
If you want a secluded and serene getaway, detached from the whole world, San Victor Island is the perfect place to be. San Victor Island boasts its fine white sand and clean water that’s home to many sea creatures including the transient dugongs and marine vegetation.
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