Wanderlust | Cooling down in Maco’s hottest spot

Where in the Philippines can you find a place where can see a network of sulfuric hot springs, a series of waterfalls, streams and caves, plus a P100 massage in one destination?Well, I only know of one place – Mainit Sulfuric Hot Spring, also known as Mainit Hot Waterfalls, in Barangay Mainit in the municipality of Maco. Mainit was one of the sites we visited last week as we journeyed around Compostela Valley with our friends from the Department of Tourism Xl, Visit Davao Summer Festival, and ComVal Provincial Tourism Office.

Mainit is located in a craggy terrain along the Mt. Leonard Mountain Range, a stone’s throw away from another emerging tourism attraction in the province, Lake Leonard.

American photographer Jacob Meantz takes some snapshots of Mainit

American photographer Jacob Meantz takes some snapshots of Mainit

On our way to Mainit, while navigating the winding and unpaved Nabunturan-Mainit road, we had a dramatic panorama of forested mountains capped with low lying clouds. We took the same road that will lead to Lake Leonard in Barangay New Leyte, which was around 15 to 20 minutes farther up.

Mainit, in spite of its name, actually enjoys cool weather conditions all year round – or at least, for the rest of this 1,374 hectare watershed area outside the hot spring complex. The barangay is situated 3,900 above sea level. Only a portion of the area is allowed to the public to preserve the natural beauty of Mainit.

There are no eateries or sari-sari stores (only stalls selling snacks) inside Mainit, so it’s best to bring your own food and beverage. There are also few tables and benches that you can share with fellow visitors. At the moment, the complex has a lone comfort room and toilet.

However, things are expected to get better in the coming months, assured the province’s tourism officer Christine Torino Dompor, as the visitors’ area is currently undergoing rehabilitation. So, expect the place to be a bit Topsy-turvy, in case you’re planning to visit Mainit in the coming weeks or so.

Nonetheless, the massive sulfuric rock formation that greets you as you enter Mainit will take your attention away from the busy surroundings.

Steaming water endlessly flows through the crevices of the mound, forming waterfalls and natural pools in various spots around the complex.

To enter the “wet area,” guests are obliged to remove their footwear in order to keep the area sanitized. It is safe to walk barefoot around but be very wary on stepping on those green colored surface. Blue-green algae that thrive in hot springs can cause the floor to be perilously slippery. Guests are also not allowed to climb up the sulfuric rock for safety reasons.

Kids enjoy taking a warm shower in Mainit

Kids enjoy taking a warm shower in Mainit

Underneath the lower right portion of the sulfuric formation, there’s a tiny opening that leads to a shallow cavern that visitors use as a natural steam room.

As part of the Wellness Loop of ComVal, as promoted in this year’s Visit Davao Summer Festival, the provincial and local governments added another attraction inside Mainit: a relaxing massage by the hot spring.

Well, it does make a whole lot of sense.

Hot springs are known to help improve blood circulation, treat skin infection, keeps your skin smooth and healthy (thanks to sulfur and iron), reduce stress, detoxify your body, and help boost the immune system. Couple that up with some serious kneading, the result is another good reason why one must visit Mainit.

A natural sauna in Maco, Compostela Valley

A natural sauna in Maco, Compostela Valley

Their 30-minute back, foot, or head massage is available for only P100 while a full body massage will set you back P250. The hot spring massage service is organized by trained local residents.

As a precaution, drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your hot water soak or when trying the natural sauna as this can rapidly increase body temperature, putting abnormal stress on the heart. Pregnant and nursing mothers, the elderly, those who have heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, or using prescription drugs are also advised to consult first with their physicians before visiting hot springs like Mainit.

To help preserve the natural beauty of Mainit, visitors must be mindful of the cleanliness of the area and strictly follow park rules at all times.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government of Maco have proposed to declare the watershed as a protected site.

There are many ways to get there. One can either take a Monkayo or Butuan-bound bus from Davao Overland Terminal in Ecoland, then drop off at Mawab Terminal, where you can take a habal-habal to Mainit; or take a Tagum-bound Metro Bus at Abreeza, drop off at Tagum terminal, take a jeep to Barangay Masara. Inform the driver to drop you off at Mainit. The trip from Mawab to Mainit can take around 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on weather and road conditions.

Mainit is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance is P20 per person, which is collected by the barangay. For more information, contact the ComVal Provincial Tourism Office at 0908-888-8038/0912-023-8511 or check out ecomval.gov.ph.




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