From Makati, we woke up early for a sunday drive towards UP Los Banos to pick up a couple of our friends. There were 7 of us in the group, and before we started out towards Luisiana (pronounced Loo-Sha-Na), it was already drizzling. Another half-hour later, it was a full-on heavy rainshower. We were worried if the local officials in-charge of the tours would still allow people to trek inspite of the weather. We have read somewhere that it could get really muddy, slippery and dangerous (for casual explorers) if there’s rain on the day you go.
When we got to San Salvador (the name of the baranggay which is the beginning point of the tour), there were already a lot of people. I guess even the wet weather couldn’t stop people from coming today, I thought.
Before entering the main road, there will be a shed where there are some people in-charge who would ask about the number of participants in your group. You will also be assigned a tour-guide and then you will be instructed to go the to Baranggay captain’s house to register your names and pay 15php per head as registration or entrance fee to the falls).
The road towards the starting point of the trek was being constructed- perhaps for better access in the future. Since the area is actually a residential baranggay, there are plenty of carinderias (small stores) and stalls offering breakfast meals and houses offering shower rooms (for a small fee) for the visitors’ use after trekking to freshen up.
When we did our research, we learned that there are 2 trails towards Hulugan falls- the SHORT and STEEP (which will be about 30 minutes) or the EASY but LONGER trail (which is about an hour). We opted for the shorter trail. We even joked with each other that the trail was a piece of cake- since we haven’t encountered anything ‘steep’ or hard- that is until we did. And boy was it a bit of a challenge, and the prior downpour didn’t help. The slope going down the hill towards the falls was muddy and (very) slippery, yet of course it was still doable- even for first-timers.
Good thing that they have already built some bamboo railings and some make-shift grab-ropes to assist trekkers. Still, we do not recommend that you bring small kids and your senior relatives to this trail, though we have seen several kids with their parents/guardians doing the hard trail- but like I said, better be safe and opt for the easier one if travelling with elders and small kids.
When we started towards the opening to the falls, it started to drizzle again.
We were told that the long and easy trek passes by the river on top of the falls where one can swim as well. There are many rock formations where one can sit and rest, or put one’s stuff, I can also see some people brought lunch and started to have a ‘picnic’ around the area.
According to our guide, tourists started coming to the falls only within the last 6 months (middle of 2015) . Thus they started to pave the road towards the start of the trek for eco-tourism. The visitors are usually local people from nearby towns and some adventure-seekers from other cities, like Metro Manila.
Towering at 235 ft, Hulugan Falls is a sight to behold. And it’s quite amazing how a beautiful wonder like this managed to stay hidden until recently. My friend said that during summer, or when there is sunshine- one can see a rainbow if viewing from the bottom of the falls.
Our trek upwards seemed so much faster than going down earlier. I guess it’s a bit easier to climb and hold on to things on the way up than trying not to fall down while descending. Also, the speed of your trek depends on how many people are trudging in front of you (and how fast are they at it, as well).
We gave our guide 100 php each as tip (this is not required and there is no fixed rate for this), then we proceeded to freshen up and have lunch in one of the houses in the area.
1. Come early in the morning- to avoid the crowds who are probably arriving later than you, like around 6 or 7am. (that means you have to leave around 4 am if you’re coming from Manila).
2. Visit now- more and more people are discovering this falls and now is the time to come before it becomes more commercialized.
3. HOW TO GET THERE: (if commuting)
-From Buendia/taft via Jacliner or DLTB bus bound for Sta. Cruz Laguna. (140php)
-get off Santa Cruz then ride a jeep to Brgy San Salvador Luisiana.
4. Bring a car/van if travelling in a group. (25php)
5. There are 2 options for the trek towards the falls: Short & Steep or Long and Easy. The Easy Route passes by the river on top of the falls, the other does not.
6. Wear shoes or sandals- slippers tend to, well, make you slip easily- especially when the ground is muddy and wet. So…
7. come during the summer, or on a non-rainy day. maybe you’d be lucky enough to see the rainbow!
8. Lesser people come during the weekdays.
9. Registration fee: 15php tourguide: no fixed rate (we gave 100 per pax total of 700php) Use of CR/Shower: 5/10php
10. Be prepared to get sweaty and muddy (if it’s raining). Bring swimming attire just in case you are enticed to swim. Bring change of clothes. Have fun!