I was very excited because that was my first time to visit the Municipality of Candoni in Negros Occidental and of course, the Kennington Hill Nature Park.
Candoni is located about 131 km south-southwest of Negros Occidental. It is about four hours drive from aboard a public utility vehicle and approximately two to three hours in a private car. My friends picked me up around 6:00 in the morning and obviously we haven’t had our breakfast yet, so we decided to stop by Kabankalan City and have our quick breakfast.
marvel at the beauty of Candoni while driving
From Kabankalan, we still need to cover around 42 Km to reach Candoni for less than an hour drive. Just driving towards Candoni is already a treat. The place offers an amazing vista and we can’t help but stop at one spot to take some photos.
Candoni with an elevation 192 m (630 ft) is the third town with the highest altitude in Negros Occidental after Salvador Benedicto and San Carlos City.
the entrance of Kennington Hill Nature Park
Eventually, we reached our final destination the Kennington Hill Nature Parkin Candoni, Negros Occidental. Situated along the border of Brgy. Poblacion West and Brgy. Gatuslao, Kennington Hill Nature Park is a property is slowly being developed into a leisure destination. While the place doesn’t have yet the much-required facilities for an overnight stay, it is already a place which is gracious for any outdoor enthusiast like campers, trekkers, off-road bikers, and spelunkers.
rock formations and caverns at the Kennington Hill Adventure Park
Sussing out the place, we ventured into short trekking and passing into deep caverns which made the trip a bit challenging but enjoyable. The Kennington Hill Nature Park is blessed with interesting rock shelters which will surely turn on some outdoor buddies.
Above: view from the Kennington Hill Adventure Park; below: the author and journalist Betsy Gazo after a short trekking
After the short trekking activity, we had our short lunch and decided to do caving. Candoni, in general, has a typography formed in limestone and other rocks that dissolve through the times. This was the reasons why caves, sinkholes, and underground drainage are common in the place.
Me, struggling…pushing myself to get out from the rocks at Kennington Hill Nature Park
Frankly, I was not ready for spelunking at that time because I thought all the while that we will just visit the place. In fact, I was not really dressed properly and I don’t have the right gadgets with me. All I have where my cameras. But honestly, I got excited knowing that we will be exploring a cave.
Candoni has caves which are comfortable to get to. After a relatively short walk, we reached the inclined of a small hill where the opening of the cave was located. The opening was hidden behind the big boulders. The passageway was small but good enough for a person to go in. If I’m not mistaken the cave doesn’t have a name known to our guides.
Getting deep down the cave was a bit of a challenge, we need to crawl and be very careful with every step we made because first and foremost we didn’t have enough lights with us.
It was very dark inside the cave. Since we don’t have enough lights with us, the beauty of the cave was revealed to us slowly.
There was a flowing water inside which shows some current. There were some chambers that can still be explored, but our guide hasn’t tried it yet, so we never dared of course.
The cave was a bit long and by the discussion of our local guides (not professional spelunkers) they too have not fully explored the place. Considering, that we are not professional spelunkers, we decided to get back after seeing a few meters of the cave.
The first cave was just enough for me at that time, but our host wanted to show us more. So we move on hoping to see another one.
A few meters from the first cave we’d visited we reached a relatively small hill which the locals call the “Capitol”. Our attention was directed into the hole on the cliff side of the mound. We were told that another cave is located in the place and for one to enter the cavern must climb on the cliff and enter the hole. That was about 4 meters from the ground and just by the looks of it, I knew I was not ready for it. So we just resolved to forgo the opportunity and go back to Kennington Hill Nature Park to prepare ourselves to go back in Bacolod.
What To Bring
Based on my experience as a newbie, caving is vigorous exercise. One must be ready with the right clothing and gadgets to engage in such an activity. Here are the things which I thought one must bring when doing spelunking:
- At least one liter of water, never bring anything in a glass container.
- Snack food: Food that can be eaten without leaving crumbs around is preferable.For me energy bars are perfect.
- Trash bag to transport your muddy cave clothes home. The first cave I explore very long time ago as really muddy.
- A pocket knife (preferably lock-blade) if you have one
- Two working and reliable flashlights or headlamps of your own, the waterproof type are advisable. It would be nice to find a light that you can hang around your neck from a long loop and tucked under your sweater where it will always be handy in an emergency.
- Batteries for your main light and your backup lights, plus one set of spare batteries
- Caving helmet to protect against bumps on the ceiling or a slip on a muddy slope. Head protection is essential.
- Nicely shaped curving backpack. Most of my friends who are spelunkers carry a hiker’s shoulder bag of tough nylon. This kind of bag is easy to maneuver out of the way or take off in constricted places. For your first few trips, a small backpack will be fine. You might want to bring a cheap one because caves are very hard on packs. Whatever kind of bag you decide to bring, pick one which is just big enough to hold your essentials.
- Rope, you might need it as a handline, or for emergencies
- If you bring your camera: be aware that it could be ruined in the cave. Cave mud is actually silt – very fine sand, full of quartz particles which, when dried, become a very abrasive dust. I suggest you use a waterproof camera that can be washed off after each trip. You can protect an ordinary camera somewhat by wrapping it in at least two plastic bags. Pull the camera out for a picture and then put it right back in again. Take your gloves off to handle it. Your camera will need a built-in flash, of course.
What to Wear
- Synthetic fabrics are better for the cave than natural fabrics because stray synthetic threads will not affect the cave ecosystem.
- Leggings or long underwear, preferably polypropylene or something else that isn’t cotton to protect your legs from sharp stones
- A cheap nylon windbreaker to keep you warm and to protect your arms against sharp edges of the stones.
- Caving shoes, preferably old hiking boots, preferably without hooks for the laces or some outdoor sturdy strappy sandals
- Gloves, this is optional but can keep your hands warm and cut-free
How to Get There
Candoni is located in the southern part of Negros Occidental. It is approximately a three-and-a-half hour drive from Bacolod City aboard a public utility vehicle and about two hours and 45 minutes in a private car. From Bacolod City, buses are available at Bacolod South Terminal. From Kabankalan City, one can take the public utility jeepneys going to this town.
From Bacolod City, buses are available at Bacolod South Terminal. From Kabankalan City, one can take the public utility jeepneys or buses going to this town. When in Candoni, it’s easy to get around, simply ask the people around.