Steam hissed out from the side of the hill as the scooter made its way up a small winding road. To the left of the road was a serene river. To the right was a cliff wall emitting sulfuric fumes. I was on my way to a waterfall with red rocks located in the town of Valencia, near Dumaguete City, and I was finding the scenery very surprising.
Dumaguete, the capital city of Negros Oriental is known mainly for being a quaint University Town with all the modern conveniences. But it’s also a good jump-off point to different beaches, dive spots and eco-adventures.
After a side trip to Siquijor, I had barely half a day to go around the city before I needed to head to Bacolod for a work-related assignment, so I feared that I wouldn’t really be able to go around beyond the usual city sights. Richard, the tricycle driver I rode with to go to the Boulevard the previous night suggested that I squeeze in a visit to Pulangbato Falls & Red Rock Hot Springs before I checked out of my hotel. He had just returned with two guests who were checked in at Islands Leisure Boutique Hotel where I was staying. He mentioned that he also had a motorcycle, so not being familiar with the place, I jumped at the chance to scoot around a bit and I arranged for a hotel pickup and tour the next day.
Pulangbato (literally red rocks) Falls is located in the Ocoy Valley in the town of Valencia, Negros Oriental, about 20-30 minutes away from Dumaguete. The place gets its name because of the waterfall’s seemingly reddish hue, which is caused by the presence of natural reddish rocks in the area.
The rocks are said to get their color from Mt. Talinis, the second highest peak in Visayas. The town of Valencia itself is known for its geothermal properties. The road going there is mostly paved but there were a few spots that were steep and gravel-ridden, which made the ride more interesting. Before reaching the falls, there’s an interesting spot called the Red River Valley.
The falls looks impressive from afar especially with the huge red rocks at the foot of the falls. The first tier is narrow, but the water spreads out to a wider cascade that pours down into a swimming hole. The pool here looks quite shallow, but is deep enough for high dives. Like in many other waterfalls around the country, locals climb up to a nearby rock that serves as a diving point and jump into the middle of the pool’s basin.
The water is quite cool and refreshing. While the water does appear reddish in the shallow parts, this is only because of the reflection of the red rocks. However, the rust-colored rocks do have a tendency to stain your hands and feet when you touch them or step on them with bare feet. In the vicinity of the falls are several man-made pools where locals like to have picnics and swim.
Another point of interest near the falls is Red Rock Hot Springs at Pulangtubig, Valencia, which claims to offer medicinal benefits from the water’s high mineral content.
The pool gets its source of warm water (ranging from 37.5 to 39.5 degrees Celsius) from a naturally occurring spring which spouts through an opening by the pool. A posted sign says: These waters have energetic factors such as the powerful ionization, mineralization, radioactivity gases and PH variations.” It also claims to have therapeutic effects to relieve and restore people’s health, including a variety of health problems from asthma to arthritis to insomnia.
On the way back to Dumaguete, we made a quick stop at Tierra Alta, a mountainside resort located in Palinpinon, Valencia.
Aside from having a hotel, a giant infinity pool, and a cafe, this is where The Rush Zipline (said to be the first and only zipline in Negros Oriental) is located. The 600-meter long zipline offers four riding styles to guests: Superman, Tandem, Sitting & Inverted (Spiderman-style).
All in all, it was a short but interesting tour of natural attractions near Dumaguete. While Pulangbato Falls may not be as popular or as grand as Dumaguete’s other waterfall (Casaroro Falls), it’s one of the most unique-looking waterscapes I’ve been to. If you just have a short time to go sightseeing in Dumaguete, it’s well worth a visit.
- For motorcycle or tricycle tours, contact Richard: 0906-1517294
- Bring extra clothes if you want to swim in Pulangbato Falls and Red Rock Hot Springs. Avoid wearing white or light-colored clothes since these can easily get stained because of the rusty color of the water.
- Pulangbato Falls entrance fee: P20/person
- Red Rock Hot Springs entrance fee: P20/adults and P10/children below 13. Operating schedule: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. Tel: 0926-163 6853. Facebook: Red Rock Hot Spring
- Tierra Alta Zipline entrance fee: P250/for single riders, P400 for tandem rides.
- The Rush Zipline Operating Schedule: Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Call/TextL 0923-4465293, Landline: (035) 5360096. Facebook: Tierra Alta Residential Resort.