Sunday, March 18, 2012

Maria Cristina & Tinago Falls of Iligan City

Three weeks ago, four of us in the family went to Northern Mindanao to see the famous waterfalls of Iligan City. Our AirPhils flight to Cagayan de Oro (CDO) got delayed by at least 30 minutes, so we proceeded from the Lumbia Airport to Iligan City on our arrival to save time.

We rented a taxi driven by Nonoy Banas, for a CDO-Iligan-CDO day tour. From the airport, it took us 2 hours to arrive at barangay Buru-un in Iligan City, for early lunch of their famous lechon (roasted whole pig). On this area, we had a glimpse of the ancestral house below by the Macapagals, where former president GMA spent part of her teenage days, according to some locals.

We chose to dine at Gloria's Ihaw-ihaw, where the dining area sits on the seaside. Lunch is a kilo of lechon and a clam dish, that went well with steamed rice in "puso" shape, and soda drinks. The sea view is a welcome treat while waiting for the arrival of our food orders.

Right after a filling lunch, we proceeded to Maria Cristina Falls by backtracking a little bit after the last bridge. The park is being managed by National Power Corporation, since they use the cascading power of this famous waterfalls to generate electricity for Mindanao region.

They have a multicab service van within the park which transports the visitors around the park for about Php 20 per visitor. We just tell the guard on each area to call the driver thru the radio, and the multicab will pick us up. People here are courteous and helpful.

With a height of 320 feet (98 meters) and spewing 130 cu.m. of water per second, we can't help but admire its grandeur. Its a showcase of nature's raw power that can be harnessed to benefit the community. Swimming below the falls or on the river is prohibited, because of the very strong water current.

The park also has a mini-zoo, a zipline, a rock-climbing facility, lagoon, and a snack area along the river.

Our next stop is the Tinago Falls, which is at least a 15-minute drive from Ma. Cristina Falls. To reach it, one must negotiate rough roads, which thankfully our taxi driver maneuvered through. Then a short trek and a 500-step descent will take visitors to the deep ravine, where the 420-feet high waterfalls meet the blue lagoon below. The name "tinago" which means hidden in Filipino language, is very apt for its location.

The local government impose a minimal Php 10 fee per visitor. Life vests can also be rented for Php 20/head, but they are in dire need of replacements. There are some locals who will offer to guide visitors but they are not necessary, and they will try to rip you off. After going through all the troubles to see the Tinago Falls, visitors will be rewarded with its magnificent view, and very inviting cool blue waters. 

The more daring visitors try to climb the slopes on the sides of the waterfalls, then dive on the deep water below. There is a cave below the waterfall, hidden by the raging waters. For the less adventurous types like us, we just rode on the bamboo raft, assisted by the boatman for additional fee.   

It takes a lot of effort to climb back the 500 ascending steps, but the enchanting image of Tinago waterfalls like below makes it all worth the trouble. 

Since we like to avoid travelling in dark highway back to CDO, we skipped the nearby Mimbalut Falls. With more than 20 waterfalls in Iligan City, there are still more reasons to go back to this part of Lanao del Norte.

Below are the estimate of our expenses on this trip from the airport, excluding tips:

Taxi rental for the day including gas                         2,500
Lechon lunch for 5 pax                                              550
Entrance fees, multicab, life vests for 4 pax                400 
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