So you’ve booked your flight to Cebu, you’ve decided to try out this new exciting adventure in Badian, 3 hours away from Cebu City. What next?
I’ll tell you what’s next, put on your expensive Nike shoes, and run! Run, run, run, like there’s no tomorrow. You will need the stamina, the cardio, the endurance, to successfully navigate through the running waters of the Matutinao River. Not that I’m saying that I came in prepared for the activity, no. I was as ready as a child about to go jumping through canyons. I was (physically) unprepared. So please take my word for it and do something “sporty” before your adventure. You will thank me after.
- Book a tour
There are plenty of tour operators offering to guide you through the canyoneering adventure. We used Island Trek Tours because they offered van transfers to and from Cebu City (they picked us up from the airport). For a group of 10 or more people, canyoneering fee is P650 inclusive of the life vest, helmet, aqua shoes, 1 bottled water, 1 snack bar, and motorbike (habal-habal) to the starting point. We paid extra for the roundtrip transfers. The package cost may vary depending on the number of people in the group. Three guides will go with you through the canyons.
- Lasts for 5 – 6 hours
My sister and her friends took them just 4 hours through the canyoneering adventure, me and my friends though, took 6 hours to complete the canyons. We were eleven persons, so it took us longer to complete the jumps. Plus we waited for our turn at the Kawasan falls experience.
- Eat breakfast before the activity
Breakfast is a must! Not too heavy, but make sure you’re full as you won’t get to eat lunch during the adventure. FYI, our group only had 2 meals that day, breakfast and dinner, okay plus the BBQ meryenda, but the stalls aren’t always “open” so it’s best to be prepared. You might want to buy a small snack bar or a cloud 9 for the adventure, you will need it. Put it in the small pocket in front of your life vest.
- Habal-habal ride
After a short briefing from our guide, we got on our habal-habal (motorbike) and drove to the start point; around 20 minutes ride including one stop at the Alegria Tourism for registration.
- Start and End Point
Start point is at Canlaob, Alegria, and the end point is at Kawasan Falls in Badian. You will be crossing 2 municipalities. We trekked for about 7 minutes before we saw the point of the 1st jump.
- Earliest and latest time
Earliest time to start canyoneering is at 6:00AM and the latest is at 3:00PM. The earlier you go, the better. If you opt to start after lunch, you could still go but bear in mind that you only have until before sun down to complete the activity.
- Use a Go Pro with LCD
We don’t want bubbles on that epic group shot by the rapids, or worse, while you were jumping. We used the GoPro Hero4 Silver which has LCD already. Our shots were amazing! But there was this one video where there was a visible droplet when viewed but I did not see while I was shooting it. I’ve read that you can treat your lens with an anti-droplet solution to help solve this.
- Let your tour guide hold your Go Pro
You will be surprised at how well the guides know how to use the Go Pro. I didn’t even have to give them instructions. I am the type who wants to appreciate the beauty of the moment, so having them take the pictures and videos were plus points. Also, I could not imagine jumping and going through big boulders with a Go Pro in one hand. There’s a big chance that you will trip and you could cut yourself from the sharp edges of the rocks.
- Bring 2 extra batteries
The first battery emptied at about 1.5 hours along the way. If you want to capture every single jump, you must bring at least 2 extra batteries.
- Wear running shoes
The rocks will be slippery, and if you are not wearing the right footwear, your feet will not be able to survive this adventure. Trekking through the rocky terrain took a toll on my rubber shoes; I was already feeling every pebble that I stepped on and it felt like stepping on needles. Our package included the shoes, so some of my friends chose their weapon, errr running shoes at the house were we started.
I am personally vouching for this, I am stamping this item a ‘MUST HAVE’ if you are canyoneering. You see, rocks and water when combined are a deadly force of nature. You have zero room for error else you will find cuts and bruises all over your legs.
- No sunblock please
Like in Oslob Whale Shark Watching activity, you are not allowed to use sunblock while canyoneering, to protect the Matutinao and Badian River. You don’t have to worry about the sun as the mountains and rocks serve as big umbrellas for you.
- Dry bags don’t (always) work
During the activity, your guides will bring a dry bag to store your stuff (must-bring only). For us, the ‘stuff’ included the extra batteries of the Go Pro, iPhone, cash. Unfortunately, the dry bag that our guides used was not dry at all. When we opened the bag there was water in it. Bring a water proof pouch or ziplock (but mine tore so it’s not recommended). From my experience, if you have a water-proof camera or a Go Pro, do not bring your cellphones, you will not have the time and the reason to use it. Just bring the extra batteries of your action camera, a small towel, cash, and snack bar. That is all you need.
- Bring some cash
As mentioned, you should bring some cash because there’s a place (just before the 30-foot jump) where locals sell meryenda. There were hotdogs, cheesedogs, pork BBQ, and rice! After canyoneering for almost 4 hours at the time, we were so happy and excited. You would also need cash at the Kawasan Falls when you rent a raft. Also, to get back to the main street and into the starting point, you could either walk for 20-30 minutes or you could rent a habal-habal for P50. Don’t worry, they accept wet cash. Hahaha!
- The First jump is one of the highest
The first jump is 3 meters or about 10-feet high. Unlike the other jumps, this one is required. If you ask me this puts everything into perspective for us. Your mindset after the first jump should be: “I got through the 1st jump, next one should be easy.”
- Do not stare at the bottom before jumping
The longer you look at the bottom, the harder it is to jump. Trust me, I know. I was the first jumper on the first jump. I was under a lot of pressure, because everyone was waiting behind me. I literally had no choice. So I jumped, after 2 huge gulps of air. There’s this one jump that took me a loooooooooong time to process. It was the 30-feet jump, just after eating 1 stick of BBQ and hotdog. Mikki was the first to jump, and I volunteered to be second. She didn’t take too long to jump, just a couple of seconds after hearing the instructions then she was gone from my sight. Wow, no problem. Here we go. I moved slowly towards the jumping point, and then I made a terrible mistake. I stared. I was looking at the 30-foot drop, and saw the water just below where I’m supposed to land. I was looking, staring, zooming in. For some reason my legs were frozen in place, and I could not bring myself to jump. Every jump was scary, make no mistake, I will not lie and say I was not scared, but, my fear was mostly from the rocks that I could hit if I made the wrong jump. The jumping process in itself was scary-exciting. I loved every second of it. So going back to my ordeal, I should have not stared at the bottom and just jumped. Like what I did with all the jumps in the adventure.
- Try to land on both feet!
If you land ass first, you’re going to end up with purple legs. It’s going to look like you were paddled from the back, like in a fraternity initiation. So try to land on both feet. Hold your breath, don’t pinch your nose, and hold on to your vest if you don’t know where to put your arms while jumping. You could always ask your guide to demonstrate the best jumping positions for you.
- Do not vandalize
On our way through the river, I saw one rock with names on them and matching date. Like commoooon people! Let us preserve what Mother Nature gave us. We are so blessed with natural resources and we should not take it for granted. I heard if you get caught by the guides vandalizing, they would make you apologize out loud to the river.
- There will be a lot of rocks
Be prepared to get on a rocky road. Most rocks are slippery, some nasty, and you will have to go through them to get to the end point.
- Barbeque Halfway
About 4 hours into our adventure, we smelled something delicious cooking. As promised by our guides, there were BBQ stalls lined up just before the 30-foot drop. You could buy hotdog, cheesedog, rice, etc. Some days though they are not available depending on the weather. Imagine putting up a BBQ stall in the middle of canyons.
- Queu of people jumping
Best to schedule your canyoneering adventure on a weekday, as weekends would tend to have more tourists, and there would be a queu of jumpers. As we were there on a Thursday, we did not experience a long queu (although the group behind us waited a long time for us to finish, hehe).
- Highest jump is optional
The 30-foot jump was the end of the Canyoneering adventure. From there, there’s a 20-minute trek towards Kawasan Falls. The 3rd level falls or the Kabukalan spring will greet you. The water was so beautiful. You have the option to jump the 40-foot drop or just trek your way down the hill to the water. In this jump I did not make the same mistake as the 30-foot drop. I looked down just to measure how far I should jump to avoid the rocks and some overhanging branches, and then I jumped. It was supposed to be a running jump, but I was deathly afraid of slipping at the edge of the cliff and possibly killing myself instantaneously thereafter. So I just stepped back a little and jumped.
- Habal-habal at Kawasan Falls
After our adventure, it was time to go back to the house where our van was parked. We still have our guides with us. We have the option of walking to the house which was about 30 minutes walk, or renting a habal-habal for 10 minutes and P50 each. Let me tell you, at that point I could not envision myself walking farther than 10 feet away, we were soooo tired. So we opted for the habal habal, though out of cash, we paid them when we got to our van. That last habal-habal ride was scary-exciting, but mostly scary. We rode through a man-made bridge of plywood which was about 12 feet wide and zero room for error, ZERO. There was a foreigner walking and when he saw us cross the plywood bridge he said, “That was dangerous.” You bet it was, it was also FUN so, rock on!
Our driver took us to Oslob where we were booked for the rest of our stay in South Cebu. We drove for about 1 hour and 40 minutes. It was already dark when we checked in. The next day we went to see the magnificent Whale Sharks of Oslob. We also went to Sumilon Island after.
Here’s the video of our Canyoneering adventure:
Always remember let us preserve what Mother Nature has to offer. Reduce your impact. Leave no trace. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!