Growing up in a province where Mayon Volcano is a staple background on a clear sunny day will sure make you miss the beauty of nature when you are living in the city. The sight of it every time I go home for a break gives me that feeling I can never explain and with that background would mean, nature is still a plenty. When I was younger, I used to bike to my grandmother’s house and swim in a river five minutes away from their humble nipa hut.
The years that passed changed everything around us. My hometown became a city and alongside it were sprouting businesses and pavements and row houses replaced that river I used to swim in. What was a 5-minute ride in an old manually operated tricycle – called “padyak” is now reaching 30 minutes. A backyard that used to be a place for getting worms and where your curiosity on how anthills were built was tickled is now covered with pavements. I guess the province really needed to keep up with the times and we have to accept that.
I grew up having great adventures – with nature all around you, what can you do? Sadly I had to leave for University and continued living in the Mega City for work. I miss home. Whenever I get home no matter how long the drive was or the bus ride was – 12 hours on a good day 14 hours if you’ve encountered a misfortune along the way – there is always that sense of belonging. And whenever there are chances, I continue on exploring. Gladly a few places are now getting accessible where you could further appreciate Mayon Volcano and the rest of the surrounding beauty.
The first parts of this was a bit nostalgic, my apologies my friends.
Anyway, a few of the places that are now accessible and open to tourists are the ones found in Camalig, Albay. This town is about 2 hours away from my City, Tabaco and just after Legazpi City if you are coming from my side of the province. Quitinday Falls and Underground River has been getting a buzz from curious adventurers out there and it truly does merit the visit. It is nowhere near Palawan Underground River but still worth it. I did not take pictures while we were there because we went inside and was advised to take care of our gadgets, as some areas of the underground river would have water dripping. Big mistake yes, but I was really there to take a break from everything. So what I can only offer you is how to get to Quitinday Falls and Underground River:
If you are coming from Legazpi City – you may:
- Ride a jeepney heading to Camalig and get off at Quitinday Junction/Diversion Road.
- You will have to rent a tricycle good for maximum of five (for safety reasons) to take you to the falls and Underground River in Jovellar. It’s quite far more than an hour one way that could cost about 700 pesos or more roundtrip (you can negotiate)
- There is an entrance fee for environmental purposes of 20 pesos per pax. They require you to have a guide as well. Mostly these are students. Do note that this area is cared for by the municipality.
- If you want to go take a raft ride to the underground river, before it was about 200 pesos per ride roundtrip, I am not too sure now if it increased.
- There are a lot of areas to swim in. saw about 3 falls there but only went to the one near the underground river.
While you’re at it and want to see the beauty of Mayon hovering to what seems like Chocolate Hills, head on to Quitinday Hills or some call it Green Hills. It would take a few minutes more to get here but the view is spectacular. You can negotiate with your trike driver this part as well. Do note that the road condition – when we were there – was quite challenging.
We didn’t have to take the trike as we rented out a jeepney. Whenever I head home I would almost always head on to one of the falls I frequently visit, Vera Falls – pick below, with the rest of our neighbors but when they told me about Quitinday, I sure was excited to visit – plus point was that our neighbor is a tour guide and knows a few people in the area.
I hope the place continued to get curious visitors but I also hope that we all take part in taking care of it as tourists or as locals. If you live in the city, you would always long for this escape but we wouldn’t have this escape if these places are not protected and conserved despite influx of visitors.
I hope, if ever you are in Albay, you consider visiting these places. They are spectacular. For those who would love to see the quick view, watch this: