Cruising the Bojo River in Aloguinsan (Photo by Writer)
Ecotourism has gained a foothold in Cebu with the introduction of various ecotourism activities in the island. The most popular of these activities is canyoneering, where guests get the chance to travel from Alegria to Badian.
However, all canyoneering activities in Alegria and Badian have been suspended until September this year. Hence, tourists are starting to look for other activities they could join. One promising alternative is the Aloguinsan River Eco-Cultural Tour, also known as the Bojo River Cruise.
A little bit of history
A reminder for guests before they reach the entrance to the Bojo River (Photo by Writer)
The mouth of the river used to be the place where the natives and the foreign merchants would meet to trade goods. When the Spaniards came, they used the term bojo, or coastal, to refer to the river. The Spanish word bojo is different from the Visayan word buho, which means “hole.”
BAETAS won the Best Community-Based Tourism Initiative in the Asia-Pacific region for 2015. (Photo by Writer)
The Bojo River Cruise is an eco-cultural activity at the Municipality of Aloguinsan. The town is located on the western coast of Cebu and is home to the Kinsan Festival, which is celebrated yearly in the month of June. The Bojo River Cruise was launched on June 19, 2009, and is managed by the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETAS). Recognized for its “serious commitment to sustainability principles and evident benefits to community members,” BAETAS received the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s 2015 Tourism InSPIRE Award for Best Community-Based Tourism Initiative in Asia-Pacific.
The Bojo River Cruise experience
The cruise takes visitors to a ride through the Bojo River, which is home to 22 different species of mangrove as well as many different types of migratory and endemic birds. Visitors are treated to a lesson about the mangrove and bird species found in the area.
Some of the mangrove species that can be seen along the Bojo River (Photo by Writer)
Water in the river comes from around a hundred springs in the surrounding area. The river could go as deep as eight meters and meanders for 1.4 kilometers along its path before reaching Tañon Strait, which is located between the islands of Cebu and Negros
The cruise takes visitors to the mouth of Bojo River (Photo by Writer)
Before the start of the cruise, visitors have to go through a short orientation conducted by BAETAS. The orientation covers a brief background about the cruise and how it started seven years ago, as well as some dos and don’ts while cruising the river.
A BAETA member conducts a short orientation before the start of the cruise.* (Photo by Writer)
After the orientation, guests can proceed to the dock area where life vests are provided. All passengers of the boat are required to wear the vests before getting on board. The cruise begins with the boatman telling about the different mangrove species planted along the river, including their respective scientific names. The boatmen were trained by rural tourism advocate and travel writer Boboi Costas.
Guests on a boat for the Bojo River Cruise (Photo by Writer)
Just the cruise itself takes around an hour or so, but visitors will have the chance to swim close to the mouth of the river where the trip typically ends, and where some corals can be seen. It’s good for the visitors to know that the mouth of the river is one of its deepest parts. So, for those who want to err on the side of caution, a dip at the river delta is a good option. Counting the time for swimming and snorkeling, the whole cruise will last for about two hours. If the seas are rough, snorkeling won’t be allowed.
Some of the holes on the rocks where requests for items from Maria Tang-an were believed to have been left. (Photo by Writer)
Aside from the different mangrove species and the endemic and migratory birds in the area, the boatmen will also tell visitors the story of Maria Tang-an, a river fairy. According to the legend, Maria Tang-an was a river fairy who guarded the Bojo River and the surrounding forest. She was kind and allowed the people of the town to borrow from her items they could use during celebrations, like festivals, birthdays, or weddings.
This may have been where Maria Tang-an placed the items the townspeople would borrow, according to the folktale. (Photo by Writer)
The townspeople would write on a piece of paper the things they needed and insert their letters into small openings on the side of a rock close to the mouth of the river. They would find the requested items at the same place a few days after. The townspeople were asked to return the items they borrowed after they used them. However, some townspeople would return the items damaged, while others would not return them at all. Because of this, Maria Tang-an stopped lending the townspeople things they requested.
One of the boats used for the river cruise (Photo by Writer)
The Bojo River Cruise has two main packages: the walk-in package and the full package. The walk-in package costs PhP400 and consists of the river cruise and the opportunity to swim close to the mouth of the river. Meanwhile, the full package costs PhP650 and includes the opportunity to swim, welcome lei and drinks, lunch, snacks, and a handicraft-making demonstration. The full package requires a minimum of five participants and a reservation fee of PhP250 per person. The reservation fee is paid two days before the cruise date.
The glass bottom boat that can be used view the corals along the coast (Photo by Writer)
A glass-bottom boat is also available for use at PhP200 per person, with a minimum of 10 people per use. The glass-bottom boat will take visitors along the coast close to Hermit’s Cove where some corals can be seen.
The best way to go to Aloguinsan for the Bojo River Cruise is by bringing your own vehicle. In any case, you have two routes to choose from—the Carcar route and the Toledo route. If you pass through the Carcar-Aloguinsan route, remember to take a right turn once you get to the Mantalongon Public Market. It is important to be mindful of this since this fork in the road does not have any sign. You wouldn’t want to end up reaching the coastal area, which is too late for the turn at the Mantalongon Public Market.
The journey starts at the Cebu City South Bus Terminal (Photo by Writer)
Another way to get to Aloguinsan is to hop on a bus going to Toledo City. From Toledo City, you can take a jeepney to the Aloguinsan Public Market and then hire a motorcycle to The Farmhouse. Remember that you have to register before going the cruise site.
Tips and reminders
• It doesn’t hurt to say it again: You have to register at The Farmhouse before you can take the cruise.
• It is advisable to check the weather before you book your visit if you want to snorkel close to the mouth of the river to see some corals. When it is too windy and the waves are high, swimming is limited to the mouth of the river and the river delta.
• While getting the full package is convenient for visitors who do not want to go through the hassle of going out to have lunch, you can actually save if you opt to get the walk-in package and have your lunch at the food stalls located at the Aloguinsan Public Market, instead.
• For visitors who are concerned about safety while swimming, the river delta would be the best place to swim since it is relatively shallow compared to the other parts of the river.
Swimming at the river delta, among the shallowest parts of the river (Photo by Writer)
Cebu did not place sixth in the 2016 list of the world’s best islands by Travel and Leisure magazine for no reason. And the Bojo River has become one of the must-visit places in the island as more people have started to take environmental conservation more seriously.
Have you tried being one with nature at the Bojo River? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.
Prices may change without prior notice.