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Monday, March 26, 2018

Samar, An Exciting Destination for Adventurers & Nature Lovers

On this 3 day trip to Samar, I joined fellow bloggers in trekking, caving and riding boats that passed scenic riversides. Samar offers raw adventures in vibrant forests that are challenging, tiring and at times, nerve wrecking. If you’re that type of traveler who loves nature and don’t mind roughing it up, come and visit Samar!
Fellow blogger Ruth Dela Cruz at Panaghoyan river in Jiabong, Samar
Here are some of the places you can explore in this beautiful province. 

San Juan by the Bay (Sta. Rita, Samar)
On this mild adventure, visitors can take a leisurely cruise along San Juanico strait and dine on a floating restaurant that offers a nice view of the iconic San Juanico bridge and its nearby islands. It also features a 400 meter boardwalk that passes a mangrove. Made of bamboo, the wood makes a rickety sound as you walk on it, adding a little thrill to your short walk. Wearing slippers is okay. Just watch your steps and enjoy the amazing plant life around you. 

Trivia time! Did you know that mangroves and the tree species that grow around it are the coolest? Aside from being a tourist attraction, mangroves also serves as a home to mollusks, shrimps and fishes, that serve as food to coastal communities that it  protects.  Filtering sediments from rivers and land, it helps stabilize the coastline, preventing erosion from waves and sand. (Source : www.org)
view from our boat
San Juan by the Bay 
Address : Brgy. San Juan, Sta. Rita, Samar
Mobile Numbers : +63(936)241-0371 /(997)8397922
For rates and reminders, see photo below:

Sohoton Natural Park (Basey, Samar)
The fun starts with a river cruise or boat ride to the cave jump-off. The cave tour itself is  easy and only gets tricky on some sections where you have to crouch or walk on slippery mud. Another highlight is the kayak ride to the natural bridge. When the current is too strong, there's no need to worry  as guides can take care of the rowing and you can just sit back and relax. 
riding a tandem kayak controlled by our guides to the Sohoton Natural Bridge
Helpful Blog : FAQ.PH | How to get to Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park 

Lulugayan Falls (Calbiga, Samar)
Located in a remote barangay in the mountains, the ride to get here - which is usually by motorbike is just as thrilling as the trek to the waterfalls. The hike is short, taking about 30 minutes on an established trail.During the rainy season however, the current is strong, making it very risky to swim.
Lulugayan Falls during the rainy season
Helpful Blog : Travel Trilogy | Lulugayan Falls

TORPEDO Extreme Boat Ride (Paranas, Samar)
TORPEDO is an acronym for Tour Guides & Boat Operators for River Protection and Environmental Development Organization. Whew! The real thrill however is the ride along Ulot river on a traditional boat.
Hopping on a traditional boat at Ulot River
Having no outriggers, getting on the boat is both challenging and fun, with passengers needing to board one at a time to prevent the boat from tilting over.  It takes 40 minutes to get to the jump site, an area surrounded by huge boulders. Here, visitors take turns jumping about 10-15 feet from a boulder and into the raging river. All visitors are required to wear life vest, making it possible for non-swimmers to participate in this exciting activity.
A traveler does an exhilarating jump at Ulot river
Helpful Blog on Ulot River Torpedo Boat ride : Travel Up | Endless Samar

Lobo Cave (Jiabong, Samar)
This cave provides a nice challenge to visitors who want to level up their experience with caves. It begins with a 40 minute hike down a mountain trail to get to the mouth's cave. 
Swimming inside Lobo cave
Inside the cave, you will be entertained with rock formations of various shapes, glittering stalactites and columns. This eye popping underground scenery however doesn't come easy. Expect to trek, climb on rock formations and swim inside the cave. It'll take about 7-8 hours to fully explore its passable sections. The easy way back is via Panaghoyan river where boats will transport you back to the town proper. The ride is very scenic, passing  by forests, more rock formations and a mangrove, a relaxing way to end an exciting caving adventure. 

See more of Lobo Cave here.

For more information when traveling to Samar, get in touch with the provincial tourism social media accounts below : 
Spark Samar
Landline : +63 (055) 543 8980
Email : sparksamar@gmail.com
Facebook Page : Spark Samar
Instagram : @SparkSamar

Tips on how to enjoy your Samar adventure:

- secure your phones in a trusty waterproof pouch
- pack your extra clothes and valuables in waterproof, resealable bags or dry bags
- bring mosquito repellant as you will be spending a lot of time in or near forests and rivers 


Sample Itinerary
Day 1 
Fly from Manila to Tacloban Airport 
San Juan by the Bay in Sta. Rita
Sohoton Natural Park in Basey
Stay at Lola Rosa Inn in Calbiga (info here)

Day 2
Travel to Lulugayan falls (Calbiga)
TORPEDO Extreme Boat Ride (Paranas)
Spend a night in Calbayog city. It's a good starting point if you're going to Lobo cave. 
There are several hotels along Mabini Avenue (city center) in Calbayog. We stayed at SC Hotel (room rates start at 1,450 for a nice aircon double room. Book here.)

Day 3
Lobo Cave Adventure (Jiabong)
Visit the tourism office in Calbayog for pasalubong shopping (near Provincial Capitol Complex)

*Budget will be dependent on number of heads, transportation used.

How to get to Samar : 
Though there's an airport in Catarman (Northern Samar) and in Calbayog, a cheaper and convenient way to get here from Manila is to fly to Tacloban, in the nearby province of Leyte. It has more flights coming from Manila and there's regular transportation going to Calbayog, Samar.  From Daniel Romualdez airport in Tacloban, take a jeep to downtown and ask to be dropped off at the van or bus terminal. It takes about two hours by van from Tacloban to Catbalogan. 

Useful Resource : 
Travel Up | Samar Travel Guide
What else to see in Samar? See FAQ.PH | Samar Island, the Caving Capital of the Philippines

NOTE : 
This trip was in collaboration with the group behind Spark Samar, the provincial tourism campaign of Samar. 





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