It was a grueling and tiring 12 hour bus ride to reach the city of Legaspi, Bicol. But after the wonderful experience I had, the excruciating long ride was worth it.
Before heading for Donsol, we spent a night in Legaspi and headed to Busay Falls the next day.
A seven tier waterfall in the small town of Malilipot, Albay, four of which are easily accessible by hiking and climbing through the rocky and slippery terrain.
For just a minimal fee of Php10 per head and parking fee of Php50, a guide would take you to four out of the seven falls. If one would decide to see all seven, I think you have to make prior arrangements for this would take a whole day.
Making your way from one waterfall to another was challenging and exhilarating. This was no easy trek, one slip can cause serious injury.
|Climbing down the rocks|
|Crossing a stream of water|
|The path covered with Green Vegetations|
Each waterfall has its own traits and characteristics but one thing is definite. All of them are marvels to behold and adore. The spring water was cool and crystal clear, the guide even told us to take a sip of the refreshing nourishment. So we did.
|Fall number One|
|Fall number Two|
|Fall number Three|
|Fall number Four|
It was hard to resist to take a dip so we faced each waterfall head on.
|"Im one with the water"|
|"Bring it On!"|
After Busay Falls, we headed for Legazpi's bus terminal and rode a van to Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon. The two hour ride costed only Php80 per head.
|Sunset at Donsol Beach|
That night we were supposed to go to Donsol River to look at fireflies. But the tricycle driver suggested another site to do it. We were hesitant but after a lot of enticing, we agreed to go to Ogod River instead. The moon was hidden beneath the clouds thus it was a perfect setting to watch fireflies.
|Bangka Cruising on Ogod River|
We boarded a bangka (small motorized boat) and started to cruise along the river. The boat rental cost Php1250 for five people. The lights of the boats were turned off rendering total darkness around the surroundings. The stars were out and it looked like diamonds sparkling in the skies.
|Total Darkness but the Stars were Out|
A few fireflies would fly by creating a sense of excitement and anticipation. We drifted from one spot to another, the guide told us to wait patiently as we'll see a tree with more than a thousand fireflies. He also proceeded to tell us different facts about these magical insects.
|Cruising from one spot...|
It was an unbelievable sight! I found myself stunned and speechless, it felt like I was dreaming. It was a truly an unbelievable, calming and peaceful experience.
|Fireflies lights up the Darkness|
The guide got hold of one and I was lucky to get a photo of it before it flew away.
Travel Tip: Make sure to put on insect repellant before boarding the bangka!!! Its a must!
The next morning we headed to the Butanding Visitors Center to register and watch a video regarding on the do's and dont's of swimming with the colorful Butandings (Whale Shark). Registration fee cost Php100, boat rental would cost Php3,500, each boat can fit 6 persons. Rental of masks, snorkels and fins would cost Php350. As we cruise away to the open sea with a boatman, a BIO- Butanding Interaction Officer and a Butanding Spotter, there was a feeling of excitement and anxiousness.
|Butanding Interaction Officer|
|The Butanding Spotter|
I put on my gear and waited for instructions from the BIOT officer. He told us to jump on his signal, we should jumped into the water without hesitation and look what lies beneath us.
The spotter pointed to an area, we all placed ourselves on the edge of the boat then the BIOT officer shouted out loud..."Jump! Jump! Jump!"
|At the Edge of the Boat|
I quickly jumped in, only to see a glimpse of the Butanding as it quickly swam away. We boarded the boat again, The BIOT officer told us not worry, he's optimistic that we'll see one again.
Then on the second time....I jumped and looked below, my eyes widend and my chest tigthened. I couldnt believed what I was seeing. There it was, a huge spotted Whale Shark in its full glory and I was there swimming with it.
The Butandings were huge and they can be intimidating at first. But like dolphins,they looked so gentle, happy and carefree. After following it and jumping off the boat a couple of times. It gave me a feeling of wanting to be near to pet and play with it. I dove and swam near to it, I could have touched it if I wanted to but since it is not allowed, I didn't.
|Getting up close and personal with a Whale Shark|
As I swam up and gasp for air, I could see my fellow swimmers all wearing a huge smirk on their faces. I turned towards a group of foreingners and said.."Isnt this amazing?". With their thumbs up, they said.."Oh yeah! It is!"
Some has said that swimming with the Butandings felt enlightening or even spiritual. To me it felt surreal, its one of the most beautiful things I ever saw. And whats more important, it made people appreciate the beauty of the sea and all its living creatures.
|Swimming with a Whale Shark|
As we head home, I was contemplating all the amazing natural encounters I experienced in Bicol. When all of a sudden a full view of Mount Mayon came to view, the volcano with a perfect cone was staring back at me. Locals say that Mt.Mayon will only show its 'whole-self' to good-hearted people. It was a humbling perfect ending.
The whole trip will be one of the most unforgettable experience I'll ever had. I consider this as one of my "I'm glad I did this before I die" experience.