Kaparkan Falls (Mulawin Falls) in Tineg Abra

Kaparkan Falls (also known as Mulawin Falls) is a limestone terraces hidden for centuries in the landlocked province of Abra. This travertine rose to fame in 2015 when images of the terraced water gours were uploaded in the internet.

Contents

  1. Location
  2. Kaparkan Falls: A Hidden Travertine
  3. Contacts
  4. How to Get to Kaparkan Falls
  5. Where to Stay in Abra
  6. Expenses
  7. Reminders
  8. Other Notable Spots to Visit in Abra
  9. References

Location

  • Sitio Kaparkan, Barangay Caganayan, Tineg, Abra, Philippines
  • Coordinates: Latitude: 17.782325, Longitude: 120.781318

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Kaparkan Falls: A Hidden Travertine

Kaparkan Falls (also known as Mulawin Falls) is a limestone terraces hidden for centuries in the landlocked province of Abra. This travertine rose to fame in 2015 when images of the terraced water gours were uploaded in the internet.

Reaching Kaparkan Falls requires good physical and mental sturdiness. Located in a province 9-10 hours ride away from Manila, this travertine paradise can only be reached through off-road vehicles. Sometimes, these tough vehicles carrying tourists even falter along the way. If you are lucky that these monsters of vehicle will not give up, you need to endure a harrowing, bumpy, and muscle numbing ride for a few hours.

The video below will show you the arduous ride to Kaparakan (Kibad[a], 2019).

The “hell ride to paradise” will give you insights of the mountainous part of the province. You’ll notice that limestones are scattered along mountain slopes. Caves are often found under these terrains which is corroborated by the Libtec Crystal Cave in Dolores and Sibud-Sibud Cave in Tineg, maybe even more in some areas waiting to be discovered. Several trees such as duhat, banaba, etc. will also delight the visitors aside from the picturesque plains and mountaintops.

Upon arrival at the drop-off point, you’ll need to walk around 10-20 minutes, depending on your pace. We made it in 10 minutes including refilling our water containers from a spring along the way. If you need to empty your bladder or bowel, there is a facility near the entrance

The grounds at the entrance of the falls is a delight itself. There are picnic tables and benches under the trees. You can leave your bags on these tables. Your lunch and snacks should be taken also in this area as no foods are allowed in the water.

Walking further will lead you to the breathtaking Kaparkan Falls. The falls covers a wide water paradise [yeah, a kilometer!] until it drains to the Tineg River. For the purpose of an organized presentation, the picture will be grouped into levels: the upper level, the lower level, and the blue lagoon and ‘mother’ falls near the Tineg River.

The upper level consists of shallow gours. This starts from the uppermost terraces, which are off limits, until the gours draining to steep and several-meter high pools, just below the balite tree. The images ends on the video posted by Nomadic Highlander (Kibad[b], 2019) in YouTube.

The lower level has greater pool heights than those at the upper level. Further, there are portions of this level which are restricted to tourists unless accompanied by local guides. I highly suggest that you take a local guide as they will even accompany you to the blue lagoon and ‘mother falls’ below.

The lower level of the Karakan Falls requires a little bit of walking down a slope under the forest trees and bamboos and going up following the cascades up to the balite tree.

Initially, the guide told us that the blue lagoon is off limits. Later, I came to understand that such restrictions are done when the water level is high as it may be risky to tourists. I was lucky to ask another guide why the lagoon is restricted and got a response that tourists need to be accompanied on those particular days because of previous heavy rainfall.

So, we asked for assistance and they accompanied us down after getting permission from the head guide. Going down is easy but it may be treacherous to some, hence the need of the guide. Moreover, you will not retrace your steps when going back after the blue lagoon and ‘mother’ falls. These guides will lead you through the cascades, indicating which parts are safe to tread. This will lead you up to the hidden pools and gours of greater heights than those at the upper level.

The first two videos were taken by the author. The third one was uploaded by Nomadic Highlander (Kibad[c], 2019) will give you more details of the lover level of this wonder including the Blue Lagoon and Mother Falls.

Diverse Flora and Fauna

There is a diverse flora and fauna in the Kaparkan Falls. To protect this, the tourism council of Abra has created policies including no collection of endemic flora and fauna in the area. Further, the LNT prnciples were also being discussed during the orientation prior to loading in the vehicles. It was noted by guides and the council that some previous tourists were collecting plants and insects.

House Bill No. 2651

With the allure of the Kaparkan Falls to local and foreign tourists, House Bill No. 2651 (2019) was filed by Rep. J.B. Bernos of Abra, which seeks to declare this place as an official ecotourism site. Once the House Bill is approved and enacted, funding will be made available, enabling faster development of the area. The House Bill was received at the Bills and Index Division of the House of Representatives on 24 July 2019.

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Contacts

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How to Get to Kaparkan Falls

  • Get to Bangued, Abra (by land only; the nearest airport is in Laoag)
    • From Manila: Partas Bus (Cubao and Pasay; fare and schedule here), Dominion Transit Bus (Cubao), or Viron Trans (Cubao or Sampaloc) bound to Bangued. Approx. trip duration: about 9-10 hours. Get to Bangued, Abra. From the bus station, take a tricycle to the agreed meeting place (usually DPWH Compound or at Blugas Station).
    • From Baguio City: Take a Partas Bus (Php370.00*) or a mini bus (less than Php300.00*) bound to Bangued. Approx. trip duration: about 5-6 hours.
    • From other parts of the country: Take any transportation that will take you to Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. Tell the driver or conductor to drop you at the junction going to Abra. Hail buses or PUJs plying this route.
    • Private vehicles: Directions can be easily asked from the friendly Abra locals.
  • From Bangued to Kaparkan
    • The ABRAmazing team will transfer you to a 4×4, 6-wheeler, jeep, or whatever is best for the group, though usually the 6-wheeler. This will take you to Kaparkan Falls in about 4 hours as of writing. Its starts with a smooth ride for an hour along paved road. At the end of the cemented road, you will all disembark for the team to put chain on the wheels. This will aid the wheels to have better traction in the following 3-hour hyper-bumpy ride.
    • At the end of the “hell ride”, you will need to take an easy walk down to the Kaparkan Falls for 10-20 minutes, depending on your pace.

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Where to Stay in Abra

  • There are now plenty of available hotels, inns, and homestays in Abra. Check them out in booking apps.

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Expenses

  • Bus fare (round trip): Php740.00 depends on where you came from
  • Abra pancit miki for breakfast: Php64.00
  • Tricycle from bus station (accumulated; from bus station to pancit miki resto to BLUgas Station): Php80.00 (divided already for individual fare; there were 2 of us)
  • Packed lunch (well, we just bought snacks); Php60.00
  • Registration fee (includes 6-wheeler transpo, environmental fee, LGU fee, guide fee): Php1000.00
  • Tricycle to the bus station (accumulated; from DPWH compound to public ihawan for dinner to bus station): Php20.00 (divided already for individual fare; there were 2 of us)
  • Dinner: Php100.00 (voracious, haha)
  • TOTAL: Php2064.00

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Reminders

  • Get in touch with the above-mentioned contacts before heading to Abra, especially if you do it DIY, to reserve a slot. The Kaparkan falls has a designated maximum capacity, the area is open seasonal (during rainy season only), as well as the availability of transpo can affect the approval of your booking. Most weekends and national holidays are fully booked, by the way.
  • Be courteous to the locals, tourism and local guidelines, the culture, and of the place itself.
  • Always practice leave-no-trace principles. I have to highlight to please not leave anything, do not vandalize, and do not take any physical memento from the place. Whether it is under the protection of the DENR or not, treat nature with respect.
  • Please empty your bowels before embarking. One of the most common sentiments of locals in developing and developed natural tourist areas is fecal dumping of visitors.
  • If you are pregnant or with health problem (cardiovascular or musculuskeletal), better rebook your travel until you are physically fit to endure the ride. Well, I am used to bumpy rides along unpaved roads in the Cordilleras, however, this particular ride is was much more unfriendly.

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Other Notable Spots to Visit in Abra

There are a lot of tourist destinations in Abra with Kaparkan Falls at the helm. Others include Kili Falls, Tayum Church, Cassamata Hill National Park, Tayum Church, Apao Rolling HillsSibud-Sibud CaveLibtec Crystal CaveCalaba Bridge, Don Mariano Marcos Bridge, Piwek Rock Formations, Tangadan Tunnel, and many more.

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References/Embeds

Kaparkan Falls Ecotourism, House Bill No. 2651, 18th Cong. 1st Regular Sess. (2019). Retrieved on 2019 Sept 03 from http://www.congress.gov.ph/legisdocs/basic_18/HB02652.pdf

Kibad[a], D. [Nomadic Highlander]. (2019 Sept 01). KAPARKAN FALLS Part 1| HELL ride to PARADISE [Video file]. Retrieved on 2019 Sept 03 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYBZPQ7zdFM&list=LLIFM-xvuVE-WSGeR6M6cO-g&index=2

Kibad[b], D. [Nomadic Highlander]. (2019 Sept 01). KAPARKAN FALLS Part 2| Upper Level [Video file]. Retrieved on 2019 Sept 03 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUVeWSHMJB0&list=LLIFM-xvuVE-WSGeR6M6cO-g&index=1

Kibad[c], D. [Nomadic Highlander]. (2019 Sept 04). KAPARKAN FALLS Part 3| Exploring Blue Lagoon and Mother Falls [Video file]. Retrieved on 2019 Sept 04 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbOHxwMa6w0

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Disclaimer: The content of this article is not perfect as fees, routes, position holders, etc. changes over time. Please do comment below for any updates and any information deemed necessary for the public to know.

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