WATERFALLS OF ABRA
POCKET GUIDE TO
AR-ARBIS FALLS, LAGAYAN
The early morning jeepney ride to Lagayan was quick and easy. We arrived just after 7am, full of excitement to begin a new adventure to the Ar-Arbis Falls, long before the staff at the Tourism Office had turned up for the day. It was also a Monday, and that meant the traditional weekly Flag Raising and Swearing in Ceremony had to be completed before work started.
To pass the time we walked around the small town, found the church which was locked, and Chased Rizal. We found a painting of him on the school wall. The second one we’ve seen like this. The other being in the Central School in Penarrubia.
We also noticed a round structure beside the road which we intended to check out later but in the end completely forgot about it. The building has a futuristic look about it and is similar to one I saw at the Philrice Institute in Nueva Ecija, which claims to be typhoon proof. That makes for a good excuse to return to Lagayan.
*** Ar-Arbis Falls are also known as Maar-Arbis Falls
With the Flag Raising Ceremony finished, we became the centre of attraction with everyone asking why we were there and why we wanted to visit the Falls. Police Officers came over to talk to us and have their photo taken with us, and making sure we understood the risks and dangers of the hike.
The Lagayan Tourism Officers, Nestle and Jo agreed to accompany us after arranging with the Collago Barangay Captain to provide a Guide for our trek upriver to the Falls.
The friendly Police Unit followed behind to our jump off point and made sure that we were safe. It was a surreal feeling being handed over by M16 armed Police to the local Guides from Sitio Baybayatin armed with Spear Guns for fishing.
At last we were on our way and just a few hundred metres out of Sitio Baybayatin we were faced with our first challenge – the first of five river crossings on our way to Ar-Arbis Falls. After the recent rains the current was abit strong in places but not quite strong enough to be dangerous and was a good taster for the other crossings that awaited us. While the local boys traversed the river effortlessly we were learning.
If you are afraid of fast flowing water then this hike might not be for you. You will need alot of confidence in your own ability to make the ten river crossings and/or wear a life-vest.
The actual hike is really easy with no technical parts. Most of the hike is along the dry sometimes rocky river bed. The scenery is absolutely stunning with bright green covered mountains that slope steeply from river to sky and dwarf us hikers. The river for most of the way has two channels of flow, leaving a vast stone desert in the middle. Just imagine the power of the water after a Typhoon when it is full and flowing at its total width of around 200 metres.
Abra is full of Adventure and the hike to Ar-Arbis Falls doesn’t disappoint. There is so much to see and learn along the way. The Palsuguan River is the biggest source of local exotic fish such as – Ludong, Kampa, Igat, Bolidao, Ikan, and Fresh Water Shrimps as big as Tiger Prawns. Traps called Bukatot, made from bamboo and held in place by piles of large rocks can been seen at strategic intervals along the river.
(An interesting fact:- Fishtraps particularly the ones in the pic are called Bukatot in Ilocano which is now used as a slang word to describe a person or an animal that eats a lot – Banguedenio)
The people of Sitio Baybayatin make their living from fishing and every household has an old innertube (the kind that we would use for tubing fun) which has been adapted with a seat and bamboo bar and net across its diameter. Fishermen carry these tubes on their backs each time they go upstream fishing. When they return home, they simply place their catch on the net, sit in the tube and navigate their way downstream through the rapids using their flipflops as paddles. Genius 🙂
(Check out the short video I managed to capture)
One of the Guides was carrying an Innertube on his back and it wasn’t until we reached a point on the river that was very difficult to cross that I understood why he was carrying it. For us “Novices” the current would have been too strong to wade across by ourselves. The solution was the Innertube. One by one our group took turns to sit in the centre of the tube while our patient Guide, waded back and forth ferrying us across.
After an hours hike we drew close to within sight of the Ar-Arbis Falls. In the distance we could see numerous cascades of water springing from the vegetation that covered the mountainside. They stretched for fifty or more metres along the rivers edge upstream from the huge main cascade which was somewhat isolated from the smaller cascades.
It took a while to take in the raw beauty of what we had come to see. Water, Mountains and Sky all combined to create this scenic wonder of Nature.
Abra truly is an #Abramazing place which still has to find its way into the mainstream tourism market.
Ar-Arbis Falls – What to Take
You do not need to take much for this hike as it is only just over an hour from Sitio Baybayatin.
If you are afraid of water then this hike may not be for you. But if you really want to visit the Maar-Arbis Falls then you should consider bringing along your own life-jacket
Essential Stuff to Take
- At least One Litre of Drinking Water (you can refill from the Spring at the Falls)
- Camera, and Phone
- 10L Dry Bag to keep your electronics safe and dry
REMEMBER TO RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND LEAVE NO TRACE
How to get to Ar-Arbis Falls
To arrange a trip to the Falls or for more information please visit or contact Ms.Nestle Anne Banaga or Mr.Joe Ervick Biyang of the Tourism Office at Lagayan Municipal Hall.
Abra Fishermen tubing home after a Fishing Trip
Tubing down river in Lagayan.
Essential Travel Guides
How to travel to Abra from Manila
- From Metro Manila, there are three bus companies operating along the Manila to Bangued route.
Partas Bus Company, Viron Transit and Dominion Bus Lines.
- Journey time is around 10 hours
- Fare at time of writing is P600
Bus Companies that link Bangued with other destinations are
Bangued to Manila, Baguio – Partas Bus Company
Bangued to Manila, Baguio – Dominion Bus Lines
Bangued to Manila, Baguio – Philippine Rabbit
Bangued to Baguio – Sambrano Bus Lines
Bangued to Manila – Viron Transit
Bangued to Vigan, Tuguegarao – Esonice Bus Lines
Bangued to Baguio, Vigan, Laoag – BBL Transit
There are no airports in Abra.
- Cebu Pacific has daily flights to Laoag.
- From Laoag take a bus to Vigan and change there for a bus to Bangued
Jeepney from Bangued to Lagayan
Once you arrive in Bangued, take a tricycle to the jeepney terminal by the Petron Station on Calaba Road
Jeepneys leave for Lagayan regularly
The trip takes around 30 to 40 minutes and the fare is P30.
Return trip to Bangued – The Jeepney departs regularly during the day until afternoon from infront of Municipal Hall and picks up passengers along the route
Jeepneys also leave the Petron terminal for La Paz
By Car or Motorbike
Leave Bangued on the road to Calaba. Drive across the Calaba Bridge. Keep going until you come to La Paz. Keep following the road to Lagayan.
ABRA - THE BEAUTY OF NATURE & HERITAGE