Best waterfall day trip near Manila

In last week’s newsletter and blog, we talked about some of the amazing day trips near Manila. As we highlighted, there are some of the best places in the Philippines right in our own backyard. For some strange reason, not many people go to some of these places. However, with a little encouragement and planning, it is amazing how much interest there is when it comes to exploring some of these hidden gems. And this is what drove the birth of Deztiki Tours. I also talked about how each week, over the next 12 weeks, we will discuss each of the specific adventures we went on and the shenanigans we got up to as part of Deztiki Tours.

The first day trip near Manila

The first place that we visited was a place that I found looking through some travel blogs on the internet. I was searching for day trips near Manila and decided to narrow the search to waterfalls. Most people have heard of the famous Pagsanjan Falls. This is probably the most popular waterfall in the Philippines and one of the most well-known Philippines destinations. Pagsanjan Falls is certainly a place not to be missed. However, I was able to find some hidden gems in the same area and one of these was Buntot Palos Falls.

Located in Pangil, Laguna, one of the things that stood out to me was that Buntot Palos Falls is relatively unknown. Therefore, it was unlikely to be overrun with tourists. This made it very attractive as a destination for a day trip near Manila. After talking to my mate Wally about planning a day trip, we soon had several other friends express interest. So on January 10, 2015, eight fearless individuals set out on this hike. For various reasons, we ended up going down in 3 separate cars from Manila. Including stopovers for toilet and food breaks, the drive took about 3 hours.

day trips near manila

During one of our many roadside toilet breaks on the way to Buntot Palos Falls, curiosity got the better of this cow….

It’s the journey, not the destination – or is it?

Upon arrival, we were greeted by some park officials at Pangil Eco Park who provided some guides for us. As we were a relatively small group, we only needed two guides. I read on the blog that it was about a 2-hour hike to get to the waterfall. This didn’t seem too daunting at the time. However, this was one of the most challenging hikes I have ever been on. It wasn’t so much the distance that was the challenge, it was the condition of the terrain.

The first part of the hike wasn’t that difficult as the terrain was fairly flat, but as we began ascending the mountain, the walking track became narrower. As a result of some recent rain, it was very muddy and slippery. To make matters worse, there were a few local people on horses heading up and down the trial which left the condition of the trail in certain areas almost impossible to pass.

day trips near manila waterfall

This shows how narrow the trail can get. The horses don’t help by churning up all the mud along the way.

We all started off hiking together in one group but the further we got into the hike, the more we separated. I was enjoying the views as we were hiking up the mountain. Every few hundred metres I was stopping to take photos and take in the scenery along the way. The others were a little more excited to get to the waterfall and powered ahead. One of the guides stayed behind with me and he was my absolute lifesaver. Without him, I possibly may have injured myself on the slippery track. I’m sure I most certainly would have got lost as there wasn’t any signage along the trial.

So near yet so far

Eventually, after slipping and sliding up and down the trail for a couple of hours, we could hear the water pounding down from the waterfall in the distance. However, the most challenging part was yet to come. The last few hundred metres before the waterfall were so difficult to negotiate, they had actually tied a rope to the trees along the side of the trail. This allowed you to hold onto the rope like a railing, as you negotiated the twists and turns as the trail descended down towards the bottom of the waterfall.

day trips near manila

So near but yet so far. We could see the falls, and we could hear them, but the trail for final descent was very treacherous and challenging.

By the time I slipped and fumbled my way down to the waterfall, the rest of the group had already been enjoying their lunch and refreshing themselves in the water. As I approached the waterfall, I couldn’t believe how loud the water was as it pounded down onto the rocks below. Covered in mud and sweating like a trooper, I eagerly ripped off my shoes and singlet and jumped into the rock pool below the falls. The water was so refreshing and all my thoughts about the return journey soon slipped away.

day trips near manila

Finally, we were all reunited at the pounding waters of Buntot Palos.

After having some lunch and a couple of beers it was time to make the trip back. I must say, we weren’t looking forward to tackling the last portion with the rope handrails. However, and much to my surprise, it was actually easier getting up than it was going down. It was naturally still very slippery and potentially dangerous but thanks to our guides, we were able to negotiate this section without any major problems.

All downhill from here

After a slightly more casual walk on the way back, we got to the car park and enjoyed a few more beers that awaited us in the icebox of my car. During this time, our guides told us about Pangil River Eco Park a little bit further up the river. As it was only a short driving distance away, we decided to go and take a look. It was quite a nice and unassuming little place with some nipa huts built along the river bank. There were a number of locals enjoying themselves in the fresh river water which was all the encouragement we needed. We decided to take a quick dip to once again clean off all the mud and crap we had accumulated on the way back from the falls.

With darkness fast approaching, we decided to pack up our gear and head back to our vehicles. Lucky it was only a day trips near Manila. For the drive back, we decided to try a different route. This time, we headed north up through Rizal, hugging Bay De Laguna all the way up to the outskirts of Manila. We were lucky to be blessed with an unbelievable sunset on the way back. This made us particularly thirsty, so we stopped for a couple of beers as enjoyed nature’s masterpiece unfolding before our eyes.

day trips near manila rizal sunset

What an amazing sunset overlooking Laguna De Bay.

Day trips near Manila well worth it

All in all, we had a fantastic day. It was very challenging and somewhat painful, but no one had any regrets about it. We got to see and experience a truly majestic waterfall, clean fresh water, an unbelievable sunset and enjoy a few beers amongst good friends. This was the birth of Deztiki Tours and there are plenty more day trips near Manila to come. Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter and blog with our second instalment – an unbelievable trip to Mt. Pinatubo, the site for the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century!

Fast Facts:

Registration Fee is P100 for Pangil Eco Park. Tip for a guide of P200 is standard. All the guides are excellent and know every single pebble along the way and are a must-have.

Buntot Palos falls is about 75kms from Makati, going around the north side of Laguna De Bay (R5), and is about a 3-hour drive. This makes it perfect for day trips near Manila. The landmark area to look for is Pangil Eco Park.

From Manila, you can take a bus bound for Infanta, Quezon Province and get off at Pangil, Laguna. The trip will take about 3.5hrs and cost less than P300. From there, you can take a tricycle to Pangil Eco Park.

Make sure you are well prepared for the hike with plenty of water and make sure you pack a towel and change of clothes so you can take a dip at the waterfall. Believe me, you will need it when you get there! Make sure you have good running shoes or hiking boots also.

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