Breaking dawn in Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City

Tourisy Dumaguete City Exploration for the outdoor-ish guy

Lake Holon

Traverse Hike to Mt. Melibengoy/Parker its crater Lake Holon...

February 5, 2016 Comments (4) Caves, Featured, Rivers & Stream, South Cotabato

River raft, trek, swim, eat, dance and sleep like Tbolis at Bakngeb River Cave Adventure!

Bakngeb River is a 4km subterranean river located in in the hilly portions of Brgy Bakngeb Sitio. Lacohon in Tboli South Cotabato. Bakngeb has a huge cave entrance with high arched chambers inside. Unlike most subterranean rivers, Bakngeb is surprisingly well lighted thanks to the roof slits and that huge cave entrance.  These slits permit light to illuminate most parts of the cave. Bats inhabit some of the darker, higher portions of this cave.  Water flowing into this river is believed to be from an underground water table. The snakelike river runs inside the cave and goes to the entrance’s shallow river pool.

Bakngeb River cave adventure!

So if you ask me what to do in Bakngeb River Cave? My short answer is don't go there just for the subterranean river rafting. Go there to immerse with the Tboli culture. Eat, drink and sleep in a tribal house like what Tbolis do. Dance with them or learn to. These are very accommodating, genteel people.

Here’s the thing. “If you’re going to Bakngeb just for the river cave rafting, you’d probably end up wanting for more”.

I have been to Bakngeb 7 years ago, when it was still just a subterranean river. No rafting, no ropes and no guides either.  We barely made it 100 meters from the cave entrance. We’re swimming against a strong river current. Add the fact that somewhere in the middle of this subterranean river is a spooky, narrow deeper portion with high canyon like walls. You can hardly hold or stand on something to rest. So we just swam back to the entrance and enjoyed the river pool just outside. Except for the inflatable rafts, ropes, guides not much have change in Bakngeb River since then.

What is new is how the people of Sitio Lacohon worked with their LGU tourism and DOT 12, packaging Bakngeb River Cave with the Tboli culture immersion as a unique ecotourism destination. This ecocultural tourism destination is ran by the local community itself! Thats brilliant I say. Where do you often see this brand of tourism? Usually abroad and in some destinations in Luzon. When you blend an adventure destination with cultural immersions, you get a meaningful, cross cultural adventure experience right in our own backyard!

So if you ask me what to do in Bakngeb River Cave? My short answer is don’t go there just for the subterranean river rafting. Go there to immerse with the Tboli culture. Eat, drink and sleep in a tribal house like what Tbolis do. Dance with them or learn to. These are very accommodating and genteel people. This should be a unique experience for our souls!
Here’s what my personal itinerary would look like if I have to go back there. Note that I find the whole Bakngeb River Cave experience a very nice relaxing destination after a Lake Holon adventure. For me Bakngeb should be my next overnight stop after coming down from Lake Holon. That happens after lunch most probably.

  1. Register or log in at Tboli tourism office in Tboli town proper of your intention to go to Bakngeb River Cave
  2. Travel to Sito Lacohon Brgy Bakngeb. Habal-habal is the mode of transport. Pick ups could also be use but be careful with driving here as there are many industry vehicles passing through a small rough road.
  3. Register at Tourist Receiving Center to avail of your accommodations, food and possible cultural shows.
    Bakngeb River Cave Adventure tourist receiving center. This homestay is ran by the local community of Tbolis

    Bakngeb River Cave Adventure tourist receiving center. This homestay is ran by the local community of Tbolis

    Overnight stay at the Tourist Center is Php 150 per person. Food and food preparation is per arrangement with the homestay. I highly suggest you try the Tboli prepared food.

    Some of the food Tbolis may prepare for you or your group (Photo by Neil Alvin Cuenca)

    Some of the food Tbolis may prepare for you or your group (Photo by Neil Alvin Cuenca)

  4. Plant a tree nearby! One way you can help preserve this natural resource!

    Plant a tree near bakngeb river cave.

    Plant a tree near bakngeb river cave.

  5. Explore the area.  Take photographs of the people and the place. No sunsets here but should be nice to practice slow shutter/long exposures at dusk time.

    Instant shoot with the lady Tbolis. Lovely!

    Instant shoot with the lady Tbolis. Lovely!

  6. Talk to people in the community especially those assigned to the Tourism Reception area. Immerse on their traditions.
  7. Afternoon coffee. One of my favorite, especially that coffee brewed on fire place  and served on bamboo cups. Should be very nice if serve with cooked sweet cassava or any root crop available.

    Tbolis brewing coffee! One of the sweet, chocoality coffee I've tasted

    Tbolis brewing coffee! One of the sweet, chocoality coffee I’ve tasted

  8. Take a bath at the river pool. Its very cold here, so I was imagining a hot coffee by the river side should be very nice. 🙂
  9. Dinnertime Tboli style! Enjoy food cooked inside bamboo and aromatic leaves.

    Roast chicken, Tboli style! (Photo by Neil Alvin Cuenca)

    Roast chicken, Tboli style! (Photo by Neil Alvin Cuenca)

  10. Cultural show? Or you can have group activities at the camping area near the river.
  11. Lights out!
  12. Tboli breakfast. More coffee for me 🙂
  13. River rafting and canyoneering. Wear your life vest and know your guides. Do not attempt to go inside the cave/river on your own.
    Bakngeb River Cave huge entrance. It has both river pools inside the cave and another just outside

    Bakngeb River Cave huge entrance. It has both river pools inside the cave and another just outside

    Some areas have  narrow passages and the river are quite deep. The current is too strong for swimming. It’s also almost impossible to hold on to the walls in most areas.

  14. Tboli Lunch.

    Variety of Tboli food to choose from

    Variety of Tboli food to choose from

  15. You can say your gratitude to the Tbolis for their awesome hospitality. More picture taking.
    This tboli lady granted my permission for an instant shoot!

    This Tboli lady granted my permission for an instant shoot!

    Then…

  16. Go home happy!

Let me clarify this is just my own itinerary and is obviously biased towards my quirks.  You can change it to your preference. I’m pleading though, please go there to enjoy and immerse with the people, community  and the natural resource. Don’t go there just for the river cave rafting alone. You can do that as often as you desire but to mingle with the awesome, culturally rich Tbolis is an experience for your soul!

(Thank you to LGU Tboli, DOT 12, Sox Outdoors and the people of Brgy Bakngeb Sitio Lacohon for bringing and taking care of us at the Bakngeb River Cave. Credits to Neil Cuenca for some of the photos included in this post.)

4 Responses to River raft, trek, swim, eat, dance and sleep like Tbolis at Bakngeb River Cave Adventure!

  1. Ayesha Gayao says:

    Chrome 48.0.2564.103 Windows 8

    thank you for this Doc. 🙂

  2. Noel says:

    Chromium 48.0.2564.95 Android 5.0;

    Wow, Migo Remo, this is a blast of a trek. Would love to retrace your trip soon. And the thought of coffee is enough to perk up the excitement.

    • Bundok says:

      Chrome 48.0.2564.103 MacOS X

      Migo Noel, I love this kind of “trek” for the soul. Of course the river adventure is fun, but i like the idea of cross cultural immersions. 🙂 I know this is your liking too.

Leave a Reply