Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur – Part 1 (The Journey)

My friend Jao wanted to go back to the Enchanted River because the water was murky during the last time he was there. On the other hand, I wanted to go there because I simply have never been there before.  He was also bringing along his sister Judielin, sister-in-law Ate Cathy and nephew Kiboy so I was the only non-family member on this trip.

Some issues arose before this trip. When we were booking the flight for Jao’s nephew and sister-in-law, there were some problems during the first three attempts, which really got me upset because it was the last day of the airline’s promo. It was the first time I berated a customer service rep on the phone. We were able to do a workaround after two more attempts – I used PayPal.

Our own flight also had to be rebooked because of some flight changes but that wasn’t a big problem. It was even better to have rebooked it without any charge so we can all be on the same flight.

Fast forward to April 16, the day of our trip.

I left my hometown Sagay early so I could catch the 9:30am fastcraft from San Carlos to Toledo. I arrived in Cebu City around 1pm and had lunch at the mall. Yeah I know, not exactly backpacker-ish. Ha!

Our flight was at 5:30pm but I was already at the airport at 1:45pm. I always want to be early at airports. The rest of the guys arrived around 4pm.

Jao told me it was his nephew’s first time to ride a plane. Geez I remember my first time. I was 16 and I was going to college. I was surrounded by the Negros Slashers (remember them?) but all I could think about was how to fasten my seatbelt. I never did fasten that seatbelt and the flight attendants never noticed. I’m good at fastening seatbelts now.

We arrived in Davao around 6:20pm. We chose Davao as our jump off point because the flights going to Davao were cheaper. Our friend Dottie, who is from Bislig, told us that Hinatuan and Bislig were closer to Butuan, but the flights to Butuan were almost P1000 higher. Besides that, Jao’s elder sister lives in Davao so we had somewhere to crash.

When we got there, I realized how huge Davao was. I mean I saw how large it is on the map, but it was different when you’re actually on the ground. Getting from one point to another takes a longer ride than what I’m used to within a city.

We had dinner and spent a few hours at Ate Eve’s house. I decided not to sleep because I might not wake up in time. Our trip going to Bislig was at 2am.

We left and took a taxi going to Ecoland Terminal around 1:15am. We then took a Bachelor Express going to Mangagoy.

Fun fact: Mangagoy is a barangay in Bislig, which I think is their city proper. According to Dottie, if you say Bislig, it’s another part of the city. Forgive me if I got this wrong. Just don’t expect any bus going to “Bislig.” Always look for those going to “Mangagoy.”

I’ve read on several travel guides and websites that the first bus from Davao to Mangagoy leaves at 2:30am. But I’ve read on one other blog that it leaves at 2am. I tried calling the phone numbers of Bachelor Express I found on the internet to confirm the schedule but no one was picking up. To be on the safe side, I told everyone the bus leaves at 2am. And our bus left at 2am indeed.

I regretted the fact that I didn’t bring any jacket or hoodie because it was shivering cold inside the bus. I was only wearing shorts, a thin shirt and slippers, so just imagine how vaguely covered I was.

Then the rain started while we were still on the bus.



I was starting to get worried that this might cause the water at Enchanted River to get murky again, which might disappoint Jao again. But thankfully that wasn’t the case. Everyone would probably feel sorry if it turned out murky.

We arrived in Mangagoy at 7:30am. Our friend Dottie helped arrange the transportation for us. Actually, she offered her in-laws’ SUV for our whole trip in Surigao del Sur. We’d just be paying the gas and the driver. We had our own private vehicle so this post is not where you can get information about habal-habals or multicabs. Again, not backpacker-ish. Sorry.

The driver Allan immediately drove us to Hinatuan which took us about 30 minutes to reach from Mangagoy. On the way, I saw that they were improving the roads, so the roads might not be as rough in the future as it is today. I’m used to rough roads anyway. Flashback Asik-Asik Falls.

We stopped by the stores at the entrance so the guys could order food for our lunch. IMG_7416


I wondered aloud where they were getting all this seafood when it’s a “river.” I was then told that the Enchanted River is directly connected to the sea which is just nearby.

We then registered at the front office. We wanted to get the larger and more enclosed cottage, which cost P200, so our things would be safer but the staff insisted they required a minimum of 10 people for that cottage. They gave us the more open cottage instead which was priced at P150. Entrance fee was P30 per head.



The rain was still pouring hard so I started telling myself that I might not be able to use my own camera to take shots of the Enchanted River and just use Jao’s pictures from his GoPro instead (I really need to buy a GoPro). Thankfully, the rain slowed down a bit so I was able to get a good shot (at least to me).



The crowd was also overwhelming but I sort of expected it so I didn’t really feel choked. People were arriving non-stop the whole day. I was happy we got there relatively earlier so we had a better cottage.



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