After the Great Gatsby wedding party that Taz and I attended in the Philippines earlier this month, our group departed from the Timberland and headed off on other adventures, all of them within a 4 hour drive from the city of Manila.
One of these day trips was to Pagsanjan Falls, one of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines, located in the province of Laguna. There’s a few “resorts” in the area where you can purchase a boat ride package to the falls – we did ours through the Pagsanjan Falls Lodge and Summer Resort, which I am happy to recommend!
We were outfitted before the boat ride with life-jackets and helmets, and I couldn’t help wondering…why the helmets? It was a calm, smooth ride to begin, our group split up into 2 to 3 persons per canoe. 2 men steered each boat, one at the front, one at the back. It became apparent a few minutes into the ride that their jobs involved a little more than paddling…they used they feet, arms, and whole bodies to steer the boats through rocky crevices (perhaps the reason for our helmets was our close proximity to the rocks?) It was amazing to watch them work!
In between admiring the strength of our guide, I checked out the surrounding view. The beginning featured peaceful views of palm trees, the biggest Virgin Mary statue I’ve ever seen in someone’s yard, and little bits of everyday life along the river – men fishing, women doing laundry, children playing. As we drew closer to the waterfall, the people slipped away and we found ourselves enjoying the serenity of being in the Pagsanan Gorge, surrounded by the high canyon walls.
After about an hour of coasting through the rapids, we arrived at the waterfalls, de-boarding our canoes, and cramming onto one bamboo raft (about 20 of us). We were then pulled into the waterfall by another guide (another job that requires serious arm strength). He took us right under the waterfall (reason #2 for the helmets…the water pressure was strong!). Afterwards a few of the group jumped back in for a quick swim…then we all had to drag our soaking selves back to the canoes for the hour ride back to the dock!
Thinking of checking out Pagsanjan Falls? Here’s a few tips:
-The price we paid per person for the boat ride was 1300 pesos (about 29.50 US dollars). In addition you will have to tip your boat crew (the suggested amount was 100 pesos per person, but after you see how much effort they put in, you will want to tip them much more!) Bring extra.
-Pick your partners in advance. It’s a 3 person maximum per boat.
-Leave your valuables behind or make sure you have a small waterproof bag if you absolutely must bring something. The boat does fill up with water, and you will get wet. My DSLR camera had to sit this one out. Luckily one of our friends had a waterproof Otterbox on his iPhone, which he kindly lent me for the ride. We even used it directly under the waterfall to take videos. The verdict is – it’s really waterproof! I need to get one of these for future trips!
-Go mid-day, unless you don’t mind a cold and wet ride back. We started out around 3pm, and the sun was already starting to go down on our way back to the dock. Rafting under the waterfall is optional, but of course you’ll want to do it! Wear your bathing suit and comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting soaked!