By now, there is little doubting the pull of Davao for people to visit Mindanao. Fresh fruits, secluded islands, and some of the calmest weather throughout the country are but some of the few things that are quite appealing.
It should really be no surprise, then, that one of the most naturally gorgeous parts of Davao is this eco park in Aliwagwag Falls. There have been many instances of the indomitable spirit of Filipinos throughout the country, and Aliwagwag Falls shares a similar comeback story. Come on, let’s dive in!
A Bit of Background
Unlike La Mesa Eco park, Aliwagwag Falls are a little while away from civilization, making it a little less accessible than its Manila counterpart. However, anybody who has been to the area will attest that it is completely worth the trip just to see the famous waterfall version of the ‘Stairway to Heaven’.
Not only is it one of the tallest waterfalls in the Philippines, it is also one with one of the most numerous drops, with over 100 individual falls making up this majestic feat of nature. It sits in Cateel, in a region lived by the Mandaya tribe who believe the falls are a godsend for their sustenance and survival.
Only recently has this protected waterfall been made into an Eco park, allowing for increased access to the people and more resources for the local government to protect this national treasure.
Disaster in History
Late 2012, Aliwagwag was hit by Typhoon Pablo, wrecking its natural landscape and causing many blockages both on the roads and in the waterfall. Since then, however, the local government has been working very hard to get it back on its feet, and the Ecopark is a testament to some of its efforts.
Dare to Have a Dip?
This is a waterfall, after all, and after the trek up to its origin, you would be forgiven for wanting a dip in the clear, cool water. The upper pools are swimmable as the current is not as strong and there is a guard presence, but the lower pools are less advisable for be swam as it could be dangerous.
Fly Across the Falls
Ziplining is getting quite popular throughout the country. Couple that with the beauty of this natural wonder and you get a surefire way of enjoying yourself. The 680m zipline crosses the Cateel River (₱200) at high speeds, and for anybody looking for the adrenaline rush and an untouched, unmatched view of the area should give this a try!
Walk Across the Falls
While this does not sound even half as exciting as the zipline, there is little doubt that it can be terrifying for an outsider looking in. A relatively short 45m ‘Monkey Bridge’ spans the width of the falls, made up of literally three pieces of rope held together by a little more rope. The bridge will swing as you cross, and the view of the falls quickly rushing by beneath you will unnerve even the steeliest of you.
The crossing will cost a measly ₱50, but for those who are certain they want to experience both the bridge and the zipline can pay ₱225 for both, saving you a little money!
A Little Peckish?
Two options, either pack a lunch and come here to eat it or purchase food straight from the canteen of the Ecopark! Renting a table and chairs for the day will cost a paltry ₱75, allowing you to have a place to leave your stuff and relax while you take a break from the heat and splash in the cool water.
Address: Compostela – Cateel Rd, Cateel, Davao Oriental
Entrance fee: ₱50/adult, ₱10/child
The hike up may be treacherous, the dense forest overwhelming, but the sheer magnificence and beauty of the Aliwagwag Falls make it all worth it. Its new adjoining Eco park is the perfect sign of both growth and the maintenance of what is already there. Treasure it.
Visit Aliwagwag Falls Eco park the next time you’re traveling the wider Davao area! Don’t forget the sunscreen and insect repellent and just have a good time!