Firefly watching at Abatan River
Firefly watching at Abatan River

Loboc is not the only river town in Bohol. The island province, home to the chocolate hills and the tiny primates, tarsiers, have four major rivers intersecting through the island. Up northwest is the Inabanga River, the largest on the island and Ipil River up north. Utilized for eco-tourism is Loboc River coming from the center of the island down to the southeastern coast and recently, the Abatan River flowing to the southwestern coast. Our adventure guide, Buzzy Budlong, found excellent paddling opportunities on the latter and set-up shop along with the town’s RiverLife tours to offer something different and new.

Paddling at Bacong River
Paddling at Bacong River

The Abatan River

The Abatan River stretches 20km long and winds through the villages of Antequera, Balilihan, Catigbian, Cortes and Maribojoc. Before the roads where paved, the river became the means of transport between villages. It became the venue for trade and cultivation of culture along these riverside villages. Now, a Visitor Center stands along the banks of Abatan River, in the village of Cortes, 10km from the city of Tagbilaran. It is the jump-off for the RiverLife Tours showcasing the crafts and culture of the five towns. This also the start of our paddling expeditions.

Dense mangrove midway at Bacong River
Dense mangrove midway at Bacong River

Bacong River Butterflies

Coming from an exciting Sea Kayaking tour at Banacon Island, our paddles dug deep into the river waters this time on the second day of our off-beat Bohol adventure. Early morning we ventured at a narrow tributary of Abatan River, the Bacong River. The water was clean and green. Fringed by common palm mangroves. Our morning paddle was also to catch the small white butterflies playfully frolicking at the surface of the river every morning. The river widens midway and we found ourselves crossing under Bacong Bridge. Buzzy chose to use his Mango Float stand-up paddle board here again while the rest of us were on our kayaks. We reached a dam where we parked our kayaks, made a short river trek and climb over the wall. Buzzy made use of the water flowing mid-through the damn as a jacuzzi. There were also some interesting thorny shells in the area. We headed back from that point on. It took us at least a couple of hours to explore the river and back.

Going under the Bacong Bridge
Going under the Bacong Bridge
Easy river trek to the dam
Easy river trek to the dam
Enjoying the view from above
Enjoying the view from above
Buzzy enjoying the dam jacuzzi-like water flow
Buzzy enjoying the dam jacuzzi-like water flow

Maribojoc Firefly and essential info on the next page…

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