A bit wary about visiting any waterfall within two hours from Metro Manila, it was therefore with a bit of trepidation that we embarked on a visit to Daranak Falls in Barangay Tandang Kudyo, Tanay, Rizal. Although tucked away in a forested area at the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range, its proximity to the big city made us wonder whether it might have suffered the same fate as Antipolo’s Hinulugang Taktak falls. (For years this waterfall has been the victim of environmental pollution from the surrounding built-up areas although the local government has rehabilitated it last year.)
But after twice visiting Daranak within less than three years it was clear that this waterfall won’t be suffering Hinulugang Taktak’s fate very soon. We were pleasantly surprised to see how clean the whole place is – the falls, its catch basin, the stream and the surrounding forest. This in spite of the fact that the place can get really crowded on weekends, holidays and during the dry or summer season. The local government has been taking steps to keep the area clean including banning plastic and styro cups and containers, liquor and cigarettes.
There are picnic tables and sheds, souvenir shops and dining places but all were erected to blend in with the surrounding environment. A hanging bridge took us from the main entrance over a creek below. After negotiating the bridge we continued on along a paved pathway parallel to a stream leading to the falls. The latter glided over lime-encrusted, light ochre-colored rocks. Beautiful mini-cascades flowing gently into turquoise-colored pools greeted us as we made our way towards the main falls.
The main falls empties into a beautiful turquoise-colored pool. Like many waterfalls in the country, Daranak Falls is sometimes reduced to a trickle – a thin veil of 14-meter high water gushing down the rocks – during the dry season. We’ve visited these falls during both the dry and rainy seasons and observed that the difference in volume of water during these times is such that one would think they are two different waterfalls. The pool or catch basin is usually a colorful turquoise during the dry season but becomes light jade green to yellow green during periods of heavy rain.
There’s a cascade just to the right of the main falls of Daranak that drops down into a shallower pool and is partly veiled by the forest. Several youngsters were frolicking here; the pool wasn’t as deep as that of the main falls and was safer for them. We tried to set up for photographs of this waterfall but with so many people sneaking it and out of the cascade we would end up blocking their way.
Just a short walk uphill from Daranak is a lesser known waterfall. We’ll be covering this on our next feature.