The Philippines, being a tropical country will never run out of waterfalls. They are available in varying degree of heights and widths. Laguna, a province south of Manila is no exemption. This province is home to many mountains, hills, waterfalls and lakes that are a favorite destination for nature lovers. It is indeed blessed with the gift of nature.
Nestled right at the foot of Mt. Banahaw in Barangay Bukal in the town of Majayjay is the enchanting Bukal Falls. It is actually both a spring and a waterfall. The huge cascade of water dropping from the rocks on top of the main catch basin of the spring will show its might during or after the rain. On normal days, you can still see water flowing in a lesser volume. Don’t get fooled, never let this natural cycle of Bukal Falls disappoint you. In whatever situation the waterfall is in, it will never fail to amaze you. Trust me!
Jewel on the Foot of Mt. Banahaw
With all the waterfalls that I have been to in the Philippines, this one surely is on the top tier. It is a pristine jewel sitting right on a trail that is not too hard on the joints. The water in the catch basin is ranging from crystal clear turquoise to green emerald to sapphire blue water. Just how clear it is? With its depth, you can actually see the bottom of the pools. The main pool is approximately 14 feet deep. Perfect for cliff jumping or diving. That is if you can brave the cold, it is freezing cold!
To visit this majestic nature creation, all are required to register at the barangay hall of Bukal. The local officials will provide you with guide because no one is permitted to go to the vicinity of the waterfalls unless you are accompanied by a local guide. Even though the trek is relatively easy, you have to exercise caution for safety reasons.
From the barangay hall, you will walk or ride until the end of the paved road and you will continue trekking on a narrow but paved trail. There is no major assault. The first part of the trail is just slightly sloping upwards. Passing by a store, you will be greeted by fields made as vegetable gardens. You will pass along the plants and continue walking towards the end of the trail. From this point, it will already be sloping downwards.
Just after the field, you will reach the first step of the concrete stairs. You will use the stairs to descend safely. Other parts of the trail are rugged. Railings or
barriers are in place to help you keep safe. The hike is approximately between 30-45 minutes, so that is relatively short distance compared to other falls I have been to. After a few steps down the stairs, you will reach a stream and you need to cross it. The locals built a bamboo bridge so no worries. When the volume of water is heavy, you can already hear the gushing of the flowing water while descending the stairs.
After crossing the stream, you will again find yourself ascending on steps on the other side of the mountain. The sound of the unrestrained water is very loud at this point. It gives you the excitement that finally, you can see and enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls. Always take extra precaution. The large rocks surrounding the area are wet and covered with moss. They’re slippery.
This is now becoming popular to weekend hikers or trekkers, so you should expect that the falls is a little busy at times. However, most of them can’t stay long near the basin of the spring because it is too cold. If you are lucky enough, you will find yourself alone to enjoy the place in a few minutes before another batch of weekend warriors will show up.
How to get there:
From Metro Manila take a bus (Php140/person) bound for Santa Cruz, Laguna. At Santa Cruz, ride a tricycle (Php25/person) to the public market where you can hop on jeepneys (Php35/person) bound for Majayjay. At Majayjay ride another tricycle (Php20/person) towards the Barangay Hall of Bukal. Total travel time could take up to 3-4 hours. Fares me vary or change slightly.
Let’s peg the USD to PHP conversion to: USD1.00 : PHP50.00.
Going there through your own car is easy. Waze and Google Maps will lead you straight from your location to Bukal Barangay Hall. It could take around 2 hours from Metro Manila.
If you are going to ask me how high is the falls? I am not sure. But the picture above taken by Redentour (Instagram) can help you scale its height by referencing on the lady standing at the lower right.
- Registration Fee is Php20 per person.
- Guide is required for Php300, I think for maximum of 5 or 6 persons in a group.
- Overnight stay maybe allowed at the campsite. But the area is limited, so if you are planning to stay for the night, go early and pitch your tent. Please confirm this to the local council.
- No restrooms and shower rooms available in the waterfall area. You can ask the locals near the jump-off point if you want to use one.
- Bring your own food. Any form of cooking is not allowed.
- You can rent a life vest for Php50. I can say it’s a must even if you know how to swim.
- It is better to go on a weekday. It can get crowded on a weekend of during holidays.
- Contact number of the local council 09282168279 or 09301332309.
Bukal in the Filipino language means SPRING. The main pool or catch basin of the waterfall is a pure spring. No matter how many people will dive or swim in it, it will never get muddy or unclear. It stays crystal clear. My smart phone camera can never give justice to the beauty of this waterfall.
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