30 minutes from Dumaguete City is the sleepy town of Valencia. 30 minutes more of alternating rough and paved roads is a mystic waterfall sheltered within a vast forest declared as a protected area by DENR.
335 steps marked the descent from the registration area to the crowning jewel of Valencia, Casaroro Falls. We were halfway through the trail and the rain was starting to pour. The thought of risking my camera and being stranded in the rainforest gave me the chills so we made the ascent back with haste.
The dense forest cover, the extremely tall trees, the sound of raging rapids, the sight of huge rocks, and the myriad of bird and insect sounds contributed to the man-versus-wild atmosphere. Strangely, the thought of Bear Grylls giving himself an enema flashed through my mind, my knees weakened and my hands trembled. I thought to myself, if someone gets stranded and is left with no choice other than to spend the night by the falls, he will most likely die of wild animal attack or supernatural abduction or cardiac arrest. But then again, he could just take the stairway up to safety.
We sought shelter in the registration booth and waited for the rain to subside. We started the descent again. Aside from the 335 steps, we had to walk through a hanging steel bridge and steep walkways (which I strongly detest because when it rains, the ground becomes dangerously slippery). One wrong step and you’ll go crashing down the rapids as there are no guardrails to steady your walk and block your fall.
It rained again and we found ourselves shivering cold. Prior to the trek, we wanted to swim in the falls. I thank the high heavens for swaying our minds. I specifically recalled the guide telling us not to take the dip because one unfortunate tourist was claimed by the raging waves. Boy, I certainly do not want to be the sacrificial lamb to appease nature’s fury. Beauty and wrath rolled into one, perhaps that’s Casaroro.
When we reached the end of the trail, an open-roof cemented platform became our view deck. The magnificent cascade was definitely worth the effort. It was wild and beautiful and commanding. It ensnares you into a tranquil commune with nature. Seeing it gives you an intensely overwhelming mixture of fear, awe, exhaustion, and intrigue. And I must say, and quite befitting, you simply get carried away.