I had my sights on Imugan Falls for quite some time now. Several of my friends had visited the place a year or two ago but I had to be somewhere else at that time. After a few failed attempts to go there, one finally pushed through, this time with a blogger friend (DongHo). It’s a 6-hour trip just to see the falls, a trip I was glad to take.
Imugan is one of the barangays of Sta. Fe, a sleepy town in province of Nueva Vizcaya. Imugan is nestled high up in the Caraballo Mountain Range bordering Nueva Vizcaya and the province of Pangasinan. It’s one of those places where if you look both ways you can see everything. Not much to see there for tourists (except for the waterfalls of course!) but nature lovers would find this remote and rustic village a perfect getaway place . Researchers, both foreign and local, have also been frequenting the place. Imugan, you see, is the only place in the Philippines where they have a carbon trading initiative (in line with the Kyoto Protocol) and a very successful sustainable forest management program.
welcome scene in Imugan
We arrived at about noon on a cold and foggy day. I checked my altimeter: its 950 meters above sea. The trip went well; I remembered reading how bad the road was leading up to Imugan. It took us just about 30 minutes on a tricycle, our driver had no trouble navigating the narrow road (there were a few instances where I swear we were just inches from the ledge) even when the fog reduced the visibility considerably.
We were referred to the Kalahan Dormitory for lodging. It was spartan yet clean. The place is being maintained by the Kalahan Foundation (setup by the community, the whole of Imugan is ancestral domain of the Kalahan tribe).
bridge to the trail (near the dorm)
After a hearty lunch, we set out to hike to the falls. The foggy weather was holding and there was a light shower, perfect to photographing waterfalls. The waterfalls deities must have been favoring us, for the locals mentioned that it was very sunny the previous day.
flowers by the trail
The trail was well established, single track and runs by the side of the mountain. It’s one of the easiest treks to a waterfall I’ve been able to take: no mudslides, no treacherous descents. In fact it was scenic, with one section of the trail lined with flowers and another one with a moss wall.
The fog enhanced the mood of the place. What do you get when you trek with two photographers? A very slow trek! Our local guide was obviously bored.
finally, Imugan falls
When we finally managed to reach the falls, my first reaction was awed fascination of the scene in front of me. I was like a kid who entered a candy store. I quickly ran through a series of mental images: photos of this falls made by other photographers, trying to decide how I’m going to shoot this and from which vantage points.
I figured the best way to do this was to shoot from a distance downstream and then work my way up. Here’s what I got:
There was a trail going up the top of the falls but our guide advised against taking it since the recent rains have made it very slippery.