Canyoneering in Cebu
What is canyoneering?
People often asked me what it meant when I told them I went canyoneering at Kawasan fall in Badian, Cebu, the Philippines.
Fair question as I didn't know what it was until I got to Cebu…
Essentially it means you hike up the Badian jungle and then travel down the canyons using different techniques like rock climbing, hopping, sliding through the river, and jumping over the waterfall (which is real fun part)! So here is a video of me jumping into a waterfall in Cebu … just to give you an idea of the fun !
How fit do you need to be?
Well… you don't really need to be sporty or athletic in order to do canyoneering. If you are fit enough to do some moderate exercises for about 3 hours, you're good to go. I considered myself not very physically fit at the time. It took me about 3 hours to finish and I think it was the average or slightly below average. Plus, you're not going there alone. There is a trained guide that comes with you to ensure that you don't do anything stupid and hurt yourself. My guide there was so good. He led the way and told me which rock to step on (some rocks are very sharp or slippery). Whenever I struggled to go from one place to another or climb onto a rock, he would always give me a hand and pull me up. Also, you have to wear a helmet and swim vest/ life jacket so it's not a problem if you can't swim.
Jumping into the water - is it really that scary?
The short answer is "no, it isn't". Well… in the video you saw the waterfall is quite high. But do not let it discourage or scare you. You will start with a some small waterfalls first, about 6ft high. As you go, you will get to attempt higher waterfalls. Your confidence will build up gradually and at the end, you will be able to jump over some waterfalls that look pretty scary. I think the last waterfall I jumped over is 45ft.
Tips when jumping - how to not get hurt when landing
It's very important to know how to jump so that you don't hurt yourself. If you think that landing on water is soft, sorry to let you know that you are wrong. It is anything but soft. Think of the water of a liquid concrete. If you land wrong, you'll feel like you hit a concrete ground. Here are some tips that I learned from my research and applied when I jumped: Unless you're a professional, jump feet first (to avoid neck and head injury), keep your arms close when your body hits the water. You want to look like a pencil when you land into the water. This may sound obvious but don't breathe while you're still under the water. Again, don't worry, you will learn and gain experience from jumping over small waterfalls first. Your guide will be there to help you and give you advice. Do NOT jump unless your guide tells you that you can.
What to wear and bring?
Grippy and closed shoes: Trainers are the best. Flip flops and sandals are big no-nos. It may seem strange to jump into the water with your trainers but you need to protect your feet from sharp and slippery rocks.
Clothes: it is hot in the Philippines and you will get wet when canyoneering so dress in lightweight and quick drying clothes. Don't wear jeans as they will be very heavy when they are wet. Ladies, you may get scratches easily from the rocks, so wrap yourself in long swim wear if you can. I wore sport shorts while I was there and I came back with a lot of painful scratches on my knees and legs (I didn't fall or trip but I kicked the rocks under the water - yea I know I'm not that bright…)
GoPro: don't bring your phone or any electronic but a GoPro. You will be absolutely wet
How much does it cost?
There are many operators in Badian that offers canyoneering tours. The experience is pretty much the same and the price is similar at around 1500PHP per person ( I believe it's the government's mandated price - you may expect to pay more if you travel in a small group of less than 5 people) which includes a professional guide, safety gears e.g. life jacket and helmet, a bottle of water and lunch at the end of the trip.
If you decide to buy a tour from Cebu city, I suggest you buy one that includes both whale watching in Oslo and canyoneering in Badian . Just to give you an idea of the tour price from Cebu, I paid just under 6000 pesos ( GBP 90). It sounds quite pricey but it was worth it to me because it was inclusive of everything (transportation, tickets to whale watching and canyoneering, guide, lunch etc. ) so I didn't need to worry about anything like where to get the bus, bus timetables etc. Also, the tour saved me a lot of time. If you travel by public transport, you will not be able to do both activities in one day. The tour company also provided me with a GoPro to take photos and video while under the water. Different tour companies may offer different prices with different itinerary, so have a shop around. You might get a cheaper price if you travel in group.