In Abra, Beauty and Danger romance each other. Often times though, people only see the danger; therefore, shrugging it off from their travel goals. However, its beauty is far more than worthy for those willing to brave adventurous rides and threats of political encounters. These were the risks I and my travel buddy Jay embraced as we headed for Kili Falls and Hotspring in Tubo Abra. We’ve just finished 5 days of chasing Kaparkan Falls in Tineg, Lobot Falls in San Juan, and Balyat Falls in Sal-lapadan, which were all uniquely adventurous. But Kili is the riskiest of them all.
To Go To Kili or Not?
I and Jay have been battling with this question since we started planning for our week-long Abra journey. Tubo is known to be a municipality where NPA camps are hiding. In fact, 2 weeks prior to our travel date (Aug 1, 2018), a political encounter happened in Tubo causing soldiers to be killed; also a couple of days prior to our visit, an NPA camp was seized by the army. These were seriously threatening that we almost took Kili out of our itinerary.
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HOWEVER! I have been dreaming of visiting the remote Kili Falls and Hotspring for a couple of years now and I didn’t want to let go of this opportunity! Besides, Jay has a contact in the army who assured us that Kili is safe to visit. Although it was a little bit hard to find information online on how to get there, we thankfully managed to take on a 6-hour tiring yet rewarding journey. Thanks to Jay for coming with me, although hesitantly in the beginning! 🙂
How to go to Kili Falls and Hotspring in Tubo
During our Abra backpacking journey, Bangued the capital has been our base since passenger jeepney terminals are centrally located there. Here’s our long but exciting journey to Kili:
Jeepney Toploading Pt 1
Ride the once-a-day jeepney to Tubo from Bariquir terminal at Bangued (somewhere close to Viron bus terminal). Just ride a tricycle going there for 10-15 pesos per person. It’s common in Abra that jeepneys are tightly loaded on the inside with cargos of food, agriculture supplies, and appliances. So for us, toploading was always the better option, especially that we got to see freely the changing landscapes along the way.
Our contacts said that the jeepney departs at 8am everyday but we have to be there earlier (as always the case in Abra) to make sure that we don’t miss the only trip. We got there a little past 7am but then had to wait until around 8:50am for the passengers to add up and the cargos to be loaded. By 9am we were already on our way! We passed by the towns of Bucay and Manabo on the way.
River Crossing Pt. 1
After around 2 hours, our jeepney had to be carried by a small rusty barge to cross the river while the passengers are inside the jeep. Imagine a micro Roro! This is the first river crossing which is a very quick one at less than 3 minutes. The loading and unloading even took longer!
River Crossing Pt 2
The jeepney continued rolling until the second river crossing after another 1.5 hours. This time, the river is wider and the current is stronger so only the passengers and the cargoes could ride the barge. We bid goodbye to the first jeepney (paid P120/pax) and rode the second one waiting on the other side of the river. This time since we were going against the flow, the river crossing was longer. On other months though, probably during summer, the river gets dry ang thin so moving to another jeepney was not a neccessity. We went during Habagat season, no wonder the water was raging!
Jeepney Toploading Pt 2
Of all the toploading experiences I’ve had, this one is probably my favorite, and the most dangerous! I’ve toploaded in Batad, Maligcong, Bontoc, Pulag, Tanay, and other parts of Abra but seeing the luscious green valleys of Tubo graced with Abra river in its midst, not to mention the scary cliffs from the switchback unpaved mountain roads, made this one for the record. The jeepney literally climbed mountains before descending to the towns of Tubo.
Tricycle Ride to Brgy Kili
Unfortunately for us, the jeepney did not go all the way to Brgy Kili because there were only 3 of us (I, Jay and an old man with his farming supplies) headed there. All the rest alighted at the previous Barangays. We paid the second jeepney P90/person, and had to share a tricycle for a 45-min to 1 hour ride under the dripping heavens. It was a scary ride because of the heavy rain that afternoon, but we made it to Brgy Kili at around 3:30pm! We paid the tricycle P500 pesos, thankful that the driver took us there safely!
If you happen to be traveling alone and the jeepney shortstops before Brgy Kili, you can ride a habal habal from Brgy Tiempo (last brgy stop) for P200 one way. There are days when the locals of Brgy Kili go to market in Bangued, so on these fortunate days, the jeepney sends the locals straight to Kili.
Welcome to Kili Falls and Hotspring
As I am writing this, I still remember the thrills and the chills I felt when my eyes saw the unfolding sight of the rice terraces, river, and mountains surrounding Kili falls, to the sound of the raging waters in the background. This is a dream coming true, right before my eyes! 🙂
From Brgy Kili where we registered for P50 each, we walked an enjoyable 15 minute trail to the open cottages fronting the falls itself. We settled our things in one of them, the best spot of course, before walking further to explore the area. Originally, Jay wanted to spend just a night there; but realizing that one night is not enough to take all this beauty in, we agreed to spend two nights camping in our hammocks. Besides, we beheld the entire beauty on our own since we were the only travelers there in that moment.
It may not be as architecturally amazing as Kaparkan falls, nor as tall as other falls I’ve seen, but Kili falls has its own power and charms. It’s impossible that it will not leave you touched. It’s as if its heavy drop communicates yet promoting a peaceful ambiance, like the Almighty God speaking stillness to one’s soul. You can cross the perilous hanging bridge and explore your way to reach the top of the waterfalls 🙂
A mere 5-minute walk from the open cottages through the paved trail, to the right when facing the falls lead to the man-made pool that produces a basin of shallow warm water coming from the hot spring. The warm water temperature was perfect for my body chilling out of the rains. We spent almost the entire second day around the hot spring, chilling on our hammocks, cooking our meals using our camping stove, butane and cookset, and taking a lot of pictures.
Aside from the falls and the hot spring, you’ll enjoy playing around this hanging bridge. Probably the most exciting, thrilling, dangerous yet beautiful hanging bridge I’ve ever had to cross in my entire life. Made of rusty hanging metal strips, and floored by short wooden planks, this hanging bridge wobbles crazily with each step. But I loved it anyway 🙂
Hot Spring Cave
Jay also discovered this mini cave beneath the rocks where the hostpring’s water comes from. Going into the cave is like having a natural hot shower because of the stalactites dripping with warm water.
Where to sleep in Brgy Kili
If you’re an adventurer like us, bring your hammock and you’ll be able to sleep and wake up with the river sound serenading you. There are open cottages to serve as your pillar and shelter. Just make sure you bring proper layers especially when visiting during rainy days because it could really get cold by night!
Otherwise, you can sleep in a homestay for only P100 per night. You can’t miss the homestay because you’ll walk by it. I didn’t bother to get the number because there was no signal during our entire stay, whether globe or smart.
Getting Back to Bangued
🚩 Ride the 8-8:30am trip from Tiempo. Be there at the terminal by 7am. To get to Tiempo, ride a habal-habal for P200 per head. You can inform the Barangay hall of your schedule of departure so they can get you a driver.
What To Do
🚩 Camp near Kili falls
🚩 Cross the thrilling and dangerous hanging bridge 😊
🚩 Explore the falls (walk through the boulders that lead to the drop
🚩 Chill by the hotspring which is just a 5-minute walk from the falls.
🚩 See the hotspring cave!
🚩 Enjoy nature. Be a responsible traveler
Our Actual Expenses visiting Kili Falls
Not counting the bus trip to and from Abra, I personally spent only P955 make my dream of visiting Kili Falls come true <3 How’s that for checking a bucket list?
10 – Trike to Bariquir Terminal
150 – Food supply
120 – First jeepney
90 – Second jeepney
125 – Share in the trike to Brgy Kili
50 – Registration
200 – Habal habal back to Tiempo jeepney terminal
90 – First jeepney
120 – Second jeepney
Other Tips When Visiting Kili Falls
🚩 If camping, bring enough food supply. There are only a few stores in the brgy and they are not always open since owners are farmers who usually go out to the field to work. They are also not complete with supplies you may lack. Bring your own cookset.
🚩 The cottages near the falls have light and power outlet. Yey!
🚩 Water source is available, just ask the staff from the registration area to turn it on / connect it.
🚩 No signal is available in Brgy Kili as per our experience (we use globe and smart) so be prepared to be totally disconnected when in Kili!
Should You Go To Kili?
YES OH YES! As mentioned we were hesitant at first because there might be security threats but we experienced nothing of that! Locals are kind and respectful of your privacy! Travel may be daunting but then again, difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. 🙂