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DIY Guide to Pagsanjan Waterfalls via Cavinti

Updated on April 6, 2012

Cavinti, Philippines

Pagsanjan Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Philippines, probably because it is just around two hours drive from Manila. Normally one would go to the waterfalls by catching a boat via 'shooting the rapids' at Pagsanjan, Laguna for 1250 Pesos. However, we saw a cheaper alternative via hiking the El Salvador Cavinti Nature's Park for 150 Pesos.

So what is the difference between the Pagsanjan and Cavinti Route to Pagsanjan other than the price? And why is the price so high for the Pagsanjan Route?

Well, to start with, Shooting the Rapids in Pagsanjan needs a whole lot of skill from the boatman. The tourist would just sit inside a banca/small trigger boat and just enjoy the scenery with their life vest on and hold on the sides of the boat while the boatman skillfully move the boat away from stones and rapids. It is certified adventure with you not getting a bit tired. The Cavinti Route on the other hand will make you hike and rapel towards the waterfall for an hour. One would still enjoy beautiful scenery but will surely be challenged specially on going back up. But basically you will end up in the same location near the waterfalls in Cavinti.

Pagsanjan/Magdapio Waterfalls

The visible second waterfall of the Pagsanjan Falls. The drop is 120 meters or 390 ft.
The visible second waterfall of the Pagsanjan Falls. The drop is 120 meters or 390 ft. | Source
A statue of Jesus with the name of the Park awaits a quarter hike away
A statue of Jesus with the name of the Park awaits a quarter hike away | Source

Cavinti Route

The Cavinti Trek starts at the El Salvador Cavinti Nature's Park. We were asked to register at their office before we start. After around 10 minutes hike on cemented stairs (and a short muddy path) there was a huge image of Jesus with the name of the park. We saw from the top the colorful boats coming from Pagsanjan. After which we were buckled for a rappel down. Unlike the usual rappel wherein one would have to do a couple of leaps via the cliff or wall, the rappel we did was just to hold the rope while a guide would roll the rope down until the next level of stairs. After the first rappel we continued hiking under huge trees. There was also a nearby smaller falls that we saw. We did a second of rappel and had to walk on thin stairs made of steel. A couple of steps later we find ourselves with the Pagsanjan Boats. We actually did not know that the Pagsanjan Falls was already just around the corner since a huge rock was covering the path. I followed a Korean tourist since the boatman pointed her to that way and the majestic waterfalls came to view!

Trekking the El Salvador Nature Park

Where we had to rappel
Where we had to rappel | Source
All buckled up with one of the guides lowering us down
All buckled up with one of the guides lowering us down | Source
This wonderful view can be seen after the hike down, a bit of a walk to the right side will lead you the Waterfalls
This wonderful view can be seen after the hike down, a bit of a walk to the right side will lead you the Waterfalls | Source
On our way to the back of the falls or Devil's Cave. Sit tight as a 'raft man' pulls you towards the gushing waterfalls
On our way to the back of the falls or Devil's Cave. Sit tight as a 'raft man' pulls you towards the gushing waterfalls | Source
Inside Devil's Cave
Inside Devil's Cave | Source

Devil's Cave

We rented a raft to go behind the waterfalls to Devil's Cave - it was called as such because it looks like the face of a devil. Although personally, I cannot see the resemblance to a devil. It is rather a small cave inside but when asked by friends I recommend to go inside the cave since one could feel the powerful waterfalls splashing on your back as two men pull on a rope towards the waterfalls. Inside the cave we swam for a while and took pictures. When we got tired we sat for a while at the large rocks and marveled at the big curtain-like waterfalls while we waited for the raft to come back.

When we got out of the waterfalls we hiked once more towards the Cavinti Park but this time with much difficulty since we were going up.

Trip Tip:

El Salvador Nature Park can be found at Barangay Tibatib, Cavinti. Contact number +63 9213569492.

Bring a bottle of water during the hike.

Breakdown of Expenses at El Salvador Nature Park:
150P - trek to the falls
90P - raft towards the waterfalls into Devil's Cave
200P - boatman's tip (optional)
300P - guides' tip (optional)

Around Pagsanjan

River Boating can be done at Villa Socorro. The river can be found via a 5 minute trek through a forest trail
River Boating can be done at Villa Socorro. The river can be found via a 5 minute trek through a forest trail | Source
How the 'sabanana' chips are made at Villa Socorro
How the 'sabanana' chips are made at Villa Socorro | Source
A quick picture of the Pagsanjan Church
A quick picture of the Pagsanjan Church | Source
The 18th century Pagsanjan Arch
The 18th century Pagsanjan Arch | Source

Around Pagsanjan and Pila

The Pagsanjan Church was nearby but we no longer went inside. We also passed by the Pagsanjan Arch which was just around a kilometer away from El Salvador Cavinti Nature's Park. It was constructed during the Spanish Era from 1878-1880. We had to stand at the middle of the street to take a picture of the arch.

The Pagsanjan trip can be done in half a day, but for us, we stayed overnight at Villa Socorro also at Cavinti. They had several activities such as River Crossing, Yoga, and local massage called 'Hilot'. There was also a small zoo with a monkey and wild boars. Villa Socorro is known for their 'Sabanana' chips or crunchy flavored banana chips much like potato chips but healthier. They gave us free chips in a native weaved market bag called 'bayong' as a thank you for staying there.

Trip Tip: Address of Villa Socorro is Barangay Dingin, Pagsanjan, Laguna. Contact details are villasoccorofarm@yahoo.com; + 63 9177140508/ +63 9228505101. The room we got was 4500 Pesos, a dorm room for 13 people with two bathrooms.

On our way back to Manila we passed by the heritage houses of Pila and their old church. Lined up were 18th century houses at the plaza and right at the middle was the church. Even their City Hall looked like a historical structure. After taking pictures we hanged out a bit and had our foreign office mate try a 'balut'and 'isaw'. Balut is described by many as one of the most disgusting type of food. It is a couple days old duck chick. Isaw on the other hand could either be chicken or pork intestines, we ate the chicken ones. Oh, disclaimer: she did want to try the unusual delicacies :)

We also got the must-buy's whenever in Laguna - there was a shop along the road which sell the 'Buko'/Coconut Pie, the 'Kesong Puti'/White Cheese, and freshly squeezed Carabao's milk by the liter from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños.

If one still has time, there are other places in Laguna that could be toured such as seeing the paintings in Paete or buying embroidery at Lumban.

I still could not believe that I waited so long to take this trip - it's a must not miss. Imagine, a beautiful waterfalls awaits just a couple of hours away from the city!

Around Pila

the beautiful old church of Pila
the beautiful old church of Pila | Source
the lined-up heritage houses
the lined-up heritage houses | Source
Pila City Hall
Pila City Hall | Source
We were not able to go in, but there is also a Pila Museum
We were not able to go in, but there is also a Pila Museum | Source

Budget and Itinerary in Philippine Peso

Day and Time
Itinerary
Price per Pax/9
Actual Cost
Comments
Day 0 - 1PM
Leave Manila
166.67
1500
Gas
Day 0
Manila to Laguna
18.33
165
Toll: 165P
3:30PM
Check-in at Villa Socorro
500
4500
4500 for 13
3:30-7PM
Explore Villa Socorro
0
0
 
7PM
Dinner at Villa Socorro
150
1350
Plated Meal
7AM
Breakfast at Villa Socorro
150
1350
Plated Meal
8AM
El Salvador Cavinti Nature's Park
295.56
2660
Trek, Raft, Tip
12-1PM
Lunch at Villa Socorro
150
1350
Plated Meal
1-2PM
Check-out Villa Socorro
0
0
 
3-4PM
Explore Pagsanjan
0
 
 
3:30-5PM
Explore Pila
0
0
 
6PM
Explore Los Banos
0
0
Buy take home
8PM
Makati Drop-off
23.78
214
Toll back: 214
 
 
1454.33
13089
: Total

Google Tour Map

Pagsanjan Tour Google map by munchwaffle
Pagsanjan Tour Google map by munchwaffle | Source

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    • munchwaffle profile image
      Author

      munchwaffle 5 years ago from Philippines

      thanks jpcmc :D

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Awesome hub. The budget and itinerary is a great touch. Good call on the cheaper alternative to see the falls.

      I'll be sharing this with the rest of hubpages!