If there’s something I’m most grateful for about this trip, it’s the fact that I was accompanied by fellow adventure junkies. They’re Aujen’s MBA classmates and while I imagine them in pensive moods when dealing with complex problems inside the classroom, their personas outside are entirely different! I cannot imagine going through all these things without companions as fun and as brave-hearted as them.
Following our humbling encounter with whale sharks, we headed to Badian. We arrived past 7 p.m. and our guide Paul was already waiting for us in front of Matutinao Church with a group of habal-habal (motorbike) drivers since we’d stay in a loft beside Kawasan Falls.
The ride going up wasn’t easy! We had to navigate steep rocky paths and at one point, our habal-habal even traversed a narrow wooden bridge that had no railings. I was so close to saying, “Kuya, baba muna kaya kami?” Haha. You have to pay P50 each person for the ride. We then took a short hike going to our loft. We bought food earlier from Carcar Public Market and prepared our dinner. Okay, the boys actually did the cooking. :p We slept early knowing that tomorrow would require all the strength (and courage) we could muster.
The next day, after eating breakfast, we started our canyoneering adventure. Canyoneering packages are inclusive of habal-habal rides going to Alegria as well as your own helmet and lifejacket. I wore aqua leggings although my footwear was far from appropriate. Canyoneering’s not the time to bring out your fancy Havaianas or Keds Taylor Swift in my case. Choose sneakers or tight sandals that are lightweight yet sturdy.
At the beginning of your adventure, you’ll be asked to jump off a 20-foot high waterfall that’s slippery. Don’t be scared because there’s more to come. Haha! As you move forward, you’ll jump off waterfall cliffs, climb boulders, cross petrified logs, crawl in impossibly small holes (but it’s amazing how everyone can fit), swim, and swim some more. What makes canyoneering a whole lot easier is wading through Kanlaob’s sparkling water. It was my first time to see water that clear. The river served as a natural balm that took away our soreness and exhaustion.
There’s a 50-foot high cliff that’s not included in the route, but my friends volunteered to try it. Aujen was the first to jump and he said it was frightening. He only pushed through because descending the cliff looked more difficult. Haha. A group of "canyoneers" was even cheering for them. I’m so proud of them. Huhu. Eleazar, one of our guides, made jaws drop because of his effortless somersaults. Did I mention he’s only 15?
If you get hungry, there’s a makeshift eatery on top of a cliff. They sell grilled hotdogs, chorizos, etc. for P10-15 per stick.
After nearly five hours of pure canyoneering fun (the last leg of the adventure was a 45-minute trek across muddy trails), we finally reached Kawasan Falls. It was teeming with guests by the time we got there – a far picture from the unruffled place we were in the night before. My friends were again unstoppable from jumping off the majestic falls' edge. #youalreadyguys
After our satisfying lunch, Paul used a raft to bring us under the falls. The experience was terrifying yet incomparable.
Thankful for our Local Guides
We’re already home but I’m still in awe of our guides – Paul, his brother Eleazar, and their cousin Kuya Nathaniel. They were accommodating and considerate of our pace. They would offer their hands without us asking. They never showed signs of impatience. Paul even held my friend’s GoPro and would consistently direct us to ensure we’d go home with the best shots. It’s rare to meet guides who genuinely want you to make the most out of your experience even if it meant extra effort from their sides. While it’s part of their job description to keep us safe, please do not boss them around because it’s actually our privilege to see a foreign place through their eyes. If you’re happy with their service, let them know and give them tips.
I wasn’t able to ask details about his team but I would highly recommend Paul. You may contact him at +63975 390 0018. His response time might not be as fast because obtaining network signal proves to be a challenge in some parts of Kawasan. I hope you also experience the unparalleled feeling of awe canyoneering left us. :)
Here's a video of our canyoneering!