A colleague of mine asked me if where will be my next destination. When I told him that I will be heading to Cebu next, he then enthusiastically said that it would be more fun if I try Kawasan Canyoneering in Badian. At the back of my mind, I was trying to recall if I have already encountered what he said, but I was clueless. Back then, I had the slightest idea of what canyoneering was all about but the huge smile on his face piqued my curiosity and gave me the impression that it seemed very exciting.
Wikipedia defines canyoning or canyoneering as sport of exploring a canyon by engaging in such activities as rappelling, rafting, and waterfall jumping. In the Philippines, canyoneering has been regarded by seasoned adrenaline junkies as a must-try activity and one of the best places to experience canyoneering is in Cebu. The southern part of Cebu has been labelled as home to different travel interests of the more adventurous kind, particularly Kawasan Canyoneering in the municipality of Badian.
Kawasan Canyoneering Hub
Since canyoneering is considered as an extreme sport, safety is a very important factor and it would be best to hire the services of professionals and my searching has led me to finding Kawasan Canyoneering. The group of qualified guides at Kawasan Falls was formed back in 2015. All of them were adept in navigating the valleys and streams of Badian and Alegria as well as in handling travelers of all shapes, sizes and ages.
From Oslob, I traveled early morning to get to Kawasan Canyoneering Headquarters in Barangay Matutinao in Badian. Their canyoneering sessions usually start at 7:30 AM and there are tours every thirty minutes thereafter. When I arrived at Kawasan Canyoneering Headquarters, I registered at the reception and was introduced to my guide, Kuya Bernard.
They do one on one tour for solo travelers but that time they asked me if it would be ok for me to join a group and I said yes. I don’t mind being a joiner as long as it’s OK to the other party since they are a family of three (Dad, Mom and Son) and I do not want to spoil their family vacation. They agreed to take me in and we were all ready to go but before leaving, our guides (two guides were still assigned to us) handed us our protective gears like helmet and life vest, plus a bottle of water and a snack that were placed in the life vest’s pouch.
They advised us that we only bring an action camera or waterproof camera during the tour for obvious reasons that we will be mostly submerged in water. We were also informed to bring some money in case we wanted to buy more food and to pay for other (optional) fees that are not included in the package.
To the Jump Off Point
The entrance to Kawasan Falls was just right across the Kawasan Canyoneering headquarters. However, from Barangay Matutinao, we rode a habal-habal (motorcycle) and drove five kilometers to the mountain side of Barangay Sulsogan which kind of confused me. Our guides explained later on that the mountainous terrain of Barangay Sulsogan will be the starting point of our four-hour long adventure that will end at the foot of the majestic Kawasan Falls.
Kawasan Canyoneering can be executed in two ways, downstream and upstream. As the terms suggest, downstream would start from a higher elevation passing through series of waterfalls that would require more jumping until reaching the end of the trail. While upstream is the opposite and would require more climbing and can be more strenuous.
Phase 1: Warm Up – Trekking
The first twenty minutes was like a walk in the park as the lane that we were on was already paved. Although some parts of the road were still under construction, it was not too challenging to progress through the minor inclines. While we were tracing the cemented footpath, our guides shared some stories from their past experiences and briefed us of the do’s and don’ts of canyoneering. They made sure that we were well-informed and at ease as we went along.
Then we changed routes and started to descend passing through a densely forested area after reaching the first stop over. The locals have enhanced the trail by carving some steps on the slopes, placing a series of make shift handrails and putting up wooden ladders made from tree branches to make it easier and safer for visitors to go downhill. It was an almost similar trail to the one that I took going to Kilangin Falls of Liliw, Laguna.
Phase 2: Test Your Stamina – Trek + Swim + Slide + Jump and Repeat
The forceful surge of the river and people’s laughter were echoing in the atmosphere halfway down the trail. Shortly thereafter, one of nature’s wonders revealed itself. The clusters of gigantic stalactites suspended on the colossal walls over a clear stream filled with huge boulders were truly impressive.
We have successfully reached the base of the mountain in a matter of thirty to thirty-five minutes. After a short break and another safety briefing from our guides, it was time to take it up a notch. The next level of our Kawasan Canyoneering adventure started on the clear aquamarine waters of Kanlaob River (also known as Matutinao River). A few challenges presented itself as soon as we set off for phase two.
The intense torrent of Kanlaob River coupled with the slippery rocks made it hard to find our sense of balance. One moment, we were walking on shallow waters then a few steps further and we were submerged in a deep pool and had to put our swimming and floating skills into practice. I am not a good swimmer and I usually panic when I cannot feel the ground under my feet anymore but I felt safe at that time. Our life vests were very buoyant and our guides were watching our every move.
Then, we’ve reached the first cascade that was about 2-3 feet high. Jumping was not advisable because the level of water below us was too shallow so our guide asked us to lie down facing the sky and let the pressure of the river to push our bodies to slide down the pool. We basically did the same on our way to the second waterfall but when we got there, our guide said that there was no other way down but to jump in to the water. With little hesitation, all four of us took the challenge and jumped from the edges of the cliff around 8-10 feet high but we were just getting started with the cliff jumping said our guide.
Phase 3: Conquer Your Fear – Jump Off a Cliff
“If you think that it is risky, it might be worth trying” …but of course, taking all safety measures in consideration first.
Inspired and Pressured
Seeing other tourists as they plummet one by one in to the water had sparked my interest to try it for myself, but boy it wasn’t easy. My knees were shaking and my heart beat was racing every time I stood at the edge. Of the four of us in our group, the mom did not carry on with the cliff jumping and took the alternate route instead. She just watched and cheered for her husband and her son as they took the plunge.
The father always jumped first, then his son and I was always the last but jumping after their son was a tough act to follow. He was only nine years old at that time (now ten) and he is way younger than me. I cannot back out; my self-respect was at stake. Haha.
Before jumping, his father would ask him if he wants to do it, if he thinks he can do it. He usually said yes, but there was a time when he was reluctant to jump but with little encouragement from his parents, he went for it. He only did not jump once, he went for the twenty and thirty foot drop twice and jumped from a swinging rope as well. He was one brave kid I must say and the other adults next to us who were having second thoughts of jumping have been amazed by him and have been pressured to jump too. 🙂
Phase 4: Cool Down – Bamboo Rafting in Kawasan Falls
After a long trek, a gruelling swim in the waters of Kanlaob River and a challenging cliff jumping in the canyons of Badian and Alegria, we have reached the breathtaking Kawasan Falls. We chipped in and rented a bamboo raft that took us directly under the cascades. The coldness of the water was so revitalizing and feeling the raging waterfalls on our backs and on our heads was like having a very hard massage. In fact, nobody from our group was able to stand straight to endure its powerful drops. It was just what we needed to end an adventure-filled day of Kawasan Canyoneering.
Not too long lone ago, bamboo rafting in Kawasan Falls has been stopped until further notice. The suspension was due to some complaints about the tour operators and guides. See related article from Sun Star Cebu.
All that I have ever wanted was to witness the magnificence of Kawasan Falls right before my very own eyes but I ended up with challenging myself to do even more than that. If my conversation with a colleague didn’t take place, it would have not crossed my mind to take on the Kawasan Canyoneering activity that have unlocked my appetite for extreme adventures.
Useful Information about Kawasan Canyoneering
- Listen to your guides. They know when and where it is safe to jump.
- Wear the protective gears issued to you at all times.
- Bring extra batteries. My camera’s battery was drained fast and I forgot the extra battery which was in my bag that I left back in the HQ. I just turned my camera off from time to time for it to last until the end of our canyoneering activity. As a result, I was not able to document some parts of our journey. Plus, the waterproof housing also cracked and my camera got wet but thankfully it is still working after placing it in a container filled with uncooked rice 🙂 ).
- Bring extra money, there’s ihaw-ihaw (barbecue) and some snacks available in the middle of the canyons. Filipino ingenuity at its finest.
- There are extra fees (optional) if you want to use the slides and to jump from the rope.
- Bring a waterproof bag and pack light (only put your extra batteries and money). The guides can carry it for you.
- Wear a sturdy pair of comfortable shoes. No flip-flops.
- Do not use sunblock. It will contaminate the river.
- BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER. LEAVE NO TRACE.
Getting to Badian from Oslob
From Oslob, take a Ceres Bus to Bato (Terminal) which was the last stop. Ride another bus going to Cebu via Barili and alight in front of Matutinao Church in Badian or simply inform the driver/conductor that you are going to Kawasan Falls. Right across the church is the Kawasan Canyoneering Headquarters. Travel time is approximately two hours (one hour from Oslob – Bato, and another hour from Bato to Barangay Matutinao, Badian).
Getting to Badian from Cebu City
Head to South Bus Terminal and ride a Ceres Bus going to Bato via Barili. You may just inform the driver to drop you off in front of Matutinao Church or tell them that you’re doing Kawasan Canyoneering/Kawasan Falls. Right across the church is the Kawasan Canyoneering Headquarters. Travel time is 3-3.5 hours depending on traffic.
6021 BADIAN, CEBU, PHILIPPINES
For immediate booking you may contact them at +63 933-860-9330, +63 905-333-2623 or viber +63 918-6544-111 or +63 916-227-2081
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How about you? Have you been to Badian, Cebu? Have you tried Kawasan Canyoneering? What other extreme adventures have you tried lately? How was your experience? We would love to hear from you. Share your thoughts.