Shooting the Rapids at Pagsanjan

We recently had the opportunity of traveling to Laguna to see the famous Pagsanjan Falls. It is one of the country’s most famous waterfalls, and probably the most famous natural attraction in Laguna. Pagsanjan Falls, which has an indigenous name of Magdapio Falls, is actually located in Cavinti—amunicipalitywhich is adjacent to the town of Pagsanjan.

Pagsanjan,which serves as the jumping-off point to the falls, is Laguna’s tourist capital and the home of the Bankero Festival. It is just 92 kilometers south of Manila.

To reach the falls, we had to rent a banca(small boat) for PhP 1,500. The fee included the round-trip boat ride, entrance fees, and the use of life vests. The trip entails “shooting the rapids”—which is the exciting part of the trip. Worry not because two expertboatmen will be maneuvering the boat as you go downstream. And if it would make you feel any better, aspiring boatmen undergo an intensive six-month training before they get accreditation. It is customary to give each boatman a PhP 200 tip.The ride can be a bit rough during the rainy season (June to November). If you prefer a little less excitement, then go during the dry season (December to May).

Along the way, we were treated to a spectacular view of Laguna’s lovely landscape: a number of minor falls, lush vegetation, wildlife, and natural rock formations.The Pagsanjan Gorge National Park is truly a marveloussight to behold.No wonder the boat ride to the falls has been an attraction for more than a century. The earliest written account of which was in 1894.

It took about an hour before we reached the falls. Once there, we took a raft going to the Devil’s Cave which is behind the waterfall. The raft ride costs PhP 90;again, it is customary to give the boatmen a tip.

ThePagsanjan experience was both inspiring and exciting—a mixture of adventure tourism and ecotourism if you will.To fully appreciate its beauty 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 trip.

By Bruce E. Porteous

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