There’s more to Vigan than the famed centuries-old houses, cobblestone pavements, and Spanish colonial churches. Only a ten-minute drive from this historic city is a quaint sanctuary for animals and leisure-loving people called Baluarte.
Initially designed as Chavit Singson’s rest house, Baluarte has since become a major tourist attraction, not only in Vigan, but in the entire province of Ilocos Sur. The complex is an 80-hectare bliss of rolling terrains, hills, and vast grounds where domesticated and exotic animals, mostly not endemic in the Philippines, can roam around freely.
Upon entering Baluarte, visitors are given the chance to have a close encounter with various animals in the “Petting Zoo.” There’s a fun “Animal Encounter Show” complete with educational presentations about the animals, their origin, survival instincts, among others. After the show, guests are then allowed to have their photos taken with the animals with the help of caretakers.
Some of the animals that you can closely see in the “open zoo” are ostriches, turkeys, deer, ponies, geese, and many others. There are some cages housing different species of birds, tigers, snakes, pythons, etc., and a mini butterfly garden too.
You can even spot a life-sized dinosaur. Haha!
For children and kids at heart, riding the “tiburin,” a pony-drawn carriage, is something not to be missed. What’s amazing is that you can enjoy all of the facilities in Baluarte without paying anything! How often do you get something for free these days? You may even bring your food and enjoy your time at the picnic area of your choice.
This destination is definitely a must-see if you happen to be in Vigan. Kids will surely enjoy this place, especially the free pony ride. Baluarte is open to the public daily from 7am to 6pm. Admission is free.