Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tinago River - Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur

WHERE: Tinago River, Hinatuan Bay, Surigao del Sur
DATE OF TRAVEL: September 11, 2010

1. The serene ride all the way to the inner areas of the river will make you feel nature at its finest!
2. No pictures and words can describe how beautiful this river is. Wide opening, lush green trees, islets, houses on stilts, fishermen in their small bancas (boats) -- these are just some of the things you'll pass by on the way. And when you get inside the river itself, you'll wonder if there's a crocodile that will show up. It's just so unexploited (and somewhat looks forgotten) that you'll definitely feel your Steve Irwin shouting at you and telling you to go explore what's in front of you!
FEES: From the Enchanted River, you can hire a pump boat for 5 which charges P160/ hour.

Just a few minutes away from the Enchanted River is another breathtaking river called Tinago. While the water is not blue as in the Enchanted River, Tinago has its own charm. Passing from the sea to the wide mouth of the river gives you a wonderful view of nature. Small islands appear from time to time as well as houses on stilts and fishermen slowly waiting for their catch from the boat. Once inside the river, you will pass find yourself in a maze of mangroves. If you're lucky, you might just find animals roaming around the area.

Fly from Manila to Butuan City. From there, ride a jeep/ bus or hire a van (contact # below) to Bislig and ask to be dropped off at the Hinatuan Terminal. From there, take a habal-habal (P35/ head/ one way) to Enchanted River. You can hire a pumpboat going to Tinago River from Enchanted River.

Gemma Millan (Hinatuan Tourism Office) - +63919 4600855/ gemmamillancdic@yahoo.com

Engr. Josephine Lapeciros - just_xpo@yahoo.com.ph

Juvy (driver/ tour guide) - +63927 7175267/ +63909 9899854

Vivian Durano Otaza (Chairperson of CARAGA Travel Links - travel agency) - +63917 3648504/ +63932 2662378/ caragatravel@yahoo.com

CARAGA TRAVEL LINKS Address: Raniel Business Park, J. Rosales Street, Butuan City (across Gaisano mall)

Now that I am working regularly, I have become a "fan" of long weekends. Back then, we had the luxury of staying in a place for a week or two to fully explore the area. Now, even though we know 3 days aren't enough, we have no choice but to make use of them.

For the 2010 Eid-el-Fitr weekend, we decided to fly to Butuan and explore two provinces: Agusan del Norte (where Butuan is) and Surigao del Sur. We knew we didn't have time to make mistakes in this trip if we wanted to make the most out of it. So we hired a van (P5,000/ day) through a travel agency to take us from Agusan to Surigao and back. Knowing only of the Enchanted River and Tinuy-An Falls, we asked Ms. Vivian of CARAGA Travel Links (travel agency) if there was anything else she could suggest. Apparently, "island hopping" is offered to visitors once they get to Enchanted River. For a charge of P1,000/ boat (good for 5 people), you will be taken around Hinatuan Bay for about two hours. (PS: We later on found out that they charge P160/ hour for the pumpboats so maybe you can also do this instead.)

When we got to the Enchanted River, we were approached by Engineer Josephine and introduced to Ms. Gemma Millan, the Tourism Officer of Hinatuan. After taking pictures of the beautiful river, we boarded the speed boat which Mayor Viola Jr. lent us (thank you SOOOO much).

Going out to the sea was definitely an experience. The houses on stilts looked lovely, and the surrounding environs were definitely breathtaking. Once out at sea, we made a turn to our first stop: Tinago River. Going inside the river was a treat for nature lovers like us. The serenity of the place made us feel right at home. For a while there , I was actually thinking of living in the area because it just seemed so beautiful and peaceful. The wide opening allowed us to appreciate the nature right in front of us. On the sides were countless mountains and trees, above us was the huge, blue sky and around us, birds were just flying and resting and chirping. We went past islets filled with coconut trees, children wading in the water and fishermen patiently waiting for their catch from their boats.

When we got inside the river itself, we passed a maze of mangroves. It made us feel like we were in a Disneyland Jungle Cruise, except it was a real one, so we started to wonder how many crocodiles lived in the area. According to Ms. Gemma and Engr. Josephine, no crocodiles have been spotted, but I would bet my life that if Steve Irwin (may he RIP) had visited this river, he would have found one! :D Anyway, with or without crocodiles, this river had a charm that I think would be similar to that of Amazon or the rivers we get to watch in National Geographic. It's small and almost untouched which may be why it made us feel like we were in an entirely different world, filled with nature and nothing else. Too bad for us, we didn't see animals but it did feel like they were all watching us, waiting to make our first move in "making friends" with them.

This may sound cliche but that quiet boat trip to Tinago River allowed me to be at my happiest state. While on board, I was just watching every little thing that was in front of me while feeling the wind on my face. Though the sun was out, the water and the trees did make our ride cooler. Everything in this area was simple, yet it was also grand. While staring at the scenery and listening to the birds, all I had were happy and peaceful thoughts. If people only explored Mindanao, this is what they would find: a sense of peace that you can't even get in Manila.

That trip down the river made me realize (once again) just how wonderful (and powerful) nature really is, and once you fall under its trap, you will never fall out of love.

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