The Philippines is blessed with a lot of beautiful waterfalls, but nothing can compete with Kaparkan Falls in Abra. Also known as Mulawin Falls, it’s one of the recently discovered attractions in this province.
Kaparkan Falls was already known to locals in the area, but it was only in August 2015 that it was found by an outsider and 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
As of today, I’d been to Kaparkan Falls twice. The first was in 2017 when it was still relatively new and most recently this 2019.
One of the notable things about this trip is the long commute. From Manila, it takes about 8-9 hours to reach Bangued in Abra, which is where the registration takes place (the actual location of Kaparkan Falls is in Tineg, which is another municipality).
From there, tourists are required to give in requirements (registration list, waiver form) and attend a short orientation on what to expect. If I’m going to summarize it, it’s this: Kaparkan Falls is relatively undeveloped, the road going there is difficult, the monster jeep/truck may get broken down on the way, be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Indeed, this is the very reason why I didn’t write about Kaparkan Falls immediately after stepping foot on it the first time. In my recent trip however, 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 this nature attraction.
The monster jeep/truck is a novelty ride so it can be fun if it’s your first time getting on one. The 1st hour ride from the town center is smooth enough — the route passes by several barangays and then towards a pastoral hillside with huge boulders.
From here on, the road stops. The monster jeep/truck needs to secure chains to the tires so it can trudge through the path in the mountains. It’s 2 hours of bumpy, uncomfortable ride which I like to compare to a theme park ride. On a number of occasions, the vehicle would tip sideways as it makes it way across rocky areas.
It’s normal to shout or scream in fear or surprise, pray, or laugh in either adventurous spirit or nervousness.
The monster jeep/truck stops in 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 in July or September.
Nonetheless, Kaparkan Falls remains beautiful.
If the main waterfall area isn’t enough (which it should be), you can also trek down for another 10-15 minutes to see more lagoons. The trek is interesting as well, since you have to climb down limestone terraces with running water. (Imagine an ordinary set of stairs, but with running water in it. It felt amazing to experience that.)
In the bottom there are three aqua blue lagoons and then further down the Tineg River. Unfortunately, it’s not allowed to swim the river since it’s considered dangerous.
For 3 hours, I bathed in pools, took pictures, climbed down waterfall layers.
What’s the secret of Kaparkan Falls? I’d talked with other travelers who’d been here and a lot of us have similar experiences — a presence felt. One told me that there’s a guardian at Kaparkan Falls.
Travel Guide to Kaparkan Falls
Here’s everything you need to know about Kaparkan Falls in Abra! Rates and other info are updated as of September 2019.
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, as well as attend a short orientation about Kaparkan Falls.
You will be fetched by either a monster jeep or truck. From the town, it will take 3 hours to reach the jump-off point to Kaparkan Falls (P1000, round-trip). Take note that this is not an easy route! It entails 1 hour on cemente road and about 2 hours on a rough mountain trail. It’s uncomfortable and bumpy.
From the jump-off point, you need to trek for 15-20 minutes to Kaparkan Falls.
When is the best time to visit
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.
DIY vs Packaged Tours to Kaparkan Falls
You can visit Kaparkan Falls on your own or get a packaged tour.
If you decide to visit DIY, you will have to arrange your own transportation to Abra and secure your own slot(s) for visiting Kaparkan Falls. Take note that walk-ins will not be entertained. Instead, you’ll need to reserve for a slot for a 4×4 monster jeep/truck.
It’s best to reserve months prior to your planned schedule as slots tend to fill up.
Abramazing Tours is the one who arranges the slots for monster jeep/truck used to get to Kaparkan Falls.
If you get a packaged tour, everything is already taken cared of (Manila-Abra transfer, meals, transfer from Abra town proper to Kaparkan Falls and accommodation for overnight tours).
For joiner/exclusive tours, I recommend booking your tour with Gala PH.
1 Day itinerary to Kaparkan Falls
Here’s a sample 1 day itinerary to Kaparkan Falls, Abra.
9PM ETD Manila to Bangued, Abra
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 even visit side trips on your way back.
Side trips to Kaparkan Falls
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 (to 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
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.
Reminders and Tips
Here are some things you have to know:
- As an alternative to the monster jeep/truck, it is possible to trek to Kaparkan Falls! Trekking time is about 8 hours. Guide fee is P1000 for every 1-4 guests.
- 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 guides 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 choosing to sit there 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.
Things to bring
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.
Budget and expenses
For a DIY tour, an estimated budget for a 1-day itinerary is P2800 per person.
Packaged tours to Kaparkan Falls cost about P3000 or more per person.
- Ador Pudol, Provincial Tourism Officer: mobile: 09263593623 / email: [email protected]
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