Laguna is known to have some of the most beautiful waterfalls for tourists and adventurers who want to escape the Manila city life during the weekend. Only recently has there been access to one of the most beautiful “hidden gems” in the area, Hulugan Waterfalls in Laguna. This waterfall has only been accessible to the public since September 2015, so I won’t be surprised if you have not heard of it yet.
I first came across this waterfall when a fellow adventurer friend of mine posted photos on his Facebook. I quickly messaged him and asked where this beautiful waterfall could be found. When he told me that it was just in Laguna, I did my research and quickly planned an itinerary with my friends for a birthday hike.
I wasn’t sure what level of fitness was needed prior to going there as there still wasn’t a lot of information about it online, so I invited my friends of different ages and fitness levels (from potatoes to fit fanatics).
We met up in BGC, Fort Bonifacio at 5AM and started making our way at 5:30AM. We were quite a big group so we rented a van to get us to Brgy. San Salvador, Luisiana.
The trip to the Information Center of Hulugan Falls took us 2.5hours from BGC. If you have been to Pagsanjan Waterfalls, it is only 10minutes drive further down from the entrance of Pagsanjan. We passed South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), but there is another option to pass around the lake through R-5. This is an easier option if you are coming from Quezon City.
When we reached the Information Center, we got ourselves two tour guides (as we were 17 people in the group). You don’t need to book any tour guides prior to the hike, there are many designated locals who are ready to take you to the waterfalls at any time. There is a small entrance fee of PHP 10 ($0.20) which is also a tourism fee.
When we went there, it was drizzling so it wasn’t the easiest day hike I have experienced. You go through bushes, farms, large water streams, steep ascends and descends, and sometimes even need to get your hands dirty and go on all fours to climb up and down boulders. This hike is definitely not for the “nerbyoso”, or nervous in English, as it can be quite risky for first timers. If you’re up for the challenge, it is going to be a fun and adventurous experience, guaranteed. Half of my friends in the group were first time hikers, and they all had an amazing time despite having found it slightly challenging.
We all ended up with a few grazes because it was very muddy and slippery, but that did not stop us from having a good time. We started hiking at 9AM so we had enough time to finish all three waterfalls. If you come a little later, you may only have time to visit one waterfall.
First Falls: Talay Waterfalls
The hike to Talay was the easiest, it took us around 30 minutes from the Information Center. Standing to view the waterfalls is quite slippery and steep, we were almost struggling trying to fit 17 people by the waterfalls to take a group photo. One of my friends who did not know how to swim slipped and fell in, and luckily the tour guide and I were close by so we were able to pull him out of the water. It is quite deep so it’s not advisable for non-swimmers to play around the area.
Second Falls: Aliw Waterfalls
The hike to Aliw was a little more challenging. From Talay Waterfalls, you need to climb up boulders and even use rope to get to the falls. It’s only 20 minutes from Talay, but you need to use your arms and legs to get to this waterfall. It could pass as a core workout as well as you need to make sure you are constantly balanced.
If you know how to swim, you are allowed to swim by Aliw as there is a big pond below the waterfalls which you can bask and refresh in. Normally the tour guides will not allow it, as it can be risky, but if you tell them that you know how to swim, then they will allow you.
Third Falls: Hulugan Waterfalls
The hike to Hulugan was the steepest of all. From Aliw Waterfalls, you needed to make your way back halfway to where you started from and take another route down. It was very slippery, but they put bamboo railings to hold on to. We got there around 1PM, and it was very crowded as there are many people who arrive around that time. The crowd started thinning out at 2PM, so if you want to go there when it’s more peaceful, either go there really early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
What to Wear:
Hiking shoes or good grip workout shoes
Yoga pants or stretchable shorts (you’ll be climbing boulders)
Fast drying t-shirts/ tops
Black or dark ankle socks (so it’s easier to clean mud-stains after. Low cut socks are not advisable as small particles might go inside your feet and make the walk uncomfortable)
Things to Bring:
Hydrating liquids: water, juices or electrolyte drinks
Lunch (there are tables and chairs by Talay Waterfalls)
Trail Snacks (high energy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits)
Waterproof backpack (or secure all your items inside plastic bags)
Sunscreen (it may look shady but you can still get a sunburn)
First Aid Kit (band aids, antiseptic)
Towel (you will definitely get wet)
Swimming gear (optional)
Spare clothes (as you will either end up muddy or wet from the rain)
When to Visit:
For an easier hike, it would be better to visit during the dry season, but if you want to capture Hulugan when it is at its most beautiful state, it is best to visit during the rainy season as the water is more flowy (June – November).
For more tips on how to start your first hike in the Philippines, please visit the blog article here.