Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Freediving in the Philippines. Day 5

The story of this day will not be as long as the previous ones. We didn't dive on Day 5. Instead, we went canyoning.

At the beginning of the path
Kawasan Falls are located about 20 minutes away by car from our hotels. It is a cascade of one large and two smaller waterfalls. We were told they looked quite spectacular. But just going sightseeing wasn't our intent. Instead, we drove about half an hour higher into the mountains. From there, we were going to walk to the falls. Canyoning means descending down a river. Not on rafts, but on feet. That is, it is literally walking down the bed of a mountain river. Our team was led, once again, by local instructor Wolfgang, for whom organising such routes is a part of his business. He told us that the route was very simple, and even children who could not swim would walk through it. Wolfgang announced that in some places we'd have to jump from small ledges into the water and swim. It did not scare anybody. All present were freedivers, and therefore people of steel, capable of diving down tens of meters on a single breath. However, after just 10 minutes we came to the cliff, which ended with a five-meter drop with a rocky pool at the bottom. Wolfgang declared that we had to jump.

The first obstacle
Most of us were brave enough, and after a few moments of hesitation, we one by one stepped over the ledge and plunged into the river below. However, a few girls were not inclined to jump. Those who already did it tried to cheer up the doubters and convince them that there wasn't really anything scary. It took some, but finally they took a leap of faith, and we moved on. Fortunately for us, that was the largest challenge we faced. For the next three or four hours we hiked down the river. For most of the way the path led us along its banks, but in some places the path was blocked, and we had to march right upon the river bed. Besides, it was a hot day, and stomping upon the water was more fun. Several times we stopped to rest and wait for stragglers. For most of the way the river was about knee-deep or less. But in a few places along our way it formed pools which were quite deep. In such places we had to jump into the water and swim, as Wolfgang promised us, for there was no other way around.

Finally we reached the first waterfall just to discover that is was quite small, just a few meters high. I even thought in disappointment: "Is that all?" But it turned out that it was just the beginning. Ten minutes later we approached the second waterfall, which was a little bigger. And after yet another 10 minutes hiking down the path we saw the third one. And it was indeed a sight worth seeing. Water was thundering down from 20-meter height and like a white shower falling into the lake at the bottom.
We had to swim at some places
However, the magnificent view was just a part of the attraction. At the edge of the lake a couple of rafts were parked. The rafts were made from thick stalks of bamboo bound together with ropes. Our team, accompanied by two local guides, boarded one of the rafts.

One of the guides instructed us to sit down, and then started to pull our raft to the waterfall by means of a clever system of ropes stretched over the lake. But instead of heading for the waterfall directly, the guides directed the rafts into a narrow cave a few meters away. They ordered us to lie down. Everyone obeyed, and soon we understood why that was necessary: as the rafts were moving farther into the cave, the ceiling began to decline and stayed as low as half a meter above the water. There was barely enough room for us to lie down.
The waterfall
The guide continued to pull our raft forward, and in another few meters we made a sharp turn. The cave suddenly ended and we saw a white wall of water in front of us – we emerged beyond the waterfall. The guide gave us permission to get up, everybody jumped to his feet, and soon we entered the waterfall.

The stream of water falling on my shoulders from 20-meter height was an unforgettable sensation. That was like a very hard shower, which burned and cooled at the same time. The raft stopped so that the water curtain divided it exactly in half. We were jumping back and forth through the stream, shouting in wild voices and laughing. Then our guide pulled the raft out from under the waterfall and asked whether we wanted more. All shouted that they did, and the raft once again was directed to the entrance to the cave, and we went through the waterfall over again. And when it was over, we rested at the local restaurant located next to the waterfall, had a delicious lunch, and drank rum. Everyone was tired but happy.

Upon returning to Club Serena, I headed directly to my hotel, because all of us were very tired and I knew that that was all for that day.

The end of the fifth day.

The text and the photos © 2010 Sergey Stadnik, Vasily Avseenko

1 comment:

Lakbay Diva said...

ha! I've never tried canyoneering there, but looks like a lot of fun! would definitely try that!

Popular Posts