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March 19, 2010

buntot palos: laguna's hidden falls


Buntot Palos Falls

The thundering sound of water falling from a 40-meter drop filled the huge gorge as the warm afternoon sun made the cliff walls glow. The volume of water flowing down belied the fact that it is currently summer here and the ongoing drought (brought about by the El Niño phenomenon) has wreaked havoc across the country - drying up watersheds and lakes, and reducing once magnificent waterfalls to a trickle. Buntot Palos (literally translates to “Eel’s Tail”) seemed to be immune from the effects of the drought.

DSC_3644-1000
trident form (notice the people for scale)

Buntot Palos is more popularly known (and aptly named too) as Hidden Falls among the locals. Situated on the edge of the Sierra Madre mountain range in the lake side town of Pangil, its close proximity to Manila makes it an ideal destination for hikers and mountaineers. Although it’s not as popular a camping destination as its neighbor Mt. Romelo (which boast of at least 5 waterfalls, including Buruwisan Falls), rappellers frequent the Hidden Falls for its vertical walls.

It rained for a few days before I trekked there with a fellow outdoor photography enthusiast. The light rains (which did not mean the end of the drought, as the weather bureau clarified) brought a brief respite from the summer heat and refilled the small streams and springs. But it meant a muddier and more slippery trail. The trails, which are shared with horses and (water) buffalos, had been battered with hooves; mud in some portions is half a foot thick. Our guide assured us that the trail’s condition is still good compared to how it is during the rainy season. (Photo above courtesy of a hiking buddy, Christian dela Cruz)

The hike was comfortable, no drastic elevation gain. We manage to reach the campsite within 2 hours of moderate hiking. We got to the campsite first; setup our tent and made coffee before another group arrived. Soon the small campsite (which can accommodate less than 20 2-person tents) was full.

The drone of the rushing water can be heard from the camp. It’s a still a few minutes hike down to the falls on steep trails. A portion runs through some slippery boulders and ropes are in place to aid climbers.

It was almost noon when I was finally able to get down to the falls and do an ocular. The midday sun prevented me from getting any useable photos. I slipped on the way down, hit my padded bag on a rock and somehow cracked by circular polarizer. Luckily my lens was unharmed. So I ended up shooting with just an ND8 filter.

Subdued
more subdued lighting

After lunch we made our way down the gorge again for another try at photographing the falls. This time the passing clouds helped, covering the sun and acting like a softbox. The remaining challenge was to find a suitable POV one without people in them. By mid afternoon almost everybody from the campsite was down at the falls enjoying its cool water. With long exposures, most of my photos have “ghosts” in them.

Closer
a closer look

We stayed a bit late and waited for the sunset. I was able to take a few exposures with the remaining ambient light before it got too dark. One group foolishly remained (and they don’t even have flashlights!) and got lost on their way back to the campsite. They wandered aimlessly for more than 2 hours before being found by the search party.

I woke up early the next morning and hiked down (again) while the rest were still recovering from the “effects” of last night’s socials. Lighting was great after sunrise. The waterfall faces the northwest so it’s back lighted at sunrise but an hour after sunrise the whole gorge is filled with soft even light.

Buntot Palos after sunrise
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Lantaw
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39 comments:

Shey said...

WOW!, as usual awesome compositions & captures. I agree that it seems oblivious to the drought. But I hope it will rain there soon for the sake of those places where its really dried up.

luna miranda said...

in our current weather, i just wanna go to this waterfalls and soak. the last photo is like a dream...

Lantaw said...

@Shey, i hope so too! thanks for dropping by ^^

@luna, im sure you'll enjoy the waters of Buntot Palos :), but you have to be ready to hike a muddy trail first ^^

Kat said...

Wow, amazing pictures! And it looks like a great summer destination :)

bertN said...

It is a beauty of a place! I hope the campers are responsible enough to take out what they brought in and leave no trash behind.

Ebie said...

Wow, the falls is so gigantic! And the drop is high! Nice photography as usual.

P.S. I started hiking and a little rock climbing last week. Now I know how it feels to be up there with nature. My second hike will be tomorrow to Mt. Hollywood.

bertN said...

If that is the volume of water at the falls during summer time and an unusual drought period, it must be a spectacular scene during the rainy season. I wonder how deep the mud is going to be along the trails though.

drlilac said...

Hi! Great blog! I have a travel blog too. I'd like to link you on my
blog. Is that ok? Salamat :)

Photo Cache said...

wow naman ang galing ng shots.

Sylvia K said...

I always take a deep breath before I open your post, because I know your photos are going to take my breath away and you've done it again! Incredible! I particularly love waterfalls and this one is gorgeous! I hope you have a wonderful week! Thanks for sharing the beauty of your world!

Sylvia

J Bar said...

Amazing shots of the waterfalls.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

January said...

wow! super galing naman! awesome pictures as always!

Japa said...

Impressive photos.

Jenn said...

Stunning photos (as usual) and a great article to boot. Good to hear that it rained, but am no fan of muddy trails. Never heard of this place, hope to visit one of these days.

noel said...

aloha,

what an incredible place it looks like a fantastic place to end a hike. thank you for showing us a little bit of your world for tuesday...

have a good remainder of the week.

Simplified said...

Two thumbs up, migs! I'm your newest follower.

Simplified said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lakwatsera de primera said...

I knew it, your photos are spectacular as usual ;-)

monic said...

i lived for almost 10 yrs at the foot of that mountain. (Paanan ng bundok..haha) and sadly my parents never let me experience Hidden Falls or..Buntot Palos..my first time knowing its othher name.. ahhaha.. its cool to see it for the first time. the pictures were very cool.

Homer Patricio said...

Great pictures....but very depressing. Buntot Palos used to be so majestic, pristine and untouched. If you could have taken her picture 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Wow..! Nice shots pre! I was amazed of how you captured the whole powerful rush of the falls. It inspired me to go visit that place when time permits.

Anonymous said...

wow! can't believe what I just saw. this is my home town. if you need advice about this place,just let me know. Im Jm del castillo from pangil laguna(but manila base). im willing to help my hometown for it's exposure. my facebook account is sanchez_roman2k7@yahoo.com

thank you^_^

Anonymous said...

great pics ;)

Anonymous said...

pupunta me dyan.

Cagayan de Oro map said...

Wow. such a nice waterfall. These pictures can be used as postcards!http://www.cdokay.com/

Anonymous said...

Great shots! pwedeng pang-postcards!

love_mella@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

galing kami jan kahapon (April 28 2011) Ang ganda ng lugar pero sana ung mga nagsstay dun ndi iniiwan yung mga kalat nila. sarap ang lamig ng tubig! malalim pa! sarap lumangoy! :)

FB: hot_papas69@yahoo.com

Cielo said...

Wow, I know there's a waterfall in Laguna but I never knew it's as beautiful as this. Who took the picture? He/she got a skilled hands.It makes me to have the urge to go and visit the place as soon as possible to watch it myself.

melvin said...

sir pano pumunta sa buntot palos galing kmi calamba comuter lng kc kami dipa namin alam sakayan papunta sa palos my guide bah dun sir? asap

Carol said...

This really amazing! I like all the pics and places that you go to.. I really like it a lot.. maybe you can arrange for hiking tours.. would really be interested in joining.. affordable and fun adventure..:) God bless.. Travelling mercies to all your adventures..

Lantaw said...

Thanks Carol! Maybe I'll do that again one of these days. I lead photo safaris before, but have gotten quite busy with other stuff nowadays

Eric Valmoria said...

kakapunta lng namin dyan gayon khit may Tropical depression.. grabe ang lakas ng agos kpag hind tag tuyo..! sobrang lalim pa ng tubig at malamig..!

it4u said...

got there this april 18-19 2012. ang ganda. doon kami mismo sa pinagbabagsakan ng tubig. ang sakit sa balat. parang ulan. saglit lang ang pagakyat kesa sa buruwisan falls. kami lang ang tao sa camping site.

Edgardo Ilag said...

sir baka po may itinerary kayo nyan. mapagplanuhan nga yan.TIA

Lantaw said...

Sorry, I don't have one.

Faye Cruz said...

Was it really hard to trek there? We want to go there this saturday. But it will be my first time to trek or hike :)) thanks :)

Lantaw said...

@Faye, not really, but if it rains then the trail becomes muddy. Mud makes it a bit challenging :)

Anonymous said...

we went there last week, the mud is at ankle length at the worst. a quite slippery trail

Lantaw said...

its muddy but fun, right? :). How was the place? I bet the waterfall is incredible large this time of the year

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