Bohol Philippines Rivers Travel

Bohol | Abatan River: Butterflies, Fireflies and Moonlit Nights

Loboc is not the only river town in Bohol. The island province, home to the chocolate hills and the tiny primates, tarsiers, have four major rivers intersecting through the island. Up northwest is the Inabanga River, the largest on the island and Ipil River up north. Utilized for eco-tourism is Loboc River coming from the center of the island down to the southeastern coast and recently, the Abatan River flowing to the southwestern coast. Our adventure guide, Buzzy Budlong, found excellent paddling opportunities on the latter and set-up shop along with the town’s RiverLife tours to offer something different and new.

Sunset at Abatan River with parked <em>bandong</em> boats
Sunset at Abatan River with parked bandong boats

Maribojoc Fireflies

We returned in the afternoon again at Abatan River by sunset, this time to navigate the 8km northern route to Maribojoc village. We were supposed to kayak all the way but since we had little time, we decided to take the motorized bandong (a small boat with cogon roofing) up river with Buzzy in tow from behind on board his Mango Float. Midway, we saw the full moon rise and lend its soft light on the river and surrounding mangrove trees. There was tranquility in the air only interrupted by the steady hum of our boat engine. We reached the Maribojoc Mangroves and stopped on a towering aged mangroves where the fireflies seem to congregate, attracted by its unique scent that appeals to them. Even with the moon in full spectrum, the undulating light from the mating dance of the fireflies mesmerized our senses. I had a tricky task of capturing this natural light-show and had so many attempts with only a few ones I liked. Those ones I had captured is but a fraction of what can be seen. I’ve been to several firefly tours but it’s only here where I saw the unison of motion, like a wave, enveloping the tree. Wrapping and circulating along the branches. It was magnificent. We watched the show for about an hour before we left. Even on our way back to the Visitor Center in Cortes, we saw several trees aglow with these fascinating fickle and flickering creatures. A magical night indeed.

Buzzy on his Mango Float being pulled by our boat
Buzzy on his Mango Float being pulled by our boat

Essential Info

The Bacong River Butterfly Kayak Tour (7–11am minimum of 2 pax at Php 2,100 each) and Abatan River Firefly Kayak Tour (4km, maximum 4 hours, minimum of 2 pax at Php 2,100 each) can be booked through IslandBuzz Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle Tours.

Contact Buzzy Budlong at [email protected] or call +639275683799. Visit

For the Abatan RiverLife Tours visis

Moonrise (left) and firefly watching on a kayak (right)
Moonrise (left) and firefly watching on a kayak (right)
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