At this time of the year, migratory birds have already flocked to the swamps in Candaba in the province of Pampanga. The low-lying plains and often flooded plains of the region are perfect resting grounds of the birds who have been flying several thousands of miles. The swamps have also attracted serious birdwatching enthusiasts, wildlife photographers and weekend backpackers to witness something unique in this part of the Philippines.
The best time of the day to visit the Candaba Bird Sanctuary in Doña Simang is late in the afternoon, when the sun is not too hot. This is also a good time to catch a beautiful sunset with Mt. Arayat as a background. Unless you want to spend the entire day watching birds, you might want to do other budget-friendly activities in Candaba. There is more to this landlocked municipality than just the migratory birds.
Consider a sidetrip to the Candaba Wetland Spa which is part of a private property of the Pelayo family. Aside from a soothing massage, they also offer fishing activities in one of their ponds. While you are there, you might also want to try their sumptuous Kapampangan lunch which includes burong tilapia (fermented fish), one of the local staples.
Take one of the ferries at the Candaba Wetland Pier afterwards, which would take you through a tour along the scenic Candaba river. The trip is rather slow and would sometimes even lull the weary traveler to sleep. Along the way, one would notice that the houses along the river banks are all elevated. During the rainy season, this river would swell and reach up to the second level of these homes.
Candaba was then my first out-of-town trip since I moved to Manila last year. It was only made possible thanks to my Pinas Flashpackers (PF)* family. It was a memorable day trip that made me realize that there are indeed so many fun things to do in Candaba beyond the birdwatching it is known for.
*The Pinas Flashpackers, ro say the least, is a group that loves travel photography and frequents off-the-beaten places. Just before taking our lunch at Pelayo’s, I noticed that everyone was taking photos of the food. At that instant, I immediately felt that I was with the right crowd.