There are two Casaroro Falls in Valencia, Negros Oriental, Philippines — Casaroro Falls and The Original Casaroro Falls.
This blog post discusses both of them.
Those seeking the scoop on how to find The Original Casaroro Falls can skip down to that section – but you really should consider both these neighboring waterfalls (and a third) if you are going there and seeking some hours of adventure.
Both waterfalls are easily plotted on Google maps. Both are beautiful, powerful, and potentially dangerous. Both involve descending, then climbing upon return, about 320 steps.
Further, both falls are accessed from the nicely paved, steep mountain road that goes up from Valencia, past the cock fighting arena, and dead ends at the Casaroro Falls parking area.
No scheduled public transport takes the road to theses falls. But a one-way tricycle ride from the center of Valencia was quoted at 200 pesos (about $4 for up to three people). Single motorcycle taxis (faster) from Valencia charge 100 pesos ($2)
Warnings about access
WARNING: Do not attempt to explore either Casaroro Falls or The Original Casaroro Falls by any method except the approved access paths mentioned in this article.
Both waterfalls are at the bottom of huge cliffs with dense jungle above. There is no possible way a person could get down to either falls without serious injury or even death if not using the approved pathways.
Further, as stated above, both waterfalls are in extremely steep ravines which can and do flood. Do not visit either falls during periods of heavy rain. You do NOT want to be in these river beds during high water or a flash flood. There is no safe high-ground or any way in or out except on the paths discussed in this blog post.
What is called Casaroro Falls is a majestic, well-visited, 100-foot high waterfall that is a moderately strenuous walk for anyone in decent physical condition.
There are lots of reviews and photos and information available online about Casaroro Falls. Ours will be brief.
As already mentioned, the road from Valencia ends at the parking area of the large restaurant and bar and small tourist information office near the top of the steps to Casaroro Falls. Admission is 30 Philippine pesos (.60¢) as of March 2020.
The steps down to Casaroro Falls are solid, poured concrete – in excellent condition. And the steepest part of the decline is done via a sturdy steel staircase (like a fire escape). The whole descent/ascent has hand rails and places to pause for a breather and some limited views through the thick jungle.
At the bottom of the stairs, a poured concrete walkway follows the river bed to the waterfall. The walkway is mostly level and smooth. There are also a couple river crossings done on well constructed bamboo bridges with railings. It takes about 15 minutes to come down the stairs and slightly more than 5 minutes along the river bed to reach Casaroro Falls.
Be advised, the final 200 feet to access the falls pool and the swimming and jumping area is NOT paved. Visitors must traverse dirt, sand, stones, and cross the small river. Your feet will likely get wet if you intend to go all the way to the base of Casaroro Falls.
At the base of Casaroro Falls
Anyone not wanting to get close, or travel the unpaved part of the path, can stay back at the final bamboo bridge and take in a marvelous view of the falls and surrounding gorge while feeling the wind and mist that swirls in the whole area.
If you do go all the way to the falls pool, there is a scattering of huge rocks which are great for seating. Through those rocks you can also enter the pool at the base of the falls. The water is refreshingly chilly but the current is too powerful (and dangerous) to actually get to the falling water.
Still, taking a dip and even jumping from some ledges along the right-hand side of the pool is easily done.
Tip: water shoes are recommended as there are some rough submerged rocks at the edge of the pool.
In my opinion, Casaroro Falls is a spectacular waterfall that shouldn’t be missed if you are exploring the bounty of natural attractions around the Dumaguete and Valencia areas.
The Original Casaroro Falls
Unlike Casaroro Falls, there is hardly any information available online regarding The Original Casaroro Falls. In fact, you are probably here because you couldn’t find any other source.
No problem. As early retired, budget travelers – Earth Vagabonds – we’re happy to share what we know.
And it did take us some time to figure this info out. We were living for a month on the mountain above Valencia and it wasn’t obvious how to visit The Original Casaroro Falls. We kept asking locals about a hiking trail. First we were told “the path is broken.” Eventually we got some specific directions.
Warnings on The Original Casaroro Falls
First, please read the WARNING near the top of this article again. It applies even more to The Original Casaroro Falls. The cliffs appear steeper and the ravine is even narrower. Venturing off the approved trail or visiting during a high water event could be FATAL.
Second, we would also highly advise exploring The Original Casaroro Falls with a partner. Hardly anyone goes down there (as evidenced by the lack of info).
The path to The Original Casaroro Falls is more treacherous than Casaroro Falls. If you fall or twist an ankle or need some assistance – it’s likely none will be coming.
Finding the trail, descending the ‘stairs’
With that being said, the truth is, the hike down to The Original Casaroro Falls – on the approved trail – is only slightly more strenuous than to the popular Casaroro Falls discussed above. In fact, my mom – a grandmother of nine, wearing a dress – had no problem getting to The Original Casaroro Falls. (Granted, mom is quite fit and an experienced international hiker.)
The trail might be “broken” but it is not closed. It seems probable the locals just want to discourage unfit tourists from this hike when the much easier Casaroro Falls access is right up the road. Nonetheless, mom and I made the trek down and back in about three leisurely hours.
The main issue at The Original Casaroro Falls is that the 300-plus steps that go down to the river bed are NOT concrete or metal. They are instead individually placed sandbags. Big sandbags. Actually, large cement and rice bags refilled with sand and generally leveled to make a stairway.
There are also areas of dirt trail and some uneven ground and many areas without any kind of railing.
Tip per mom: a good walking stick is extremely helpful.
Down by the river…
In addition, once you get down to the riverbed (which could take 20 minutes via the sandbag stairway), there is no further manicured walkway. Instead, visitors must navigate a mixture of dirt path, boulders, and a few flimsy bamboo bridges as they walk at least another 30 minutes upstream – in the riverbed – to The Original Casaroro Falls.
It’s a real nature hike. Not especially difficult, but a good bit harder and more time consuming than the easy walk to Casaroro Falls explained above.
Thankfully, the path is quite obvious and there are some arrows that have been painted on some of the boulders to confirm your heading.
It is also stunningly beautiful scenery. The path to The Original Casaroro Falls follows and cross-crosses the river and at least four or five other smaller waterfalls and natural swimming holes on the way to The Original Falls.
We saw no other visitors. But at one point, there is a small wooden shack near a bamboo bridge. A guy lives there – with dogs. He was barbecuing and had laundry hung to dry. I gave him a couple bucks and thanked him for keeping the bridges usable.
At The Original Casaroro Falls
After about 20 minutes of slow walking and boulder hopping you notice an audible roar and then get the first glimpse of The Original Casaroro Falls. It’s huge; a powerful and dangerous plume of pouring water — about 75 feet high. Mesmerizing!
Getting right up to the falls pool takes another 10 minutes or so. The rocks are jagged, some slippery. It’s a slow go – but worth it.
At the falls, you are inside a huge cylindrical chamber. There is a small cave extending to the left side. I did take a dip in the cool, small falls pool. No jumping is possible. The current and wind prevent you from getting close to the actual falling water.
Remember: water shoes are advisable.
Finding access to The Original Casaroro Falls
All that remains is explicit instruction as to how to find the stairs down to The Original Casaroro Falls. Read on, and note the photos.
As previously mentioned, The Original Casaroro Falls is accessed from the same road as Casaroro Falls. The entry point is about three-quarters of the way up the steep mountain road. At that point you will notice the landmarks shown in the photos below.
Pictures to guide you
In the first photo you see a fenced property with “no parking” signs along the street.
The second picture shows the house across the street which advertises various waterfall tours on a canvas sign with pictures.
The third photo is a small, parking area at the ‘waterfall tour’ house.
These photos are all taken right at the point on the mountain road where you can access the stairway down to The Original Casaroro Falls.
The place with the ‘no parking’ signs may appear unfriendly (he’s a foreigner), but the local neighbor across the street is very welcoming. It is his property that leads to the top of the sandbag stairs. Don’t be shy.
Through a yard…
Yes, you literally walk through the yard, past a modest house and a clothesline and a few roosters, to the rear of the property where a clear dirt trail leads to the top of the sandbag stairs.
It only takes four to five minutes to get to the stairs. The homeowner has a ‘donation jar’ attached to a tree. We gave 40 pesos (.80¢) for passage.
No doubt you could park a car or scooter in the unofficial ‘parking area’ for a few pesos more. Or just park anywhere along the roadside beyond the “no parking” signs. (Why torment the foreign guy?)
Guided tours are obviously available too — not only to The Original Casaroro Falls, but also to at least six other hard-to-access area waterfalls — at a very reasonable price.
Here is one more visual to help pinpoint the way to access The Original Casaroro Falls. This screen grab from Google maps has all the pertinent info drawn on.
Bonus: Tottyn Falls
If you haven’t yet read enough about waterfalls, here’s one more — basically at the same location: Tottyn Falls.
Tottyn Falls is accessed by the same sandbag stairway as The Original Casaroro Falls. But instead of going upriver from the bottom of the stairs, you go a short distance downstream. There is a sign/marker at the bottom of the sandbag stairs. It is VERY close.
Tottyn is a shorter, but it’s a voluminous and picturesque waterfall. In fact, it has the best swimming and cliff jumping opportunities of these three falls.
Tottyn even has a ‘caretaker’ of sorts — a guy who maintains the bamboo bridges and ladders that are necessary to enjoy Tottyn. We gave him $1 for his valuable efforts.
A final note about Tottyn Fall. Because of its geography, the sun (when shining) falls directly on the falls area until late afternoon — 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. As such, it’s a good place for your final stop of the day.
Similarly, for planning purposes, direct sun is most likely to shine onto The Original Casaroro Falls between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (in the month of March). And between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. for Casaroro Falls. Seeing any of these waterfalls in blazing sunlight adds an extra element of awe.
Still, direct sunshine is relatively rare. At 1,200 feet elevation and higher, the whole mountaintop is often subject to localized clouds, mist, and rain. In the morning, if you can clearly see the top of the mountain from Valencia or Dumaguete – it’s a great time to go. Enjoy!
Food options on the mountain
Lastly, let me mention two restaurant opportunities that are close-by on the mountain road — and better than the restaurant atop Casaroro Falls.
Combined with a day of incredible waterfall chasing these can make an unforgettable lifetime memory.
There is a newer restaurant called Sheintan Ridge View on the left side a little more than half-way up the mountain road. The menu is posted on a sign at the street. The driveway access is extremely steep. Most people leave their vehicles at the bottom – or scooters half-way up.
It’s a tough 10-minute hike uphill to get to the restaurant. But the view over Dumaguete and the islands beyond is breathtaking!
Sadly, in our experience, the food was awful – and the loud karaoke worse. Go for drinks and the view only.
The other highly recommended food option on the same route is slightly lower downhill and findable on Google maps. “The Cliff House” has a unique jungle mountain view, easy parking access, and fantastic western style food offerings at very reasonable prices.
In fact, if you want an American hamburger and fries (but better) – this is THE place.
The sign is small and easily missed, go slow – or ask someone. It’s near the fork in the road. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed Monday & Tuesday. We loved this place!
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails, & more beer. Life is now!
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