Bansalan is a first class municipality in the province of Davao del Sur. Nestled in the foothills of the country’s tallest mountain, Mt. Apo, Bansalan is very rich with indigenous history, namely the nomadic Bagobos people, who are credited with the development of the town. Although not a coastal town, Bansalan is located only 20kms from Davao Del Sur’s capital, Digos City.
I first went to Bansalan in 1997 and it’s fair to say, just like some of the other places I have been to in the Davao region, if it wasn’t for my family, I would probably have not gone, and it’s not necessarily a place you would put at the top of your bucket list unless you plan to hike Mt. Apo and take in the surrounds thereof.
During my first trip, and after a night of extremely heavy drinking with my wife’s family, and sleeping on a mattress on a wooden floor without an aircon or fan, I woke up with an epic hangover and feeling very fragile. I was informed the family had planned a day trip in an effort to further extend their hospitality towards me, so reluctantly, away we went. After about a thirty minute drive, we ended up in the nearby capital city of Digos.
Now, this place is worth a mention – I have never seen so many tricycles per square kilometer, in any part of the world, than in Digos. Despite being a coastal town with sea breezes, the amount of four-stroke smoke and pollution in the air was completely overwhelming, especially for one as hungover and sleep deprived as I was.
First stop was to take lunch, but within minutes of getting out of the car, my head started spinning and I felt like I was going to vomit, collapse and pass out. Luckily, Uncle Tony was sympathetic to my plight and rushed me straight over to the shores of Davao Gulf to get some fresh air, or at least as fresh as it could be. After thirty minutes or so, my condition improved so our trip continued up to Mt. Carmel, namely the Mt. Carmel Convention Centre in Kinuskusan.
The Mt. Carmel Convention Centre is popular in the area and is basically a training centre with the main focus being on training people for rural living. Here they teach agri-technology to help improve the lives of farmers. The main feature is the demo farm which contains a piggery, fish ponds, goat dairy farm, vegetable farm, and even vermiculture/vermicomposting technology. It was actually quite interesting and worth a look if in the area.
From there we continued up the Kapatagan trail and Mt. Tampurong, which leads to one of three main trails up Mt. Apo. The scenery was amazing and the journey itself was a real eye-opener and totally awe-inspiring. We didn’t really ascend up Mt. Apo, but we did drive for a dozen or so kilometers along the rocky trail in the shadows of this magnificent mountain, passing a number of small villages along the way.
As mentioned, Bansalan is not really a popular place for tourism, but it does have some spectacular views of rugged mountains and views overlooking the waters of Davao Gulf. If you were planning to hike up Mt. Apo, then Basalan and the surrounding areas would make up part of the trip and in this case, would be worth it to experience the local culture.
A view looking back over Davao Gulf from the Kapatagan trail and the beginning of the ascent Mt Tampurong . This area is so mountainous and offers spectacular views.
Downtown Bansalan which is only quite a small town, but the outskirts are jungles of coconut trees.
The Kapatagan trail, which is one of three main trails up to Mt. Apo. The scenery was amazing and the journey itself was a real eye-opener and totally awe-inspiring.
The majestic Mt. Apo, the tallest peak in the Philippines. One day I will hike to the 10,000-foot summit.