Sta. Cruz Falls
(more photos below)
It is dubbed as the Niagara Falls of Mindanao and getting there was definitely both awesome and a shocking experience. Seeing the falls was worth it, but the word “worth” can be totally subjective on this matter though.
It solely depends if your willing to climb steep hills, treading carefully on lose earth and rocks along the cliffs, crossing rivers/streams jotted with rocks and boulders (from landslides) and finding your way through giant wild thorny shrubs.
The road going to the falls was destroyed by landslides and flood when the falls overflowed like a bursting dam a couple of years ago. Basically, the only access to the falls was already claimed by mother nature when we got there.
What’s even worst, we were dressed like we were going to a park. No ropes, mountain boots, tools, sandals, food and heck, not even a single bottle of water! There were like 9 of us and three of those were folks past their 50’s. Yep, that’s my girlfriend’s parents and her aunt together with her sister , 3 helpers and us plus 3 more guides/motorcycle drivers.
So how did we end up going there unprepared? Well, one of their helper told us back in Iligan a few days before that there’s a beautiful waterfall in Kapatagan aside from the Cathedral falls that we should visit. She said that it’s just near and we were assuming it was like going to Cathedral falls which was basically effortless.
We thought there would be small “Sari-sari” stores along the way for us to buy water and snacks. It turns out the last time their helper went there was years before the road was demolished by a landslide.
20 minutes of walking through in the middle of nowhere gave me a bad feeling that this was going to be one of those misadventures we’ll be talking about for the rest of our lives.
We actually made it through hell and back after a 5 hour ordeal of going through difficult terrain. Thank God!
What’s in our bags?
If you thought we’re carrying some “baon” or food in our bags, you couldn’t be more wrong. My bag contents: a net-book, shirt and a towel. Leia‘s bag contents: some make up and other ladies stuff.
No food, water, flashlight, camping tools and first aid kit whatsoever.
Our greatest concern were the 3 senior citizens in our group, but they made it too and back albeit swearing “never again!”
Word of Advice:
Next time a house-helper of yours tells you it’s just near – DOUBLE CHECK IT!
The Mysterious Falls
You can’t find Sta. Cruz falls on Google maps, not even articles about it on Google. It is only mentioned in Lanao del Norte tourism sites as part of their attraction, but there’s no photos of it. So far, only Leia was able to blog about it and I’m probably the 2nd guy to blog about Sta. Cruz falls.
If you search it on Google images, all you see are photos taken by us when we went there. Technically, it was a mysterious water falls before we finally laid our eyes on it.
If You Dare
If you dare going there for sheer adventure, it’s not really a challenge if your an experienced mountain climber/hiker. However, if you want to go like how we went through it, try dressing up like your going to a mall on a date without a bottle of water and food, not even a biscuit.
Just don’t bring your parents, aunts or any oldies with you or they might think you want them dead.
How to get there:
Santa Cruz falls is just 10-15 minutes away or 2km from Kapatagan’s bus terminal by “habal-habal” ride for P100 back and forth. Actually, you’ll be stopping at the river where you’ll see an impassable bridge or what remains of it and that will be your starting point onward.
From the starting point to the falls can be over an hour or two which used to be a 10 minute ride before mother nature decided to apply some total makeover. But without the oldies, you’ll probably get there like an hour maybe or even less which depends on your cardio.
The trek starts easy, but slowly becomes harder and harder until your near to the falls. Oh, and go there with a guide, at least two if your planning to go without equipment like us because they will be your human ladder literally. Just pay them extra for helping you stay alive.
We actually went to Santa Cruz falls in the last week of May 2012, but it’s just now that I’m able to blog about it. More backlogs to come! *wipes sweat*
Here’s Leia’s side of the story: http://reiyakhu.tumblr.com/post/23986273297/the-niagara-falls-of-mindanao-santa-cruz-falls