Over the weekend, my officemates and I visited the famed Pagsanjan Falls at Caviniti, Laguna. How was the experience? It was exhilarating and a mixture of all sorts. At the beginning, it was really scary. Halfway though, the experience was just really fun.
Prior to going to Pagsanjan, we have already contacted a resort to facilitate us with the boat ride. As posted by Anton Diaz in his blog, there are several illegal flaggers who will try to convince you to get the boat ride from them. When we stopped to meet our contact, there were indeed several men who approached us and tried to convince us to get the boat ride from them. Our contact directed us to a house which had several rooms for staying there or just for changing clothes. We were not planning to stay overnight so we just used the resort to shower and change clothes.
We were a total of 15 people and so we rented five boats (three persons each). As soon as I sat at the boat, a wave of fear swept over me. I do not know how to swim. I do not trust the life vests which they provided us as those seemed to be just hand made and not of high quality. I was overly sensitive with the slightest movement or tilt of the boat. I was seated in the middle. If the person in front of me looks behind, the boat moves immediately and I was really frightened. I was feeling that way because I do not know how to swim. It actually takes time for one to get comfortable with the boat ride.
About 30 minutes of the ride, the boat was traveling through calm waters. The view of which were the various houses beside the lake. As we went deeper into the woods, we were greeted with various trees and rocks around us. It was a beautiful sight.
After the calm waters were the flowing rapids and huge rocks along the path. These were the parts where the boatmen had to carry the boat for us to pass through. Indeed, it was a difficult task. There were three of us in the boat; surely we were heavy to carry.
A few more meters ahead, there was a stop over for the boatmen. There was small store there selling refreshments to the tourists and the boat men. The food being sold was priced steeply (softdrinks in can for P50). We then proceeded with the boat ride, with the huge rocks becoming more frequent. After about an hour we finally reached the legendary falls.
Of course, we wouldn’t miss experiencing Pagsanjan Falls. For a fee of P90, we rode a bamboo raft which will pass through the falls. The ride promises a once-in-a-lifetime experience of massage under the falls. Tip: It’s best to seat at the left part of the raft. That is the section that will surely be hit by the falls and will guarantee that massage. The feel of the waterfall was so strong. The irony of which is it was also relaxing. The water was cold but felt pleasant to the skin. We stayed for a while inside the small opening behind the falls, feeling the splash of the falls on us.
We then went back and headed to our boats which will bring us to the resort. This time no longer was I nervous. I’ve already gotten use to the feeling of the boat and wasn’t scared anymore. This time also it was easier to navigate through the river as we weren’t against the currents. It was thrilling every time the boat falls down from a high level. The perfect ending: it was raining when we went back.
We gave the boatmen P200 each as tip. Some of the boatmen didn’t ask for a tip. Some dropped hints for a tip. There were signs posted in the bridge that tipping is illegal and must be reported to the Pagsanjan tourism office or to the mayor. Considering that it was a difficult job and they have to wait more than a week for another chance of a boat ride, the tip can be considered reasonable.
The towns of Pagsanjan and Caviniti in Laguna are just two hours away from Manila. Planning a trip there is really quite easy. And best of all, you can cross Pagsanjan Falls from your list of must see spots in the country. I already did.
Boat Ride: P660
Tip to boatmen: P200 each, 2 men in a boat
Raft ride: P90