Bathing at Hinatuan’s Enchanted River

DSC_0310Nowadays, the Hinatuan Enchanted River is one of the most visited site in Southern Philippines as most of the educational field trips of both government and private companies, including small group outings in Mindano are always pointing there. The place was highlighted and recommended several times by tourists who had been there and experienced its charming scenery.

Location: Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Terraza Viktoria, Borobo, Surigao del Sur

Buddies: Family (8+)

DSC_0295
Sole standing tall tree greeted us while on the way to Hinatuan.

We stayed overnight at a friendly paid accommodation in Trento, Agusan del Sur. The accommodation was supposedly not accepting outsiders but because we have a family friend whose working there, we availed its guest room and bed at a super cheap rent. The group left at 6:30am to have a longer time in the Enchanted River.

Moderate rain showered so early and the weather was acting accordingly to the local weather forecast. We reached the small village of Hinatuan and the parking area to the river at 9am. We brought our valuable things as there was a need to hike from the parking area to the entrance gate. At the entrance, we registered and paid the entrance fee. Also, at the right side of the gate is a row of stalls offering fresh fish and sea foods. They can cook it according to the costumer’s liking and deliver it to the cottage at a given time for a small fee.

DSC_0301

DSC_0306After the entrance gate, we hiked entering the secluded vicinity.¬† The surrounding trees and undisturbed forest are hiding the serenity of the site. Only the resort’s private vehicles have access on the entrance road while the rest of the visitors should have to walk. We reached the checked-in building where a staff guided us to our reserved bamboo-made cottage. The place is like a resort with cottages, benches, tables, and full of people. There are also stairs down to the water. We also rented life jackets which are required and very important while swimming on this river.

DSC_0336

DSC00542This river is believably enchanted and that is where the locals acquired its name. There are mythical stories known to the locals about its legend. Its depth is never measure even by professional divers as it is like a continuous underground tunnel filled with water. The appearance of the fishes from below during feeding time at 12nn is still a mystery. However, you can still see the people (including me) bathing and diving on this dangerous mysterious water source.

There is a shallow part at the side of the river for kids but it was too dangerous for them without the guarding adults. Mosquito repellent lotion is also necessary to bring because the thick forest is covering the vicinity. These insects normally attack the victim once rise up from the water.

DSC_0357The river is temporarily cease for swimming few weeks after our visit but there is certain area where the tourist can enjoy its cool water. It is now only for photography which is for me is good enough to preserve its mysterious beauty. I had no chance of peeking the real dark bluish color of the water as signage of its deepest part during my visit. The water appears so blue and majestic on a regular sunny day but since the entire week was raining, the water was not as clear as what I expected.

Side Trip to Stingrays

At the dock, downstream of the river, there were rental motorized boats for P150 per hour. They brought us to the resort stationed in the middle of the sea with a small entrance fee. They offered us feeding of stingrays and swimming with other fishes. They also have rooms for an overnight stay especially in Sibadan Resort which has a restaurant too.

DSC00546

DSC00555

DSC_0425At 4pm, we left Hinatuan and before we headed to our accommodation in Borobo, we visited the Wakat Cave and freshened us in the pool of cold spring water supplied inside the dark cave. The cave is normally public bathing area of the locals which is hidden from the knowledge of the tourists.

DSC_0456

Al Gara Cave Visit

DSC_0218.JPG

As what the local Saudi explained, Al-Ahsa is a province and the city within is Hofuf City. So this explanation cleared out my confusion to the place we’re heading to.

Al-Gara cave or widely known to expatriates as Judas Cave is situated in the mountain of Qara, a prominent village of less than 30 minutes away from Hofuf.

DSC_0115.JPG

Our journey started from Jubail on which the GPS map calculated to be 3 hours drive passing Dammam. The wide desert and mountains knocked our fingers to click our cameras. Along the way, there are few tents built and camels were wandering around seeking for green desert vegetation.

As we were entering Al-Ahsa, I noticed that the place was a green vast land planted with date palms. No wonder, this place is the producer of the well known fruit “date”. Oases is abundant in this place so they have plenty of plants. Besides one company, NADA Food Company, was also built here.

DSC_0246DSC_0165DSC_0185

We directly headed to Qara village to see the cave. The village is on the foot of the mountain. Al-Gara cave is the famous landmark of the province and said to be cool in the summer and warm during winter. It also aspired to be one of the seven wonders of nature. The place was magnificent and anyone can enter for free.

After caving, we decided to climb up hills to see what the view on the top can offer. Mohammed, a local villager, guided me in hopping those dangerous cliffs until we reached a place where I can see the date plantation as a whole. I wished to see the whole province by climbing up more but stepping on slopes was more dangerous.

DSC_0219.JPG

Anyway, Mohammed and his group came here for breakfast. They brought a picnic mat. We disturbed them for he volunteered himself to guide us.

Al-Gara Cave and mountain is a worth place to visit especially when living in the Eastern region.