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General Santos' Kalaja Karst: Unleash the Amateur Within





Whenever I hear the place General Santos City, I thought it’s all about the tuna, and I wonder what else this place can offer to its wandering visitors. So I looked up to the net and search for places to visit in "The Tuna Capital of the Philippines". There was a section there that says "your visit to GenSan isn’t complete if you have not been to Kalaja Karst". Never heard of the place before and made me curious leading me to pack up my bag and hit the earliest bus to General Santos.

Kalaja Karst was the last standing post of Japanese soldiers at the end of the WWII. The hills of Kalaja are located 15Km from Brgy. Conel.  The tricycle terminal bound for Brgy. Conel is located across the public market of the city. The road was unpaved during my trip and I can feel the dust filling up my lungs. Reaching the barangay, I walked over the hall and registered on their visitors' logbook. I requested for a guide and a habal habal to take me to the jump-off point of the hills.



Heading towards the hills was the roughest ride of my life as we passed by the dried up river filled with alluvial gravels and stones. It took us about 30-45 minutes before we reached the jump-off point of our climb. I was a little nervous as it was my first time to do trekking with no known companions. I had made few stints in climbing mountains in Luzon but I can’t consider myself as a mountaineer yet.


Walking isn’t really my forte and we had a very slow pace but this gave me enough time to appreciate the serenity of the place. We passed by a somewhat like a mini canyon with walls that is suitable for rock climbing. The initial trail is actually a river that is currently dry. According to my guide the water rises up whenever rain poured overnight.

The Biggest "SMILEY" i've seen
We endured a 2-hour long walk  before we entered the passage to the falls of Kalaja. We even met mountaineers that were already bound for home and I just realized it was already mid afternoon. Finally we reached the falls. According the locals it is a 7-tiered falls. But since it was already late I decided to stop and just enjoy the cold water of the main falls. 

Far from where I was standing, I noticed that the wall of the falls resembles a smiling face. This could be a welcome sign for everyone visiting Kalaja Karst . With this kind of hospitality that nature offers, I just hope everyone reaching the top  to maintain the cleanliness and refrain from vandalism as what others have reported. I did not push harder to reach the hills as I always consider the safety of myself and my two other companions. After I had enough of a cool refreshing bath in the pool , we traced our trail back to where we started.



My trip to Kalaja Karst was cut short due to limited time. I could have gone to the caves, the spring, the summit and Malakong Gorge. This unfinished escapade would make me schedule another trip to Gen. Santos City and this time I will allocate at least two days to complete the whole trip.

Getting there:
Flight to General Santos City is available everyday from major airlines. From the airport take tricycle or a jeep bound to the city proper. Head towards the public market and asked from a local or a police officer the location of the terminal bound to Brgy. Conel . It will take at least 20-30 minutes ride towards the barangay. From the barangay, register and request for a guide and a Habal habal .

Accommodation:
Lea’s Pension House, @corner Clariza and Rambutan St.
Contact number: (+63)83 301-0055

Personal itinerary : (Includes Sarangani and Kalaja karst)
Time Schedule
Activity/Destinations
Travel Cost
Day 0 (Friday)


5:00-7:00p
ETD San Migue SDS to Tandag City
Php    50.00
7:00-10:00p
ETD Tandag City to San Franz Agusan Sur
         150.00
10:00-3:00a
ETD San Franz to Davao Ecoland Terminal
        250.00
Day 1 (Saturday)


3:00a-6:00a
ETD Davao to Gen.Santos City
        240.00
6:00-7:00a
Breakfast and Wash up
         30.00
7:00-12:00nn
    1,250.00
1:00-2:00
City-Brgy. Cone
       20.00
2:00-4:00
Habal Habal/Trekking to Kalaja Karst
      200.00 (habal2x)/300 (guide)
4:30-6:00p
Head back to Conel (habal habal)
      100.00
7:00-8:00p
Check in at Lea’s Pension House
      600.00
8:00-9:00p
Dinner at Tuna Grill
      120.00
Day 2 Sunday


6:00-7:00a
Breakfast (Jolibee) and City Tour
       100.00
8:00-onwards
Head back to Davao-Tandag City, SDS
       800.00

Total
Php5448.00

What's Next?

Gallery:




The amateur 



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