Pagsanjan Falls: What Goes Down, Goes Back Up

My friends and I found ourselves impulsively wanting to go on an adventure and we chose Pagsanjan Falls since it was relatively near. I decided to do some research and went on various websites to find which packages were the most affordable. However, most packages that showed up online were a lot pricey (roughly P1,200+ per head) and were referred to as “tourist packages.”

I, being a frugal and practical person, researched more until I stumbled upon a package that claimed to be only around P250-P300 per person. My friends and I were even more excited that the package was really affordable that we scheduled our adventure sooner. The package was redeemable at the Pueblo El Salvador Eco Park which was located in Cavinti, Laguna. It included a 45-minute downhill hike, rappelling at 40-feet and 30-feet, a quick raft ride into the falls, and a 1-hour uphill trek.

Two days before our journey to Pagsanjan Falls, we packed and readied several items: our transportation, gasoline (P1200), food, map, first aid kits, clothes, drinking fluids, and a playlist to listen to. It was important that we were ready for any obstacle we might come across which was why we made certain to be extra prepared.

The day finally came and we were extremely excited to go to the falls. My friends and I chose to meet up really early; that way we could avoid traffic. At 5am sharp, we left for Cavinti, Laguna. It was still dark out when we left but on the way, we caught the beautiful sunrise. Travel time wasn’t too long, surprisingly. With the help of Waze and Google Maps, we arrived in Cavinti without getting lost or asking for any directions.

After a few more zigzag roads and narrow entrances, we reached our destination. A huge sign that says “Pueblo El Salvador Eco Park” was put up for all to see. We parked our car, took a bunch of pictures, and then went to the cashier to pay (P270 per head). We were assigned a tour guide and were made to wear harnesses to prepare for the rappelling.

We started making our way to the Pagsanjan Falls downhill. It was a beautiful scenery; we felt one with nature. Although downhill seemed a bit scary because some areas were really steep. After the 15-minute downhill pathway, we were greeted with our first rappelling challenge which was 40-feet. It was a quick session since all we had to do was hold onto the rope and hope that the rope guides had enough muscle to let you down safely.

When we reached the bottom, there was a steel staircase that was really narrow that led you to another rappelling point. This was more challenging since it was steeper and there were more obstacles like tree roots and rocks. Then the second rappelling, which was 30-feet, came and there were more stairs – or ladders, rather. This was the most challenging among all the stairs since it was the steepest, narrowest, and the most difficult to descend from.

It took us around 45-minutes to reach the bottom near the falls – but it was so worth it. The rocks, the trees, the moss, and the water; the view was amazing! There it was, Pagsanjan Falls, in its simple beauty. Eager to go on the raft, we removed out harnesses and put on life jackets provided by the tour guide. We quickly went on the raft and prepared ourselves to enter the falls – and to feel the “wrath” of the Pagsanjan Falls. Truthfully, it was the longest 30 seconds of my life; the falls were pretty strong that you could feel the water tugging on your life vest real hard. I felt like I had to hold on my dear life under the falls.

Inside the falls was a small cave. It was well lighted and gorgeous inside the cave of Pagsanjan Falls. We felt the cold breeze the falls were making. It was really difficult keeping our eyes open as well because the water would constantly spray our faces. But the water felt so relaxing. It was cold enough to refresh our bodies from that extremely tiring 45-minute downhill hike. We stayed for about an hour inside the cave just enjoying its breathtaking surroundings.

After a while, the tour guides asked us to ride the raft once more to exit the cave of the falls. We were told to lie down facing the raft so we could get the “Pagsanjan Falls Massage” and again, longest 30 seconds of my life. It was painful – don’t get me wrong – the falls were beautiful but once you are under it, it hurts because of the pressure.

Once we were out of the falls, my friends and I jumped off the raft while the other tourists left. We stayed and splashed around the pond for a solid 30-minutes to really make the most of our time there. The water was so cool and it was around 40-feet deep, but with our life vests it was easy to swim and splash around. We swam by the rocks and saw tiny little fish that looked like black lines in the water, and above us was a cove-like structure that was covered with moss, plants, and trees. It was such an amazing view that none of us wanted to leave.

Unfortunately, our stomachs started rumbling so we dried up and starting hiking back up to where we started. None of us expected that the hike back up would be so difficult. We had to climb several stairs and ladders that we had to take countless stops just to catch our breath. It took us about an hour and 45-minutes to go back because it was just so tiring. We were so happy when we finally reached our car. We fixed up, got out of our swimwear, changed clothes, and went back on the road. We never though that Pagsanjan Falls would take out all our energy.

On the way home, everyone – except the driver, of course – was passed out. We were all so tired from the trekking and the swimming. However, it was all so worth it. Pagsanjan Falls is such a great place to visit and I do recommend this place for people who want a quick getaway.

Want to make a visit to Pagsanjan Falls? Here are some quick tips:

1.Do some intense research. Make sure you know where you’re headed to and what you’re heading into.
2.Pack light. You may leave stuff in your car if you brought your own transportation but if you didn’t, pack as little as you can. The hike will be so much harder if you have heavy items.
3.Wear something comfortable (and not so provocative) – and preferably wear your swimsuit already. This will save you so much time and you’ll be able to pack less.
4.Waterproof bags are recommended for your valuables. Just in case it rains or you stumble upon a wet area your valuables will be safe.
5.On the hike, please don’t bring too many items. Bring only what’s needed: water (or any drink), a medium-sized towel, a cap, slippers, some clothes, and your valuables (but please secure them).
6.Enjoy and appreciate Mother Nature. Don’t litter in the area and don’t take anything that’s part of the forest as it is prohibited.
7.Wear your sunblock or sunscreen prior to the hike.
8.If you are asthmatic, have any heart problems, or have any trouble breathing please consult with the Pueblo El Salvador Eco Park’s employees beforehand; and prepare any inhalers and medicines beforehand.
9.Make the most of Pagsanjan Falls. Don’t stay there too short just because the tour guides told you to leave; instead, ask them if you could stay a bit longer. Better to ask that regret leaving too early.
10.Have fun. Have as much fun. Take pictures, absorb the beauty, look around you, and just be in the moment!

Soy Ruiz is a 19-year-old passionate musician, adventurer, and gastronome. She's currently a student of the University of the Philippines and hopes to one day travel the whole world.

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