Hulugan Falls Laguna, let’s find out what all the hype is about.
In late 2015, the Filipino Backpacking community was set alight with excitement when a picture of a newly found waterfall in Laguna was posted in social media. Before too long backpackers were heading to the falls and posting about their experiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The buzz had started, the word was out and we couldn’t resist the temptation to see this natural wonder ourselves.
Hulugan Falls Laguna
Woke Early To Start The Day
I had set the alarm for 4.30 am and after hitting the “snooze” twice I was able to drag myself out of bed by 5.00 am to start preparing for the day ahead. After catching a bus to Sta Cruz and arriving around 9 am in front of the Sunstar Mall, we were able to grab a quick snack before jumping into a jeepney heading to Brgy. San Salvador in Luisiana.
The ride to Brgy. San Salvador was a little drawn out and I found it easy to doze off a few times before arriving at the jump-off point. It is easy to spot the turn off if you are driving because there is plenty of signage as you approach from either direction.
Near the waiting shed you will find an Information Desk where you are assigned a guide. Once you have your guide you will be taken to “sa Bahay ng Kapitan” (or the Captain’s House). Here is where you register and pay the entrance Fee of P20. The wife of the Brgy Captain came out and briefed us on safety warning us about the trail slope, slippery rocks and such.
There are shower stalls and comfort rooms near the Captain’s House so make good use of them now… there are not many from here on. P15.00 for use of shower. P5.00 for answering the call of nature. Also there are some mini carinderia in the area selling Bibingka (must-try) and Tapsilogan. Get some light snacks to take with you if you can but try to limit the amount of extra gear you carry as you might regret taking too much later on.
From there you can either walk to the trail or catch a tricycle. We decided to catch a tricycle and support the locals (P10). The road was newly paved making the ride pleasantly smooth. Making it to the path, we began our downward descent being guided by bamboo rails (the slope was quite steep but not dangerous).
The Descent to Hulugan Falls Laguna
The trail going to the Falls has two alternatives – you can either take the long winding path or the more direct but steep path. When our guide asked us, we took the direct path. Please note that this path is steep and can get quite slippery when wet.
The first 20 meters of our descent was the most difficult as the spacing from one step to the next was unusually large so a bit of care was needed. Bamboo railings are in place along the trail to provide support as required. Soon you reach a left turn and have to climb over and along rocks. Some of the rocks did have slippery moss on them so please be careful and wear proper foot wear. The rocks stretch for about ten meters and then the trail descends to the river. The path along the river can get muddy at times so be prepared. Also, as you are walking along the trail, if you start to feel light rain falling, don’t worry, it is usually just the stray from the falls being blown by the wind over the surrounding area.
We Finally Arrived
After a good 40 minutes of trekking we had finally arrived at Hulugan Falls Laguna. We visited the falls in April which seemed to be a good time. It wasn’t too wet or muddy but the falls had a good flow of water to produce a good waterfall and not just a trickle. But, the bigger the falls, the greater the mist spray. When we were there, everything was getting slightly wet by the spray so it is advisable to cover or waterproof what needs to stay dry.
There is a naturally formed pool around the base of the falls that is deep enough for swimming but be careful as the water is not clear and there are many rocks in the area. Diving is definitely NOT ALLOWED and there is an active lifeguard who is quite happy to use his whistle when he sees people doing the wrong thing. Also, to my surprise, the water was quite cold so I wasn’t able to stay swimming for lang periods of time before needing to get out and warm up.
Arrive At Hulugan Falls Laguna Early
I advise you to go there before 6 or 7 am so you can have a little solitude and get some good pictures before the crowds start arriving (usually around 8 or 9am). Our tour guide told us that usually on weekends, the number of visitors is around 1,000. A lot of people for a smallish area.
Bring only the necessities like your personal hygiene items, medicines, bottled water and a change of clothes. Remember, there are no toilets or wash rooms in the area. When we were there I saw a few groups struggling to make the trek, cross the river and climb the rocks with picnic gear. At the moment this still has basic access.. In time to come when it becomes commercialized the access will be greatly improved and the fees will go up and it will become partially spoiled. At the moment you will see litter that visitors have left behind (it is not a lot but it is there and it is a real shame).
At the moment these falls are not for the general picnickers or family outings. There is a paved access road and an area to park but the trail to the falls is still raw and un-developed. This is a good thing for the adventure lovers, hikers and bush-walkers because it limits the amount of visitors and crowds. There is no doubt, these falls are as massive as they are beautiful. If you have been to Pagsanjan falls and liked them, you will love these. In my humble opinion, Hulugan is much prettier and far less commercialized. For all those who love nature – This is a must!
How Much To Pay The Guide?
The guides don’t ask for a set amount of money for their services: They simply ask for “Whatever you think is enough compensation”. This leaves the ballpark wide open. How much is “enough compensation”? We thought P500 was fair and paid him that but talking to other people it seems most pay P650 or more. I don’t want to seem kuripot but I still think P500 was a fair amount for the time he spent.
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How To Get There
- Ride a bus going to Sta. Cruz from Buendia or Cubao Stations. You might also find some buses enroute Sta. Crus in Edsa. Fare is P140.
- Alight the bus in front of Sunstar Mall.
- From across the street beside Sunstar mall is a jeepney terminal. Ride one going to Lucena which departs every 30 minutes. Fare is P30. Asked the driver to drop you off in Brgy. San Salvador.
- Drive south in SLEX taking Calamba exit.
- From the toll gate turn left passing through the bridge then follow the National Hwy going to Sta Cruz, then to Pagsanjan and Cavinti.
- Upon reaching Brgy. San Salvador turn right at the street with a signage of Hulugan Falls.