Falls Hopping at 8 Kamandag Falls- The Antidote to the Itchy Feet Wanderers

Falls Hopping, the idea of going from one Falls to another, by foot!!! This goes to say that Philippines, particularly Mindanao has enough supplies of waterfalls to satisfy the cravings of every wandering soul. One perfect example of this is the Kamandag Falls of Bulatukan, Makilala, North Cotabato. I will not be surprised if it doesn't ring a bell for you because for so many years, the beauty of Kamandag Falls was only enjoyed by the locals of the place. Well, we can't blame them, as much as they want to share about this, going to Kamandag Falls have underlying issues such as its accessibility and security. Nevertheless, I have proven that safety wise, I think the area is spared with the danger of rebels and whatnot. I just can't promise about accessibility because while our vehicle can reach up to the small community that serves as the jump off point, going from one falls to another requires a hiking prowess. There are actually a total of 25 falls of Kamandag but only 8 are accessible. All of the falls are named “kamandag” as there is no official name for each of them.

We traveled all the way from SOCSKSARGEN to North Cotabato and arrived at the Bulatukan, Makilala, North Cotabato on a beautiful Sunday morning. I love how we were accommodated by the locals when we arrived. They're all smiling and welcoming us in their place. It was a tough ride from the national highway going to their small community where we have to stop for quick briefing. After our short stay, our group was more than enthusiastic to embark into a unique travel experience called Falls Hopping. That day, we were excited to visit all 8 falls of Kamandag.

We leisurely walked through the rough road chatting and laughing as we passed by the houses of the residences of Sitio Bulatukan. Our guides, who are locals of the place, candidly introduced us to their place and what we can expect in the journey. Along the way, there are plantations of tulips flowers which added attraction to the trail, a muddy trail in fact.

Our guide said it rained the other day, so we have to brace ourselves for a muddy hike. It was unfortunate that I was wearing a slipper that day, it's such a struggle seeing that the trail was wet and muddy. My friendly tip for you if you have plan to visit this place in the future, is to wear a slipper or sandal with a strap, or better yet, a proper hiking shoes, because I tell you, the trail is slippery.

 We were determined to visit all 8 falls of Kamandag, so despite the challenging trail, there's no turning back for all of us. We slipped, we stumbled, we struggled and we shed blood, tears and sweat through the muddy, thorny and difficult road. It was a daydream turned into a nightmare because it felt like a never ending challenge to us. After one hour of fighting the odds, we reached Falls Number 8 of Kamandag. It's funny how the nightmarish experience turned into magical and colorful when we saw the grandeur and beauty of the Falls. The air became cooler, the sound of the splashes of water wiped out our struggles and whining turned into admiration and appreciation to the celestial being who made everything we saw and experienced that day. Falls #8 is quite high and maybe considered as a major Falls of Kamandag. The green plants surrounding the area are evidences that the environment is healthy and not yet exploited by the people.

After our short stay at Falls #8, we resumed our hike to proceed to Falls Number 6. Just like the trail to Falls Number 8, we once again faced the challenge of muddy and slippery wet road to Falls Number 6. I can't remember how many times I slipped.  I walked through the mud with my barefoot because my slipper isn't helping me conquer the journey. It took us around one hour before we reached Falls Number 6. It was lunch time already, so we decided to take our lunch there. Falls Number 6 is bigger than Falls Number 8. The area is bigger and it's quite a rocky place. The cool water of the falls is so inviting, but I have to go as far as washing away the mud out of me because we still have to visit more falls after.

After our lunch at Falls Number 6, we started walking again We traversed through the rivers, we climbed up and down the hills in the middle of the forest. Unlike the previous falls, it was just a short hike to reach Falls #5.

It's a small falls with small natural pool. Visitors will probably just pass here because it is not quite spectacular as in the other falls in the area. However, there's more to this falls than meet the eyes. It has clear turquoise water and the natural pool is also deep and beautiful. Because it's too small, not a lot of people stay here, that means, you can make this your own private little hideout.

We then went to the next destination, the twin Falls. Going there is as difficult as our previous trail. We somehow got the hang of it at this point. The twin falls are two small falls flowing adjacent to each other. Don't underestimate these falls because the water current is too strong you can get carried away if you don't keep your guard.

Our last stop was at the Falls Number 1. We have to rappel down a steep hill to get to the main Falls. The area is crowded because this is where people get to stay long because it has wide area for swimming. Kids do love to dive from the cliff.

After swimming, we then head back to the community where we left our vehicle. It's quite far and it was also raining that time, so the road was super slippery. Albeit tired, I enjoyed my walk back to the community because I was forest bathing while listening to the birds chirping and insects making strange sounds. It's a beautiful environment where flora and fauna are at their happiest. In the future, a lot of people will discover Kamandag falls and it going mainstream will be inevitable soon. I just hope that everything will be preserved and that visitors will be responsible with their actions.