The 7 Tiers of Escaldera Falls

Busay Falls in Malilipot, Albay is a misnomer. After all, busay already means falls in the local vernacular. One local who regularly jogs her way to the place castigated me for referring to this magnificent falls as such.

"It is not Busay Falls," she would insist.

I forgot the name she mentioned as it was spelled differently from how she pronounced it. We have not been seeing each other for a few weeks now and has since stopped communicating so I forgot about it.

When my friend and I visited the falls, we were astounded by the many secrets it has kept. Right off the bat, the one thing I was most interested at is its mysterious name.

I asked so many locals, from the tourists to the caretakers. Nobody knows. Until finally, one woman remembers. She wrote the name on a tiny piece of tissue paper.

Escaldera Falls. Such a beautiful name to such a quaint, mysterious place!

The first thing I did after arriving home was to immediately google what that name means. After some time, I discovered that it's a corruption of the word "escalera," a Spanish term for "stairway" or "ladder."


But that is not the only secret this falls has been keeping. While most people think that it only consists of one cascade, it actually consists of not one, not even seven (as the title of the article implies) but twelve different cascades!

The more daring tourists have been to the seven tiers but, according to the guide, there are five more not available to the public due to the abounding venomous snakes nearby.

We only decided to trek the seven tiers. The way to these cascades was especially treacherous --- ravines after ravines we encountered. I made it a point not to look down so I wouldn't feel nervous. In the end, we made it all up to the last tier, and we also made it down to the first, scathe free!

This article reveals how the seven 'safe' cascades look (I was able to take pictures of all of them), and all the other interesting sights along the way!

The First Cascade

The very first tier is the most well-known. After all, this is the falls captured by most tourists. Its images have proliferated all over social media and the rest of cyberspace. 

If you've never been to Busay Falls, you would only be familiar with this tier. But this is not the only cascade of the falls, there are eleven more...

The Second Cascade

While the first cascade looks similar to other falls, the second one has a different character. Aside from the unique contour, it beacons you to an amazing view of the rainforest...

The rainforest appears to be virtually untouched by mankind. While looking over the magnificent views, you can dip your feet on the stream's heel-deep waters. The calls from jungle birds and other unfamiliar animals create what appear to be beats of an unarranged music...

The Third Cascade

The third cascade has a small pool wide enough for a plenty of swimming. For me, this is the adventure's pinnacle. It is the most invigorating of all the tiers.

A little caution though, the part near the cascading waters is quite deep. As a precaution, you need to swim towards it instead of trying to reach it by walking. At the cascades itself, there were reliable rocks you can use to support your body.

The third cascade looked tiny at first glance but, at closer inspection, it is also lofty like the first two...

The Fourth Cascade

Equally invigorating was the fourth cascade. Unlike the third, however, it was entirely safe. Aside from the spacious-enough pool, the depth was just about 3 to 4 feet. 

You can completely immerse yourself down the stream. Indulge... Indulge as much as you can... For the trip itself would be too short for all its splendors!

The Fifth Cascade

The fifth cascade appears to be barren, but there is more to it than one can see on the photo. Our guide could not lead us to a better view of the falls as the site itself was infested by venomous snakes. While there was enough adrenaline in us to make it all the way to this tier, we chickened out on the snakes!

Our inability to capture what could have been a lovely waterfalls made us content with capturing a beautiful orange-and-black butterfly which somehow assuaged our disappointment...

The Sixth Cascade

While the third and fourth cascades were the most invigorating, the sixth falls was the most picturesque and most distinct.

This tier probably gave the Spanish conquistadors the idea for the falls' name. Escalera means stairway or staircase...

The sixth cascade is exactly that --- it looks like a series of descending stairsteps...

The Final Cascade

The most thrilling of the entire getaway was the seventh and last tier which, before you'll see it, you have to overcome the treacherous final 'stairstep' of the sixth cascade.

It was especially difficult and frightening. Our guide told us that there was no reliable rock to stand on in any part of the cascade. We had to be extra cautious and prudent before making the next step. According to him, one tourist broke his leg while making the climb.

So that scared us even more, but we had to do it to complete the entire venture. My friend and I had no choice that time --- either we go home with the trip incomplete or we finish the last and final climb.

In retrospect, I'm thankful that my friend was daring and confident enough. He thought he would make it. He did it slowly but surely. While the guide was discouraging him from pursuing it, he still continued.

I was especially scared. One little slip could be the end of it all --- and we had to go down the very steep trails we earlier endured.

But I've always had faith that everything will go right. I was staring at my friend the entire time. He did a few or so adjustments, making sure that every step he makes is safe. Until he finally made it.

On my turn, I touched every part of the falls. Every one bit of it was slippery. I had to make do with the less slippery parts. My friend who was done with the climb helped me. With enough courage, I made it. We both made it.

The last tier appeared anticlimactic, but our guide informed us that there are five more cascades we didn't see. They're not available to the public due to venomous snakes abounding.

One of the caretakers told us that there are many snakes in the area. They appear at around 4 in the afternoon but we were early enough to avoid them.

Nevertheless, even if we did encounter one, we were told not to frighten or to throw stones at them. Only when the snakes were startled do they decide to bite you. 

One sign that a snake has made such decision is when its head springs up from the ground with a ready-to-strike pose. On the other hand, if it just crawls down the ground, there really is nothing to fear. All you have to do is to remain calm and try as much as possible to avoid startling them.

Down the Cascades

On our way down, we were treated with so many magnificent views. I couldn't recognize this falls anymore. It appears to be the sixth, I believe. Nevertheless, I was able to capture an amazing shot through this fantastic vantage...

Interesting Flora & Fauna

With the cascades traversing through the thick jungle, it was no longer a surprise that one would see noteworthy plants and animals. The flora and fauna made quite an appearance...

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture the most extraordinary ones. I've seen a luminous bronze-colored bug, a maroon salamander, and, the most striking of all, a luminous indigo dragonfly.

If you are too curious and would want to see the resplendent plants and animals of Escaldera Falls, it really is worth a visit. 

The Company

We were supposed to be five of us in this trip but only two dared to visit Escaldera Falls --- the other three bailed out on various reasons. While I was driving the car towards our destination, I felt a little sad that only two of us joined. 

However, it was also the reason why it was very easy for us to decide. We didn't even hesitate when we learned there were six other cascades we can visit. It was a split-second decision, it was that automatic!

We were not disappointed. We had a lot of fun doing the entire trek. It was frightening but it was fun!

Escaldera Falls is definitely not for the faint-hearted but it was certainly a daredevil's paradise!

This shot was taken after our last climb.
We were ecstatic to have overcome all of the falls' challenges.


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