What will you do if you only have few hours in Iligan City? Let’s say… seven hours! Too short right? Well, I have serious reasons to believe that your answer is as good as mine – go “waterfalling”!
That’s what I did early this year when I flew to Cagayan de Oro via Philippine Airlines for my first dive of the year in Mantangale. Unfortunately though, due to unpredictable weather in Northern Mindanao that weekend, our dives were cancelled. So I had to think of other things to do nearby, an unexpected detour! And that’s how Iligan City came to the scene.
With a total of 23 waterfalls within the city jurisdiction, visiting some that are easily accessible is a good itinerary for those in the city for a quick stop. Mimbalut, Tinago and Maria Cristina Falls, all located near the main highway and comprise the city’s tourism triangle, will give you a glimpse of what the place is all about – the city of waterfalls!
The easiest to reach among the three is Mimbalut Falls which is part of Iligan Paradise Resort and Eco Park in Barangay Buru-un. It is only 500 meters from the highway and approximately 10 kilometers from the city proper.
With a height of approximately 90 feet, the water, also coming from the outflow of Lake Lanao via Tinago Falls, cascades on a rocky wall forming small streams and natural pools where one can take a dip. Anyone can cross the streams and follow the stone tracks to reach the wall to feel the plunge of the cascading water. Do so with extra care please. 🙂
Due to its accessibility, it is a go to place for families and friends, locals or not, for a day of excursion. Aside from the falls itself, there are other activities in Paradise Resort and Eco Park that will surely delight adventure lovers such as zipline, ATV ride, mountain biking, water tubing and kayaking, among others.
Entrance fee to Mimbalut Falls is P15 while the rates of the activities in the park varies. There are also cottages and picnic tables inside available for rent.
Hidden in the deep ravine of Barangay Ditucalan is one of the most prominent and beautiful waterfalls not only in Iligan City but in the whole Philippines – Tinago Falls!
Situated in the boundary of the town of Linamon and Iligan City, the breathtaking Tinago Falls or Linamon Falls as how it is called by those from the former, is the most photographed of all waterfalls in the city. That is despite the almost 500 winding steps going there.
The cold water plunges from a 240-feet high cliff into a deep blue-green natural pool that is ideal for swimming. The water comes from the outflow of the man-made Lanao Lake in the town of Baloi, flowing to the Agus River that cuts into two channels before going to Iligan Bay. One channel goes to Maria Christina Falls also in Iligan City, and the other to Tinago Falls.
To best enjoy Tinago Falls, ride the bamboo raft for only P10 that will take you to where the water drops to feel the plunge of its cascades.
Entrance fee is by donation only, cottages can be rented from P100-300 and life jackets can be rented for P10-P20. It is not necessary to get a guide since there is only one trail leading to the falls, but as a way of helping the locals and the community, you can hire one in the village before the stone steps start. There is no standard guide fee but it usually ranges from P50-P70 per guide.
Maria Cristina Falls
The famous Maria Cristina Falls, one of the tallest in the country, is the highlight of the Adventure Activity Area of National Power Corporation (NPC) Nature Park. It is situated in Agus 6 Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) complex, the same site for rock climbing, zipping, bridge jumping, canyoneering and other adventures in the park. Some call it as “Twin Falls” or two separate waterfalls named “Maria” and “Cristina”, because it virtually looks like two separate falls when in fact the flow of the water is just splitted by a rock at its brink.
Both Maria Cristina Falls and the whole NPC Nature Park is geographically located in barangay of the same name, more accessible from the highway compared to Tinago Falls. The 340-feet high waterfalls is a tall drop in the Agus River, the tributary that catches the outflows of Lake Lanao before going to Iligan Bay. It is an important source of electric power in Mindanao through Agus 6/7 HEP, producing 200 megawatts of power.
The waterfalls is being managed by NPC Nature’s Park which occupies 10 hectares of the NPC Agus 6/7 HEP complex. The park just opened in July 2010, allowing the public to experience nature and adventure in the backdrop of the majestic Maria Cristina Falls. They aim to expand the tourism potential of the waterfalls, which has long been an icon of industrialization in the country.
Entrance fee to the park is P20 and the multicab tour ride costs P10 per person.
So that’s it! That’s the three waterfalls that form the tourism triangle, easily accessible yet equally beautiful. I know that a quick stop in Iligan may not be enough to see all of the city’s attractions but good enough to have a sampler of its offerings. With that, I thank Philippine Airlines for flying me to one of my favorite regions in Mindanao. It is always a pleasure flying with the flag carrier for it is where I feel at home.
Going to Iligan City from Laguindingan Airport, just catch a shuttle van outside the terminal building. Travel time takes an hour and fare is at P199.00.