DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 22 April) — Maguindanao never fails to amaze us.
With new natural attractions discovered and explored every now and then, you’ll never run out of natural wonders in the province.
From the waves of the beaches surrounding Barangay Kusiong in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, outdoor enthusiasts can now reach higher and conquer a new challenge – Mt. Minandar.
Minandar is a local term which means start of rumbling sounds. According to the locals, Mt. Minandar was named after people from the sea heard rumbling sounds coming from the mountain top.
Rising 1,464 feet above sea level, Mt. Minandar offers a picturesque view of the Grand Mosque and Timako Hill of Cotabato City and the shores of Barangay Kusiong and Tapian.
Deep ravines, gorges and steep terrain characterize Mt. Minandar which is fronting another scenic summit, Mt. Kabalalan, which will open soon to the public.
Formally opened to the public on July 17, 2016, the trail to Mt. Minandar passes through a lush tropical rain forest with a possible traverse trek to Pinutulan Creek.
The mountain is home to Maguindanao’s ethnic Tedurays who considers Mt. Minandar their home and sacred place.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Department of Tourism (DOT-ARMM) has turned Mt. Minandar into an attraction involving the locals in the communities for its promotion and protection.
Just 30 minutes away from Cotabato City, accessible concrete roads have made it easy for people to visit the place.
The Mt. Minandar payong-payong (motorcycle) drivers’ group services the daily influx of outdoor enthusiasts at P150 good for three passengers all the way to the base camp.
Climbers are charged a tourism environmental fee of P25 per person. The proceeds go to the maintenance and other operating expenses of Project Minandar.
Along with this is the P150 fee for the local guide. Currently, there are 15 local guides available to serve every day. Local guides have undergone a two-day training on Basic Tour Guiding and earn as much as P500 a day. Some of them are out-of-school-youths from the barangay.
DOT-ARMM also announced the ongoing construction of public comfort rooms at the Phase 1 area of Mt. Minandar and a pee station provided at the base camp to cater to the needs and comfort of climbers, especially women.
They have also purchased two-way radios for easy communication to provide immediate response to climbers, especially during emergency situations.
From the base camp, Mt. Minandar is a three-to-four hour hike on well-maintained trails with a convenient rest stop.
Things to bring and wear
If you’re not planning to stay long in Mt. Minandar, you don’t need to bring a lot of stuff. Bring only the basic items you’ll need to pull off an awesome experience.
Bring your own water, preferably 1000 ml, chocolate bars, gelatin snacks, heavy snacks, first aid kits with liniment oils, sunblock, umbrella, smart phones and cameras.
Don’t forget to wear lightweight long-sleeve shirts and pants, trekking shoes, wide brim hat and rain coat in case it rains.
Remember not to dispose any of your garbage on the mountain. Be a responsible traveler. Let’s all work together in preserving Mt. Minandar and its environment.
In any case, Mt. Minandar is first-rate in giving the novice, the uninitiated, the newbie in mountaineering, hiking or trekking as much adventure and as much awe and wonder as the seasoned mountaineer.
To satisfy your thirst for adventure, and give you the thrill of witnessing a beautiful sunrise or sunset, Mt. Minandar is the best place this summer.
If you think you have enjoyed the Blue Lagoon and the beaches in Maguindanao enough, think again.
Datu Odin Sinsuat town alone is gifted with numerous bodies of water and mountains that offer an exciting experience and view. With more natural wonders being opened every now and then, Maguindanao will remain a place that never fails to excite us. (Valerie Ann P. Lambo is a reporter at The Mindanao Cross in Cotabato City)