There are more and more zip lines sprouting everywhere in the Philippines but - and I mean this - nothing can compare right now to the breathtaking views one can get in Lake Sebu's Seven Falls. You literally fly above the waterfalls. Or at least four of them. Having just done a much longer ride in Camp Sabros in Digos, I almost gave this a pass since I thought all I wanted to see were the falls. Boy am I glad I didn't!
|Habal-habal ride to the falls|
The Seven Falls is a series of cascades spread apart in a forested gorge. From Punta Isla Resort, it's about 20 minutes or so via habal-habal to reach the area. Tata, the driver, quoted me P200 for the round trip, including waiting time. There's a P5 fee at the entrance. Out of the seven cascades, only five can actually be seen. The easiest one to get to is the First Falls (or Hikong Alu in the native language). The path is semi-paved so even if it rained earlier in the day, there's hardly any mud to contend with.
|First Falls (or Hikong Alu)|
Midway between the First Falls and the Second Falls (or Hikong Bente), there's a small platform with a throng of people which tells you something exciting is going on here. This is where the zip line begins which ends 740 meters later at the other end. The P250 ride has become so popular that there's a queue on this busy Saturday afternoon (Go here on a weekday and it's just P200 with less crowd). Interestingly, despite the bad rap Mindanao has received from foreign media, there were several middle aged Caucasian men with their Pinay partners doing the tandem ride!
When it was my turn, I got excited since I'm doing a solo ride. In other words, no one else shares the scream with me. I was strapped to a full body harness the same way they do it in Camp Sabros - which means you end up flying just like superman! As soon as the "ok" was relayed by radio from the opposite end of the line, I was let go, skimming past the lip of the gorge and into this magnificent view of the Second Falls roaring down with a fine mist blowing my way. At this point, all I could utter was just a loud "wohooooooh!!!". And more "wohooooooh!!!" as the sight of the Third (Hikong B'lebed), Fourth (Hikong Lowig) and Fifth Falls (Hikong Kefo-I) came into view.
|2nd Falls (rightmost), 3rd Falls & 4th falls.|
The 5th Falls is hidden by thick vegetation.
At the receiving end, staff helped eased me out from the harness. There's a great viewing deck from which the waterfalls I've just glimpsed from above can be seen in a more panoramic view. I would have wanted to linger here a bit longer but the staff reminded me of the next zip line ride just up ahead. It's a much shorter ride but still exhilarating since I was now enjoying a front view of the falls. This ride terminates into the jump off area for the Second Falls. There are souvenir shops here and some enterprising photographers who have already taken your photo (for a fee of course) while riding the second zip line.
|My unsolicited photo|
A dirt road leads down to the base of the Second Falls, the highest among the seven at approximately 100 feet high. It's really quite a sight no matter from what angle you look, whether you're above it on the zip line or looking up from the misty base hemmed by a rocky gorge. What's definitely not good to look at is the concrete red gazebo built by the local government, looking utterly incongruous in this natural setting. A better eco-friendly design would have been less of an eye sore, really!
|Second Falls (Hikong Bente)|
The two remaining cascades, the 6th Falls (Hikong Ukol) and 7th Falls (Hikong Tonok), are way out of sight, deep in the forest further down, something that would require some sweaty hiking. If only I have the time, I'd love to explore them with a local guide. For now, the five that I saw - from above and on the ground - is enough reason to say "I'm surely coming back". Puhon. In the near future.