From trekking to spelunking, Solong Eco Park offers a lot of activities for adventurers.
This accessible 6.5 hectare gem opened in 2017, and is just 19-minutes away from Bicol International Airport and is fit for adrenaline junkies. Tourists can witness great summit views at the peak of Solong Hill then examine different rock formations and more at Solong Crystal Cave.
“Aside from the hills, cave, and overnight camping activities, we are an agri-tourism farm site. We have bee, goat, and duck farms. We also have different plantations,” says Solong Eco Park Admin and Regional Tour Guide Andy Palmiano.
Solong Hilltop Trekking
Reaching Solong Hill’s summit requires a 30-minute trek. Since the trail is a bit slippery and muddy, the staff reused tires as stairs leading to the view deck. “There were around 500 tires recycled for this,” Palmiano shares.
Upon reaching the hilltop, it gives a 360-view of Albay’s famed 3M or Magayon Trio which are Mt. Mayon, Mt. Masaraga, and Mt. Malinao. All of them visible amid Quitinday Hills.
Solong Hill is 60 meters above sea level and sometimes temperature drops below 20 degree celsius according to Palmiano. “If the weather is good, best time to visit would be around 7 A.M. There is a high chance that you will get to see the Mayon Volcano and appreciate the panoramic view.”
Solong Crystal Cave
Inside the cave, different minerals and rock formations can be seen. Tourists will be guided and educated about rock formations, calcites, and crystals such as stalactites and stalagmites, even flowstones. There are also fruit bats and huntsman spiders inside.
The cave is approximately 1,000 square meters and the allowable area for tour exploration is as far as 150 meters. Beyond this point is already restricted as mandated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Expect warmer temperature upon descent as there’s only one entrance and exit. “The gateway to Solong Cave is only one that’s why there’s less air circulation inside,” Palmiano explains.
Prior to cave exploration, the tour guide will provide a five-minute briefing at the entrance point where a 50-year old Balete tree also stands. The tour guide will reiterate the safety measures and dos and don’ts inside the cave, including a reminder not to touch the crystals.
Different minerals such as fluoride and calcium quartz crystal can be seen surrounding several rock formations.
There are flowstones, dripping stones, but the most notable would be the fossil imprints. “The imprints of seashells somehow indicate that maybe this cave, around thousands of years ago, was actually underwater,” Palmiano shares.
Solong Eco Park as Agri-Tourism Site
Solong Eco Park also serves as an agri-farm tourism site. Since there are more than 3,000 fruit-bearing trees within the park, they offer a “Pick and Bring Home” program where tourists may harvest fruits and vegetables such as dragonfruit, soursoups, bananas, water spinach, taro, moringa, pineapple, lemon, cacao, pili, and more.
“We just continue to plant and plant more,” Lilybeth Ventura Marino, co-owner of Solong Eco Park shares, who describes herself as a farmer and nature lover. “Everything that we consume, we get here.”
In terms of agri-tourism, Marino shares that tourists are often amazed by cacao harvesting and processing so they offer cacao and tablea tasting. Solong Eco Park also has a bee farm where they showcase honey harvesting.
Aside from Solong Eco Park being a learning site and tourist destination, the park uplifts the community by providing jobs to locals. “I believe farming doesn’t need any educational requirements like other jobs out there. As long as you know how to sow, take care of plants, you’ll find a sense of purpose,” says Marino.
Solong Eco Park is definitely a 360 adventure spot worth visiting for nature lovers. “At the top, visitors can take a picture at the Bali-inspired bird’s nest. But we actually call that a portal. Because the highest peak is actually the end part of the cave below,” Palmiano explains.
Solong Eco Park is open everyday including holidays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entrance fee is Php50 per head with additional environmental fee of Php20.
For guided tours and assistance, tourists may coordinate through Solong Eco Park’s Facebook page or at +632 9472199949 and +632 916920735
Explore Albay responsibly by making sure that you comply with the province’s health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
Ensure that you have acquired travel authority at https://s-pass.ph/ prior trip. Bring a copy or screenshot of this along with your vaccination card and valid ID upon arrival.
For the latest travel information about Albay, you may visit their official website or Facebook page. You may also review updated safety protocols and requirements on Philippine destinations at www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel.