It was Adventure Saturday
SB wanted to head back to the falls in Rizal and was interested in a visit to Batlag Falls, which is the sister to Daranak Falls. We stopped in at the shops to pick up some picnic items and headed off into Rizal Province.
The roads are more familiar to me now, as we drove along winding roads, I could recognise sites. Memories from our past year’s adventures. There are so many derelict buildings here and I looked at crumbling walls through the car window, wondering about their stories. Intrigued with the history that speaks here.
A plume of smoke enveloped our car as we drove through a small village. A home was ablaze. People frantically dashing around, as we hoped to goodness that everyone was safe. Fifteen minutes later, much further down the road the screaming fire truck finally passed us by. We felt saddened at the lack of timeliness, knowing there would not be much left to salvage. (On our ride home we got to see the burnt shell that was left, a few flames still licking walls. The home was gone).
We first went to Daranak Falls last year. It was a rainy day so the falls were really going off, the pool a swirling mass of brown churned up water. It was not safe to swim. Images we had seen of this place showed clear turquoise waters with the gentle rushing of water down the lush green cliff sides of the mountain. Today the sun was shining and it was hot. Perfect for swimming in pristine mountain pools.
The drive to Daranak Falls is straight forward and easy to navigate. Once you get to Daranak you pay your entrance fee and walk over the bridge to the picnic grounds. On a busy day like the day we went there are guides working to help manage the crowds and direct people. We were led down to the left of the grounds to a narrow path and followed that a short distance, to a sari-sari. Here we paid our fee for the falls and walked a short distance up a steep path.
The sun was hot, searing. We walked past roosters scratching around the small plot where the caretakers lived and they crowed at us as I said hello. The walk is short, maybe ten minutes. Then our surrounds opened out to a small flat. On one side were the cement cottages for rent and the start of the decline to the falls.
We walked down into a valley and that is where the magic started. As we descended the air temperature dropped and was beautifully cool. The sound of trickling waters filled our ears and the light faded as the tree canopies became thicker. Sunlight filtered through thick leaves and sprinkled delicate sparkles of light onto the ground, glistening off pale clear waters. Glimpses through tree branches showed small waterfalls and clear pools. We walked further along the rocky uneven mountain path and the space opened out to the most stunning waterfalls. I am pretty sure they are the best I have seen so far. The water was turquoise and clear. It was like a secret garden, except with about thirty other people in on it. I believe these falls are about ten meters tall and there are two main pools for swimming. One is shallow at about 4-5 feet deep and the other has a deeper area which is reportedly about 14 feet deep. This is where people jump off a ridge on the Cliff-side. There are other small pools around the area, perfect for small children or those who just want to sit around and relax.
We hired a table under a tree and two inner tubes for the kids to float in. We had some lunch and then SB took the kids into the water. I love the water, but I don’t always feel like swimming, this was one of those days. Instead, I wandered around putting my feet in the icy cold pools, taking photos and breathing in the fresh mountain air and filling my senses with the beautiful symphony the mountains perform. There is nothing quite like being in the presence of water. Whether it is the crashing of waves on the ocean or the gushing of fresh spring falls as they cascade over rocky cliff faces. It is so cathartic to me. These falls were so beautiful because the rocks were covered in moss, ferns and other rain forest plants so the water seemed to appear out of the ground. The rock formations were different, hanging and draping down like curtains turned to statues over time, so the setting was ornate and mysterious with small caverns surrounded by curtains of water, creating curiosity.
Because these falls are a further walk up the mountain, they tend to be less crowded than Daranak. Today however there was a solid crowd. You can actually camp here, and there were small tents dotted around a flat area. SB said it would be super cool to camp overnight. Imagine getting up early in the morning before anyone else and having this place to yourselves, in that gorgeous early morning light. It is such a paradise. One of the most notable joys of this place is how clean it was. It appears to be well maintained so it is free from the usual pollution and rubbish lying around. I cannot tell you how relieved I felt.
It was finally time to leave, the children were exhausted and as we were packing up the Dirty Icecream Peddler came by with the familiar ding-a-ling of his little bell. People lined up for chocolate coated vanilla icecream or cheese icecream. We walked down to the Daranak picnic area before succumbing to temptation to eat the cool treat as the sun was so hot on the other side of the tree canopy we had taken shelter under.
Icecream dripped over small hands as we walked slowly back to our car. Little heads lay on the seat falling into a deep satisfying slumber as we drove away from this paradise found.
Daranak & Batlag Falls – The Details
Location: Tanay, Rizel.
Distance from Manila by car: about 1.5 – 2 hours.
Daranak Entrance Fee: 50php per person
Batlag Falls Fee: 100 php per adult, 50 php per child
Cottage Hire: 300 php
Table hire: 200php
Inner Tube hire: 50php
Take your own food and plenty of water. There are a number of sari-sari’s selling snack foods and soft drinks.