Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Apocalypse WOW: Road Trip to Pagsanjan Falls.

The highlight of our road trip where we passed through three provinces – Rizal, Laguna and Quezon – was of our travels to Pagsanjan Falls, one of the Philippines’ most prized waterfalls.

Fun Fact #1: Stretches of the Pagsanjan River was used in the filming of the movie Apocalypse Now.

Fun Fact #2: Pagsanjan Falls isn’t really located in Pagsanjan, but in Anglas, Cavinti, Laguna. And the people of Cavinti refer to the falls as Magdapio Falls, or Cavinti Falls.

Once we arrived in the town of Pagsanjan and asked for directions to the falls, we were bombarded with illegal flaggers – in other words, unaccredited boatmen - who approached our vehicle trying to arrange a trip to the falls in their boats. We quickly rolled up our windows and made a U-turn towards the town’s tourist office as men wildly chased us on foot and bicycles.

After we made it inside the town’s tourist office, glad to have escaped the erratic behavior of the touts from outside, we were told that Pagsanjan Falls was only accessible by bangka (canoe) – and for the hefty price of 1200 pesos ($28 USD) per person, excluding entrance fees and tips.

Psh! There had to be another way, I thought.

After viewing a map, I noticed a road that followed the river all the way to Pagsanjan Falls. Not believing that the falls was only accessible through an expensive canoe ride, I suggested to Sheila that we drive as close as we could to the falls then simply ask a local the best way to access it. Overhearing me suggesting this to Sheila, the employee from the tourist office mentioned that there was, indeed, another way but that it was dangerous.

Calling her bluff, we said we’d take our chances and left.

[Knock, knock. Anyone home? Sheila asking for directions]

Just like I’d suspected, there was another way to reach Pagsanjan Falls (found in Anglas, Cavinti) – and for much less than the cost of hiring a boatman.

How much less, you ask?

Get this: The cost was only 150 pesos ($3.48 USD) per person. This included a guide, harness equipment for safety, and a free ride on a bamboo raft to – and through – the falls.

Whoa. Now that’s more like it.

But, that said, the trek down the ravine isn’t for the lighthearted by any means. It’s a strenuous trek, down steep steps and a few enclosed 90-degree metal ladders in which you have to be strapped onto a harness for safety.

[**Warning** Avoid massive spiders in between handrails]

Once we made it to the bottom of the ravine, I could see why director Francis Ford Coppola chose to film Apocalypse Now in this location. Pagsanjan Falls is situated in between a massive gorge, and the river snakes its way through beautifully green scenery.

After a tiring trek to the falls, we took a bamboo raft THROUGH the phenomenal falls and into a cave that hid behind it. Quite refreshing, indeed.

Pagsanjan Falls or Magdapio Falls or Cavinti Falls, or however the heck you want to call it, is a must see destination if visiting the Philippines. I'm so glad I got to see it.

You'll leave the falls saying, "Apcocalypse WOW."



  1. Adam: I see that you are travelling the world. You may want to check out this website on my blog: "Tomahawks Adventure Travel and Survival"--he is travelling the world, also. It is on the lower right of my blog. Tomahawk has a lot of experience in survival in all kinds of conditions.

  2. Thanks, Tim! I'll check it out. Where are you these days? Are you picking up Wi-fi as you're hitching through the good ol' US of A? haha. I'll have to check out your book when I return.


  3. Right now I am Jackson, Wyoming staying with some friends for the night. I was up in Montana for a few days. It got down to 25 below 0 last night. It should warm up some tomorrow--all the way up to 21 degrees--I may have to take my shirt off and get a tan.

    I am able to use the Internet at the library or at my friend's place.

  4. You're in a nice area, at least during the summer. I've never been to Montana, but I would really like to see it. Send me your email address, Tim, I have some questions for you regarding Montana. Here's my email: adamjdaigle@gmail.com