Pagsanjan Falls. Waterfall in Philippines, Asia

Pagsanjan Falls

Waterfall in Philippines, Asia

Pagsanjan Falls Photo © Joshua Bousel

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Pagsanjan Falls

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pix_154 - Pagsanjan Falls
pix_154 - Pagsanjan Falls. Photo by Aisa Joyce De Castro
The Pagsanjan Falls in the province of Laguna is one the most sought-out, natural attractions in the Philippines. The falls is also one of the major attractions of the region and are accessible by canoes departing from the municipality of Pagsanjan (Wikipedia Article). The waterfalls is known by many names, locals refer to it as “shooting the rapids”, while its indigenous name is ‘Magdapio Falls’. The Pagsanjan Falls and its surrounding area has been declared a national park in 1976. The official name of the attraction around the falls is Pagsanjan Gorge National Park and it covers a land area of over 153 hectares.

History

The falls has its very own folklore, passed from generations after generations and shared by locals to its visitors. A long time ago, Pagsanjan Falls didn't exist. There were only thick forests over the highlands, along with the twin rivers of Bumbungan and Balanac, and the land where the town of Pagsanjan was built. Two brothers named Balubad and Magdapio lived at the eastern bank of the Bumbungan River.

For years, the brothers lived simply and peacefully until a calamity struck their land. A terrible drought came upon them and no rainfall came for successive months. The land became so shriveled, the rivers and springs dried up. The flowers and crops withered and died, and the animals disappeared from sight.
The brothers suffered greatly in the calamity and they prayed to the gods day and night for rain, but not a single drop of water was given to them. Balubad, who was older and weaker of the two, died of thirst. Madapio buried his brother on the slope of the mountain and called it “Balubad”. Agonized over his brother’s death, he trekked to the rocky cliffs of the upper region. He cursed the gods for their bitter fate and hurled down his cane among the rocks.

A spring sprouted of the spot where the cane struck the ground. It grew bigger and bigger, fresh water gushed down the canyon walls, becoming a waterfall. Magdapio fell on his knees and thank the gods for the great blessing. The waterfalls that Magdapio was given then became the Pagsanjan Falls.

Break Area - Pagsanjan Falls
Break Area - Pagsanjan Falls. Photo by Kristin Resurreccion

Getting There

From Manila, you can reach the province of Laguna by taking a bus ride from Buendia to Santa Cruz. The travel time is approximately 2 hours and the fare is around ₱140 ($3.08). Once you reach Santa Cruz, Laguna, you can take a jeepney ride to Cavinti (Wikipedia Article), which is about 45 minutes away. Upon reaching Cavinti, take a tricycle ride heading to Pueblo El Salvador (tricycles are available around the town proper). The fare is around ₱20 ($0.44) each and takes 15 minutes to get there.
Once you've reached the Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park and Picnic Grove, there will be a 2-kilometer trek to the Pagsanjan Falls.

Another route going to the falls is by boat. From the town of Santa Cruz, take a jeepney ride to Pagsanjan instead of Cavinti. Upon reaching the town proper, take a tricycle ride to the Pagsanjan boat station (or tourism office if you need assistance), the standard rate for a round-trip is about ₱1,500 ($33) per person. The scenic boat ride goes along the Magdapio River to reach the main falls.

Tour packages are also available at several travel agencies in Manila, both serving either of the two different routes. Their rates are around ₱2,000 ($44) per person, inclusive of a round-trip transportation from Manila to Santa Cruz, entrance fees, use of rafts, and life vests.

the boats at Pagsanjan falls - Pagsanjan Falls
the boats at Pagsanjan falls. Photo by Andy Nelson

Visiting

Pagsanjan Falls is between the town of Pagsanjan and Cavinti and are accessible via two different routes, each having its own unique experiences. When going through the Pagsanjan route, tourists will get to experience a scenic boat ride on wooden or fiberglass-made bancas along the Magdapio River. Breathtaking natural attractions such as lush forests, rock formations, and other minor falls can be seen. For those coming from the Cavinti route, the trek starts at the El Salvador Nature Park. Tourists will have to pay an entrance fee of ₱270 ($5.94), which includes a life vest and rappelling equipment.

Once you reach the main falls, you can either enjoy swimming in the refreshing cold water of the pool or take a raft to the hidden “devil’s cave” located behind the cascading curtains of the waterfalls. The water coming down from the falls is from the Pagsanjan River. The longest drop among the three drops is about 394 feet.

Travel Tips

  • The best time of the week to visit the Pagsanjan Falls is during the weekdays, when there are no big crowds.
  • When taking the Pagsanjan route, make sure you transact your business with reputable tourist agencies or resorts. Some boatmen might take advantage and overcharge you.
  • Tourists are advised to bring their own food when visiting the waterfalls, since there are no stores around the area.


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Author: radiantan. Last updated: Jan 21, 2015

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