Canyoneering or canyoning (n.) is considered a sport of exploring a canyon that includes: rappelling, rafting and waterfall jumping.
Caution: Jump at your own risk, but luckily, you can skip the hard levels anyway.
Canyoneering is the first on my “100 things bucket list” (inspired by Sebastian Terry’s book – 100 Things – what’s on your list?).
You may wonder why canyoneering is the first on my bucket list; just so you know, I live in Cebu City, Philippines. I have been in Cebu for almost 3 years now, and I have to admit I haven’t tried anything extreme nor did I explore much of Cebu. I have first heard about canyoneering from my officemates in a call center and all of them asked me to join in which I definitely said “no”. I am afraid of heights and closed or small spaces- so I don’t think I need to further explain why I said “no”. Scaredy cat you may say I am but in all honesty, YES, I don’t have the angst nor guts. Not until you encounter a certain tragedy that will then let you realize, living in a box nor extensive precaution will let you miss the fun in living. Alright, alright, will skip the boring details and will proceed with the action and thrill of this experience.
Here it goes…
My client asked me to head to Badian with some people from our company, experience canyoneering and live to tell the experience, all expenses paid (so I can’t say “NO” and just shooed my coward side somewhere else). Just got lucky! 🙂
Before continuing my story, things to note for a canyoneering well-spent in Badian:
- You can hire a car (Toyota Innova) for as low as 5,500PHP. 6,500PHP for a van. The transfer fee is already to and from your destination. Or, you can ride the bus at South Bus Terminal an hour away if you are coming from Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Bus fare can be 150PHP to 200PHP depending on the bus you will be riding, if it has an AC, then it’ll be expensive. For this trip, we hired a car instead.
- Not that I am promoting here, but just a piece of advice, Get a tour package! Why? Because everything else will be taken cared for. The package already includes food and bottled water, motorcycle fee, entry fee, tour guide and canyoneering gear. Side note for gears: They will provide a helmet and a life jacket with a harness. They will also provide you some trekking shoes or sandals if they have available shoes with your size (ssshh! Just a tip, I would personally advise you to wear your own trekking shoes or sandals, you might not like the ones they will be offering). For this, I would personally recommend Highland Adventures (for further details, please see link: https://highlandadventuresph.wordpress.com/) Canyoneering package is at 1,500PHP/pax which is really affordable and the service they have rendered is more than the price, so better check them out if you’re planning to experience canyoneering.
- A must not forget note: You will be needing lots and lots of water! (I know you will from time to time be able to drink some of the river’s water but don’t worry, I haven’t had any stomach ache nor were the people who went with me – haha).
For an ultimate list of what to bring for canyoneering, kindly click here!
Alright, I apologize for the ads, I just wanna make sure you guys will get the ultimate canyoneering experience like I did.
So, the exact date was March 18, 2017. The trip started at the meeting place where the 6 of us met in the parking lot of Mango Square Mall Cebu City. Since the meeting place is near a Jollibee chain, we have some meals for breakfast and drop by the 7-eleven shop for chips and some bottled water. The trip from the city to Badian can take roughly 4-5hrs depending on your speed and congestion. As for me, I am used to long land travels, since I have traveled from Zamboanga City all the way to Davao City (that’s like 26hrs all in all, these are the Southern part of the Philippines). Along the way, you will be passing by the famous “lechon” town in Cebu which is Carcar (this is also the biggest shoe factory in the city), you will know when you are in Carcar because you’ll see a roundabout as old as time, PLUS you’ll see vendors selling “chicharon” (A local trademark of Carcar which is consisted of fried pork belly or pork rinds). You won’t totally get bored along the travel since you will be seeing the beauty of nature at its finest details, from trees to valleys, to beaches and sunrise. You will totally get lost with the Spanish-inspired churches and plaza, old houses and ruins. And of course, not to mention the long and funny chit-chats with your friends.
Once you reached Badian, you may inform Michael (Highland adventure’s contact person) and they will be happily meeting you, their station is just along the road so you will not be having any hard time locating them.
A short briefing will be held at the station, followed by signing a waiver and settling of accounts for any balance.
Here’s us after the briefing.
POWER NOTE: Please do some stretching before canyoneering to avoid muscle pain, I am reminding you and I am telling you, you will be sore all throughout the next day if you won’t.
Once briefing is done, they will hand you over your life vests and will be assisting you with the harness. NOTE: It is government mandated “to always wear your respective helmets”.
And we are set with our canyoneering gears!
Every group of people (maximum of 10) can be accompanied by (2) two guides, these guides are well trained and know the trails by heart, as they grew with the river and had their childhood in it as well. In this photo, we are accompanied by one of the coolest guide (in yellow helmet) you’ll ever meet. The above photo was taken on our way down from the station to ride the “habal-habal” or motorcycle going to the entrance of the canyoneering site.
Note: You don’t need to pay the drivers of the motorcycle as it is already part of the package. The road to the entrance of the site can be a bit rocky and a bit steep but I can guarantee you won’t feel it anyway as you will be too busy looking at the sceneries around you.
Once you get to the entrance, you will be required to register your names, and that’s it. The walking starts here… Make sure to hold on tight to your bottled water because you will need it. The walk to the mouth of the river will take at least 15-30mins depending on how fast you can walk. The path has been cemented, you’ll feel like you’re just walking through a canopy in a park.
This is the steepest part of the path, so I guess you can just all manage since most of us did. And the rest are either plain or going down (they have created stairs made of mud!) 🙂
Yipee! We reached the middle of the trail (that part of which needed walking, not the actual canyoneering trail).
Don’t worry if you ran out of bottled water along the way, you will be able to pass by some local stores and they even offer fresh coconut juice! Whew!
I am sure a couple of minutes after you go down the stairs made of mud, you will feel a sudden excitement as you hear the rush of the water, oh before I forget, don’t get too excited as you might slide down the stairs, be careful and watch your steps. It can be a little bit slidey. It will all be worth it I swear! When you reach the end of the stairs, you will be welcomed by these amazing rock formation – I know, nature has its own art!
See the look on our faces? I, for one, was captivated and left speechless, I have never seen something like this my whole life of traveling.
The actual canyoneering trail will start here. The swimming and jumping, climbing and walking will start here. Alert! Water in the river is “cold”, so know what to expect! Brrrrrr.
The jump. The jump you will need to take is from 12ft to 35ft (this is the last level – yes, save the best for last!)
This is the first level of all the jumpings in this trail. This is “just” 12ft for adrenaline junkies, but for people that are afraid of heights (like me!), this is already a grail for contemplating about your past mistakes. I am not the one who is jumping in the picture (if you have that question in mind when looking at the photo). I was the second to the last from a group of 6 to jump off this first level (I did have an actual video of the jump, but sad to say, all files were corrupted and gone – I know, a bummer right?). And in all honesty, I can still remember vividly what the feeling was – once you’ve got your feet up in the air world war III happens inside your head (regrets, mistakes, past, and the never ending what if’s of life). Seriously the longest 2 seconds of your life and whoosh, cold water embraces and knocks out your senses back to life – and yes, I survived!
Power tip for not-so-adrenaline people: Don’t think and just jump!
After the first level jump, everything will be easy and free flowing. Imagine the feeling of just letting go and having a full on fun.
And this is just us having fun and going with the flow 😉
Who will resist a swing? Who will resist a couple of minutes being a kid? No one right? As you go near the Kawasan falls, you will have a chance to try the swing that will take you directly to the water (For only 10PHP – how awesome that can be!) or a slide that goes with the actual flow of the river.
The photo at the top seem like my other posted pictures for this canyoneering experience but wait, don’t be deceive as this is the last jump for this trail which is 35ft. There is still the mother of all jumps which is the 60ft but it’s now closed for some reasons. I was the only person in the group who didn’t have the guts to jump and went to pass the long-cut but not too long, it’s just a mixture of a 5min walk uphill and downhill until we reached the end of the trail and had the most sumptuous meal after a vigorous activity. In our menu: Pork sinigang (Pork stew in tamarind), fried chicken and unlimited rice.
Note that you will still have to walk back for 10-15mins out of Kawasan falls and ride a tricycle back to Highland Adventure station where your driver is waiting to take you home.
I just want to reserve this section for my client Roslyn Ranse for making this experience possible for us.