MY CO-TEACHERS have long wanted to go on a nature trip to refresh themselves from all the stress caused by school reports and activities. There had been several failed attempts, but this summer we turned their dream into a reality by organizing a tour in eco-tourism spots in Surigao del Sur that have recently gained popularity online. Since most of them haven’t heard of Britania Group of Islands,Enchanted River, and Tinuy-an Falls, they weren’t very excited at first, thinking that it was going to be a very long and tiring road trip. They didn’t realize that they were about to embark on a trip they wouldn’t forget for the rest of their lives.
With information I found online and gathered from friends who had been there, I planned out our itinerary. I prepared the training design and had it approved by our superintendent, negotiated with the owner of the van we rented for the trip, and arranged our accommodation in an affordable pension house in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.
The Road Trip
Bislig, Surigao del Sur is a bout a seven-hour drive from General Santos City. We decided to travel at nighttime to avoid the heat and to maximize the three days allotted for the trip. The road trip passes by Malungon, Sarangani Province, Davao City, Tagum City, and Compostela Valley.
The van seats 18 persons but there were only 15 of us in the trip so it was comfortable. We rented the van for Php 15,000.00 all in. If you are from anywhere in SoCCSKSarGen you may call Mr. Dondon Fuster for reservation through his mobile number 09197486858. Renting a van is very convenient because the three spots we visited were about an hour or two from each other.
We arrived in San Agustin at daybreak. From the highway, we already saw the beautiful group of small islands. Britania Islets can be found scattered in Lianga Bay in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. There are 24 coral islets that look like floating topiaries. There are boat trips that you can arrange in either La Entrada Resort or at McArthur’s Place.
We chose MacArtur’s Place following a friend’s suggestion. We had our breakfast there, which the resort crew prepared for us. the view from the resort was breathtaking. So we sat on the shore while waiting for our food, gazing upon the wonders that await us.
We arranged for a boat ride to and around the islets. A trip costs Php 1,500.oo, which takes you to the islets including the larger Hagonoy island. There was so much to see on the islands, but we only have four hours to spend in Britannia because we have other places to see. You can actually have unlimited time on the islands, if you wish to stay longer.
We also took our lunch at MacArthur’s and left for Hinatuan River afterwards.
The Enchanted Hinatuan River
We left San Agustin at 1:00PM and arrived at the Enchanted River at half past two. The Enchanted River is situated in Barangay Talisay in the municipality of Hinatuan. We had to ask for directions several times because there were many crossroads but road signs were scarce. Finally, we reached the much talked-about enchanted river.
I wondered how it got its name. I presume, the name refers to the engkantos that the people believe to be dwelling in the area. The entrance fee to the Enchanted River is only 25 pesos.
There were just too many people in the area when we arrived, a sign that the place is indeed a popular tourist destination. Oh, well, it was summer and a Saturday. But its being crowded did not stop us from taking a dip in the crystal clear water.
They say, the river is more than two hundred feet deep. That’s very deep indeed. That is why the river looks deep blue for the most part. For those who fear that they might drown in the river, there are life jackets for rent at only fifteen pesos. There are also snorkels and goggles for rent. For those who want to explore the place further, there are also boat rides that cost 150 pesos.
I know how to swim but I don’t trust myself so I had to rent a life jacket, just in case. The water in very cold and brackish. During high tide, water from the sea enters the river and increases the depth of the river.
The feeding of the fishes in the river is also enchanting to watch. They played music and then the fishes started appearing.
For the more adventurous ones, you can explore the caves in the depths of the Enchanted River. You can take a look at this video:
The Enchanted River of Hinatuan is a wonderful place, but I think there is a need for the government to further develop the place. the space seems very small and it easily becomes very crowded during peak hours. The management should set a wider space for people to stay at, probably a little bit farther from the river. They should also maintain the cleanliness of the area.
Bonsay Riverview Hotel
After two hours and a half of enjoying the refreshing water of the enchanted river, we drove back to Bislig City, where the pension house is located. We arranged for an accommodation at Bonsay Riverview HotelWe stayed there for a night before heading to Tinuy-an Falls the following day. We only spend Php 1,500.00 for our overnight stay. We just cooked our dinner and breakfast in their kitchen. You may call Jane for reservations through her mobile phone 09473088541.
Dubbed as the Niagara of the Philippines, the majestic Tinuy-an Falls is just about an hour drive from Mangagoy, the center of Bislig City.
My co-teachers were all dumbstruck by the natural beauty of the places we visited the previous day. I know, they’d all be gaping in awe at the grandeur of Tinuy-an Falls.
The entrance fee to Tinuy-an Falls is only 50 pesos and a cottage costs 300 pesos.
We were the first group to arrive at the area. For the first few hours, we had the waterfall all to ourselves.
Indeed, Tinuy-an Falls is a sight to behold. It is the widest waterfall I have seen (about 95 meters wide). The rushing water spells adventure. You can ride a raft for 150 pesos to get closer to the falling curtain of water.
You may also climb up the upper cascades and have your back massaged by the falling water. The management built stairs and railings for people to use to get to the top. Even the older ones in the group did not hesitate to face the challenge of climbing up.
We had our food cooked by the staff while we all enjoyed the wonderful experience of feeling the rushing water. We had grilled fish and fish stew for lunch. It is just so enjoyable spend time with nature.
Crocodile Lolong At The Bunawan Eco-Park And Research Center
We left Tinuy-an Falls after lunch. Since it is just along the way, we dropped by the Bunawan Eco-Park and Research Center in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, home of the largest crocodile in captivity, Lolong.
The town of Bunawan has been greatly changed by the Lolong phenomenon. The crocodile was captured in September last year following a mission to hunt down crocodiles in the Agusan marsh after reports that they have caused harm to humans in the area.
The hunt for more crocodiles currently at large in the march continues. The crocodiles will then joinLolong at the Bunawan Eco-Park.
Our Travel Itinerary
Day 0 Travel to Surigao
10:00 PM – 6:00 AM Travel from GenSan to Surigao
Day 1 DISCOVER SURIGAO
6:00 AM – 7:30 AM Breakfast at Mac Arthur’s Place, Britania, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur
8:30 AM – 11:30 AM Boating & Sight-Seeing at Britania Islets (P1,500 per boat)
11:30 AM-12:00 NN Lunch at Mac Arthur’s Place
12:00 NN – 1:30 PM Travel from 13 Islets to Enchanted River
1:30 PM – 4:00 PM Enchanted River Sight-Seeing/Boat Ride (Entrance P20,
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM Travel from Hinatuan to Bislig City
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM – 7:30 PM Settle at Pension House
7:30 PM – 12:00 MN Free Time / Happy Hours / Rest
Day 2 Tinuy-An Falls Adventure
5:30 AM Wake Up Call
6:00 AM – 7:00 AM Breakfast
7:00 AM – 7:30 AM Travel from Pension House to Mangagoy
7:30 AM – 8:00 AM Marketing at Mangagoy
8:00 AM -9:00 AM Travel to Tinuy-an Falls
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM Tinuy-an Falls Adventure (Entrance P50)
11:00 AM – 12:00 NN Lunch at Tinuy-an Falls
12:00 PM – 2:30 PM Travel to Bunawan Eco-Park
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Viewing of Lolong and of the Documentary
3:30 PM – 10:00 PM Homeward Bound, Dinner along the way (Davao City)
I am sure that my co-teachers were greatly amazed by the wonders we have explored. Most importantly, the trip must have helped in strengthening our bond, especially with our new principal. I can say that we can now work well with each other for the attainment of our common goals for the school.
Certainly, all of us will not forget our nature trip to the Britania Group of Islands, Enchanted Hintuan River, and Tinuy-an Falls in Surigao del Sur.