HINATUAN RIVER is the kind of place that will make you believe Legolas, the Elven prince of The Lord of Rings exists along with his mystic world and the other creatures of his realm. Its waters is as clear as a crystal reflecting the greenery and the bluest skies. Its beauty is the kind that would make you feel entangled in a dream filled with the songs of the elves weaving everything into perfection.
At 4PM just minutes after we left Camiguin Island to embark on our journey to the Enchanted River of Hinatuan which has made quite a fuss over the world wide web since 2011. The travel began in Balingoan, one of the coastal towns near the city of Cagayan De Oro heading to Butuan City which is painstakingly 4 hours away. We were lost souls, tired and sleepless from the nonstop wandering hoping to unravel the secrets of every places we had visited. And this time we hoped to hold witness to the mystery that was Hinatuan River.
We arrived in Butuan City Bus Terminal at exactly 8PM just in time despite the heavy downpour while we were still on the road. Glad to have arrived safely, we quickly grabbed a bite and satisfied our growling tummies after hours of trying to stave off hunger as we were already running out of juice coming towards the end of our Northern Mindanao tour. We were suppose to be heading back to Manila but we felt like our tour would not be as fulfilling without getting a glimpse of this most talk about river.
As we were waiting for the next bus bound for Davao City, a lady asked where we were headed. She was baffled to learn we were headed to Hinatuan but was headed on a completely different route. Much to our gratitude, she gave us instructions and other helpful information that can lead us to this mystical river we were after. She even went to tell us where we can get cheap accommodation as we wait for the next bus to arrive at 2AM bound for Mangagoy. With a smile, I thought situations like this keeps me in believing there is still hope in humanity.
The room we got at a price of P300 was just right to let us doze our too exhausted minds through the night. At exactly 1:30AM we then resumed towards the end of our journey. With just a cup of coffee and a biscuit to fill our empty tummies and chase off the freezing cold, we rode the bus and seated at the far back as we waited for it to be loaded full with passengers and other stuff. A little past 2AM when the bus was a little too crowded and all spaces were all filled, it started moving towards its destination. We were too sleepy to pay attention to the fact that we were cramped up along with the other people inside a bus moving at full speed making it hard to breathe or even move a limb. We would have missed Hinatuan if it wasn’t for the people waking us up from our deep slumber. We alighted the bus few minutes before the clock hits the hour of 6AM.
We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere as the fog made everything in sight a little hazy. We thought there was not a single soul in the place until we heard a voice from behind us asking if we are headed to the Enchanted River. The next thing we knew, we were already ridden in his motorcycle (habalhabal) towards the mystic river we sought.
Much to our delight we arrived at the site unharmed despite the bumpy ride along the unpaved road. We were surprised on how fully developed the place was. There were a number cottages situated near the river and the path leading down to it was a cemented staircase. I was kinda disappointed to be honest though as it was way different from what I had expected. I saw no magic, no elven-like paradise, no alluring mystique but that changed when my eyes finally gazed at the azure waters of the coveted beauty that was Hinatuan river. I thought I’ve never seen such a beauty before. The water was so clear it reflected the the color of the skies. It ran deeply into the unknown hollows that no one dared explore. What was even more mysterious were the number of fishes of various species and sizes taking shelter in it. The river was just the size of a 40 feet rectangular swimming pool but it was fascinating enough to alleviate the exhaustion from restless souls.
1. From Manila – You can fly via your preferred airline to Butuan City. From Butuan City, take a bus going to Mangagoy and get off Hinatuan. You can ask the bus crew to drop you off the site where you can hire motorcylces (habalhabal) going to Hinatuan River. Fare is less than P200. Once you are in Hinatuan, ride a motorcyle (habalhabal) to Hinatuan River. Round trip fare is P300 good for 3 people.
4. From Davao City – Take a bus or van going to Mangagoy or St. Franc. Fare is P250 more or less. Then ride another van to Hinatuan. Fare is P50 more or less. Ride a motorcycle to the Enchanted River.
OTHER ESSENTIAL INFORMATION
1. There are descent toilets and baths built in the Enchanted River but I have just noticed that the water running from the shower or tap was the same water coming from the river. It tasted a bit salty which is pretty much the same with the waters in the river.
2. It is important to bring your own food as rarely would you see stores selling food or ever you find one, they can be a bit pricey.
3. Entrance fee is P25 and for safety guests have the option to rent floaters or life vest for the price of P50 but are required to present identification cards. You will also need to pay for the cottages. Small cottages are priced at P100 and bigger cottages could cost up to P200 – P250.
4. After visiting Hinatuan river, you can opt to explore to Tinuy-an Falls dubbed as the “Niagara Falls of the Philippines” and Brittania Beach. You may ask the motorcycle (habalhabal) driver how much will it cost for him to take you there.
There you go. I think this is pretty much it. If I missed anything, just shoot me a message. 🙂