I have a river for a writing muse. Almost every month, I bused to southern Cebu, dropped off Matutinao (Badian), walked beside the rushing madness, skipped the crowded first falls, and trekked up to the lagoon, where my muse ends and where another river starts. I sometimes took a dip, sometimes bought books for the kids, chatted with Tatay Willie about my love life, my dream of having the muse as my front yard, about his lagoon, about the crowd in the first two falls. Yes, when I was still living in Cebu, I would see myself going to Kawasan for the heck of it. I’m rather proud to say as well that a group of trekking friends and I upstreamed the river long before Kawasan canyoneering was even a buzzword. But you’re not here for aimless yada-yada, are you?
NOTE: Kawasan Canyoneering here refers to the tour company whose flagship tour is the canyoneering activity in Kanlaob River-Kawasan River system.
We are please to inform you that effective September 1, 2016, the official rate for canyoneering + kawasan falls is now Php1,500 per person (regardless of nationality). This is inclusive of life vest, safety helmet, all government fee, aqua shoes, habal-habal ride to jumpoff station, tour guide fees, light snacks, bamboo rafting, and Kawasan Falls recovery meals (lunch).
READ: 18 Things, Yes, 18 Things to Do in Southern Cebu! But Don’t Trust My Math, It Can Be Twenty or Thirty!
Four years ago, two mountaineer friends and I braved the current and upstreamed Kanlaob River without the aid of ropes and floating device. We could not finish till the end.
It was a crazy decision I loved reminiscing. And I kept remembering it because it was barely enough. I wanted to come back and finished what we recklessly started. I wanted to murmur love notes and kiss the boulders.
The much-awaited chance arrived, and it was more than satisfying that we had Kawasan Canyoneering as our canyoneering guide.
Here are the reasons why Kawasan Canyoneering rocks and is worth applauding for. And this is your most updated Kawasan Canyoneering Travel Guide!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Wear the appropriate footwear and clothes. If you get easily cold, wear a tight rush guard and leggings or tights. The leggings could lessen the occurrence of muscle cramps. Footwear with a good grip is highly, highly recommended.
The unwanted consequences of canyoneering’s popularity were trash and vandalism. The river was generally clean, but trash floated here and there. Kawasan Canyoneering, is one of the very few—if not the only one—that conducts monthly cleanup drive. They retraced the route, picked up the trash they saw all the way.
If only guests are responsible enough to not throw their garbage wherever, whenever they feel like doing. If only there are no stupid guests who vandal their names on the rocks. If only tour operators emulate Kawasan Canyoneering, then I would not fear for the gradual disbeauty of Kawasan-Kanlaob canyons.
The ideal ratio should be 1 guide is to four guests. We were only seven. Yet we had two guides: James and Marvin—two seasoned guides who had been guiding adventure seekers for at least five years now. Marvin, the lead guide, taught us the right positioning of the body when we jumped from 20-ft to 40 ft-high falls. Hug your body. Or hold the straps of your lifejacket tight. Keep your body straight. Do not bend your legs when you are about to hit the water. Do not flap your arms like Batman. Or else your arms would have painful bruises from the water impact.
Gravity hurts, you know. That’s why it is called falling. Like falling in love. 😛
The ever gutsy, I did the first jump. And the moment my body made contact, I shouted “Cold!”
The guides of Kawasan Canyoneering know the intricacies of the river. They know and understand the mischievous and often deceiving river current and undercurrent. They know how to have fun.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Knowing how to swim is a plus but not necessary to enjoy canyoneering. Wearing the lifejacket is mandatory, so the undercurrent cannot push you down when you jump. Don’t worry, you will float.
We all followed the rules James and Marvin told us. Errr, well, you know, I’m really hardheaded, I broke a rule or two like finding my own path. But I was on my element and confident of my feet, legs, and arms.
Note, if you are insecure of your own footing, if it is your first rivertrekking/canyoneering adventure, please follow the advice of your guides. The safety precautions are for your own sake.
Our group, all travel bloggers, is easy to handle; so James could leave us to Marvin and position himself to higher places and take a lot of photos. He would climb boulders and outcrops with two Go Pros. I sometimes felt like following his trail; but Marvin, who took his job to heart, stopped me right on time when my arrogance almost got the better of me. And I thank him for that.
So while Marvin asked us to float, make a circle, hold one another’s hands, our feet congregating in the middle, James was busy taking photos of our floating flower formation! This formation is one of the brandings of Kawasan Canyoneering!
Canyoneering is for the brave and the adventurous. But it is an activity that needs guidance as well. And truth be told, even though I am confident with my footing, it was a welcome assurance that our guides would know what to do in case an emergency occurs [for example, me breaking a leg from my own utter recklessness]. On top of the usual trainings tour guides have, the guides at Kawasan Canyoneering have undergone trainings with Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation.
I got exhausted from all the falls-jumping, wading, and swimming. Plus, it was cold. Good thing, I thought of wearing a rush guard instead of a noodle-strapped top. We started around 8 and finished around 1. Good thing, our group was not big; so we were able to finish earlier. Marvin said some groups could swell up to 17. It would not be a problem if everyone were fast; but some took a while to jump into the water. The five-hour adventure could stretch to seven or eight hours. Except for my calculated recklessness, the team I was with was fun and fast. So we finished early, and we had our lunch at Kawasan Canyoneering’s headquarter.
Well, you know, I have a big appetite. And the thought of having a sumptuous meal after a four-hour adventure made my tummy excited.
On weekends, the crowd can be maddening; think of human traffic in the middle of the river! Doi, the queen of Pinoy Travel Bloggers in Cebu, already predicted this. So we left the city at three and arrived in Matutinao (the town where Kawasan Falls is) around six. We had breakfast at Matutinao Beach, the headquarters of Kawasan Canyoneering, right across the little road to Kawasan Falls. We enjoyed our lunch with a view.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be a responsible traveler. Do not step on the corals. Take “Leave No Trace” to heart.
When I round southern Cebu solo, I sometimes wait for the sunset here. This side of southern Cebu has some of the glorious sunsets I have ever witnessed. You can snorkel or free-dive at the drop. Badian’s marine life can rival that of Moalboal.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Kanlaob River—where the biggest part of the canyoneering takes place—belongs to the municipality of Alegria, the town next to Badian where Kawasan Falls is located.
We are please to inform you that effective September 1, the official rate for canyoneering + kawasan falls is now Php1,500 per person (regardless of nationality). This is inclusive of life vest, safety helmet, all government fee, aqua shoes, habal-habal ride to jumpoff station, tour guide fees, light snacks, bamboo rafting, and Kawasan Falls recovery meals (lunch).
FULL DISCLOSURE: Kawasan Canyoneering handled the lunch and travel guiding fee. But what you have just read is sincere and honest; and although I found Marvin overreacting at times, I knew that it was my safety that he was after. There are many tour operators that provide canyoneering activities in Kanlaob-Kawasan river system, but I stick to legitimate and properly trained guides. I love rivers, but they are the most treacherous beings I have ever met. So it pays off to have your adventure with seasoned, trustworthy, adventurous humans like Kawasan Canyoneering.