If you’re in Sorsogon and looking for a romantic backdrop, you might want to try the Buhatan River Eco-Adventure.
The cruise is a community-initiated tourism activity by residents of Barangay Buhatan. This 90-minute eco-adventure offers kayaking, firefly watching, and dining at the floating bamboo cottage before sunset.
Back in 2014, Buhatan River was considered to be one of the dead and neglected rivers in Sorsogon as the entire stretch was polluted and filled with garbage.
But through the assistance of environmental organization Bantay Kalikasan, the river has since been revived.
“It’s actually the entire community that helped clean the river. Our guides conduct a clean-up drive every week. Aside from this, we also have mangrove planting initiatives,” Buhatan River Tour Guide Myrna Fulo shares.
Exploring Buhatan River
The 3.9 kilometer relaxing starts at Buhatan bridge and lets tourists experience the natural beauty of Buhatan river. Throughout the ride, travelers will get to treasure how it feels to unwind and just listen to the sounds of local and migratory birds as well as cicadas.
Tourists may also try harvesting oysters from the river and eating them fresh.
Lemon grass juice paired with local treats like roasted pili and pili polvoron will be offered as well while tourists are lounging at the floating cabana.
At the end of the cruise, tourists will be welcomed at the floating bamboo restaurant where a feast awaits. It’s usually the day’s catch so expect steamed mud crabs, grilled tilapia, steamed oysters, and shrimps.
After the sun has finally set, and the floating cabana returns to the starting point, another spectacle is seen: fireflies start to come out, twinkle and swirl around mangrove trees.
There are also some local superstitions about the fireflies in Buhatan. “Locals say when there’s a firefly, and if it comes to you, you must gently catch it and whisper your deepest desires or wishes,” instructs Fulo. “Then slowly let go. The fireflies will then tell your wishes to their queen for it to be granted.”
The eco-cruise has helped and provided extra income to the Buhatan community. The women are incharge of the food while men are mostly the boatmen or fisherfolk hunting food for dinner.
“This eco-adventure initiative brought the spirit of togetherness in our local community. Before this happened, we didn’t even know each other. But because of the cruise, we were able to build relationships with one another, we’re like one big family,” says Fulo.
Even the senior citizens in the local community are part of this. Fulo shares that the elders would plant lemongrass in their backyard which will soon be used for juices served to guests at the eco-cruise.
“Instead of lounging at homes doing nothing, this cooperative taught us to be busy, it provided us with livelihood. That’s why the river cruise is very important to us.”
To maintain the river, fishing within Buhatan river is regulated. Illegal cutting of mangrove trees is strictly prohibited.
Cruise on pause
“We were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We lost our jobs. The women, boatmen, even farmers,” Fulo shares. “What we did though, to make ends meet, we continued with preparing food for the locals and we made it available for delivery.”
In February 2022, almost three years after the Philippine government announced a travel lockdown, the cruise reopened its doors to local and foreign tourists.
To experience Buhatan River Eco Cruise is beyond enjoying the fresh air and glittering fireflies at night.
As you unwind and ride its spacious floating cabanas, expect to witness the remarkable story of how one local community decided to unite and save the environment which in return, uplifted their livelihood.
Rates start at Php3,000 for rental of the floating cottage. If tourists wish to end their cruise with a feast, the rate is at Php6,000 good for 10 persons.
Outsource the Planning
For a seamless trip, you may leave the planning to DOT’s accredited tour operators in Bicol. Click on this link for a comprehensive list of agencies.
Explore Sorsogon responsibly by making sure that you comply with the province’s health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
For the latest travel information about Sorsogon, you may visit their official website or Facebook page. You may also review updated safety protocols and requirements on Philippine destinations at www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel