Nina and I sometimes wonder why we waited until way past our forties to go on adventure trips. While contemporaries normally opt for more convenient travel destinations, our preferences gravitate towards off-the-beaten-path places of interest. Several of these tourist spots require long and hard treks or risky sea voyages. A bad lower back (in my case) and bone spurs in the knees (in Nina’s case) further complicate matters. In some cases there is nothing we can do but pray, grit our teeth and hope for the best, all the while conscious of the risks involved. Fortunately there are times when we are able to discover a more favorable way of arriving at our destination.
Such was our situation on a recent trip to some of the waterfalls in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. We already knew that only two of the Seven Waterfalls in this town can be easily accessed on foot. The other 5 would require long and laborious trekking and climbing. A zip line totaling a kilometer long, however, can take guests over and above all seven falls giving spectacular views of the cataracts in the process. But with yours truly just recovering from a bad lower back we decided to skip the zip line and just visit the two falls on foot.
First on the list was Hikong Alu, a 35-foot high waterfall. It might be the shortest of all the Seven Falls but it was the widest. We hardly broke a sweat going here. The habal-habals or passenger motorbikes we got for this trip took us right into the entrance to the Seven Falls and from there it was a short walk before Hikong Alu showed up in our sights.
Hikong Bente, the tallest of all Seven Falls at 70 feet and perhaps the most spectacular, was next. To get there we could go on a short hike of about 774 steps on a concreted stairway from Hikong Alu. This was fine for me – most of the steps were downwards – but not for Nina with those bone spurs in her knees. And those 774 steps would be a nightmare if and when we have to go back up to Hikong Alu and the main entrance.
Fortunately our habal-habal drivers and tour guides had a solution at hand. Turns out that there is a graded road from Hikong Alu to Hikong Bente passable to motor bikes. The habal-habals took us to an entrance gate and from there it was more or less just a leisurely walk to Hikong Bente. Once at Hikong Bente, however, we realized that even the 774-step “exercise” would have been worth it. Such was the beauty and raw power of these falls.
Hikong Bente would have been the last of the waterfalls we would end up visiting but Jhung, our habal-habal driver and guide would have none of it. On the morning of our second day at Lake Sebu he mentioned T’daan Kini Falls as part of our half-day tour itinerary. I was hesitant since I’ve heard it would require a 45-minute to an hour’s walk through rough and forested terrain. Either I forgot about it later or Jhung completely ignored my trepidation but Nina and I later realized we were headed down a trail through a forested area on the way to T’daan Kini. We must have been lulled to sleep by the magnificently tranquil views of rice fields and forested hills on the way to these falls.
Much like they did on the way to Hikong Bente, Jhung and another of our habal-habal drivers were able to find a way to cut down our trekking time. This required riding through a rough road (or trail) and crossing a fast-moving stream twice. The verdant forest scenery made us forget the rigors of the ride until we came to a point where we had to continue the journey on foot. It was just a ten minute walk from there before we encountered T’daan Kini.
Though not as big or as famous as the Seven Waterfalls, T’daan Kini stands out like a jewel hidden in the lush forest of Barangay Lamlahak, silently sharing its beauty to willing visitors. It features 5 to 6 small cascades arranged in two tiers. We almost never saw the second tier but I recalled vaguely from photographs on the web that there was more to T’daan Kini than what we were now seeing at the first tier. I soon discovered that only a short climb was needed to get to a second, more beautiful tier and that it was possible to position the camera tripod in the middle of the stream for a better view of the falls at this point.
That same day we were headed back towards Koronadal, and ultimately to General Santos City. Though we only spent one night and part of two days at picturesque Lake Sebu we were thankful that we got to see many of its beautiful waterfalls for nary a sweat. Given the chance we’ll be back here confident we can see more of Lake Sebu’s beauty without having to risk life and limb to do that.
To know more about Lake Sebu’s waterfall attractions, travel tips and how to get there, visit Lake Sebu’s Waterfalls at shoestringtravelers.com.