Location: Panguil River Eco-Park, Barangay Natividad, Town of Pangil, Province of Laguna, Region IV-A, Philippines
Dear Seniors, let me ask you these questions first:
- Do you reside in Metro Manila, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, or nearby areas, and just want to spend the whole day with your family far away from work, school, the traffic and pollution of the city?
- Do you love nature-tripping but do not want to go too far from your home?
3. Are you fond of picnicking? Do you love to bring your signature adobo, steamed rice, vegetables with sweet/spicy bagoong, marinated chicken/pork to be barbecued on-site, fresh fruits, junk food, and whatever else you fancy? Or, are you the type who does not cook at all and who is willing to try native “lutong bahay”, i.e., home-cooked dishes; not gourmet but decent enough dishes, and pay accordingly? If you belong to the latter, no worries, there is a small kitchen in this destination with a local cook. Just tell them when you arrive so they can do the marketing. Seniors, do not forget to inform them of your dietary restrictions (like low salt, low fat, etc.). some dishes you can order in-house (Adobong Baboy, Fried Tilapia and Pinakbet)
- Are you willing to trek 15 minutes for a River Tubing adventure? Or are you game to trek all the way to Ambon-Ambon Falls, i.e., 30 minutes one way, then 15 minutes going back for the River Tubing? Are you out of shape or not sure if you can make it all the way but would like to see and be near the falls? No worries, you can stop and rest anytime/anywhere along the path; trek/walk at your own pace; the guides are very helpful. Seeing the falls is worth the trek!
- Is it okay for you to walk and get wet along the side of the river, climb a couple of rocks (sometimes with flowing water), cross the river about 3 times through a bamboo bridge, and ride 3 bamboo rafts along the way?
- Do you want to personally witness an awesome falls and have a “back-massage” from its thundering water? Or do you just want to soak in the sun, swim/wade in shallow waters with your “apos” (grandchildren) and loved ones?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, then I have a suggested place for you – the AMBON-AMBON FALLS in the Panguil1 River Eco-Park, in Pangil1, Laguna. It would only take about 2 – 2 1/2 hours once you exit Calamba from the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), depending on the traffic in Calamba and Los Baños.
Interested families or groups can go to the Eco-Park any month of the year but, personally, the best months to enjoy this adventure is from October till February, when the water is right for River Tubing, except when there is a typhoon.
Use the Waze app in your cell phone to tell you where to pass. Less techie? No problem, I always advise my visitors going to this destination to just follow the national road and look for directional and feeder signs. Your destination: Pangil1, Laguna!
I suggest you all wear your swimming/trekking attire before you ride your vehicle so it would be easy to start your adventure once you reach the place. Fully charge your cell phones and power banks but designate just one or two cell phones to be brought to the River Tubing/Ambon Ambon Falls. Make sure to place each cell phone in a water-proof container that you can then bring during your trek and waterfall moment/s. You can ask your guide to take pictures while you/your group are under the falls. Do not worry, they are used to doing this, and know the right places to take the shots, as well as how to take care of your device/s. I also recommend applying sun block 30 minutes beforehand to take effect. A pair of reliable, non-slippery footwear that can get wet and still be good for trekking along the set path, walking along the river, and crossing bamboo bridges is recommended. Eat breakfast and finish your morning “ceremonies/rituals”. You can actually stop along SLEX for breakfast and/or clean public rest rooms. Bring bottled water for trekking, if necessary.
Tell your designated driver to just follow the slotted/solid white lines or solid yellow lines (solid lines for no overtaking; better observe traffic rules to be safe) painted at the middle of the road –that’s an indication that you are cruising along the national highway. You will pass through the following towns from SLEX (Calamba exit coming from Makati/Paranaque): Calamba, Los Baños, Bay, Calauan, Victoria, Pila, Sta. Cruz, Pagsanjan, Lumban, Kalayaan, Paete and Pakil. “Marami ba?” (Do you find it too many?) Do not be turned off; you will only be passing through these towns and not going inside any town proper. And, once you exit Los Baños, it’s the end of traffic.
Along the way, just enjoy the view that includes lots of rice fields (stare at the greenery – that is good for your eyes), coconut trees, and even some stands offering local and seasonal fruits. You can stop, bargain some, and maybe buy the fresh fruits you want to munch on the road. You can also buy native delicacies (puto, kuchinta, buko pie, espasol, etc.) in Los Baños. (Note: remember your doctor’s advice, if any, regarding your restricted dietary intake.) Moderation always; nothing in excess, ok?
The road leading to Panguil River Eco-Park — from where you can access Ambon Ambon Falls — does not have a sign ever since the national highway of the said town was widened. But the General Manager told me that a directional sign will be installed soon. In the meantime, just remember that when you reach the town of Pangil (there are directional signs for this along the way), watch out for a short bridge followed by the barangay hall of Brgy. Natividad to your right. Turn right on that small road and just drive straight till you hit the end of the road – that’s it! You have reached your destination!
Entrance – Panguil River Eco-Park, Pangil, Laguna
If you have a big group, or are the type of traveler who is “sigurista” (a person who wants to be sure that all aspects of his/her trip are well organized) like me, I suggest you reserve a cottage or even an air-conditioned room (contact information at the end of this post) to ensure you have the kind of accommodation you and your family could enjoy for the whole day or even overnight (although I have not tried doing the latter).
For smaller groups, you can rent a native hut for eating/resting for day use only. I suggest you designate one person in your group to watch over your belongings in the hut while the others swim/wade, go to the falls, or experience the River Tubing.
There are separate structures for public shower-cum-rest rooms for males and females. Bring plastic bags for your wet clothes/toiletries for easy packing if you will use the public shower rooms. Unfortunately, dearest Seniors, there is no hot water for showers, neither in the public shower rooms nor in the rented rooms. (For me, these are just minor details that will not spoil your adventure of the refreshing and awesome Ambon-Ambon Falls.)
Are you still interested? Then, read on.
You have now parked your vehicle in the designated paid parking space. It is safe, I assure you, just lock your vehicle/s and keep your valuables safe with a designated person/watcher. Better still, do not bring any jewelry.
One person from your group must go inside the Admin. office to pay the required fees. Beforehand, you need to count how many you are in your group (separate the count for adults and children, 5-10 years old). Entrance, Admin Office, Panguil River Eco-Park
Interior of Admin Office, Panguil River Eco-Park
The hospitable staff, Amin Office, Panguil River Eco-Park
The breakdown of fees is shown below. Once payments are made, guides will be assigned to you, depending on how many you are in your group and your desired activity/activities.
You must now carry your things to your rented cottage/room (for overnight) or native hut (for day use). I am sure the guide/s will help to transport your stuff.
Turn right and proceed to the Hanging Bridge
Mini-stores for snacks and basic necessities
You then cross a Hanging Bridge. You can start your selfie/group poses here. For those with vertigo, those who easily get dizzy, or those who are afraid of heights, go slow on this bridge and just look straight ahead; do not look down or sideways.
Left view from the hanging bridge
Huts, viewed from the hanging bridge
The end of the hanging bridge
At the end of the bridge is a round cemented area with the name of the eco-park – another group shot here, for sure! All persons who will go to the falls are required to wear the safety vests. Ask assistance from the guide/s if you have difficulty attaching all clasps, especially the one that goes around the bottom.
The Pasalubong Center to the left of the central round cemented area
More huts to the right of the round cemented area
More huts for rent at the right side of the end of the hanging bridge
Another hut overlooking the cool stream from the Ambon-Ambon Falls
For the not-so-adventurous Seniors, you may opt to just wade in the shallow waters near the rented native huts. Enjoy your “blue space”2 with your “apos” (grandchildren) and other companions. Breathe in the clean air. Savor the cooling effect of the running water, coming all the way from the falls.
Trekking? Gear up! This is how the trail surface looks like
For the more adventuresome Seniors, you’re now geared up to start your trek. Just relax, breathe normally, do not hold your breath. The path goes up and down along the side of the river and you can rest whenever you need to, dear Seniors. The guides will adjust to your pace. Do not forget to take pictures along the way. The guides are more than willing to patiently take as many pictures as you want. Just do not forget to give them a tip later, ok?
You may opt to just walk for about 15 minutes and ask for the River Tubing adventure. It is about a 5-minute thrill of riding on connected inflated rubber tubes.
You can ask your guide to take pictures of your group as you glide downstream to the lower part of this park, near the rented native huts for the day.
Or, you may opt to ask a member of your group to stay on the hanging bridge and to click away as you glide towards the end point of the ride. Then, you can just join the wading people of your group, grab a snack, and share your brief ride downstream. Why don’t you convince them to experience River Tubing too?
For the more fit and “game” Seniors, bring water (to quench your thirst) and a towel (to be used after your “falls experience” just in case “ginawin ka” (you easily feel cold). Well then, brave Seniors, trek onwards, for a total of about 30 minutes towards the Ambon-Ambon Falls.
At certain points, you will cross the river three times over a bamboo bridge, climb a couple of rocks (with or without flowing water, depending on the season), and ride a total of three bamboo rafts till you reach the falls. Ask the tour guide to take pictures of each interesting point of your trek.
You will ride a bamboo raft three times
What’s this, you tell me you can’t swim? Or are you not confident in your swimming skills for the slightly deep part, right before the falls? No worries! Just float facing the sky and your guide will pull you towards the falls through your safety vest. Do not forget to leave your cell phone with the guide so he can take pictures in strategic locations. This way, your group will have memorable shots near/under the falls.
When your group is now complete near/under the falls, pose in unison and tell the designated guide-photographer to wait for your wacky poses, and then some! Keep smiling! Achieve!
You have all reached your final destination – the Ambon Ambon Falls!
You are allowed to stay as long as you want near/under the falls. I dare you to try a hard back massage under the falls (depending on the pressure of the water). This “blue space2” experience will surely be a big hit when you talk about it with your “amigos/amigas” (male/female friends) the next time you see each other back home.
Once you signal your guide that you want to return, he will again pull the safety vests of floating persons who do not want to swim the deep water till they reach the first raft going back. You will go back the same way until you reach the River Tubing spot, after about 15 minutes of trekking. Refer to the same guidelines I gave earlier.
The River Tubing is the last time you will see your guides so I am sure you want to thank them. Please do not forget to give a tip to your guides when you land, ok?
After the River Tubing experience, you can then go back and join the rest of your group in your rented private room (for those staying overnight) or native hut (for day use only). Some may decide to snack, have brunch, or opt to shower/take a bath and change clothes.
Cottages for rent
Separate male and female shower/rest rooms
Interior of female shower/rest room
Camping Site – tents are available for rent
the Pavilion for large get-togethers
I have been entertaining family members and friends through the years in this destination but have not experienced staying overnight. Who knows, I might do it next time so I can share the experience with you as well.
By the way, I always pay for my visits and all comments are based on my repeated experience in this Eco-Park.
I was also told by General Manager (GM) Raymund Diaz about the following additional offerings of the Eco-Park:
1. Massage-Therapy, i.e., Hilot-Wellness Full Body Massage at PHP300 per hour, starting April. This is good news for interested seniors! They have five massage beds and about 20 trained massage-therapists on call. I need to try this!
2. A 200-meter trail leading to a point where one can have a panoramic view of the town of Pangil and Laguna de Bay, along with a bambusetum, a garden with a collection of bamboo plants. This, I’ve got to see during my next visit!
3. An extension of the River Tubing to double the length of the ride so that means double the fun, fun, fun for all to enjoy going downstream! Watch out for it; it is coming soon!
Special thanks to the following for the information shared: GM Diaz, Assistant GM Richmond Samson and Cashiers: Mafeh, Rose Ann and Dhang!
Bottomline, this is an exciting and reasonably-priced day trip for you and your family/friends. This “blue space2” is just about 3 hours (or less, depending on the traffic) from the Calamba exit of SLEX. The air is fresh, so you can declog your urban-polluted lungs. Only basic facilities are offered, thus, do not expect five-star facilities/services. You will definitely feel a bit tired, but fulfilled, from this experience.
Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced going to the Panguil River Eco-Park, either just for the day or overnight? I would like to hear from you. Do post your comment/s below. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device. Thank you!
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1Panguil is the original spelling of Pangil, the town in Laguna, where the Ambon Ambon Falls is located.
2Blue space is the term for visible water needed to improve the quality of life.1 Examples of blue spaces are beaches, canals, fountains, harbors, islands, islets, lakes, marinas, ponds, ports, rivers, streams, and waterfront parks. To know more about blue space, see my post: Short and Simple: WHAT IS BLUE SPACE?