South Cotabato: A certified haven of natural wonders

#THROWBACKTRAVEL | I've been a travel freak for most of my life. I eat and breathe travel. My love for the Philippines, my home country, can prove my desire for wandering and exploring different places. I am completely in love with my country's remarkable and rich ecological treasures. And if I were, to sum up, all of my favorite spots in a list, South Cotabato would be included. The culture-rich background of this province, and its beautiful lakes and majestic waterfalls deserve your attention and more.


Traveling to South Cotabato via General Santos

There are no direct flights to South Cotabato. But the nearest airport to the province is General Santos. This is also the reason why we decided to make Gen San our base for 2-days so that we could easily explore the nearby areas.

South Cotabato is just a 2-hour trip from General Santos, which we reached via several transportation transfers (two buses, one van and one motorcycle, which they call ‘Habal-Habal’). Now, the trip itself wasn’t all that tiring, given the commute that we had to do. We just enjoyed the lush greeneries and rural scenes that we got to pass-by.

How to reach South Cotabato from General Santos

NOTE (fare matrix was from 2014): We took a tricycle (minimum fare of PHP15 per person) from Microtel in General Santos City, and was dropped off at the Eusebio Bulaong Public Terminal. From there, we looked for either Marbel or Surallah bound air-con buses. The non-stop Marbel bound bus (PHP95 per person) usually takes an hour to reach, while Surallah (PHP31 per person) takes only 30 minutes via the Yellow Bus Line. We took the latter choice and alighted at the Surallah terminal, where we rode another bus that was bound for Marbel Terminal and then took a van that was bound for Lake Sebu, which took 30 minutes to reach. It also cost us PHP42 per person.

The beautiful town of Lake Sebu

When you mention South Cotabato, several things will come to mind like Lang Dulay, the province’s National Treasure who wove her dreams into life (in the form of fabrics called T’nalak). But aside from the talented woman, one can also say that South Cotabato is where you will find the lovely town of Lake Sebu, which is also home to the indigenous tribes of the T’Boli and Ubo people. 

The town of Lake Sebu is known for its natural wonders as it's filled with plenty of lakes, cascades, springs, and rivers. It's also easily recognized for its main attraction, Lake Sebu, as it is one of the three biggest lagoons (Lake Lahit and Lake Siloton) that supply water for both South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

How to go around South Cotabato?

The good thing about being in a place where you’ve never been before is the chance to meet new people, some of which will act as your angels on the road. Now, my friend and I were traveling via van when we talked to the driver about tips on how to go around South Cotabato. That’s when he recommended his cousin Rolly to be our driver for the day. Although we knew nothing about them, we just trusted our guts and confirmed our pick-up near the seven waterfalls’ jump-off point. And after 30 minutes, Rolly welcomed us at the stop with his motorbike in tow. Kuya Rolly’s rate at the time was PHP300 (half-day rate for two pax). His services not only included taking us around the nearby sites. He also served as our photographer and guide.

Sighting the waterfalls via the highest zipline in Southeast Asia

My friend and I did the Seven Lakes Zipline activity that morning, as we wanted an action-packed adventure on our first time in South Cotabato. Now, getting on each zipline (there were two) is the fastest way to see all of the five remaining falls, as the first two are easily accessible to tourists. The remaining five can also be seen via trek. By the way, the zipline, which has an entrance fee of PHP20, is 600 feet above the ground. (Note: Weekend rate is PHP300, and weekday rate is PHP250).

Once you’re at the site, you will be able to catch sight of two of the seven grand cascades: Hikong Alu (Passage Falls or Falls 1) and Hikong Bente (Immeasurable Falls or Falls 2). The heavy drops from Falls 1 sounded soothing (the outflow from Hikong Alu comes from either Lake Sebu or Siloton), despite its heavy and thundering drop.

NOTE: The seven waterfalls in Barangay Siloton are the following: Hikong Alu, Hikong Bente, Hikong B'Lebel (Zigzag Falls), Hikong Lowig (Booth Falls), Hikong K'Fo-I (Wild Flower Falls), Hikong Ukol (Short Falls) and Hikong Tonok (Soil Falls).

You should wander around South Cotabato if you’re in Southern Mindanao. You’ll surely love the province, its natural wonders, and the charming people who care and protect it.

Explore & Be Free (in the comfort of your own home, for now!)

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