Exploring Abuan River

I am not one to pass up a chance to an adventure so one February evening, I found myself on a bus with 2 other friends, en route to Ilagan, Isabela.  We were to test run an eco-tour package intended to preserve the Sierra Madre forest and wildlife.

Abuan River is located at the Northern Sierra Madre National Park — the widest remaining tropical rainforest in the island of Luzon owing to its rich and diverse ecosystem spanning from coral reefs to beach forests.

For decades the river has been the route of “bugadors” (timber haulers) to transport illegally cut logs from the forest to Ilagan.  To give these timber haulers and their community an alternative livelihood, World Wildlife Fund-Philippines (WWF-Philippines) together with Coca Cola Philippines and the local government of Ilagan identified the river as the next ecotourism destination with rappelling, waterfalls trek, kayaking and even seasonal whitewater rafting as potential activities.

Skillfully navigating our boat through rocks and (sometimes) strong rapids.

Skilled in the river, the “bugadors” were our boatmen, river and trekking guides while their wives were tapped to prepare the food.

Ladies in charge of lunch.

Two hours navigating through the rapids and rocks and we arrived at the start of the trail to Sulimanan Falls.  Getting there was an easy 30 minutes trek that passes through rivers, hills and grasslands.

At the end of the trail lies a 3-tiered falls.

First falls

2nd falls

Pool from the 2nd tier falling to the 1st tier

3rd falls where we had lunch

Getting to the 2nd and 3rd tier required a bit of scaling and bouldering with the help of ropes provided by AEPI, the outfitter tapped to develop the tour.  Lunch was prepared on the 3rd tier beside the falls.

Simple but mouth-watering!

That’s what I call innovation.   🙂

After lunch, the next agenda was to rappel down to the 2nd tier.

Getting into position:  Argel and Herbert — our belayers.

Not exactly my thing, I was not happy to learn of this but with a little prodding, gamely went along with the agenda.

I know that I am gradually overcoming my fear of heights when it took me perhaps only 20 minutes to muster enough courage to just go for the 60 ft. descent with only some distress and perspiration while at it.

S and I rappelling down.

Either that or I am getting better at throwing caution to the wind.

After witnessing a few of my rappelling jitters in the past, A gave me a big hug and told me he was proud of me. Heck!  I am proud of me.   🙂


10 thoughts on “Exploring Abuan River

  1. What a great adventure. This would be really run. I hope to be able to do this sort of trip someday. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos.


  2. what an awesome adventure! this is really a great idea—giving bugadors an alternative livelihood, and a legal one at that. i’d love to go on this eco-tour! would like to try rappelling again—did it at 50 feet a few years ago.:p


  3. Hala ka, you just opened a can of worms. Pretty soon all the bloggers would be going to Isabela en masse and you could be the reason for the city’s economic boom 🙂

    I am afraid of heights too, but between white water rafting and rapelling, I’d choose the latter 🙂


    1. Haha! 😀 Who to contact on my next post. It would be great if they do… protecting the rainforest is not a bad thing at all. The rapids last February was not wild at all compared to the Chico River (where I usually go rafting). Check out my next post… coming up soon.


  4. I’am from Ilagan but I’ve never seen Abuan in my life.Thankyou for posting pictures online.I hope it’s gonna boom one day.


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