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Palau: Ngardmau waterfall

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Ngardmau waterfall | Palau | Oceania

[Visited: January 2016]

On our drive from north to south on Babeldaob island, we pass the turnoff for Ngardmau waterfall. In my old guide it is marked as a less touristy place which can be reached after a tough hike. Things have changed: Palau is firmly on the tourist radar now, and when we reach the entrance to the waterfalls, we park our car amidst tour buses and hordes of mostly Asian tourists. A quite steep entrance fee gives us the right to walk down the trail; we skip the monorail which has been constructed here and which could even save you the walk. Likewise, we also skip the zipline. It only takes a couple of minutes to exit the forest, and when we do, we see old train tracks. When bauxite mining was still a big thing for Palau, the aluminium ore was transported to the sea using these tracks.

Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): View of Ngardmau waterfall from below

We soon reach the edge of the plateau we were walking on, and get sweeping views over the hills of central Babeldaob. They are all covered by rainforest, and we almost immediately spot the Ngardmau waterfall in an opening in the forest cover. We walk further down now, past the Nqertebechel river, in which we see several rapids and pools. We continue on a boardwalk, cross a bridge, which then brings us to a platform from which we can look up Ngardmau waterfall. A wide and tall waterfall, with most water falling on both sides, while the middle of the waterfall sees considerably less water. There is a rainbow at the bottom of the waterfall. We now walk down to the water, in which a lot of small fish swim around. I stand right under the waterfall and have a natural shower with a very powerful spurt of water. I cannot resist, close my bag, and climb to behind the curtain of water.

Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): The waterfall of Ngardmau in the middle of the forest covering the hills of Babeldaob

It is great to stand behind the curtain of water, look up, and see the water fall off the edge, blow into fine drops, and see the sunlight filtered through the spray. I climb down again, stand in the water to look up, where the water continues to fall, giving that relaxing sound of falling water. A spot of paradise right in the middle of the rainforest of Babeldaob. We walk up the hill again, have a dip in a rock pool which feels like a jacuzzi with the water rushing in from the rapids just above it, and when we get ready to walk up, the monorail works its way up, too - a funny sight, adults on a tiny train working its way up the hill. We walk instead, enjoying the views over the interior of Babeldaob island again, and change into some dry clothes before we drive further south.

Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): Curtain of Ngardmau waterfall
Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): Rainbow in the spray off Ngardmau waterfall
Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): View from behind the water at Ngardmau
Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): Bauxite was once transported using these old train tracks
Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): Boardwalk in the forest near Ngardmau waterfall
Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): Frontal view of Ngardmau waterfall
Picture of Ngardmau waterfall (Palau): Rapids and a pool in the Nqertebechel river close to Ngardmau waterfall

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