One of the best day tours from Manila is the trip to the Pagsanjan Falls, or officially the Magdapio Falls.
A 318-ft (97 meters) high waterfalls located at the town of Cavinti, it takes about 2.5 – 3 hours from Manila owing of traffic and narrow lanes, going past small towns and countryside. We were in a bus – the team had picked some coconut wine and delicacies from the villages for the drive.
Now, the interesting part of the entire trip is that you have to take an upstream boat ride from Pagsanjan on the Bumbungan River to reach the waterfalls about 3 km away. Bancas (local canoes) line up the banks of the river for the ride — every Banca is guided by 2 Banceros (boatmen) who literally pull, push, paddle the boat for about an hour through the Pagsanjan gorge lined with rocks and boulders to reach the falls. With each Banca carrying 3 visitors, you can imagine the hard work the Banceros put in. Their nimbleness amazed me completely…they knew the river like the back of their palms….
The view alongside the river changes, starting with small villages and people grilling fresh fish and meat along the banks to the completely virgin gorge and forests on both sides as the boat makes its way up. Be on the lookout for birds and turtles lazing on the rocks, not to mention multiple small waterfalls.
Midway upstream, the banceros stop to get you some snacks. We reached the falls in an hour. Despite all the adventure you had while getting here, you may be a tab disappointed upon seeing the waterfalls – it is small compared to the adventure you just had. But then, after that hour-long ride, we simply wanted to be there, enjoying the water.
But hey, we soon discovered, the best part was yet to come – our Banceros got us a raft that took us right behind the waterfall!!! We rafted into a small cave, completely drenched, and breathless in wonder. Here inside the cave, you can jump off the raft, enjoy a swim and then help the boatmen pull the ropes to go back. This takes about 5 mins but the whole experience of going right next to the waterfall into the cave with the sheer force of the fall hitting you is an experience you will not forget. Charges are around Php 2000 per head, negotiable.
The ride back is quicker – since its downstream but equally exciting. Resorts line up the banks – we were booked at one of them where we had a local lunch before starting back for Manila.
- Do not miss the local San Miguel Beer at the resort
- And don’t miss checking out the pink snail eggs all along the banks and in the docking area.
(Plan your vacation in Phillippines with the help of our series of posts on Phillippines, sight-seeing there, what to eat and what to shop for — Read: Vacation in Phillippines )