Cagayan De Oro: Nature and Adventure

I haven’t made any travel plans this first month of the year, but something came up at the office and now, I’m getting ready for a trip to Cagayan De Oro tomorrow to help out in a work-related event. It will be my second time to visit CDO. The first time was last summer, a few days of visit that was filled with some extreme firsts.

It was my first time to try whitewater rafting, as well as some scary but exciting rides—wouldn’t mind trying them again. 🙂

If you find yourself in Cagayan De Oro one of these days, here are some ideas on what to see and do:

Don’t forget to visit the Maria Cristina Falls.

I remember the name from back when I was still in school. This body of water is mentioned in many textbooks in elementary and high school, one of the Philippines’ most popular waterfalls. One of the reasons is its majestic characteristic. Known as the twin falls because it branches out into two, the falls stand very high at 320 feet and the flow of the water is extremely strong. This strength provides the falls with the capability to be a good power source—it provides electricity to some of its surrounding areas.


Nothing really prepared us for the strength that emanates from the flow of water from the falls. It was summer, so the water was not as strong as it usually is during non-summer season. However, even from afar, we could feel droplets of water splashing on us as we took photos and look around.


The Maria Cristina Falls is ideal for sightseeing, but swimming is not allowed. During our visit, there were various areas under repair, so all we could do was simply stroll and look around and take photos. Would love to go back when everything’s fully operational.

Check out the Tinago Falls in Lanao Del Norte.

Although it’s another falls, this one’s totally different from the Maria Cristina. For one, it’s not too tall. The water is deep, but it appeared very popular among the locals for swimming, especially during summer—it was extremely crowded during our visit.


There were no proper cottages or huts, just some huge stones here and there where visitors can camp. We were able to rent life vests for swimming, although it took a bit of time for the ‘staff’ to find spare vests (and they had to mend and do some sewing in one of the vests to fix it up). We found some, though, and we were soon wading in the cold water. The lagoon is deep, so a vest is indeed a must. One of the main attractions is riding the raft (manned by some local swimmers), which approaches the falls where one can enjoy a back water massage. The water is also a bit strong, and I was not able to stay long because I could not breathe properly due to the falling water. It was a good experience, overall, though.


This place is a must-visit, but it could even be better with proper management to ensure that its use is regulated, that it won’t get crowded, and that all swimmers will be safe (i.e. make sure the vests are in good condition).


This is how crowded it was in Tinago Falls at the time.

Try Whitewater Rafting.

This one is among the highlights of our trip. We joined a group of tourists for the rafting experience, a total of six newbies, two guides, and another one in a separate canoe to take photos. It was an hour spent in the rapids of the Cagayan River, which started with some prepping sessions and some lessons on what and what not to do during the activity.

It was summer, so the current wasn’t very strong and the water wasn’t too deep—which was actually more tasking for the guides since it made the boat prone to getting stuck on jutting stones every now and then during the rafting. Some areas were extremely unstable due to the rapids, and there were a few heart-stopping moments during the ride when I thought we were tumbling and falling into the water, but thankfully we didn’t. Other areas were calm and peaceful that we were allowed to swim and glide with the moving raft.

Be sure to try this activity if you’re in CDO—just be sure to be careful and follow the guides’ instructions.

Experience the rides in Dahilayan Nature Park.

This one offers a different kind of adventure, perfect for thrill-seekers. The park spans several hectares of green, with rides and attractions scattered in various areas. It features several rides and offers packages that combine some of the rides, and we tried the one that included the Longest Zip Line, the Dual Zip Line, the Drop Zone, and the Skyland Base Jump.

At 840 meters long, Asia’s First Longest Zip Line is a dual zipline that runs over a canopy of rainforests—a magical experience especially for nature lovers. Its appeal lies not only in the excitement of a long ride but also in the sights and the scenery; it creates a sensation of flying over forests and trees, and in some areas you can even touch leaves. Truly a wonderful experience.


Behind me: the crowd waiting for their turn to go on the Longest Zip Line

The Dual Zip Line is shorter and more relaxing to try. If you’re a little scared of heights but would like to try a zip line ride, you may go for this one.

The Skyland Base Jump was, to me, the scariest of the four experiences we tried. It’s not really a ride; it involves an 8-storey platform—a cell site—that you have to climb in order to prepare for a parajump. It looked exciting from below, but it was pretty scary when I was already up there. Before us were a family, a teenage girl + a small boy + a father, who were preparing for the jump—the rest of the family were below, apparently done with the jump and waiting for the remaining three. It was the lady’s turn, and she was really nervous and wouldn’t do it. The little boy was trying to convince her to do it, but she wouldn’t. When it was the boy’s turn, he got pretty nervous, too, and also refused to jump. This got us really scared as well, and it took me a while to finally do it—a split second of falling with my heart in my throat until it’s suddenly over and I’m on the trampoline. Whew!


The Drop Zone was another scary ride, which can be done solo or in tandem. You’re tied securely and fastened in the flying gear, superman style, and then brought up by the machinery up, up, and up—suspended 120 feet high. You would have to pull on one of the gear, and then you’ll find yourself suddenly released and free-falling down on the lake in a pendulum motion, flying back and forth until you slow down. Here’s how high it is:


This was how high we went. Scary but super exciting!

It’s been a wild adventure, and I’d do it again without second thoughts if given the chance.


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