Chasing Matigol Falls in Arakan Valley, Philippines

Mindanao is a vast island with rich culture and landscapes. Some areas in the island have magnificent views not popular to many people. This post aims to help people who wish to explore the breathtaking views of Arakan Valley in North Cotabato, Philippines.

According to Wikipedia, Arakan Valley is considered as a second class municipality in the province of Cotabato, Philippines. One of the known attractions in Arakan is the Matigol Falls or also known as Bani Falls which is located in Inamong, Brgy. Datu Ladayon.The falls is 100 metres (330 ft) high with two different “destinations/parts”. Some climbers prefer to see and go to the plunge pool (the base of the waterfall). But some prefer to see the upper part of the waterfall popularly known by the locals as Kawa (kuh-wah) or cauldron in English.

For our trip, we chose to just visit the Kawa. Another advantage of going to this site is you’ll have a really great view of the valley. I swear, it’s breathtaking! If only I’m super rich, I will build a rest house on that site!


How to get to Arakan Valley?

Arakan Valley is located in Cotabato but can be accessed through Campo Uno in BuDa, and this was the route we took. If you’re from Davao City, just follow the instructions below:
  • Go to the bus terminal located in Ecoland, Davao City.
  • Ride a bus that will pass along BuDa highway. You can ask the guard which bus goes to the place. We always settle for a Cagayan route bus. The fare is 90php.
  • If this is your first time, you can sit near the driver and tell him your destination. You can also tell the bus conductor (the one who gives the ticket and collects the money) your destination. The trip is approximately 2-3 hours, depending on the flow of the traffic.


There are habal-habal vehicles (a means of transportation in the area) available in Campo Uno but we chose to walk. Honestly, it was a loooooong walk, no kidding! But if you pass the bridge (see photo above), you’re halfway there! Just in case you get lost, there are communities along the way, just ask the locals.

 

We arrived in Sitio Inamong around 2:00 PM. Upon arriving, you have to list your names on a logbook (for record purposes, I think). Originally, we planned to see the falls on our first day.

Unfortunately, it rained hard that afternoon and we were left with no choice but stay in for the night. We stayed on the second floor of this property, see photo below. Locals said that the property belongs to the Datu of the tribe (Manobo tribe). If you have your own tent, there is an area where you can set it up.


If you’re planning to go climbing or trekking on remote places, always invite someone who knows how to cook. It will make your life easier, trust me. That night, we had a very light argument on when to put the sayote (globally known as Chayote) in the pot while cooking Tinolang Manok. But still, we survived and the Tinolang Manok tasted like Tinolang Manok.

The next morning, we started our journey to the falls. You will definitely need a tour guide, so feel free to ask the locals to help you out. Before going to the falls, we decided to see the “nice-looking” hill with just a tree on top. On our way, I can’t help but take photos.

 

Honestly, the trek wasn’t easy. It was a bit hard and quite tiring, but it’s worth it when we got to our destinations. I agree that “Good things don’t come easy”.
 

If you’re on the top, the feeling is just different and the view is quite breathtaking. On our way back to the community using a different route, we were greeted with such a beautiful view.


The trip was quite memorable. Arakan Valley is a living proof that Mindanao, despite of having a negative image because of rebels and wars, is still a really good place to see and visit. The tribe welcomed us in their community, and we didn’t feel inferior. It was quite a good experience for everybody. Just enjoy the moment and maybe, you might want to give yourself a bit of reflection.

And the most important thing about this adventure is we spent less on everything, speaking about being kuripot (frugal). Before you leave the site, try to have a taste of their native coffee, it’s quite good.


Fees

If you’re interested on how much was spent, see below fares/expenses (subject to change without prior notice):

Bus: 75php* x 2 = 150php/person (Back and forth)
*The regular fare I know is 90php, but we were just charged with 75php.
Habal-habal (From Sitio Inamong to Campo Uno): 50php/person
Tour guide: 25php/person x 4 = 100php was paid to the guide. The guide we took has no fixed fee. But always try to ask first to avoid misunderstanding and overcharging.
Accommodation: 10php/person x 4 = 40php
Food: 50php/person = 200php budgeted for grocery

A total of:
285php

The breakdown excludes rice, cola, some chips and coffee we bought in the community. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment.

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