Mahil Falls: Wonder falls and the Leeches

A journey to Mahil Falls in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, in a rainy season will never be complete without getting a kiss from the tiny vampires of the earth.

Mahil to the universe
"Ewww!"? I know. But after getting a "sucking kiss" from the leeches locally known as alimatok, the bloodsucking creatures aren't that yucky after all - at least for me.

River trekking to the falls
The odor of the organic grounds is noticeable as our group trekked for two hours to the two-tiered falls located in Barangay Lamlahak. From the entrance of Traankini resort, a government-operated falls resort which was once the center piece of Lake Sebu's tourism until nature defaced the falls and the boulder formations in the vicinity, we were welcomed by canopies of secondary forests guided by established trails.

Then soft layers of humus in a thickly forested areas at the foot of the mountain range becomes the carpet that seem to lead us to nowhere. Unique sounds of endemic birds are the music that plays as we trudge the mountains in a relaxed pace.
You have to pass through a broken makeshift bridge too

Trails are tricky. If not because of James, our guide from the local tourism office, we'd be lost in the woods. Some trails lead to the next village which is just a few kilometers away from Maitum town in Sarangani Province. Some trails lead to thicker rainforests.

Raging bliss

Before laying our eyes to Mahil Falls we crossed the Mahil river five times and had a piece of the earth on our palms as we crawl, kneel and held on to roots, rocks and vines for safety.
Then the leech-land! Rainy seasons are the favorite times of these tiny weeny wiggling worms. They feast to anything with blood especially in areas concealed from the sun.

Sir Fred was the first victim of the tiny vampire
Sir Fred was the first victim. But instead of shooing away the alimatok, he watched it devour his blood from his left ankle. There was no pain. It was barely there, he said.

Mai's right foot bled for more than an hour after the leech was forcibly removed

Everybody had a piece of the leeches...or say the leeches had a piece of everybody. We were eight in the group and each one found a leech or two in exposed parts of our bodies.      

At the falls area tinier alimatoks were waving at us like a welcoming host. Oh, they're never the host..they are the parasites. One of our company, Ms Lourdes, had three leeches clinging on her neck. Ann had a guest on her food. Mai was bleeding for an hour after she forcibly removed one near her right ankle.

Danny saved me from one vampire worm as it crawled above my right ear. Very unfortunately though he picked it using a wild bulan-bulan leaf (a.k.a alingatong), a perennial nettle leaf with stinging hairs that can irritate your skin for two weeks or more.

Mai after taking a 

But the fear of the tiny bloodsuckers cannot cover up the trekking experience and the unique beauty of of Mahil Falls. As soon as the landscape opened for a full view of the falls, the group hurried to take photos and a dip in its cold waters.

According to Roy, a trusted local tour guide, Mahil falls was called as such by the indigenous Tboli people from Maitum as derived from the word mahi which means salty.  I had a dip where the falls drop but I can't remember tasting anything salty.

But the people from Sitio Kangko, the nearest community and an emerging bird-watching site settled above the falls, have another story. Roy said according to their elders it came from a Tboli word mahil which means easy or easily accessible if referred to a place.

Suckers, stings and the beauty of the falls make up the adventure that is unique for the Mahil Falls trek. For me it will never be complete with one missing.


How to get there?

Mahil Falls is located in the far-flung sub-village of Kangko, , Barangay Lamlahak  in the ecologically-gifted upland town of Lake Sebu.
The Falls is 2 to 3 hours hike from Barangay Lam Lahak proper.
Lam Lahak can be reached by a habal-habal (extended motorcycle) for 25 pesos per person.
Lake Sebu is 1.5 hours away from General Santos City and 40 minutes from Koronadal City, the two most preferred gateways.
Register and get a guide from the local tourism office for a safe and guided trek.
Contact Roy Ungkal (09066931745) for registration, guide fees and more infos.

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  1. i saw bamboo bridges (sort of). envy you guys. We trekked this river and falls coming from sitio kanko where we bird watched, crossed the river using ropes, commando crawled on single bamboo bridged and got attacked by those hungry leeches! One leech even was able to land on the inner eye lid of our companion! But its all worth it!

  2. sure you can relate to the fun in river trekking and the thrill in meeting the tiny leeches, doc. lingaw ah. korek, it's all worth it. :)

  3. I missed this place. :) And I missed the single bamboo pole, which is now replaced by the sturdier ladder in one of your photos.

    1. Mahil falls and Kangko are waiting for your pagbabalik. the leeches too. :)

    2. And I miss Kuya Roger too. :) It's 'Mahil' pala, not 'Mahi.' hehehe. I guess I have to correct my previous blog entries too.

      Baktin Corporation

    3. there are entries saying it's Mahel..but i verified it sa community Mahil it is daw. :)


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