Weekend Ride to Daranak and Batlag Falls


I woke up early as planned and prepared myself for the road to visit Daranak Falls with my cousins, but the weather had been unaccommodating. It would mean another weekend of missing Daranak Falls after the unplanned turn to Calinawan Cave the other week. But learning from my Ditumabo Falls experience, waterfalls are majestic at its best after raining cats and dogs. So I found no reason not to push through "dahil walang makakapigil sa'men!" (in pabebe voice).

Daranak Falls signage


READ ALSO: Chasing Ditumabo Falls, the Mother Falls of Aurora

Daranak Falls


After hours of downpour, the weather finally gave way around 10AM so we arrived at Daranak by noon. As expected, the resort was already bursting with guests. Several blogs suggest that the best time to visit Daranak Falls was on a regular weekday or early morning of a weekend when the falls sits on a serene setting.

Signage pointing to the waterfalls
 PHOTO: Courtesy of Elaine Arago

Nestled between the mountains of Sierra Madre, Daranak Falls stands 14 meters high, cascading its waters to a wide 30 feet deep catch basin with jade green waters where visitors enjoy a refreshing cool bath. If not crowded with guests, the falls' continuous gush and verdant walls provide a tranquil atmosphere.

Verdant walls surrounding Daranak Falls
 PHOTO: Courtesy of Elaine Arago

Daranak Falls is a perfect escape for families and barkadas as well as bike or motorcycle riders. Getting there takes only about 2 hours from Manila without traffic (except for bikers), driving through paved roads and a short rocky downhill path going to the resort's main gate and adequate parking area. Entrance fee is of minimal amount. There are native huts and picnic tables with grilling areas around the vicinity available for rent. Kids and non-swimmers may enjoy the deep natural pool with rubber floaters, also available for rent for the whole stay. Souvenir and variety store, shower areas, comfort rooms for changing clothes, and other necessary resort facilities, name it, Daranak Falls has it. However, my cousin found the required P20 per use of the comfort room unreasonable.

Daranak Falls, Tanay
 PHOTO: Courtesy of Elaine Arago

Getting a cottage was not a plan, but the resort does not allow visitors to just leave their belongings somewhere around the vicinity. We would not do that either considering the huge number of resort guests around.

I am not a fan of destinations teeming with visitors. Hence, I only took photos of the falls and waded on a shallow area for just a couple of minutes to at least feel its cool waters. A little dissatisfied with the trip, we were about to leave and drive to Laguna until I remembered Batlag Falls which was said to be just around the corner.

[ More of Daranak Falls photos here ]

Batlag Falls


As I roamed around to ask about how to get to Batlag Falls, I walked across a wooden bridge that leads to a fenced compound and voila! "Batlag Falls", a signage read. Daranak and Batlag waterfalls are nestled in the same mountain, where Batlag is the sister upstream of Daranak, that is, urines of Batlag visitors flows down onto Daranak Falls. But unlike Daranak, Batlag Falls is situated on a privately owned property, thus, a separate fee has to be paid upon entry.

Welcome to Batlag Falls signage

A 5-minute uphill trek within a thick forest brought us to the falls. In contrast with the lively ambiance of Daranak Falls, Batlag seems to be a once-developed-then-abandoned resort as certain facilities such as a demolished comfort room, corroded picnic tables, an empty swimming pool, and damaged wooden pathways can be seen around the calm vicinity. Imagine a former civilization claimed back by nature. That's how it feels like. A kind of seclusion I had been craving for. Batlag Falls nailed it!

Barely trickle Batlag Falls

Batlag Falls has two natural pools. One is a wide 5 feet deep basin where the oddly-shaped main waterfall cascades its waters and the other one is a smaller 15 feet deep basin where a smaller waterfall gushes down. Extra care is necessary when jumping and swimming into the deeper pool because of several sharp-edged submerged boulders.

Smaller waterfall of Batlag
Main waterfall of Batlag

A row of concrete cottages, which was a bit far from the falls, and wooden picnic tables near the pools were available for rent, but it was not required to get one. We just left our things under a tree standing beside the swimming area while another group has their tents pitched on the other side. Like Daranak Falls, Batlag also has rubber floaters for rent, so our little boy Enzo was also able to enjoy the waters and the mini-cave at the foot of the main falls.

Small cave at the foot of Batlag Falls

During my confab with the guide-cum-lifeguard in Batlag, he mentioned that there was a cave near the upstream of Batlag Falls but they do not encourage visitors to go there during rainy season. He also narrated his recent experience when he acted as an extra during a taping with actor Derek Ramsay. Batlag Falls, as well as Daranak Falls, has been a location of several movies and TV shows through the years. A notable one was Starzan, a 1989 movie starred by comedian Joey de Leon.

[ More of Batlag Falls photos here ]

From Manila to Daranak Falls


By private vehicle:
  • Take Manila East Road. Turn left to Sampaloc Road in Tanay as soon as you reach the intersection with Flying V and Shell gas stations, then turn left to Daranak Falls Road. There were plenty of signages pointing to Daranak Falls so you won't get lost.

Commuting:
  • Catch a shuttle bound to Tanay public market in EDSA Shaw terminals. Fare: 60-70 Pesos; Travel time: 2-3 hours
  • Rent a tricycle for Daranak Falls. Fare: around 150 Pesos, one way trip; Travel time: 30 minutes

My cousin back floating in Batlag

Travel Notes

  • Daranak Falls is open from 8AM to 5PM everyday. Overnight camping is not allowed in Daranak, but you're good to go in Batlag.
  • Entrance fee (Daranak): 50 Pesos adult/child
  • Entrance fee (Batlag): 100 Pesos adult; 50 Pesos child
  • The only way to Batlag Falls is through the gate of Daranak Falls so you'll pay twice if you fancy Batlag.
  • Other fees (Daranak): Picnic Shed (native huts) - 300 Pesos; Picnic Table - 200 Pesos; Photo shoot (E.g. pre-nup pictorial) - 1500 Pesos
  • Other fees (Batlag): Cottage - 200 Pesos; Picnic Table - 150 Pesos; Overnight fee - 250 Pesos
  • Diving into Daranak Falls' 30 feet deep basin is prohibited. But I'll bet you'll not be able resist its inviting cool waters.
  • Loud music, alcoholic beverages and guests under the influence of alcohol are not allowed inside the resort.
  • Take a side trip to the nearby Grotto and Calinawan Cave.

READ ALSO: Sudden Turn to Calinawan Cave

Verdant walls of Batlag Falls

I got a bit dissatisfied with Daranak Falls only because of the crowd that time. Nevertheless, the falls was indeed a great sight to behold. I could have enjoyed its serene atmosphere if only we were able to arrive earlier as planned. Thanks to Batlag Falls that served as the saving grace of the trip. Its quietude has been a channel to commune with nature and unwind from the anxieties of everyday living. Experiencing the contrasting characteristics of Daranak and Batlag waterfalls for the first time whipped up some frustrations but certainly, I was able to get the best of both worlds.

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