Some say that the most beautiful spots in the world are located in places that are not so easy to reach; places that are hidden from the eyes of ordinary people. I guess one can say the same with Iligan City’s Tinago Falls. Literally translated from Filipino, it means the Hidden Falls.
There are actually three ways to reach Tinago Falls. The easiest is through Buruun or by the town of Linamon, and hardest is through hours of river trekking from Mimbalot Falls. We chose the easiest of the three of course.
The way to Tinago Falls through Buruun is not as hardcore as Iligan’s Kalubihon Falls but it does take a bit of stamina to reach it.
First, we had to descend half a thousand steps into a once beautiful resort that has now fallen into absolute ruin. Our Iliganon friends related, as we hiked through the bushes in the area, how posh the resort once was before it was abandoned and nature once again took over.
From there, another set of rougher steps led us further down. The trail and the surrounding greeneries reminded me so much of the trail to Laguna’s Majayjay Falls, although it was definitely an easier path compared to Tinago’s. As if to emphasize the point, we passed a sign In coming up, do not hurry, take a rest. Good advice, I thought to myself.
The hike took almost fifteen minutes before the view opened up to 240 feet of enchanting beauty. I have seen my share of waterfalls in the Philippines but I haven’t really attached the word enchanting to any of them, the closest perhaps would be to Siquijor’s Cambugahay Falls, but it pales in comparison by a huge margin to Iligan’s Tinago Falls.
I first saw Tinago Falls on a local travel show, PHL 360. They went to the falls early in the day and the morning light literally made the waterfall sparkle. It was jaw-droppingly beautiful. Unfortunately, we visited the falls late in the day and the light that made its magic on Tinago then was nowhere to be seen.
But beautiful light notwithstanding, Tinago Falls is still a sight to behold. Its water cascades gracefully down through a wide rocky surface overgrown with clinging vegetation. Its main drop is located in its center with two minor drops on its left and far right. In between those, smaller drops trickle down towards its dark green basin.
It is unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Near the right drop, a slanting tree extends towards the waters of Tinago Falls. Kids swimming in the area take advantage of this by climbing its main trunk, carefully balancing themselves along its length, before throwing themselves to the cold water of the falls, whooping and hollering all the way down.
And did I mention it is cold? The water of Tinago Falls is the coldest waterfall basin I’ve swam in so far, exceeding even that of Majayjay Falls’ refrigerated waters. The basin descends to unknown depths and swimmers are advised to wear life jackets for protection.
I initially thought of swimming without a vest, thinking it would only be a hindrance but finally relented, everyone was wearing one (it is apparently required for anyone wanting to have a dip). And it was a good thing too as after some minutes of wading; I started to feel cramps creeping up through my legs which is probably due to the freezing temperature of the water.
With cramps starting to spread through my calves, I joined my waterfalling buddies on the raft that they pulled all the way to the main falls of Tinago, reaching a cave located under the gushing water. I didn’t want to further stress my legs by swimming all the way back to the shore, I boarded the raft instead and enjoyed the ride back.
While it was a piece of cake going down to Tinago Falls, I now contemplated the aspect of going back up. Well, I can always follow the sign we saw earlier; there’s absolutely nothing wrong in slowing down and climbing it on my own pace, especially with cramps attacking my legs. Argh, indeed the most beautiful places in the world are almost always not the easiest places to reach, or in this case, to leave.
Address: Brgy. Ditucalan, Iligan City
Entrance Fee: Donation (Php10.00 – Php25.00)
Life Jacket Rentals: Php25.00
Cottage & Table Rentals: Php50.00 – Php100.00
Rafting Fee: Php15.00 pax
GPS Coordinates: +8° 9' 34.06", +124° 11' 8.66"
View Location on Google Maps