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Being a homeschooling family, we are up for any reason to travel. Read more about our tri-city family road trip in Negros Occidental with the Ford Ranger Wildtrak.
- Related: Ford Ranger Trucks Review
City living has its perks, being very near everything. It’s so easy to attend events where we are invited as Bacolod bloggers because we are a few minutes away from hotels and malls.
But sometimes, the noise pollution, heat, lack of greenery, and drudgery can get to you. So an invitation to take a road trip along the countryside is always a welcome relief. It’s good for the soul.
And taking the Ford Ranger Wildtrak for a spin was definitely an awesome experience for the whole family. I especially liked the fact that I didn’t get dizzy on the winding roads and the kids were comfortable at the back seat. It’s just enough for our family.
Taking the Ford Ranger WildTrak on a Tri-City Family Road Trip
For this particular family road trip, our Papa had the chance to fully enjoy driving the Ford Ranger Wildtrak. We did everything easy, nothing harried, just to enjoy the scenery and each other.
To encapsulate, these are our stops in this tiring yet fun tri-city family road trip.
Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental
Dubbed as the summer capital of Negros Occidental, the municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto is only about an hour’s drive from Bacolod City. But since it’s elevated at 2,500 feet like Baguio City, it is much cooler than Bacolod and is a preferred destination by local tourists.
It is now a favorite get-away of city dwellers especially during the weekend because of the good roads. A short drive will already bring you nice views of the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP). Now, there are many roadside cafes along the highway offering unique cuisine and comfort Filipino food.
An interesting environment fact. About 90% of the island of Negros used to be covered with forests. But only approximately 4% of the original forest cover remains today. The North Negros Natural Park is considered as one of the top 10 most important forests in the world, yet it is also one of the most threatened.
This data is according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The survival of the Visayan Spotted Deer and other endemic animals rely so much on the survival of the NNNP.
Lunchtime in Don Salvador Benedicto
We left Bacolod City around 10am so that we will get to Don Salvador Benedicto around 11:30am on a leisurely drive. That would be in time for lunch.
For our mid-day stopover, we chose Cafe La Guada because they offered eel as well as wild frog dishes. Moreover, they are open on a Monday when some of the cafes were closed.
We made sure the night before that they had adobong palaka by messaging them and we were told that they had it on stock. But we were disappointed the following day that they only had fried ones.
Check out Shane’s video below while eating a fried frog:
All in all, we had fun eating there because of the experience and the view was breathtaking. We also took some family photos in their nice garden.
- Follow Cafe La Guada on Facebook: LaGuadaDSB
After lunch, we went on our way and stopped by the giant Lion’s head, sponsored by the Lion’s Club. It’s a mandatory photo opp in Don Salvador Benedicto on the way to San Carlos City. It’s like the little version of the giant one in Baguio City.
There’s a view deck where you will see the NNNP as well as some rice terraces that the locals have made for their rice farming.
Don Salvador Benedicto Pine Forest
One of the awesome attractions in Don Salvador Benedicto is the Pine Forest. It’s a private property but people can go in and have their photos taken. You cannot bring in cars, though.
It is just located along the Eco-Tourism highway going to San Carlos City. You will not miss it because the Pine Forest stretches to a couple of kilometers–or even more. Across the entrance are fruit stands where you can buy local produce, especially pineapples, at very cheap prices.
We were able to spend a few minutes here for a photo shoot. The kids were also able to pick up pine needles, catch some insects, and check out the wild flowers. There is so much wonder in discovery.
Soon after, it rained, so we rushed to the car and headed down to San Carlos City.
San Carlos City, Negros Occidental
Another 30-minute drive on the Ford Ranger Wildtrak brought us to San Carlos City. All in all, Bacolod City to San Carlos now only takes about 1.5 hours. When I was a kid, we used to visit San Carlos City and it took more than four hours going through coastal roads. I remember throwing up so hard that I would swear off-road trips.
- Related: Tips for Traveling with Young Kids
Thanks to the Eco-Tourism Highway that cuts through the mountains, we could get there at a much shorter time.
Due to our leisurely drive, we noticed a sea of artificial flowers on my right so we pulled over. It was the La Riqah Resort and Family Park, which was inspired by the 10,000 Roses of Cebu City.
For PhP30 per head, you can have unlimited photo shoots there. But it was a sunny afternoon so we just stayed for a little while then we went straight to San Carlos City.
- Follow them on Facebook: LaRiqahResort
Hotel in San Carlos City
While at the home of the Pintaflores Festival, we stayed at FB Traveller’s Inn. It’s a comfortable and safe accommodation for the family in San Carlos City complete with a gated parking lot. Yes, it’s another family-friendly hotel in the Philippines.
And the best thing is, it’s very affordable here. You would be surprised.
In San Carlos City, we appreciated the greenery around the downtown area. Despite the developments from the last 11 years that I was there, the city remains green, orderly, and very clean! It’s really impressive that despite their open football fields, I could not spot trash on the sea of green! Amazing discipline and implementation of city ordinances.
We had dinner at my aunt’s home where we met with relatives. These are my aunts and uncles on my mother’s side. The kids also got to play with their cousin. It was a mini-reunion, as I haven’t been back to my hometown since I got married! Maybe next Christmas, we can already go back and join in the family reunion that happens every December 25.
- Related: Why Family Meals are Important
Since we had an early dinner, we were still able to go back to the resort. They didn’t charge us with the entrance fee anymore because we were there that afternoon and the staff remembered us.
San Carlos People’s Park
The following day, we woke up earlier than usual so that we could visit the San Carlos People’s Park. It’s a park maintained by the city government but you have to pay an entrance fee of PhP10. Personally, I think it is worth it for the upkeep of the park.
The park is open daily from 6am to 10pm, but I think the best times would be early in the morning and from the afternoon till after dark. I think it would be nice taking strolls here at night, like after dinner.
In our case, it was already mid-morning, so it was quite hot already. But we couldn’t really wake up the kids very early. We had an exhausting trip the day before.
There are two new swimming pools inside the park and people can swim here for a fee. These amenities can rival some of the private water parks and swimming pool resorts in Bacolod City.
From the San Carlos City Ceres bus terminal, ride a pedicab going to Peoples Park. Fare is only P7.00.
Canlaon City, Negros Oriental
We had brunch in San Carlos City and took off with some take out from Jollibee in order to head off to Canlaon City. This mountainous city is just the next-door neighbor of San Carlos but it already belongs to the jurisdiction of the Province of Negros Oriental.
Our main purpose of going there is to see the century tree and experience more cool climes. We also wanted to buy vegetables, as farm produce are very cheap here. But we no longer had the time as we had to return the Wildtrak to the Ford showroom in Talisay City.
Thankfully, our trip did not disappoint. Armed with the GPS, we were able to reach the Canlaon Century Tree park in no time. We were blessed with good weather, too.
However, Mt. Kanlaon was shy to show us its peak–it stayed hidden behind clouds. But the caretaker told us that the crater is already more than two hectares wide for this active volcano!
About the Canlaon Century Tree Dalakit
The Canlaon Century Tree is actually a balete tree that has grown to its humongous size now. It is estimated to be already more than a century old. It was also reported that botanists from Silliman University in Dumaguete City estimates the tree to be more than 1,300 years old.
Locals superstition has people believing that the Balete Tree is the venue of a fairy gathering at night, which explains why the tree lights up at night.
The Balete tree stands proud within the OISCA Farm at Barangay Lumapao, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental Philippines. Its mysterious aura and natural beauty has made it a favorite place to hold special events. Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions have been held there.
From the outside, you will see hundreds of branches clasping with each other. But inside, the Century Tree has hollow portions that is home of many insects, bats, and lizards. We had to keep warning Shane to watch out of ants, which were abundant around the tree.
Going Back to Bacolod
Our tri-city family road trip ended in Canlaon City. But before going back to Bacolod, we had to stop by the Ford showroom in Talisay City, Negros Occidental. It was around 5pm when we go there.
So all in all, our tri-city family road trip took 31 hours and one overnight stay. It was a pretty cool experience for the whole family! It was our first time to do so and the kids are clamoring for another one. We will have to talk to Mr. Dennis Piccio of Ford Negros again! haha
Our Negros Island Tri-City Family Road Trip
I know many families have done this road trip before. But how did you like our Negros Island tri-city family road trip? This trip was courtesy of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak.
How to Get to Negros Occidental
From Manila, there are daily flights to Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental, via Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. There are also daily ferry trips like FastCat from Iloilo City.
Meanwhile, San Carlos is the last city of Negros Occidental and can be accessed from Bacolod through bus or private vehicles. You may also travel from Cebu City through the RORO or Cebu-Bacolod land trip.
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