Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Davao Trip: Logistics and Information

Davao City is a huge place! Birding areas, generally speaking, are about an hour away from the city proper. Here are some tips if you're planning a trip to this place:

Accommodations: We stayed at two different hotels during our stay.

Court View Inn is located at the city proper and is one of the newer hotels in town. The room we had was for P1095 per night. The price includes free breakfast. The room itself is clean, has airconditioning, cable TV and hot shower. The hotel staff are very friendly and helpful. The only nit is that it is not a stand alone hotel. The 41 rooms are located on the 4th and 5th floors of a commercial building with only a single elevator. Nevertheless we highly recommend the place.

Eden Nature Resort is about an hour's drive from the city. The cottage we got cost P2352 (senior discounted) per night. That includes free dinner and breakfast. Our cottage does not have airconditioning but it is cool in the evenings anyway. There is also no Cable TV and the reception for the local programs are quite spotty. Hot shower is available though. The cottages/lodges are at some distance from the reception area and the restaurant, however the resort provides van to pick up and return guests to their respective lodgings. As the name states, this is indeed a nature resort and we did all our birding inside the compound. Also highly recommended especially for nature lovers.

the cottage where we stayed
Check out their website: Eden Nature Park

Transportation: Name it they have it - taxis, buses, multicabs, tricycles and even habal-habal.

Although we had the benefit of Cynthia's brother driving us around, we still had to hire a van to take us to the PEC and Eden Resort. The cost of the van was P2500 per day plus fuel expenses (we paid P1000) and food for the driver.

Since both the PEC and Eden are away from the main roads, a taxi is recommended (haggle for  the cost and arrange for a pick-up as well).

Food: restaurants are everywhere and the food is delicious and cheap!

The restaurants we dined in are:

Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant - excellent fare, and very reasonable price. Either order a la carte or from their self-service section. Check out their Facebook page: Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant

Delongtes Seafood Grill & Barbecue - not as good as Yellow Fin but delicious food nonetheless. Service though is a bit slow. Their Facebook page: Delongtes Seafood Grill

Mamma Maria's Pizza/Gino's Burgers - is located at the first floor of our hotel building. The food here is surprisingly good (considering that these are the fast food joints of Davao). While Cynthia had a single (9-inch) pizza, I had a Mushroom Bacon Burger. For a hamburger sandwich in the Philippines this one is quite big - and only about the same price as a Big Mac at a local McDonalds (where "Big" is an exaggeration). Did I mention that the taste is 100 times better than a McDonalds? Aside from Charlie's in  Pasig and Greenhills, Gino's arguably is the closest to an In-N-Out burger when it comes to taste.

Sito's - is what I would call a "casual dining" place even though it is actually categorized as a fast food place. You have the option of eating "al fresco" or inside an airconditioned area.  Again the food is delicious and unbelievably cheap. Not only that every now and then the waiters would break out in a dance routine for the entertainment of the guests.

Birding Places: Due to our limited stay, we were not able to bird Davao to the fullest. However here are some of the places we visited.

Bacunan Beach is not a beach resort but simply, a beach. Thanks to Pete Simpson, we saw lots of shorebirds here. To get there I suggest you contact Pete (email me for his contact info).

Philippine Eagle Center is the place where the national bird is being bred in captivity for future release in the wild. Needless to say this is a very birdy place. Bulbuls (Yellow-vented, Yellow-wattled and Philippine) can be seen here. Various sunbirds and the Little Spiderhunter had also been observed. If you're lucky you might even see the Silvery Kingfisher.  Fore more details see their website Philippine Eagle Center

Eden Nature Park, as mentioned earlier, is also a good place to see mountain birds. Everett's White-eyes are guaranteed here. At night, if you're patient enough you might see the Mindanao Scops Owl. Outside the resort is an uphill trail where towards the top Whiskered Flowerpeckers can be observed.

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