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First Solo Waterfall Chase in The Philippines

Updated: May 9, 2021

The Philippines is an amazing collection of islands that is full of adventure and can be enjoyed with any budget. Every island is unique, there is so much to see and do - you could spend a year exploring them, and people do! I was lucky enough to spend 3 months there working as a volunteer, freediving almost every day and using my days off to explore the island of Cebu or hop on a ferry to another nearby.

My first day off I was on my own and unsure what to do, I was even a bit nervous. At times like these I find it's best to bite the bullet and go out, see what you find and talk to some friendly faces as they can usually point you in the right direction! *

I catch a jeepney from the main road, knocking on the side for it to stop as we got to a make-shift sign next to a bamboo shelter - just a platform with a roof - where there are always young local men with their motorcycles waiting for tourists wanting a lift up the mountain from the side of the road. Honestly, I was hoping to get a tricycle and avoid the motorbikes because I'd never been on one before and I could just hear my family at home saying "please no" in the back of my head. But it was the only way up the mountain that I stood (looking very small) before. I jumped onto the back of the - quote - "best driver" there and rode higher and higher along the concrete that weaved through the mountains, completely surrounded by tropical green. I could see a small market style snack stool, parked motorbikes and minibuses with groups of tourists before my driver parked up without a word and I got off. Looking around there was no sign of any water, let alone a 100m waterfall.

Although I can be quite a quiet person, I have no trouble going up to strangers to talk to them (thanks mum!). So with all my confusion I asked another tourist where all the water was. "The road continues from here down to the bottom of the waterfall, but you have to get another bike from there, or you can walk but it's a 10-20 minute walk." Naturally I temporarily gave up my biker life and walked on the solid mud along the edge of the swerving concrete road. It wasn't very far but there were a lot of bikes going back and forth from the waterfall so you'd probably be safer to get a ride there , walking was only slightly nerve-wracking haha!

I came to a wooden table with a couple of ladies sitting there with documents and money boxes near a big printed advert. It costs 20 pesos (about 32 British pence) to go through to the waterfall; there's no canyoneering at Tumalog so that's all you have to pay on top of transport costs to get there.

Walking on natural mud trails and stepping stones through the small area of forest up to the misty bottom of the big waterfall behind felt like I was discovering something new despite there being many people there already. First coming to a wooden platform looking over small pools that flow off the main waterfall you can hear so clearly, along with birds calling through the forest.

Water weaves through over 80-100 metres of organic rock formations, dispersing across ledges as it falls from one to another like a well designed fountain.

There wasn't anywhere to put my bag so I found a nook between a rock and a tree, stripped off to my bikini and stepped into the natural crystal-blue pool. On a hot day like it was it is the most refreshing thing I can think of! The water was sooo cool and fresh from the mountains and swimming under the fall of big droplets was like getting a head and back massage (which was very needed after my first full week of diving in a long time!).

The pool is shallow, so it's a suitable place to go for those less confident in water as you can easily walk through or sit in the water (without holding your breath). It's a perfect get-away on one of those days when you just want to escape the heat for a while. The water is cool but because of the mist from the waterfall and the towering trees that surround it, you cool down really quickly. The fractured sunlight shining through the trees gives a cool lightshow on the waterfall when the leaves dance in the breeze.

Tumalog Falls isn't a place that you'd need to stay long for the full effect, it could probably be a good break from the road if you're driving past the sign with the motor boys. There's not much there except the fall and pool, it's a mostly natural area with only its mud bank to sit on. But the waterfall is a natural beauty; it was my first ever waterfall and my camera was tired from me trying to capture the organic details and fresh lighting.

This was just a baby step into a new adventure, and as time went on the adventures got bigger and I got braver.

*Disclaimer: I didn't follow TLC's advice. And I am encouraging you to go chase waterfalls.

Go get 'em.



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