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Photo courtesy: www.laguna.gov.ph
Pagsanjan Falls is probably the most famous natural attraction in Laguna. However, it is actually located in Cavinti, an adjacent town to Pagsanjan, and the falls' indigenous name is Magdapio Falls. Pagsanjan, Laguna is the jump-off point to Pagsanjan Falls. You may rent a banca or small boat to take you to the falls or "shoot the rapids." The standard rate is about PhP 1250-1500 pesos per person which includes the round-trip boat ride, entrance fees, and use of life vests. Be prepared to shell out extra for tips to boatmen; although there is a standard rate for the boat ride, you are expected to give extra tip to the boatmen, about PhP 250 per person (according to tourists who already went there).
Skilled and accredited boatmen will take you on a scenic boat ride at Magdapio River in order to reach the main falls, the famous Pagsanjan Falls. They used to be wooden bancas, but nowadays, the boats are made of fiberglass. On the way, you will be treated to the sight of other minor falls (approximately 20 of them), lush vegetation, and natural rock formations. Some say that monkeys occassionally appear and they throw branches or rocks to people, so you better wear a helmet just in case. Once you reach the main falls, you can take a raft ride through the falls and get a natural "back massage." You can also explore the Devil's Cave behind the falls, famous for its reverberating echoes. For the raft ride, you have to pay an extra PhP 90 and tip the boatmen. The highlight of this trip is the rapid descent downstream or what is known as "shooting the rapids'". Be prepared for the thrill of a lifetime as the expert boatmen manuever the boat skillfully through turbulent waters. It is interesting to know that a boatman is required to undergo a rigid six-month training in order to acquire a license/accreditation for guiding tourists on the ride to the falls.
Some tourists recommend visiting Pagsanjan Falls during the rainy season for a more exciting experience - the rapids are more turbulent at this time. But a word of caution: some Korean, Japanese, and local tourists were stranded between rock boulders when they went to Pagsanjan Falls during the rainy season (August). Due to heavy rains, the water level in the river rapidly rose and they were stranded for six hours. The tourists were rescued by local policemen. Fortunately, none of them was seriously injured, sustaining only superficial wounds. So if you plan to go to Pagsanjan Falls during the rainy season, make sure that the rains are light.
Although I have lived in Laguna all my life, I have never been to Pagsanjan Falls. Blame that to negative news in the 1990s about local boatmen robbing foreign tourists and even locals on the way to the falls. However, at present, there has been much improvement in the tourism industry in Pagsanjan; there are no more news about robberies and unscrupulous boatmen. There are also local police officers devoted to the protection of tourists in Pagsanjan. But just the same, if you plan on going to Pagsanjan Falls, pay extra attention and be careful. I might also consider going to Pagsanjan Falls one of these days. Most probably, I will use an alternative route to Pagsanjan Falls via Cavinti, Laguna (see section below for more details). See you there!
To fully appreciate Pagsanjan Falls without the maddening crowd, do visit on a weekday. Also, it is best to go there early in the morning to avoid other tourists and to have a more spectacular view. In this regard, you may want to book an overnight stay in one of the resorts in the area so you can have an early boat ride the next day. It is recommended that you make reservations prior to your Pagsanjan trip. For safety reasons, in order to avoid unscrupulous boatmen, make your bookings through reputable tourist agencies or resorts in Pagsanjan. The following are some resorts offering boat trips to Pagsanjan Falls:
La Corona de Pagsanjan Resort and Training Center
Barrio Pinagsanghan, Pagsanjan, Laguna
Tel. No.: (049)501-1753 / Fax. No.: (049)501-1793
Sales And Marketing Office
2/F Best Western Hotel La Corona
1166 M. H. Del Pilar corner Arquiza Streets,
Tel. No.: 302-2810 / Fax. No.: 521-3909
Pagsanjan Falls Lodge and Summer Resort
Silver Horizon Building 6, San Isidro St., Pasig city
Bgy. Pinagsanjan, Pagsanjan, Laguna
Bring extra clothes with you as you may get wet at any point on your ride to the falls.
Bring plastic bags/ziplock bags to protect your cameras, digital equipment, or other gadgets.
Alternative route to Pagsanjan Falls
If you don't want to stay overnight in a Pagsanjan resort because of budget constraints or if you just want a day trip, you can go to Pagsanjan Falls via Cavinti, Laguna. It is about 2 kilometers away from the falls. This route is much cheaper, but the destination is still the same.
You may opt to access an alternative starting point to Pagsanjan Falls through the Pueblo El Salvador Nature Park and Picnic Grove located in Bgy. Tibatib, Cavinti, Laguna. It will only cost you about PhP 500 for the package boat ride that will take you to Pagsanjan Falls (Pagsanjan town will be your end destination). As an added bonus, you may explore the eco-park with its amazingly diverse forest ecosystem and river ecosystem. According to Cavinti, Laguna's official website, "Pueblo El Salvador's facilities are unique compared with Canopy Walking in Malaysia, Jungle Thrill in Subic, and Botanical Garden of Thailand."
Trivia: Did you know that there is an advocacy campaign to rename Pagsanjan Falls/Magdapio Falls to Cavinti Falls? An Executive Agenda was submitted to the Sangguniang Bayan last Feb. 10, 2009 to rename the falls. According to the resoulution, it is a fact that the world-famous falls is located within the territorial jurisdiction of the municipality of Cavinti, Laguna. Primary data from satellite images support this argument, where images show that the waterfalls is too far away from the Pagsanjan town territorial boundary.
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