You see that face? That, my friends, is the face I make (apparently) when I have been shipwrecked–or rather, canoe-wrecked in the middle of a river in the tiny Filipino village of Langogan (while this crab fisherman watches).
How exactly did we end up swimming in our clothes in the middle of a tropical river? It all started when we were in El Nido having our island hopping adventures and trying to decide what else we might want to see before heading back to Puerto Princesa. That’s when we made the spur-of-the-moment choice to spend a couple of nights in a spot that’s way off of most tourist’s radars...
Day 1: Welcome to the Mangrove Resort in Langogan!
Located just a couple of hours from Puerto Princesa city, the Mangrove Resort in Langogan is, for most tourists, just a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part of any bus ride to or from El Nido. But, for those in-the-know, it is the place to escape the mass tourism crowd and appreciate Palawan’s traditional village culture and lesser-known natural wonders.
After a 4 hour ride south from El Nido, Justin and I stepped off of the Cherry Bus in front of the 3 Sisters store in Langogan and followed the dirt road through town toward the Mangrove Resort.
At the resort, we were greeted by its nature-loving owner, Claude, who introduced us to some adorable furry friends and gave us the grand tour of the resort’s grounds.
Surrounding the resort’s accommodations, there is a beautiful garden boasting a rich variety of plant and butterfly life.
Most of the food served at the resort is grown (or raised) in the gardens themselves or bought from the local fishing village.
This includes coconuts…
…which (in case you were wondering) are skillfully retrieved in this gravity-defying manner:
(Of course, Justin had to try a bit of the climb himself…)
Beyond the resort garden lies the mangrove forest itself, bordering the Langogan river. Part of the resort’s mission is to protect the forests, which, like the mangroves in the Gulf of Thailand, have been dangerously diminished in recent decades.
After exploring the mangroves, we decided to tag along with one of the resort staff who was headed to the fishing village to purchase a Dorado (also known as Mahi-mahi) for dinner.
Our first stop was the beach where the fishermen (and women) were bringing in the day’s catch.
Afterward, we walked back through the village itself, where we were greeted with a loud, friendly chorus of “hellos” from the local children, and smiles from their parents.
And this friendliness isn’t without reason. Because of how the Mangrove Resort has integrated itself into the life of the village (Clause and his wife hire local staff, buy local goods and have made it their priority to give back to the community in a number of tangible ways) guests to the resort are embraced by the local people as friends rather than tourists. Case in point, later that evening, we were invited to sing karaoke with a couple of the staff and some other local folks—an experience which was both hilarious and a ton of fun; exhibit A: Justin singing Hotel California—our hosts’ choice—whilst in the background, an early 90’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue “behind the scenes” video plays on repeat.
Day 2: Trekking to the Olanguan Waterfalls
The next morning, well-rested and ready for adventure, Justin and I headed off to hike to the Olanguan Waterfalls, accompanied by another of the resort’s residents, Quentin, a young man from France who came to work for a few months at the resort and decided to make it permanent. We hopped on a local bus and headed down the road approximately ten minutes to mile marker 72.
And then…we headed off into the forest!
The trail to the Olanguan Waterfalls is simple to follow, initially. There’s wildlife a-plenty…
…and a number of nice spots to stop along the way, including a great swimming area.
But it’s easy to understand why most trekkers choose to do the hike with a guide once you reach the final leg of the trek.
A clear-cut trail gives way to a series of river-crossing/ boulder-climbing experiences as you wend your way, slowly, toward the head of the falls.
For a couple of not-so-in-shape folks, the 1.5 hour hike was moderately strenuous, but the sweat was totally worth it when, upon arrival at our final destination, we were greeted by our own private waterfall and swimming area.
After a couple of hours at the waterfall, we trekked back to the resort for another fantastic meal…
…joke! (This pink dude was just a neighbor…we ate more fresh-caught fish!)
Day 3: Gone Swimming…
Our last day at the resort was relaxed. Claude and a couple of locals showed us how to make outdoor furniture with nothing but a coconut tree-stump and a chainsaw…
And then the suggestion was made that we try a quick paddle on the river on a traditional outrigger canoe before catching our bus. Sounded great to us!
After getting a couple of paddles and a push-off the bank from one of the the resort staff-members, we were on our way! We paddled up-bank and down, feeling like total outrigger pros, and trying to spot monitor lizards.
We waved hello to a crab fisherman who was setting out his nets and started to paddle back to the bank. And then…as if on cue like some cosmic joke…10 feet from the shore…and in less time than it takes to say “there’s a hole in the hull”…our canoe went from being unsinkable to fully submerged!
Lucky for us, the kind (and amused) fisherman came to our aid, retrieved the seats, and helped us pull the canoe on to the shore. One drained canoe later, we found the culprit: Justin had inadvertently kicked the drainage plug free from it’s drain.
Needless to say, we ended up needing to unpack (and repack) again before saying goodbye to Claude and the Mangrove Resort, and heading back to Puerto Princesa. But wet or dry, our consensus on Langogan: yes, yes, and yes!
Many thanks to the Mangrove Resort for hosting us on this trip. As always, all opinions are our own!
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