Saturday, January 3, 2015

Aliwagwag Falls, Cateel, Davao Oriental, Philippines

According to Travel Teller (Olan)
whom I met in Cateel, Davao Oriental, "Aliwagwag Falls is the tallest falls in  the Philippines!". And that is the sole reason why I went to Cateel, to explore, see, and be mesmerized by the beauty and grandeur 
of this magnanimous falls!

December 25, 2014, I landed in Davao International Airport and spent the night in the city. The following morning, I went to Maragusan, Compostela, Valley to start my waterfalls chasing adventure in Mindanao. The itinerary was a tough one involving the Maragusan Falls, Campawan Curtain Falls, Aliwagwag Falls, Tinuy-an Falls and Awao Falls. Originally, Asik-Asik was part of the itinerary but since it was located in Alamada, North Cotabato and it was far from the other falls, I decided to skip it for the meantime and wait for summer.

And so from Baganga, I hired a habal-habal ride towards Cateel for P600.00. Typhoon Seniang was in Mindanao that time and it was difficult on my part to get a van or bus ride to Cateel. And what I did was to hire a habal-habal ride. Normally, the rate of the habal-habal is only P500 (one-way) but my driver (Manuel Fuentes # 0910-495-7454) told me that the reason why it was P600 is that from the town of Cateel, it is another 24 kilometers. In sum, I paid P600 for 45 kilometers to Cateel and 24 kilometers to Aliwagwag Falls. The price was good enough!

From Baganga, we endured and labored the ride under the strong winds and unceasing rains of Typhoon Seniang. And it took us more than 2 hours, before we reached the spot.

Along the travel, we passed by, several falls and I was getting excited already. 

How to Get There

First, you have to get a flight to Davao City. there are several airlines servicing the route such as Philippine Airlines (PAL)  or Cebu Pac (Cebu Pacific), cheapest flight is through Cebu Pacific or if the other airlines offer their promo fare. Travel time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Fare ranges from PhP5.000.00 to PhP8,000.00 (all-in). It is better to book 6 months in advance to get the lowest possible rate. I got my promo flight via the delayed flight of Cebu Pac for for only P1,800.00. 

There are other airports in Mindanao aside from Davao such as General Santos, Cotabato City, Surigao City, Cagayan De Oro and Butuan. But if you choose any of these airports, you have to labor the long road travel to Cateel. And so the best choice/option is to have the Davao flight and it is the only international airport in Mindanao. Davao offers several flights (8-10/day) from Manila. The other airports only offer 2-3 flights a day or sometimes none.

Second step, from Davao airport go the Ecoland Bus Terminal or the Gaisano Mall Terminal and take the bus either via Mati or Compostela Valley. Several bus lines service the route such as Mallen Express, Lyra Express, and Bachelor Express.

Davao via Mati using the the bus is 10-12 hours using the Bachelor Bus and the fare is PhP500.00 (325 kilometers).

Davao via Compostela Valley (ComVal) using the Mallen bus is 6-7 hours or 170 kilometers.

The Compostela Valley route is shorter but during rainy season it is not advisable to use this route because of landlsides along the ComVal.

From Agusan to Surigao via Cuevas it is 250 kilometers.

Upon reaching the town of Cateel, the next step is to hire the best ride in town and that is using the habal-habal. The town also offers private vehicles in case you are traveling as a group. Barangay Aliwagwag is more or less 25 minutes from the town. Habal Habal rent is PhP300 (one-way) or PhP500 (round trip). From Papag Bridge to Aliwagwag Falls it is 24 kilometers and from the town it is 28 kilometers. From the town, travel time using the habal-habal is 25-30 minutes.

In case you want to know more information about the area, Travel Teller is the best resource person since he grew up in Cateel.

Side trip to Bislig (Tinuy-An Falls)

In Cateel, you can take the Bachelor Express bus (1 pm once-a-day trip only). Or the Mallen or Lyra Express (5 am once-a-day trip only) to Barangay Mangagoy, Bislig, Surigao Del Sur. Travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours. 

Side trip to Monkayo (Awao Falls)

In Cateel, take the Mallen bus to Montevista (5 am once-a-day trip only). The trip is 3 hours. Then in Montevista, take the ride to Monkayo either using a van or a bus. Fare in Bachelor is P180.

Back to Davao City

Mallen bus is 7 hours via ComVal and schedule of the trip is 5 am and 3 pm. Fare is PhP250.00.

Bachelor Bus via Mati is 12 hours and the schedule of the trip is 10:30 am and 4:30 pm. Fare is PhP580.00.

Tip - buses in Mindanao usually leave early. It is better to be at the terminal 1 hour before the trip to get the best set and in order not to miss the trip. 


Cateel offers several lodging establishments but the best place to stay is in Edar's Place Resto Bar and Lodging (Contact no - 0921-4766-907). Rates vary from PhP800-1,000 all air-conditioned rooms. It is located in Poblacion near the bus terminal of Mallen, Bachelor and Lyra. You will never miss the spot!

The food is great and they have wifi for your internet browsing. The owner is very accommodating and hospitable. I enjoyed my stay at the place!

Going back to my adventure!

from EAZY Traveler

Under normal circumstances, the Aliwagwag falls looks like the picture above. But Typhhon Seniang was in the vicinity and it was already Signal No. 1 and the landing point was Hinatuan which is just 4 hours from Cateel.

view from the bridge

There was a gigantic surge of waters dropping from the 130 cascading waterfalls and the sight was really something to behold. It was the strongest surge of waters that I have seen in my entire life (not to mention the havoc caused by Typhoon Ondoy in NCR!) plus the unceasing rains! My gadgets and cameras were nearly wet. 

According to Travel Teller, the falls is 1,110 feet of cascading falls and 20 meters in width. It is regarded as the tallest and the most beautiful falls in Mindanao!

view from the left side near the registration area
I was planning to trek the top of the falls but my driver/guide told me that it was not possible! The road to the top was not passable! I was a bit frustrated but for my own safety, I obliged.

But that was not the end of the story! Fortunately, I met Byaheng Mindanaw! The group was shooting their video and the team was headed by Travel Teller (Olan). Among the bloggers present are Journeying Sarah and Nomad's Perspective (Louie). There were other bloggers but I was not able to get all their names. The group was very friendly, enthusiastic and vibrant that day shooting their video. Good thing I met them in Aliwagwag. 

It was Really More Fun in Aliwagwag Falls!

Nice meeting the Byaheng Mindanaw group!


  1. it was nice meeting you, dude. sayang medyo galit si aliwagwag. she wants us to comeback siguro. :)

    1. siguro nga pre, sa summer babalik sa Davao for sure yan =)
      bukod pa punta ko sa June

  2. Whoa! The waters of Aliwagwag were mighty strong when you visited!

  3. 10-12 hrs davao-mati? most said it's just 4-4.5 hrs

  4. mga sir pag motor ride mga ilang oras po ang biyahe?..

  5. May rooms po ba na pw3deng mag overnyt? If so, how much po?

  6. May rooms po ba na pw3deng mag overnyt? If so, how much po?

  7. From Gasera in front of Yellow Fin resto, there is a bus terminal with some vans waiting in the terminal going to Cateel which leaves at 1am. Buses leave at 3am. Be early to get a seat. It's P300 per person via ComVal (Compostela Valley) and travel time at 4.5 hrs when we went there in April 2017. I guess during summer ComVal route is good but during rains landslides highly possible as the roads are really carve from mountainside.