The Philippines is blessed with a number of beautiful waterfalls, but nothing can compete with Kaparkan Falls in Abra. As of this writing, I’d been here twice and I was still amazed the second time! Here’s my experience and travel guide to Kaparkan Falls in Abra.
Kaparkan Falls is also known as Mulawin Falls. Locals already know about its existence for years, but it was only in August 2015 that it was “discovered” by an outsider. It has since been part of Abra’s top tourist attractions.
Kaparkan Falls measures approximately 1000 meter high. It’s literally a high-terraced waterfall, filled with a number of small basins. The water in Kaparkan Falls eventually drains down to Tineg River.
- My trip to Kaparkan Falls
- How to get to Kaparkan Falls
- When is the best time to visit Kaparkan Falls
- 1 Day itinerary to Kaparkan Falls
- Other places to see
- Where to stay in Abra
- Things to bring in your trip
- Reminders and Tips
- Budget and expenses
- What to read next:
My trip to Kaparkan Falls
My first trip to Kaparkan Falls was back in 2017 and then again in 2019, when JV of Gala PH invited me to be tour coordinator for one of their groups.
From Manila, it takes 8-9 hours to reach Abra. The registration is located in Bangued, but the actual location of Kaparkan Falls is Tineg, another municipality a few hours away.
In the registration site, tourists are required to submit requirements (registration and waiver form) and then attend a short orientation. These are the important points of the orientation:
- Kaparkan Falls is relatively undeveloped, and the road going there is difficult
- The monster jeep/truck may get broken down on the way.
- You need to be sure you know what you’re getting into.
My first trip to the falls was grueling and this is the reason I didn’t write about it immediately. I didn’t think it would be safe to promote it at that time. However, in my last trip, I noticed that the roads had improved, with a long stretch of rough road now cemented and easy to pass by. However, the majority of the route going up to the falls is still dirt road and it’s not confirmed whether the local government plans to create an accessible road all the way to Kaparkan Falls.
It isn’t my first time to ride a monster jeep or truck, but I can imagine that it’s a novelty for those who haven’t tried it yet. In my last trip, I sat beside the driver — I believe this is the most comfortable seat, since it feels less bumpy on rough roads.
The first hour ride from the town center was smooth enough — the route passed by several barangays, towards a pastoral hillside with huge boulders.
From here on, the road stops. We stopped for a while so the driver and his companions could secure chains to the tires, so the vehicle can safely maneuver through rough mountain roads. Then it was 1 hours of bumpy, uncomfortable ride. I liked to compare this to a theme park ride, except it seems never ending. On occasions, the vehicle tipped sideways as it made its way across rocky routes.
I find that it’s normal to scream — out of fear or surprise. At one point I even prayed that we’d get there safely. Periodically I’d also laugh with the rest of the group, in adventurous spirit or nervousness.
The monster jeep/struck stopped at the jump-off point.. From there, it’s only about 15-20 minutes of easy trekking down Kaparkan Falls.
Once you set your sight on Kaparkan Falls, you’ll know that it’s worth the trip.
It’s a majestic sight to behold — layers and layers of white limestone terraces, filled with basins of water to bathe on. The waterfall stretches down to the river below that it’s impossible to capture it in a single frame.
On days with good rain, the basins brim with emerald-green water. On drier days, the water is either clear or muddy. This is one of the reasons why Kaparkan Falls is best visited during the first onslaught of the typhoon season.
Regardless, Kaparkan Falls is beautiful.
In my first trip here, I stayed at the pools beside the entrance to the falls. In my second trip, I went with the group to see more lagoons at the bottom. The trek was just 10-15 minutes, but it wasn’t easy. We had to climb down limestones with running water. Imagine a set of stairs, but with running water in it. It felt amazing to experience that.
At the bottom of the terraces, there are three aqua-blue lagoons. I was happy to finally see these — I missed them the first time because I skipped the trek down. It’s a good place to swim and take photos.
Further down is the Tineg River. Unfortunately, it’s not allowed to swim in the river since it’s dangerous.
For 3 hours, I bathed in pools, took pictures, and climbed down the terraces.
Kaparkan Falls is one of the most unique waterfalls in the Philippines. Despite the challenging routes, it’s worth going here. The limestone terraces are out of this world, and in my opinion its remoteness only adds to its pristine beauty. I can’t help but compare it to other better-known falls such as Kawasan Falls in Cebu or Tinago Falls in Iligan — both beautiful but whose immediate vicinity is filled with market stalls and tables for tourists.
Interestingly, Kaparkan Falls also holds mystique. When I first went here, an acquaintance and I were taking photos when we noticed a guy by one of the pools at the camera screen. We looked at the spot but there was no one there. We checked the camera screen again, and there he was! I couldn’t remember our reaction at that time — I think we were speechless. I told this to other travelers and I’ve heard similar experiences — a certain presence felt. Someone told me there’s a guardian at Kaparkan Falls.
Overall, visiting Kaparkan Falls is a memorable experience.
How to get to Kaparkan Falls
Kaparkan Falls can be found at Sitio Kaparkan, Barangay Caganayan, Tineg, Abra.
- From Cubao, ride a bus (Partas or Dominion) going to Bangued, Abra (8 hours, about P730).
- Once you arrive at the bus terminal, take a tricycle to the place of orientation (either at DWPH headquarters or Farinas restaurant).
There you will need to complete a registration form and waiver. You also need to attend a short orientation about Kaparkan Falls.
After registration, you can either ride a monster jeep or truck or trek to the falls.
Via monster jeep or truck
This is the easiest way to get to Kaparkan Falls. From the town, ride a monster jeep or truck to the jump-off point. The ride takes 3 hours, including 1 hour on cemented road and about 2 hours on a rough mountain trail. It’s not an easy route. It’s uncomfortable and bumpy.
From the jump-off point, you need to trek for 15-20 minutes to Kaparkan Falls.
As an alternative to the monster jeep/truck, it is possible to trek to Kaparkan Falls! Trekking time is about 8 hours.
When is the best time to visit Kaparkan Falls
Kaparkan Falls is only open for visitation during the rainy season. This starts from June/July up to October/November depending on the duration of the rainy season.
The best months to visit are July and September because the constant rains fuel up the streams. If it’s still open in November, expect it to be relatively drier.
For the rest of the year, Kaparkan Falls is closed since the waterfall is dried up.
1 Day itinerary to Kaparkan Falls
Here’s a sample 1 day itinerary to Kaparkan Falls, Abra.
|Day 0||9PM ETD Manila to Bangued, Abra|
|Day 1||5AM ETA Bangued|
5AM – 5:30AM Breakfast in town proper
5:30AM – 6AM Orientation
6AM – 9AM Ride to Kaparkan Falls
9AM – 12 noon Explore Kaparkan Falls/lunch
12 noon – 3PM Back in Bangued
3PM – 4PM Wash up
4PM – 6PM Explore Bangued or nearby towns
7PM ETD Manila (ETA 5AM the next day)
Personally, I suggest staying overnight in Abra. Getting from Manila to Bangued and then going to Kaparkan Falls can be very tiring. With a 2-day trip, you can visit side trips on your way back.
Other places to see
If you still have hours to spare, you may explore the various municipalities in Abra. Here are the notable places to see:
- Bangued: Abra Provincial Capitol, San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine, Victoria Peak at Casamata Hill (Abra signage), St. James the Elder/Bangued Cathedral, Acosta Pansiteria (where you can taste Abra’s famous miki)
- Tayum: Gabriela Silang Gallery of Fine Arts, St. Catherine Cathedral, Don Mariano Bridge
- San Quentin: Tangadan Tunnel, pasalubong center
- Bucay: Layugan Gardens (10,000 tulips)
If you’re going to stay 2 days in Abra, you may also visit other attractions such as: Barusibis Falls, Lusuac Spring and Lobot Eco-Park. Alternatively, you may do your side trips in Ilocos where you can visit Pinsal Falls in Sta. Maria or Vigan.
Where to stay in Abra
If you’re going on an overnight trip to Abra, here are the best places to stay:
If you’re going to stay in Vigan (Ilocos) instead, you may search here for discounted rates of hotels in Ilocos Sur.
Things to bring in your trip
Here are the things you should bring on your visit to Kaparkan Falls:
- Reusable bottled water
- Dry bag for gadgets
- Insect repellent
- Change of clothes
Take note that small bottled waters are not allowed. It’s best to bring a reusable water bottle since there is a water source you can use for refills in Kaparkan Falls.
Reminders and Tips
Here are some things you have to know:
- The carrying capacity of the waterfall is 100 pax. Each batch is given 3 hours to enjoy the falls. If you arrive late in Bangued, you might be queued to the next batch so I suggest getting there as early as possible.
- After arrival in Kaparkan Falls, you may get a guide to lead you to the blue lagoons below. Make sure to give your guide a generous tip!
- Wash-up area can be found in DPWH or other nearby establishments in the town proper.
Here are my personal tips:
- You may ride a monster truck or jeep. If the latter, there are seats available in the topload section. I suggest not going topload as it’s uncomfortable and you may be subjected to extreme weather (heat or rain).
- Wear durable shoes or sandals. The limestones in the waterfall are not slippery, but if you’ll have to step on running water which can easily break a flimsy pair of sandals.
Budget and expenses
Here’s a summary of rates (updated as of September 2019):
- RT fare for 4×4 monster jeep/truck: P1000 per person
- (If you choose to trek) Guide fee: P1000 for 1-4 pax
The whole budget depends on whether you’re going on a DIY or packaged tour.
DIY tour to Kaparkan Falls
If you’re in a group, you might want to do a DIY trip. If so, take note that you will have to secure your own slot for visiting Kaparkan Falls via tourism office. If you decide to take the monster jeep/truck, reserve a slot with Abramazing Tours.
Here are some reminders:
- Walk-ins will not be entertained.
- It’s best to reserve months prior to your planned schedule as slots tend to fill up.
For DIY tour, an estimated budget for a 1-day itinerary is P2800 per person.
Packaged tours to Kaparkan Falls
I recommend getting a packaged tour for ease and convenience.
A packaged tour usually includes Manila-Abra transfer, meals, transfer from Abra town proper to Kaparkan Falls, accommodation (for overnight trips), and miscellaneous fees. Food is usually excluded.
For packaged tours, the usual rate for a 2-day itinerary is about P3000 or more per person.
For joiner/exclusive tours, I recommend booking your tour with Gala PH.
For any questions related to your trip, you may contact the following:
- Ador Pudol, Provincial Tourism Officer: mobile: 09263593623 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Has this travel guide to Kaparkan Falls been helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below!
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).