A Waterfall Visit

A Visit to Tarangban Falls

Friends of ours had some visitors from California come to town and asked if we wanted to join them on a hiking adventure to a local area waterfalls. Challenge accepted!  It’s not like I have anything better to do. Teri was just coming off a sinus malfunction and she wasn’t up to going so, I grabbed up my sidekick niece and nephew and off we went. From Calbayog City, the trip is about 45 minutes by jeepney north to the jump off point at Barangay Tinaplacan, or about 35 kilometers from Calbayog. At that point just adjacent to the highway, the local barangay office has a little outpost where we needed to register ourselves for the trip. From this location, it is about a one hour hike along the road to a point where the road ends at a lower set of rapids on the river. We decided to hire 3 habal habals for the first part of the journey. There were 10 of us in all, and we all fit comfortable on our habals (3, 3 & 4). (Watch the video below.) The cost of one habal habal is P300 for the round trip (or about $6.50USD). The trip by motorbike only took about 13 minutes. At the end of the road, we disembarked from our habals and we had a choice of which way we wanted to go. From this point, you can head directly up river a short distance to the lower “Butong Falls” or take the trail through the jungle about 40 minutes (depending on your fitness level) up the mountain to the larger and more majestic Tarangban Falls. We chose to visit Tarangban Falls. We arrived at the trail head about 9:45am and made arrangements with our habal drivers to return at 1:00pm to pick us up.

Arriving by habal habal
Arriving by habal habal

We did not waste much time at the lower part of the river and immediately began the trek into the jungle. The hike is long, about 40 minutes, and I would rate it at a medium difficulty level overall. There are a lot of rocks to step over and on, tree roots that trip you up, and with narrow dirt pathways and steep inclines, it can be a tiresome hike. If the trail were wet, then that could add an element of tricky-ness and take the difficulty level up a notch. The trail would be considered more slow-going (and hazardous) when slippery.

Not quite there yet!
With my sidekick niece – We’re not quite there yet!

Once we had the falls in sight, it seemed we were close but the granduer of the falls can be deceiving from a distance. From afar, they just don’t look that big, but when you are standing at the water’s edge below the falls, they are impressive. My guess is that the water cascades for about 100 meters over a series of rocks before reaching the stream at the bottom. There is a large swimming hole (about 15 meters in diameter) at the base and is very cool and clean. The pool is also deep enough to dive into. Downstream there are several smaller rapids and little whirlpools that were fun to play around in. Traversing some of the rocks around the falls can be slippery and dangerous, especially in flip-flops and I would exercise some caution. Overall, there was not much trash as someone obviously tends to keeping the area picked up, which is a great thing. The road from the highway to the lower river is being paved and the Dept. of Tourism has a good handle on developing this great tourist spot. The road will provide direct access to more sightseers to the lower river, which was a monster hike through the jungle in the past. We learned that once the road is completed, there will officially be a park entrance fee established, and hopefully that money will go towards further park developement, good management practice and keeping the park clean and beautiful.

We spent a couple of hours at the falls, relaxing and swimming, eating our lunch and just staying cool.  It was a fun trip and a beautiful place to spend part of a day, and I will definitely do it again but, next time I will be a little better prepared… I’ll wear shoes!

Recommended for this trip: Good shoes for hiking, water shoes for playing in the river (not necessary), food or snacks, plenty of water, camera, common sense, and a trash bag for your basura! (garbage)

5 thoughts on “A Waterfall Visit

  1. Very nice video. I hope they won’t develop it like a resort and build a pool with artificial stones destroying the natural beauty of it. Pls. don’t show it to corrupt politician!

  2. I agree, these sites should be managed by the Philippines Dept of Tourism (or DNR, Parks, or whatever department is in control of these things) and should be kept in it’s most natural state. But…. this is the Philippines!

  3. I have done this about a hundred times across Mindanao. Almost all streams are waterfalls if you go high enough. I get hot if I exercise too much so stream walks work well for me. I always use Islander slippers, even though walking in water ruins them, eventually. Once you get above any flat ground farmers become much rarer, but there are people living everyplace even though it seems far from any road.
    Something else you can try if you are adventuresome, is to walk up a big mountain planning to stay overnight. I have done this ten or eleven times. remember that unlike the US where if you go into wilderness, that there is simply nobody there, in the Philippines there are people everywhere. What to bring; a carton of cigarettes; 2 Tanduay senior; mosquito net; long and sort pants; razor and soap; something to pick up water in(plastic); sardines, dried fish, Sm bottle of kerosene, jacket. The plan is to hike 6 to 10 Klm a day and then find a farmer who will allow you to sleep in his hut where you can hang your net. The smokes are for him and the Tanduay is for anybody else who shows up. If you plan your trip so that there is a full moon that night you can walk in the forest at night without using a flashlight. This is particularly nice as great sections of the forest floor glow green at night, many insect larva also glow. Walking downhill is very fast so you can spend much of the next day eating native fruits, of which there are many. Not all so sweet or easy to get, but interesting in that you wonder why these fruits have not been exported below.
    I drink water from springs that farmers know about. I did get sick sometimes. The higher you go the more water is around. But it is too heavy to carry enough. I never failed to find a place to sleep, but not every farmer can understand why you are there and are suspicious, don’t give all your cigges to the first guy ( I do not smoke). Most people I met knew me from others on the flat part of the Philippines. I was never robbed or treated rudely. There are no Abu or NPA hiding there.

  4. Habl-Habl (renting a motorcycle that is not self drive over a unmaintained road) is perhaps the most dangerous thing done routinely by ex-pats. The roads are simply too bad to be safe for any kind of travel, and the passengers are the most unpredictable part, and that makes going faster more predictable for the driver.
    I was interested in gold mining for a while, not actually mining but watching Filipinos mine. The mine site I visited was about 8 miles up an old logging road. The first part of the road was still…OK is not the right word but passible by average experienced motor drivers. The rest seemed to have ruts in places that were 2 meters deep with wood planks making a tiny bridge in places, or had been paved with 8 to 12 inch rocks.
    My advise is never share the seat with others as the heavier the load the less control the driver has. Yes this driver has gone up this road (trail) 5X a day and he knows how with loads of 300 kilo, but just the same he for sure has no insurance either. The difference is usually less than P300.

    Habl Habl on the flat is something different all together. The problem with the road us usually mud and flooding ( Imagine a 4′ deep pothole, 35′ across). I wanted to attend a horse fight in a town that was only accessible by habl habl and only partly so. This town interested me in that there were perhaps 3000 residents who lived there without power, a road or piped water. What were they doing there? So I approached a habl habl and tried to negotiate a price but found no takers. With limited Visayan I discovered that the river was too high to cross and would have to wait for a returning driver after wading through and it was already late (10AM!). But I agreed to give assistance in carrying the motor over that section for an additional P100 (for the passage of another driver who also carried, and was left at the river side)(plenty of drivers waiting on the other side too). One section of the road was covered with about 8″ to 14″ of water for hundreds of yards, (Agusan river) no problem driving when you can’t hardly see the road, of course.

  5. Sounds interesting. The liquor and cigs are a good idea. You can carry a bamboo tube filled with charcoal and sand to purify water. I can understand why farmers would be suspicious. I would not be worried about the NPA, but ASG would make me a little nervous.

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