Lumban-Caliraya-Cavinti Rd, Laguna, Philippines
Pagsanjan Falls Laguna Reviews
Visiting Pagsanjan Falls with cousins I met for the first time! Aug 24, 2014
While in the Philippines for the summer of 2014, I decided to meet my younger second-degree cousins whom I have never met before. To have some “bonding time”, we chose to visit a major tourist attraction in our home province of Laguna, the famous Pagsanjan Falls!
It took over two hours of driving to reach Pagsanjan from Manila. The options included riding buses, joining expensive $200+ organized tours, or driving our own vehicle. I was lucky that my cousin visiting from New York was still comfortable driving in the Philippines, and so we used my uncle’s van. We went on a weekday to avoid the crowds. On the way, we also stopped at roadside stores to buy local sweets like “pastillas, yema, espasol” and the ever-famous coconut “buko pie”. Yummy!
Once there, we parked at one of the lodges along the Bumbungan and Balanac Rivers and rented a room for us to change and shower later since we expected to get wet. Hiring trustworthy boatmen is now “centralized” by the local government. Through the lodge, we paid a fixed price of 1250 pesos (about $30) per person. We were provided with lifesavers and helmets, and off we went with two boatmen on a wooden “banca”!
I sat with one of my lady cousins and we truly got to know each other as we laughed a lot whenever we got wet! The “front” boatman maneuvered skillfully, stepping on the rocks with his feet to push us forward. Boatmen are now licensed and required to undergo six months of training, and they also expect to be tipped about 250 pesos each ($6).
The views were remarkable! Vegetation was lush with many minor waterfalls. Some tourists have reported also seeing monkeys, but we only spotted cows and goats. Dragonflies with a metallic green hue flew around us and some even landed on my cousin’s arm! After navigating through the “rapids”, there were very serene moments when our wooden “banca” just glid silently through canyon walls. Surreal!
By the time we were complaining of lower back discomfort, we reached the majestic Pagsanjan Falls! We pre-paid for the raft to bring us under the falls for only an extra 90 pesos ($2) plus tips for the boatman. It was worth it! We clutched on ropes and once behind the falls, we were able to get into the 4-feet deep “pool”. We laid on our tummies on the raft and the boatman placed us under the falls for a “natural pressurized massage”! We screamed with delight!
There are some people who want to rename this natural wonder “Cavinti Falls” because it is actually in the municipality of Cavinti. The indigenous name is Magdapio Falls, but it has been known for so long as Pagsanjan Falls. Some actually hike to reach the falls from Cavinti instead of riding with the boatmen. But whichever way you choose, the journey is truly memorable. And best of all, I got to bond and “jump” with my wonderful cousins. Family. Priceless.
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