Hike to Kawasan Falls, Cebu Philippines

4-Hour Trek from Osmeña Peak Down to Kawasan Falls

We camped overnight at Osmeña Peak and it was the worst and the best sleepless night I've ever had.  The following morning we headed down to Kawasan Falls for an incredible experience.  Let's go!

How to go to Osmeña Peak: (Updated 2019)

From the Mactan-Cebu International Airport:
You can take a cab going to South bus terminal.  Estimated fare is 250 PHP – 350 PHP, depending on traffic.  Or you can take it straight to Mantalongon Wet Market/Mantalongon Market Proper but we try for the cheapest travel method, which is by bus. 

Alternatively, if you're familiar with Uber and/or Lyft, then you can download and use the mobile app, Grab, to book your transportation. 

Travel time from Airport to South Bus Terminal: 1 hour (depending on traffic)

From Cebu City:
Take a cab or jeepney to South Bus Terminal which is a few metres away from Elizabeth Mall.  The terminal is clean and organized.  Buy your ticket at the counter and make sure to read the board signs placed in front of the windshield mirror before hopping inside the bus.

From the South bus terminal: take the Ceres Bus 

Buses operate from 1 AM – 9 PM 

Bus Fare: 150 PHP – 180 PHP 
Bus Route: Cebu to Dalaguete/Bato-Oslob
Drop-Off: Mantalongon-Dalaguete Junction
Travel Time (bus/private car): 3 – 4 hours

Prices may have changed.  

From Mantalongon-Dalaguete Junction: Take a "habal-habal" or motorcycle ride to Mantalongon Wet Market 
Travel time: 20 - 30 minutes

Another alternative if you're familiar with Cebu City:

Terminal: Magallanes Street in Carbon Market (bus parks nearby Caltex Gas station)

Mini-Bus fare (Cebu-Mantalongon Wet Market): 100 PHP
Travel time: 3 - 4 hours
Bus Schedule: 6AM,, 8AM and 1PM (no guarantee).

We asked different drivers but they didn't have a fixed schedule.  They based it on the number of commuters and when the bus gets full — and that's when they hit the road.

Power outlets: None
Money matters: We recommend getting your currency exchanged via Western Union (WU) since you'll get a better rate than at the airport.  You can send your travel budget to yourself and pick up the exchanged amount at the local WU.

Survival Terms
CR is the term for the toilet
Salamat means "thank you"

Hike from Mantalongon Market to Osmeña Peak : 2 – 3 hours, depending on your pace

Important things to bring when camping:
  • A tent is a must!  A sleeping bag will not get you through the night.  The weather is not stable even in March and that's already considered summer.  The tents danced like the crazy song "Harlem Shake" at night and we all had a Harlem Shiver.
  • One sleeping bag per person will help with the cold night
  • A jacket with a hood.  If without a hood, then bring along your beanie/bonnet, thick socks and a scarf for the wind
  • A flashlight.  There's no electricity and the houses are distant from the peak
  • Cooking and eating utensils
  • A camera.  I don't advise bringing a DSLR.  It could rain at anytime and the moisture inside the tent and in your bag are not good for your camera.  If you do, make sure it's in a waterproof bag and with some silica gels inside to absorb the moisture
  • Optional: gummy bears!  Ahahaa.  It’s a great sweet candy when you're chatting in a circle and maybe pairs well with liquor too

The Adventure Begins from Osmeña Peak to Kawasan Falls

The day started splendid.  It was like walking in New Zealand — a wide area of greens and mountains, and the sizzling hit of the sun.  It reminded me of the "Lord of the Rings" movie.  I imagined accidentally stepping on Frodo or Sam along the way. 

Looking down at your shoes and you'll find lots of clover-like plants.  Clovers made me think of my boss when I was still working as a call center agent.  I have this earring on the top part of my ear — it's in a shape of a clover — he would always slightly touch it and said "today would be a great night" or "you're a lucky person tonight."  I heard that clovers with four petals means good luck because it is rare to find these specific counts.  And it's definitely true.  We passed by a few of these plants and all the clovers  if they were really clovers  had five or six petals.  The lucky four-leafed one was nowhere to be found.

Now that I think about it, I miss that earring.  I lost it during in one of my trips and totally forgot where and when it happened.  I might buy another one  this time to remind me of my unforgettable Osmeña Peak trekking.

Tip 1: Have some breakfast

The pink house was a great sign as it meant food and shelter for us.  A light meal is recommended for trekking down to Kawasan Falls.  We bought bread to pair it with our century tuna and corned beef, and other canned goods.  Coke, Sprite or energy drinks were also available in the store. You'll need the glucose to pump your nerves for the trek.

Next on the list is a clean "CR," also known as comfort room/bathroom/washroom.  You can try to politely ask the store owners if they'll allow you to use their bathrooms.  Good thing our expert mountaineer friend knew this place.  It's better to unload all waste before you hit the road.  While waiting for the guys to finish up, we lined up our bags for fun.  The one with the smallest bag would bring all the heavy supplies.

Tip 2: Always refill your water bottles

Walking in the middle of nowhere was pretty exciting and dangerous.  It's hard to call for back-up knowing there’s no cell phone signal and that civilization is out of sight.  Pray for safety, think positive and enjoy every step of the way.

We passed by cemented and rocky roads, plains, wild vegetation, small rock mountain formations and cliffs.  Along the way you will see a body of water from what looks like a cemented bath tub.  We filled our water bottles with fresh water and continued trekking down.  Be careful if you are sensitive to foreign water; buy your refill of bottled water at the store.

Tip 3: Watch your step

I considered the rain forest the hardest and most dangerous part of the trek.  The land was soft and slippery, its shaded trees were high enough to block sunlight from getting through to that part of the mountain.  Be extra careful.  If you slip, it means falling down to who-knows-where and who-knows-what awaiting you.  Definitely not a good sight.  I guess bringing some rope could come in handy for emergency purposes.

The path we hiked on was not the usual trail.  Stay safe.

Tip 4: Take breaks (a few minutes every hour)

Osmeña Peak to Badian Kawasan Falls is usually 4-5 hours, depending on your pace.  We did it in 4 hours with only a few breaks and a hunger-strike.

Be reminded that breaks are important and won't slow you down.  We were in a hurry to get to Kawasan Falls by lunch time, so taking a few pictures was time-consuming, especially when you're trying to pull yourself together against gravity dragging you down.

Nobody in the group was able to take some photos too.  When you're trekking down the mountain, you have to focus on where you're stepping all the time.  It would be wise not to carry anything as you need both your hands for support.

Sometimes we focused more on not falling, which was normal; but because of that, we forgot to look around and see the beauty of nature.  Once in a while, I snapped out of safety mode and tried to smell the air and feel the breeze that glided against my skin. My eyes feasted on the wonders of nature that unfolded.  It's amazing how the light traveled in the holes above towering trees, glistening with the dust in the air.  I was amazed with the serene relationship of the forest with the wind.

Tip 4: Drink up! Avoid dehydration

Obey your thirst! However, don't drink like there's no tomorrow.  Take a few sips and off you go again.  If you're losing the sun, then double time with less stopovers.

Tips 5: Breathing technique

Breath through your stomach and not through your chest.  When you're out of breath, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.  Do it slowly and when you're good to go, breathe normally again in your stomach.  I don't know if it works for everyone but that's what learned from my first hike. 

Don't be afraid or feel ashamed to say that you need a break.  It might hold the gang for a few minutes, but sometimes it takes one person to say it before everyone realizes they need a rest as well. 

First level of Kawasan Falls

When we heard the rush of water, our systems jump-started and we smiled from ear to ear.  The triumphant feeling was indescribable.  The falls were incredibly clear, the water cool like ice.  Imagine how the mountains made me a poet in such a short span of time. 

As what I've read, climbers are romantic poets because they have experience and love for the spirits of nature.

We were all starving so we quickly made our way to the bamboo bridge that connected us to the Kawasan waters.  For some seasoned climbers, they finished the hike in 5 hours, yet we made it to 4 hours.  More smiles! 

Second level of Kawasan Falls

We had lunch then splashed our way to the waterfalls.  Try the Jacuzzi-like feel above the waterfalls; it will soothe your back and untwist those tangled muscles.  We headed down Kawasan Falls to the main road before nightfall.

Third level of Kawasan Falls

Third level Kawasan Falls to the main-road is a 30- to 45-minute hike.  Cross the street and wait for the Ceres bus from Badian to Cebu City.  Then you're done!

Overall, it was an overwhelming feeling of fatigue and joy for making it up and down the challenging mountains of Cebu.  I also ruined my favorite shoes.  Good thing my friend brought along some masking tape from the hospital, so thank you, nurse!  They don't just take good care of you when you're sick; they can even cure shoe problems.  

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Itinerary Reminders:

1. Flight Details
Make sure to write down your booking reference number, be at the airport two hours before your flight and allocate time for your travel to the airport.

2. Accommodation Details
Write down your hotel/motel/resort/bnb booking number. Contact your place to inform them around when you'll be arriving — it really does help.  Also, ask if your accommodation has any discounted activities.  You'd be surprised!

3a. Transportation
List possible times your bus/train/boat arrives and leaves so you don't miss an activity.  Always give yourself an extra 30-45 minutes in case you get lost, get stuck in traffic, or are looking for parking.  Better early than late.  Of utmost importance: check for the last trip and fares!  So you still have time and money to get back.

3b. Car Rentals
Take note of your pick-up address and time allotted.  Our last car rental told us to bring the car back by a certain time with a certain amount of gas.  Allot money for fuel and parking.

4. Budgeting
Set aside a minimum and maximum spending amount for: meals, transportation, entrance fees, activities, souvenirs and emergencies.  3 meals a day + snacks adds up quickly, so keep track!  As well as tips for restaurants and activities.

5. Activities
Call to confirm your booking(s) a day or so beforehand.  Set alarms and/or calendar reminders for things you plan to do (i.e- bungee-jumping, river-rafting, or even city / food tours).

More information about the falls? Here's a link on how you can go to Kawasan Falls from Cebu City

Do you want more adventure?
If you still have one more day to spare why not go to Oslob and see the famous whale shark or also known as "Butanding."

Where am I going next?

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