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Virtually flat and surrounded by warm seas and partly sheltered from monsoons and strong trade winds, Olango Island is one of seven known flyways in the world for migratory birds.
A haven for birds migrating from Siberia, Northern China, and Japan, the birds flock to the 920-hectare Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary each year seeking refuge from the harsh winter climate of the northern countries.
The island's mangroves and its offshore corals are home to scores of various marine species, which the birds feed on.
The birds can be seen from September to November, when they stop over to rest and refuel on their way to Australia, and also from February to April, on their way back to their main habitats.
The park admin office provides information on which types of birds are currently on the island, and which times they feed. The birds usually come out to feed before 8 am and around 2 pm, so it would be wise to plan your visit accordingly.
Updated Jan 28, 2010
Address: Santa Rosa, Olango Island
If you get tired of relaxing... You can take a trip to the bird sanctuary.
Olango Island supports the largest concentration of migratory birds found so far in the country. Migration starts from the breeding places of birds in Siberia, Northern China and Japan. Anticipating the scarcity of food and winter cold, these birds fly as far as Australia and New Zealand from late July until late November. This is usually referred to as the Southward Migration. By late February until May, these birds return to their breeding grounds in the reverse Northward Migration.
Based on data gathered so far, the birds use Olango as a major refueling station as well as a wintering ground. At Olango, the birds can replenish their fat reserves by feeding on rich supply of invertebrates in the intertidal mudflats. These fat reserves must fuel the birds on the next lap of their journey which may cover from 3,000 to 15,000 km. of non-stop flight. Land area - 1,022.6228 has.
Remember to bring sunscreen, cause this place feels like a desert!
Updated Jun 4, 2006
The only way to get to Olango is by boat, usually from the public town pier at Punta Engaño at the southern edge of Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island.
This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest way, and perhaps even the safest, as there is a small port authority office, which I presume checks the sea worthiness of the boats.
Price is Php 15 one way, plus Php 2 for the terminal fee. This in my mind is the best option, if you don't mind riding with strangers. :)
The boats at the public pier leave every hour or so, but if you are in a hurry, there are several options, like hiring a private motor banca to get you to and from the island. That is a lot more expensive, though, with prices ranging from Php 1,000 to Php 1,500 (depends on how long you hire the boat) for a max of 15 persons.
There are several ways to reach the Mactan pier from Cebu City, but I hired a cab for the whole day, so I can't say much about the other options. But basically, from Cebu City, one has to pass by Mandaue City and cross one of the bridges to get to Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island, and from there proceed via the main road to Punta Engaño until you reach the area where the Hilton Cebu Resort & Spa is located, then take the access road beside the Hilton that winds down to the pier.
Boat travel time from the Mactan pier takes about 20 minutes to reach the port of Olango in Barrio Santa Rosa, which is still several kilometers away from the Wildlife Sanctuary.
From the Santa Rosa wharf, trikes are available to take you to and from the sanctuary. Prices vary, so haggle for the best bargain. Since I was just traveling with my cab driver, the trike driver agreed to take us both round trip for Php 150.
The trikes normally just drop you off at the sanctuary gate (about 15 minutes from the pier), so you have to decide how long you intend to stay at the sanctuary and arrange when the trike should come back for you after.
Near the gate is the park admin office, where you register and pay Php 20 entrance fee per person. Finally, the viewing deck is about a five-minute hike over a short forested trail, then onto a pathway made of stone blocks over the mangrove area. If you're lucky, the tide is low and you won't have to get your feet wet. :)
NOTE: Make sure to arrange for your trike ride back, and pay AFTER getting back to the pier. Publicly available trikes rarely pass by the sanctuary, and the wharf is a long hike back, so just make sure someone picks you up.
Updated Jan 28, 2010