Crisp air, rapidly flowing water, and majestic mountainsides…
Not far outside Metro Manila awaits a rejuvenating experience.
If you've been itching for a one-day vacation, then this trip is for you.
Before your travels, it would be smart to check The World Nomads or Guide to the Philippines to plan your day trip for the latest travel advisories. These sites are updated almost weekly & have local specific information about traveling within the Philippines.
Alright, are you ready? Let's hop right in!
I don't know about you, but I like to know a little bit about the history of a place before fully immersing myself in the experience.
Wawa Dam was the primary source of water for Manila until 1962, when it started to deteriorate. Before that, the Dam was built by Americans in 1909. Today, it's still marveled at for its grand structure.
It's now declared as a National Reservation area to protect the geographical ecosystems & to preserve the area, which is home to many native animals & Filipinos alike.
Next up, transportation.
Wawa Dam is nestled quietly in the outskirts East of Manila, about 80 kilometers in the province of Rizal.
We rode with friends to get there, and it took only one hour early on a Saturday morning. However, there are several alternative options. I like to use Rome 2 Rio to price out different options. Here's what they had to say:
Drive yourself- p120-190
There is a parking space near the entrance with a parking fee of p100 per vehicle upon arrival.
Alternatively, we met a group of bikers while we were there that rode their bikes from Manila.
So… if you're feeling adventurous & in shape, you may consider that option!
I, on the other hand, will stick to carpooling :)
Activities & Food
Unfortunately, after hiking up the Sierra Mountains, we realized the major portion of the mountain was still closed due to Covid.
However, we could find a quiet nook next to the Dam where we enjoyed a day eating authentic Filipino dishes, meeting new friends, and taking some well needed refreshing dips into the river.
As previously mentioned, biking is a major attraction near the Wawa Dam area. If you're interested in booking a tour, check out more information about that at LonelyPlanet.
On the trek up the mountain, you'll find a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables to taste that are local to the area. While exploring, I felt a sense of community amongst the locals, and it was eye-opening to see how simply some live blissfully in nature using the majestic Sierra Mountain as their source of shelter.
When the central portion of Wawa is open again, you can enjoy lunch by renting a cottage for p150 right at the foot of the waterfall!
After enjoying lunch, you can use handmade bamboo rafts to float around and explore.
It's not uncommon in Filipino culture to ask locals if they can serve you lunch from out of their house, especially in rural villages where there are not many restaurants.
This experience is extra unique because this isn't something we're accustomed to in the U.S., but it made us feel as though we were apart of their family.
We got to enjoy homemade adobo (specially seasoned chicken), fried fish, and coconut snails. Oh, and of course- rice and local beers!
We also had a very accommodating young local host us the whole day, sharing myths about the Sierra Mountains, serving us food, and even making sure our cup was never empty!
If you're seeking to get some shots for the gram, this place is your haven! I recommend heading over to Mt. Pamitinan side of the mountain, to get some picturesque falls as your backdrop.
Lastly, make sure to always pick up your trash when you leave to keep this place just as beautiful as you found it!
Altogether Wawa dam day trip destination costs around p400- p600 per person and is a great experience to explore nature outside Manila.
Make sure to stay up to date with travel alerts while planning for this trip and remember to respect the local culture that calls Wawa Dam home.
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Until next time,