My love for waterfalls started when I visited Kawasan Falls in Cebu in November 2010. Since then, I made sure I get to visit at least one in every trip that I prepare, if possible. Though a waterfalls fan, I was not very familiar with all the popular waterfalls in the Philippines. While researching for places to visit in Eastern Mindanao, I chanced upon Mr. Olan Emboscado’s blog, The Travel Teller, and found out about Aliwagwag Falls, which is said to be the highest waterfalls in the Philippines. Apparently, my travel companion has also researched about the same waterfalls so immediately we included it in our itinerary.
Aliwagwag Falls was called as such because it is located in Brgy. Aliwagwag, Cateel. The falls is about 25 km away from Cateel proper and can be reached within 30 minutes by habal-habal. Upon completion of the Davao-ComVal-Cateel Road (probably in 2013), getting to Aliwagwag falls will definitely be faster and easier. On the other hand, the falls is roughly 50 km from Compostela Valley.
|Several cascades as seen from the bridge|
At around 7am, my friend and I were ready for our Aliwagwag escapade. We got out of Oar Inn where the caretaker willingly assisted us in negotiating with the habal-habal driver for the rental of his motorcycle. He first asked for 400 pesos, including gas and waiting time. The caretaker bargained at 350 and the driver agreed. The price was okay for me and my friend so we hopped in the habal-habal and started out travel towards Brgy. Aliwagwag.
On the way to the falls, we were entertained by lovely views of the mountains, rivers, and trees. We passed by small portions of rough road, where construction was ongoing. After 30 minutes of a butt-aching motorcycle ride, we reached a short bridge and I was like “Is it still far?” Before our driver, Kuya Along, could answer, our habal-habal stopped on the bridge and we were taken aback for quite a few seconds. We have actually arrived in Aliwagwag Falls! The bridge we were standing on was the Aliwagwag bridge. The raging water from the falls flows across the bridge towards a stream on the other side.
|My friend taking snapshots from below the bridge|
The sight was really breathtaking. My friend and I got off the habal-habal while Kuya Along parked his motorcycle near the nipa hut just beside the bridge. We wasted no time and started taking pictures from different angles. It was a little frustrating that the brightness of the sun was a bit too much and most of our pictures were too bright considering we were already using the manual mode. Nonetheless, the spectacular view of the falls was satisfying enough.
|Even the mist is capturesd in the photo!|
Aliwagwag falls looks like a never-ending stairway up the mountain. According to Davao Zone, it is composed of a series of 84 falls, with an overall height of 1,110 feet, making it the highest in the country. The minimum height is 6 feet while the tallest is 110 feet. The widest portion measures 20 meters. When you look at Aliwagwag falls from afar, it would appear like an ordinary stream with weak water current and small rocks. But when you get close, you will see that each cascade is actually taller than you!
|View of the bridge from the nth cascade|
Kuya Along invited us to go up the falls to explore the cascades and steps up close. He offered to carry my bag. It was a bit difficult to climb because it rained the previous night and the rocks are slippery while the soil is muddy. But nothing could stop us from exploring the falls. We took off our slippers, left them near the 2nd nipa hut and started our mini trek.
|Kuya Along enjoying the waters|
Kuya Along directed us as we climbed, telling us what surface to step on, whether there are thorny branches to avoid, etc. In each step of the falls, we would stop to take some pictures. Each cascade offers a different view, but all are equally relaxing and mesmerizing. After an hour, we found ourselves at the 12th cascade! I told Kuya Along I was dead tired and I’m satisfied with 12. I’ll come back for the remaining 72. Haha. We rested for a moment and then started our trek downstream.
|Small lagoon on the side|
My friend and I couldn’t decided whether we’d take a dip or not. But since we didn’t want to ride the habal-habal wet, we decided not to swim. We asked Kuya Along where he could take us next since we still had 2 hours before lunchtime, and he told us that Mahoc Beach in Brgy. San Antonio is a great place to visit. We bid Aliwagwag goodbye, rode our habal-habal and continued our tour. Watch out for my post on Mahoc Beach.
|One of the smaller cascades|
|The water is so inviting!|
|Taking a rest in one of the huts|
|The brightness of the sun is so obvious on this one|
|Taking shots in between climbs|
|Pieces of wood on the side|
GETTING TO ALIWAGWAG FALLS:
Aliwagwag Falls is located in Brgy. Aliwagag, Cateel, Davao Oriental. The best way to reach the place is to catch a plane going to Davao City, since Davao Airport is the airport nearest Cateel.
From Davao City, ride a bus bound for Cateel. There are two routes, one via Compostela Valley, and the other one via Mati City. If you take a bus via ComVal (4-5 hours travel time), the bus will directly pass by Aliwagwag Falls. If you take the Mati City route (6-7 hours travel time), you can get off at the poblacion in Cateel and hire a habal habal (30 minutes). Habal-habal rental price is negotiable, but shouldn’t be more than 400 pesos for two persons, including driver’s waiting time.
Cateelenos are so blessed they have such a spectacular wonder which is so accessible.
|Enjoying God's creation|