The Maria Cristina Falls nature park is also called as the NPC nature park or the NPC botanical and zoological garden in Iligan City or the Maria Cristina botanical and zoological garden. The Philippine national parks aim to protect the best of the Filipino natural heritage of extraordinary wildlife in the forest by placing some rare and distinct flora and fauna species in a mini habitat of stunning landscapes. There are quite a few stretches of untouched nature in Iligan City you may want to visit. FYI, this is actually a must see national park in Iligan City.
The Maria Cristina Falls National Park is actually the National Power Corporation Nature Park. To clarify this confusion, you need to know that the National Power Corporation has sole jurisdiction over the Maria Cristina Falls as its primary source of energy for generating electric power, which may include the prerogative to develop the surrounding areas. That is why the locals interchangeably call it as Maria Cristina Falls National Park or the National Power Corporation Nature Park.
The hydroelectric plant built along the Lanao Lake and the Agus River generates 70% of the electricity used by the people of Mindanao. The Agus River alone supports 7 hydroelectric power plants of the National Power Corporation (NPC) with a combined capacity of 727 megawatts.
How is the Maria Cristina Falls linked with the Agus River? The water that runs from the Agus River actually passes through and created the sensational Maria Cristina Falls, which is the second highest among the waterfalls in the Philippines.
The Maria Cristina Falls nature park was built by the National Power Corporation with the first goal of providing a sanctuary for the variety of animals and plants, such as the butterflies, peacocks, monkeys, and crocodiles found in the surrounding forest and the second goal of developing a nature park for the locals as part of their CSR.
The valuable landscape was then promoted for tourism purposes. I hope NPC will partner with the Department of Tourism to really add more developments in the place and still, if possible, charge a lower entrance fee.
The Maria Cristina Falls nature park is a good place to bring your family for a dry picnic and at the same time make it a field trip where you can introduce the kids to animals they cannot see or get familiar on the city streets.
Photos taken March 23 2013 at the Maria Cristina Falls Nature Park In Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Philippines
In the city, kids do not climb trees and do not even know the face and sound of some local animals anymore. Most are just on their computer or tab playing games. They ride an elevator instead of climbing the trees in the neighborhood.
Detachment from nature should not be encouraged, because this will make them developers without regard to the marvelous beauty of Mother Nature in the future. There is a need of a nature park so the kids can learn something and make them appreciate the beauty of nature, thus making the idea of destroying Mother Earth a bad one. I know this is something that should be worked out by the Tourism people in partnership with the local government, isn’t it?
This is what you get when you go and spend time with your family in the Maria Cristina Falls nature park. You get to observe and feel the need of the children to be one with nature. Let them play the way we used to play before the government built the long cemented of highways in town.
So much for the waste and empathy of what we lost as we developed our habitat. Back to the scene in front of me…
I was really amused looking at the children, especially my nephews looking at the alligator and teasing the big monkeys. They also went near the butterflies’ dome and tried to get their attention.
Photos taken January 2 2014 at the Maria Cristina Falls Nature Park Iligan City
I love their low cost butterfly sanctuary. It was such a sight, seeing them fluttering! Getting close to nature is something that does not happen every day in the city.
You can see the butterflies flaunting their bright colored wings, which made the kids scream with delight. Just thinking, what ever happened to the go outside and play?
If you have not noticed it yet, when you stroll down the streets in the city or even in the rural areas here in the Philippines, we do not have a children’s park. Aren’t the kids missing something?
The simple go out and play is gone! We became too digital and globally connected with the internet that our kids lost the meaningful connections with the natural world. Children are rapidly losing their connection with their local natural environment.
Running after the butterflies could be fun, if only they were allowed to do so. The kids were even simply fascinated and happy just staring at them, especially when the butterflies fluttered and showcased their different wings of different sizes and colors. If only you can capture the fluttering on camera, it would be one awesome piece of nature photography!
As I looked at their faces, my mind began to wander. I had a happy childhood climbing our papaya and cherry trees, running after the butterflies, taking a bath under the rain out in the open backyard, and enjoyed playing games with our neighbors.
How I missed my childhood and how I pity the kids of today and maybe tomorrow if our councilors and mayors don’t start thinking about putting up a children’s park soon. Just thinking, how do we get them connected to nature again? Uh uh, nothing comes to mind?
This is one reason why some people find it difficult to personally connect with others in real time, because they are so hard wired with digital technology and forgot nature. Our children are now exhibiting the symptoms of the modern phenomenon called as the Nature Deficit Disorder. Yeah laugh, but it’s true.
This is one reason, I was amazed and deep in my heart, truly appreciated the efforts of the National Power Corporation in initiating this national park project. The initiative encourages the engagement of the kids with the small wonders of nature.
A part of the land has been converted into a lovely orchidarium and also, a bat cave. This part of the tour I did not like. I was afraid the bats will fly and attack me just like in the movies ha ha.
The most interesting part was the wishing well placed at the middle of the nature park, where everyone can see, long for something, and drop a coin with the hope that their wishes would come true. You can stare at the small roofed well and wonder if the wishes would really come true.
Photo taken March 23 2014 at the Maria Cristina Falls Nature Park
The tables and chairs were neatly arranged. The place is ideal for groups and families who would like to spend quality time with each other and get connected with nature.
The Phase I features the orchidarium, the durian/ rambutan/ lanzones orchard, the bat park, the crocodile farm, the wishing well, and the viewing decks of the Agus River bank and the Maria Cristina Waterfalls.
The Phase II features the mini zoo, a trekking site, a hanging bridge, cottages and sheds, and a children’s park. This is a family friendly site loved by most kids and adults.
I advised you bring your packed lunch when you go for a visit, because there is no store or restaurant inside, especially water. The heat may leave you dry and thirsty.
The nature park has been expected to bring in additional revenues for the city and help the NPC recover its cost spent for the project. However, please don’t get dismayed if you only see a few versions of each Philippine species there.
The nature park is not well developed yet, and it needs more funding to get it moving and sustain feeding of the animals. We all know feeding the animals can eat a large amount of the cost of development and maintenance.
The highlight of the park was really the viewing of the most popular Maria Cristina Falls. The 98 meter waterfalls won’t disappoint you when you get there. Definitely, you need to watch out for your cameras, because it may get drenched while you stand fascinated on the viewing deck.
The nature park is really huge. You need to have a ride to get to its entirety. You can either pay for the shuttle service and wait for it to get filled up or rent your own personal ride.
If you are with a group and needs to stay the whole day, I suggest you rent a car so it won’t be too difficult for you to carry your food and baggage. As I told you, there is no restaurant inside and you need to bring your own provisions.
Photos taken January 2 2014 at the Maria Cristina Falls Nature Park Iligan City
How to reach the Maria Cristina Falls Nature Park?
Maria Cristina Falls
Iligan City, Lanao del Norte
Telephone: 063 221 3988 or 063 221 9032 to 33
From Iligan City riding a taxi
You can ask the driver to take you to the Maria Cristina Falls and immediately ask how much he is going to charge you, because there is no taxi meter in Iligan City. They do not practice taxi meter. There is a 100% probability you are going to pay higher than what it can actually cost using a taxi meter!
Riding a jeepney
If you decide to ride a jeepney, you ask the driver if he would pass the Maria Cristina Falls and instruct him or the konduktor to stop at the crossing near the entrance. You can just walk from the main highway to the entrance.
Details of the jeepney ride
Ride a Buru-un jeepney that usually parks near the Saint Michael’s College. Tell the driver to drop you off at the Maria Cristina Falls. The drop off site is right after the steel orange bridge you can similar to this image below. Fare is only P15.
Due to the lack of interest and the lack of local budget to maintain a national park, the Maria Cristina botanical & zoological garden was made possible and was created as a joint project of the NPC and the DOT. The Maria Cristina Falls nature park is one the most visited tourist attractions in Iligan City. Besides the NPC nature park, the place also offers a one of a kind zipline adventure.