Date: January 15, 2017
Location: Kipilas Falls, Barangay Kipilas, Kitaotao, Bukidnon
Jump-off Point/Time: Davao City (4AM)
Number of Pax: 5
Mode of Transpo: Private Car
We started our road trip in BUDA (also known as Bukidnon-Davao Highway) with a breath-taking view of this sea of clouds. Yes, you need to wake up early and start your trip for you to catch these lovely view. From Davao and via a private car, it will take you more or less an hour to reach this area. Well, fogs might be your buddy so it is better to slow down when necessary.
BEMWA Farm is more or less 1 to 1.5 hours from Davao City. Well this place is home of the famed strawberries and some says its the Baguio City of Mindanao. The only marker for this farm is that this the way going to the Hillsview Mountain Villa. Just look for the signage on your right when you are coming from Davao City. From the highway, the farm is approximately 2kms. The road going to BEMWA is fine.
The main crops in the farm are Lettuce & Strawberries. In fact, this farm supplies Davao’s major Hotels & restaurants with fresh lettuces everyday. The farm also has a store that sells organic juice, lettuce, chocolates & strawberry jam at a reasonable price. Literally, farm to table goodness and freshness.
Unfortunately, the farm has become strict especially on the strawberry picking as the tourists became abusive of this activity. Some of the farm’s nicest spots were also closed down particularly the one with bigger strawberries. Basically, we are left with the majestic view of the farm and a breath of fresh air. The strawberry farm as seen on the panoramic view has smaller berries so it is not that visible. Also, weather condition (especially El Nino) and peak season orders may affect strawberries production too.
Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the place. I love the cool breeze and the tranquility that the place has to offer. By the way, the place doesn’t charge any Entrance Fees so at least be courteous to the farmers, be mindful of your trash and be gentle on the crops especially while taking pictures.
Seagull Mountain Resort
Right after BEMWA Farm, we immediately went to another famous place in BUDA – the Seagull Mountain Resort. It is just 10-15 minutes away from BEMWA Farm and can be easily identified as well on the road. Always look at the left side if you are coming from BEMWA or Davao City. Oh well, the reason why we went here is to finally taste their Suman and Tsokolate which has received hype on social media already. Also we had our breakfast already along the road so we didn’t bother ordering at their pricey menu.
The hype was true. This is indeed delicious and affordable as well. I loved the crispy toppings. This is just perfect for the cool ambiance of the place. You can also grab some eats here. We did not enter the resort anymore so we don’t have any idea what’s inside the resort.
KIPILAS FALLS ESCAPADE
Just when we thought this lovely day would end with just sight-seeing activities, we decided to go straight Kipilas Falls since we thought it would be an epic adventure to try this underrated Falls which is generally not yet discovered.
Kipilas Falls is located in Barangay Kipilas, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. KITAOTAO is the first class Municipality in Bukidnon Province. Please see MAP below for your reference.
It may sound far since its located in Bukidnon Province already but KITAOTAO is the first Municipality you will encounter upon entering Bukidnon if you are coming from Davao City. Approximately, the Municipality of Kitaotao is 1.5-2kms away from the Bukidnon Checkpoint & Quarantine Area and is 15-25 minutes away from Seagull Mountain Resort in BUDA.
To locate the Jump-off point of Kipilas Falls, the marker will be after the first bridge you will pass by after the Checkpoint & Quarantine Area. Just look at your right side and spot this Food Hall below:
Your marker for the Kipilas Falls Jump-off Point (The Barangay Food Hall in Kitaotao)
Turn right on this area and just find any locals there in the place. In our case, we went to a nearby Sari-sari store to inquire on how to go to the falls. Since the place is not yet fully discovered, you will find yourself talking to everyone else to gather information. In short, there is no system yet in place for visitors. Upon checking with the locals, we found out that the only way to reach Kipilas Falls is to ride a Skylab (aka a motorcycle) and register on-site at the Barangay Kipilas through the Barangay Captain’s house.
We asked for adventure and here it begins:
SKYLAB is a local term that refers to a motorcycle with Two (2) wood planks on each side. This is the primary means of transportation of crops from the highlands going to the town proper. Ideally, this ride is designed to withstand very rough and thin roads especially those hard-to-reach areas. And guess what, this is the ONLY means how to get there. With the help of a local who also lend his house for Parking space of our car, he contracted Two (2) Skylabs for us. The rate given was P80.00 per pax (vice versa) with waiting time but we ended giving P100 instead since they waited a little bit longer. Travel time from Jump-off Point to Barangay Kipilas is 1 hour. We were warned that it would be a very bumpy road. We started off at around 10AM.
TIPS: You may want to bring more food and water prior the Skylab journey. Good thing they have Sari-sari stores around. We bought lots of chocolates and breads.
And so, the skylab journey begins…
A short video clip in Facebook of this Skylab journey can be found HERE.
Just when you thought it was going to be easy. Well, unfortunately its not. Aside from enduring the bumpiest road trip of my life, the skylab will require you to balance yourselves in the wood planks while holding on to a dear rope for nearly an hour under the heat of the sun. I had rope burns in my hands and we stumbled for 3 times and had some minor cuts along the way. If you seek for adventure, this is your first dosage of it.
After an hour of this very tiring ride, we finally reached Barangay Kipilas Proper. We immediately head to the Barangay Captain’s house (I forgot her name) and register ourselves. Entrance Fee which serve as Environmental Fee as well is worth P20.00 per person. The locals including the Kapitana were warm and accommodating.
Since system is not yet in place for visitors of Kipilas Falls, there were no accredited guides in the area. The Kapitana only appointed a male local resident for or us. They also told us that the Kipilas Falls is just a 15-minute walk from their plaza. (Oh Gaaaah!). Without proper briefing and even just a hint of warning, we immediately began the trek.
The first part of the trek was generally peaceful. It was somehow a good phase to start considering that we are not experienced trekkers or climbers at all in the group.
The next part of the trek was bit of challenging since its an uphill. But then again, we still managed to survive it. The next trek was I think the beginning of the DEADLY PART!
Just when we survived the first uphill, we are now heading to the downhill trek where the local guide told us that we are near. Yes, we suppose that we are near since as we went down further, we could already hear the gushing water of Kipilas Falls.
My first major climb was in Lake Holon in South Cotabato way back 2 years ago and I must say that the Kipilas Falls downhill trek was the most challenging and even deadly by far compared with the latter. Why Challenging? It requires much effort going down through branches of trees and bamboo shoots on top of the areas which are mostly clay and mud. Why deadly? It is truly a risky trek especially if your shoes are not fit for climbing and your body is not conditioned well. Aside from that, the place has no strong alleys to hold on too when going down compared with Lake Holon which is a very organized place already. Lake Holon has man-made alleys and poles too. For Kipilas Falls, you could only grasp a few bamboo poles (many of them are weak and soft) and rely with your balance and body weight. At some point of the trek, I just lay down my butt and slide myself down with mud to be safe. It was very challenging for us. It took as an hour to go down since we are catching our breaths too between stops.
The most challenging part of the downhill trek is this wooden ladder above that is somehow not built well. This is the last major hurdle we are to conquer as we finally reach the falls. The ladder was shaky when I went down and it is approximately 15-20 ft in height. Gaaah! This ladder is scary as hell.
FACT: As per our local guide, the original trek of Kipilas Falls is very easy until a recent landslide destroyed it. Also, the trek is not advisable on rainy days as it is very slippery.
After an hour of grueling trek and climb, we finally reached KIPILAS FALLS! And the near-death climb (that goes for me) is just freakin’ WORTH IT!!! Yahooo!
The Waterfalls is just majestic. The water coming from it very clear though the water below is brownish. I am not familiar with height of the Falls but its one the best I have seen so far after Tumalog Falls in Cebu, the one in Camiguin, the 7 Falls in Lake Sebu among others.
If you don’t plan on getting wet, you will still be somehow since you will be passing by the area where the mist and drizzles of the falls welcome you gently.
Also, what is essential for inexperienced climbers or trekkers are the gears. Though I am not that fully geared-up and dressed-up, I did brought with me essentials like water, chocolate bars, biscuits, water-protection bag (floating), sunblock, extra garments, power banks and aqua shoes. I am thankful I wore my Merrell shoes that day. This brand is just fit for rough climbs and grips on terrains.
After some nature-feel moments, we decided to leave Kipilas Falls. Since we thought that the uphill climb on the same trek we took will give us a much harder time (considering loose bamboo poles and lack of safe grips & alleys), we asked our guide to take us to the alternative route which is a bit farther but would spare us from the uphill dangers.
The alternative route has somehow spared us from steep uphill climbs but it did not spare us from danger as well. The route we took will require us to traverse the long and winding river, survive boulders & big & slippery rocks & even climb at them. Yes, we climbed big rocks. Arrrrgh! This was even more challenging and deadly than the first one.
The most challenging part is surviving a pile of rocks with algae and rocks with flowing water. Got several cuts and bruises but thank God I am generally safe. The biggest photo above was the hardest part of the trail. This was the spot where I fell. I got a 5 swollen wounds after this fall. ARGHH!
After surviving the dangerous rock climb, we experienced the even harder part of the alternative route. It is the long and winding journey to 3 downhills, 2 uphills and a wide corn & squash field under the scorching heat of the sun. I had major breakdowns along the way but I am thankful my colleagues came to the rescue. At some point, I had difficulty catching my breath so we had several stops along the way. The hardest part is the uphill since I literally crawled my way up to survive. We don’t have any choice but to push ourselves or else will fall into the cliff.
Well, those pictures and stolen shots were true testimonies that this was not an easy climb for me. After 2 hours, we finally got back at the Jump-off Point. It was late 2PM when we arrive. We got ourselves fix right away and ran to a nearby sari-sari store for some cold soft drinks. For the local guide, we gave him P200.00 since they did not charge us with any fixed amount prior. After being settled, we rode again our skylabs. Given that we have somehow mastered the art of balancing, our trip back home was generally bearable compared to the first one. As mentioned in the earlier part of this blog, we paid them P100 each instead of P80 since it included waiting time too.
Upon arriving to the Barangay Food Hall area, the local who allowed us to park our car was even accommodating enough to let use their faucet for us to wash ourselves from lots of dirt, mud & itchiness from various plants. Upon departure, we handed them some bucks as a tip. They didn’t charge us but it is just right to give some since they allowed us to use their space for parking and even gave us a decent shower.
Upon leaving the place, we were just amazed and thank to God that we have arrived safe and sound. This was not an easy nor a fun climb. Because of this experience, I was inspired to write this blog to act as both warning got first time & inexperienced climbers and an invitation to adventure-seekers and athletic persons out there. It was a risk actually. But this risk came out to be one in the books.
- It is cheaper to go in groups and have your own private car.
- For those who don’t have private vehicles, option is via Bus (Non-aircon) from Davao to Bukidnon or via Van. Just take note of the drop-off point in Kitaotao, Bukidnon at the Barangay Food Hall marker.
- Be prepared. Do some exercises or cardio before the climb. We failed to do this so we have to suffer the aftermath. Believe us! Its painful. GAAAH!
- Always check the weather. It is not advisable to trek on rainy days in the falls. Also, it is better to start the climb earlier so you won’t have to suffer the heat of the sun.
- Always include an experienced climber in the group. From our end, we have with us a Triathlete. Hi Ms. Vangie!
- Be equipped and properly dressed up. Bring water-protection bags, enough food and chocolate bars, enough water, sunblock, right garment (3/4 to cover your skin from sunlight) and wear the appropriate climbing shoes. Also, it is advisable to pack light so you won’t bear heavy stuffs while climbing.
- Be emotionally ready. If you are in for an adventure of your life, Kipilas Falls might be your destination.
BUDGET BREAKDOWN PER PAX:
Note: Quoted on 5 pax with Private Car (From Davao City)
- Gas Up: P100.00 for per pax (From Davao City)
- Breakfast (7-11): P100.00 per pax
- Suman & Tsokolate: P65.00 per pax (Seagull Mountain Resort)
- Snacks before the Climb: P50.000 per pax (Sari-sari store nearby)
- Skylab (Vice Versa): P100.00 per pax (2 Skylabs, 5 pax)
- Environmental Fee: P20.00 per pax
- Tour Guide Fee: P50.00 per pax
- Tip for Parking & Bath: P30.00 per pax
- After Climb Snacks: P200.00 per pax GRAND TOTAL: P715.00 per pax (Prices may vary depending on number of pax)
NOTE TO PERSONS IN AUTHORITY: I strongly suggest to create a system for those who are planning to visit Kipilas Falls. Its now time to organize a group of people for this especially the locals of Barangay Kipilas. Aside from that, an authorized set of guides should be made available all the time. Just like any other treks, a briefing should be done prior the climb. Moreover, this place will soon be a major tourist spot in Bukidnon, we appreciate if you could set-up Parking spaces at the Barangay Food Hall (Kitaotao Highway), set a standard Local Guide Fee & Skylab Transport Fee & come up with decent showers and bathrooms available for public use.
Hope you find my blog worth-reading. Its quite long but this is the very detailed one I can share with you all. Feel free to share guys. Let us both inspire and warn others. We can all take risks but it is always right to be informed and be safe all the time.