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4 Amazing Waterfalls In Biliran That You Should See On Your Visit


Biliran is one of the smallest provinces in The Philippines. It is not a well known travel destination and is most of the time mistaken as part of the province of Leyte. But you might be surprised that despite how insignificant Biliran may seem in the map, the splendid things it offers is pretty limitless. This province seems to have the answer to everything. From unspoiled islands and beaches, towering mountains, acres and acres of lush greens to topping it all of with over 30 stunning waterfalls at its disposal.

Among the more than 30 waterfalls scattered in Biliran, I was able to visit 4 of the most accessible. Don’t be fooled when I say accessible because I didn’t mean easy as well. Allow me to tell you about each one of them.


BAGONGBONG FALLS


 

Bagongbong Falls was the very first falls I visited coming from Kawayan Port where I have unboarded the boat from Sambawan Island. The ride to this falls was no joke. For over twenty minutes, we traced the roads going up in the mountains, passed by some narrow paths along local houses and continued on steep and slippery ride up. Not only was the ride to this falls exhilarating, so is the 30-minute trek going to the falls made much worse by occasional drizzles. From where we parked the motorcycle, I can already hear the gushing water and it continued to play melody in my ears until we reached the entrance to the falls.

Bagongbong Falls is a single tiered waterfall with its cascading water falling from some 30-feet torn in two by a boulder. This falls is rarely on any travelers list and during my visit, it was only me and my giggles as well as the cascade of the water making lovely music in the air. The water flowing from its basin pounding at the rocks were strong. They were relentless and cold. I managed myself to get me a sweet spot where I can marvel at its magnificence and took with me some photos. Bagongbong Falls was quite a great starter that it made more excited to see the others.


RECOLETOS FALLS


As I looked at the cascade of water falling from 40ft to this waterfall’s emerald green natural pool, I can’t help but look back to the journey that I took just to see it up close. I’ve walked through a muddy up and downhill road for 45 minutes, passed by a narrow trail almost falling to my death and scrambled through huge rocks. I had gone through unimaginable hardship trekking to this falls but as I stare at it closely and listen to the sound it makes lulling me deep in thoughts, those hardships seem to vanish.

I might have chosen a bad day to chase waterfalls since coming from Sambawan Island earlier that day, the skies were crying. There were drizzles here and there making the trek harder than it already is. I planned to see as many waterfalls as my time would permit but given that Recoletos Falls is just my 2nd waterfall and it’s almost time for lunch, I realized that I had to keep going. I only have four more hours to explore so after getting myselft enough of the beauty of this falls, off I went to see Ulan-Ulan Falls


ULAN-ULAN FALLS


Ulan-Ulan Falls is situated within the same barangay as Recoletos Falls. Both falls share the same grueling trail only the latter is situated further way up from its closest neighbor Ulan-Ulan Falls. Coming from Recoletos Falls, I’ve traced the same trail I took in going up to go down to Ulan-Ulan Falls. After reaching the junction connecting the trails of both falls, I took a right to a steep and slippery trail to go down to where Ulan-Ulan Falls was.

The descent to Ulan-Ulan Falls was no joke. I was already at the last stretch of my 5-Day Leyte-Biliran Adventure that I was already running low of energy making me less enthusiastic of the difficulty of trekking just to see these waterfalls. As we near to the bottom, I can feel the mist blown over by the wind. I had to wipe my eyes and my camera lens so I could get myself some shots of the falls since I probably won’t be able to take a photo anywhere near it unless I have a waterproof camera.

As I reached the base of the trail, I looked up at the mighty Ulan-Ulan falls letting the mist of the cascading water soak me wet. The mist felt like rain which is no wonder this falls was named such. It stood tall at probably 100ft or more and was one of the tallest waterfalls I’ve ever seen next to Hulugan Falls in Laguna. The cold breeze and the misty world of Ulan-Ulan Falls took me back to the good times when as a child I would always play under the rain along with the other kids in school then get scolded after when I get home. Haha


TINAGO FALLS


This is by far the most accessible and the easiest to get to. It takes 30 minutes of scenic motorcycle ride along a concrete highway passing by local houses and vast rice fields to get to Tinago Falls from the town proper of Naval. A few steps away from the parking area, a concrete stairwell will lead you down to the registration office. Pay the fees and you’re free to explore inside for as long as you like.

There are several day tour cottages there. Tourists would never have a hard time exploring since each areas are connected by a concrete footpath. The only difficult part is going near Tinago Falls since you will need to navigate through huge rocks and fight your way against the strong current of the water flowing out of the main basin.

Tinago Falls is gorgeous. Its cascading water falling from 30-50ft to a spacious basin is relentless and strong. Another thing that made it so stunning are the rock formations surrounding the main pool. This falls was named such because prior to developing it, it was literally tucked safely beneath the lush forest and huge rocks limiting access from the outside world. I guess beauty such as this one are never meant to be hidden forever much like the other Tinago Falls I know from Iligan.


HOW TO EXPLORE ALL THESE FALLS


There are no direct transportation going to each of the waterfalls since most of them are situated beyond the communities up in the mountains. The most effective way to explore all the falls in Biliran considering your budget and time is riding a motorcycle (habal-habal). Some drivers offer a rate of P400/waterfall which is kind of pricey but you can always haggle. I got mine for P1000 for one entire day chasing waterfalls. Please note that every motorcycle can ride 2-3 passengers. If you need a reliable person to drive you around, please contact Kuya Alfie Leones at 09261269714.

There you have it lovelies. Biliran is one beautiful province that definitely needs more discovering. Begin your discovery with these waterfalls. If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to share. Until my next adventure folks! Ciao!

CUATRO ISLAS: DIY Budget Travel Guide + Itinerary To The Hidden Treasures Of Inopacan Leyte


If you’ve been smitten by Kalanggaman Island of Palompon then you might be surprised to know that the underrated province of Leyte has many more treasures up it sleeves. Down south in Inopacan lies not just one, not just two nor three but four beautiful islands known as the Cuatro Islas! Imagine paradise four times the charm! That’s exactly what these stunners are about. Allow me to introduce you to each one of them.


Digyo Island

This one is my favorite. It is the smallest among the four but is definitely not the least. Its shores are of white sugary sands. It also has a sandbar that stretch to about 50 meters. What sets this island apart from the other three is its pristine waters teeming with so much life. The water surrounding it is as clear as crystal that I can literraly see the colorful world several meters deep down the surface from where I sat on our boat.

Mahaba Island

Mahaba Island is for me the most beautiful among the four. It has a very long stretch of white sugary sands hence its name. What I love about this island is how clean and natural it was. There was only one small native cottage there and that’s it. No other signs of human intervention and best of all, there was not a single trash.

Apid Island

Apid Island is a fishing village and a beautiful one for that matter. This is where you will get to interact with the locals and learn about their culture and way of living. What I didn’t like about this island is how it is slowly degraded by irresponsible and unmanaged waste. I hope the local tourism of Inopacan would take the time to educate the locals of proper waste management in order to preserve this precious island for future generations to see.

Himokilan Island

I really couldn’t say anything about Himokilan Island since I didn’t have the chance to see it due to severe weather. I tried to do me some reading online about this island but the info are pretty limited. All I know is that if you wanna see this island then you must be willing to pay its hefty price tag.


HOW TO GO TO CUATRO ISLAS


From Manila – Fly to either Ormoc or Tacloban. From Ormoc, Inopacan is just an hour and 45 minutes of travel away riding the van (P95). Going to Inopacan from Tacloban on the hand may take 3 hours. Fare is P170. Alight in front of the Municipal Plaza. Walk for 10-15 minutes from the highway to the port which is situated at the back the of the Municipal Hall.

From Cebu – Ride a Supercat or OceanJet fastcraft to Ormoc. Travel is 3 hours and fare is P800 (Supercat) & P1000 (Oceanjet) for tourist class seat. From there, Inopacan is just over an hour away by van.

From Kalangaman Island –  From Palompon, simply ride a van to Ormoc (2Hrs : P120)  then another van to Inopacan.


TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFORMATION


  • Touring all 4 islands can be done within a day given that you start early in the morning.
  • Island hopping tours normally start at 8AM but can be delayed during unfavorable weather.
  • There are days when touring to Cuatro Islas are prohibited due to severe weather condition so be flexible when planning your itinerary.
  • Budget inns and accommodation in Inopacan are hard to find. There are pretty limited options and some can be a bit pricey. Camping in Digyo or Mahaba Island is one of the best options if you plan to stay overnight. You may also rent native huts. If those aren’t your thing then you may seek shelter in the nearby town of Hilongos or Baybay for better choices.
  • There is a store in Digyo Island where you can buy food and water but expect the prices to be higher than usual.
  • Entrance fees are collected in the island. P20 for Digyo and Apid Islands while a donation of any amount is accepted in Mahaba Island. Himokilan Island requires an additional environmental and entrance fees.
  • Canigao Island is just 45 minutes away from Inopacan and a cheaper alternative to Cuatro Islas. From Inopacan, you can ride a van directly to the port where boats to Canigao are docked. Fare is P50.
  • It rains more than half the time in Leyte so make sure to waterproof your belongings.
  • Himokilan Island is just 15 minutes away from Digyo Island but it belongs to the Municipality Of Hindang. Including this island on your tour may involve additional boat, entrance and environmental fees.



WHERE TO STAY IN/NEAR INOPACAN


Camping overnight in one of the islands of Cuatro Islas is still the best form of accommodation there is to travelers. But in the event of unfavorable weather, these budget inns and hotels near Inopacan may provide you shelter for the night.

CITI Hotel Hilongos
Address: National Highway, HIndang – Hilongos Rd, Hilongos, 6524 Leyte
Phone: (053) 567 8133
Check Rates & Availability

GV Hotel Baybay
Address: Andres Bonifacio St, Baybay City, 6521 Leyte
Phone: (053) 563 8030
Check Rates & Availability

Pascual House Bed And Breakfast
Address: Baybay-Inopacan Rd, Baybay City, Leyte
Phone: 0956 824 0342
Check Rates & Availability


SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, ITINERARY & OTHER ESSENTIALS


My visit to Cuatro Islas was part of my Leyte- Bliran Adventure. Check out full travel guide to know full story and see where else had I wandered within these two underrated provinces.

  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSESVan Tacloban-Inopacan - P170
Island Hopping Tour @ P3000/3 - P1000
Registration Fee - P60
Food - P150
Van To Ormoc - P120
Van To Palompon - P130
Sleep - P350

Total <<>> P1980

From Cuatro Islas, I headed to Kalanggaman Island.
Click here for the full itinerary
THINGS TO BRINGTent
Camping Gears
Lamp
Flashlight
Dry Bag
Food
Cookset
Toiletries
Clothes
Sunblock
ISLAND FEESBOAT

Small Boats (up to 10pax) - P3000
Big boats (up to 20pax) - P4000

COTTAGES

Closed Cottage - P500 (Day trip) + P50 for overnight use
Open Huts - P300 (Day Trip) + P50 for overnight use
Tent Rental - P200
Tent Space - P50/tent
CONTACT INFOLocal Tourism
Bong Abenoja - 09486231860
Lemin Polo - 09103649464

GREAT NEW BEGINNINGS


My trip to Cuatro Islas would have been in jeopardy if it weren’t for  these two gorgeous ladies, Lanie and Edz who I met in Inopacan. I was already having 2nd thoughts of exploring the islands due to unfriendly weather and expensive cost but these two are my life savers. I could never thank them enough for all the wonderful times we shared. 🙂


There you have it lovelies. Until next time. Stay tuned for more posts from my recent trip to Leyte and Biliran. For questions and suggestions, leave your comments below. Don’t forget to share this to your friends!

 

KALANGGAMAN ISLAND: Budget Travel Guide + Itinerary & Why It’s More Than Just The Sandbar

Kalanggaman Island is Palompon Leyte’s hidden treasure and a secret haven to the more adventurous of spirits. It was for the longest time unknown to many until late 2015 when stunning photos of it surfaced the internet, making probably everyone in the travelling world going gaga about it. By gaga I meant went totally crazy over it that barely a week from the time I first got a glimpse of it online followed hundreds or even thousand more photos of people looking so satisfied posing next to the infamous sandbar of this sensational island. Oh how I wished I have the luxury of time and money to snag me a plane ticket right then and there to see Kalanggaman Island but heck! I had to keep drooling over it for more than a year. Yup. That’s how long I’ve waited to get the opportunity to see this stunner with my very eyes and I gotta say, it was all worth it.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, I really gotta commend you for putting up with my blabbing! Haha But seriously what I’m trying to say is you probably have come across my Leyte & Biliran Travel Guide and read how underrated these two provinces are. More often than not, travelers overlook Leyte and Biliran in favor of their more famous neighbors like Cebu and Bohol but little do they know that there are a myriad of reasons why these two should be on their bucket list. Kalanggaman Island happens to be one of the countless treasures hidden in the beautiful island province of Leyte. To some, Kalanggaman Island is just another patch of sand typical to the Philippines but for me it is more than just that.


HOW TO GO TO KALANGGAMAN ISLAND


  • From Manila – Fly to Ormoc. From there, ride a van going to Palompon, Leyte (1.5Hrs ; P110). Walk to the tourism office for 10 minutes. Hire a boat going to Kalanggaman Island (1Hr ; P3000/15-20Pax).
  • From Tacloban – If you will fly in to Leyte via Tacloban, you can ride a van going to straight to the town of Palompon (3Hrs ; P170). Walk a little to the Tourism Office from the final stop and hire a boat going to Kalanggaman Island
  • From Naval – Ride a van to Lemon Junction (1.5Hr ; P80). From there ride another van going to Palompon (1Hr ; P50).
  • From Cebu – There are several options from Cebu City going to Kalanggaman Island.
    • Via New Maya Port – Ride a Ceres Bus at the North Bus Station going to the Old Maya Port (5Hrs ; P180) then a tricycle to New Maya Port (20Min ; P20). From there, you can rent a boat going to Kalanggaman Islandr (2Hrs ; P3500/20pax/way).
    • Via Polambato Port in Bogo – From Cebu City, ride a bus at the North Bus Station going to Bogo (3Hrs ; P140) then a tricycle to Polambato Port (25Min ; P150/tric). In Polambato Port, ride a Super Shuttle Ferry going to Palompon. Please note that there is only one schedule daily at 12PM.
    • Cebu via Cokaliong Shipping – From Cebu City, ride a ferry vessel going to Palompon (5Hrs ; P320). Kindly check website for schedule.

EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY


I read one article by a blogger depicting Kalanggaman Island as overrated and a complete waste of time, energy and money. Now I’d like to set the record straight for the benefit of those still planning to go to the island but are having second thoughts. Let me shed light on some areas which might catch up to you by surprise.

  • Powdery White Sands – This is one of the biggest blunders surrounding Kalanggaman Island. This island is charming and beautiful beyond compare but it doesn’t have a stretch of powdery white sand shores. The beach and the long sandbar is a stretch of creamy white sugary sands and rough coral stones. You can’t lay flat on your back or walk barefoot on the beach as it will most likely hurt. I tell you. White powdery sands are a thing of Boracay and Calaguas Islands but Kalanggaman Island? Nope!
  • Food – Food and water is hard to come by in the island. There are no eateries there. There is one store but it doesn’t sell food. Bottled mineral water can be bought in the lone store there so as other beverages like soda and coffee but they are seldom cold. If you don’t want to starve and thirst, bring with you enough food and water before you go to the island. Just make sure to bring your trash back with you when you go home.
  • The Beach Water – The waters surrounding Kalanggaman Island has one of the most beautiful shades of blue. From clear turquoise to azure then further away are the darker blues, this stunner prides itself in its pristine and rich waters teeming with life and colors down below.
  • Amenities – The municipality of Palompon is doing its best to provide satisfactory experience to tourists visiting Kalanggaman Island. In fact, a pavilion intended to be used as tourists lounge was under construction during my visit. It was an eye sore for me actually as I’m more into preserving the natural beauty of the island but despite the on-going developments, the island still lacks the amenities typical to a beach resort. Toilet and bath rooms are poorly maintained and they stink! (I’m cringing to the thought) Although they have newly build ones. Some day tour cottages were not in a very good state and they looked as if they are about to fall apart.
  • Accommodation – Some of you might have already seen those wooden cottages shaped like an indian tent. Yes you can rent those for P500/night but that’s just it. You will need to shell out more for renting mattress, pillows and sheets. I’d say bringing a tent and camping at the beach is still the best option for those who are staying for the night.
  • Cleansing Water – “Salty air. Salted hair.” A quote all beach lovers like to flaunt in social media along with a beautiful photo of them frolicking under the sun looking at the vast ocean but as we might all be, we hate going to bed with that nasty hair and sticky skin. Unfortunately in Kalanggaman Island, you might need to endure that sticky feeling until you get back in Palompon since there is no fresh water available in the shower so you could clean up.

TIPS & OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION


  • Bring enough food and water. You can shop for supplies at the supermarket prior  to going to the island.
  • Most of the boats there are big and can accommodate up to 20 passengers and priced at P3000 for a roundtrip transfer. If you are travelling alone, you can share with other passengers to save cost.
  • Travel to the island are normally prohibited during unfavorable weather and sea condition. It’s best to check the weather prior to travelling to Palompon or better yet check with the local tourism office if travel to the Kalanggaman Island is possible on your preferred date.
  • Bring snorkel gears. The beach is great but the real paradise lies underwater. If you don’t have snorkel, you can rent one in the island for a price of P300 for one full day of use.
  • Day Tour cottages aren’t free. They are to be rented for P500/day which comes with a table and four chairs. If you are staying overnight, bring with you tents and camping gears.
  • There is no electricity in the island so better get your gadgets charged to full battery before going there.
  • Some tour/boat operators in Palompon offer a combined tour to Kalanggaman and Malapascua Islands. For this, prior arrangements must be made to ensure smooth and hassle free travel.

WHERE CAN YOU STAY IN/NEAR PALOMPON


If you don’t want to spend the night in Kalanggaman Island but missed the trip to your next destination then you can stay in these budget accommodations. Please bare in mind that the municipality of Palompon is pretty small so choices of places to stay at for the night are also very limited.

Asayas Pensione Plaza
Address: Burgos Street, Palompon, Leyte
Phone: 5558037

Pacci Hotel
Address: Leyte Rizal St., Palompon, Leyte
Phone: (053) 338 2880

Cham’s Inn
Address: 339, Mabini St, Palompon, Leyte
Phone: (053) 555 8524




SUMMARY OF EXPENSES & OTHER ESSENTIALS


My visit to Kalanggaman Island was part of my Leyte- Bliran Adventure. Check out full travel guide to learn how I was able to unravel the secrets of both these provinces during my visit.

  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

***DIY Solo - Coming from Ormoc
Round Trip Van Ormoc-Palompon - P260
Environmental Fee - P200
Registration Fee - P60
Boat @ P3000/9pax - P333
Food - P150

Total <<>> P1003

For a more detailed summary of cost, check out my
LEYTE-BILIRAN TRAVEL GUIDE
THINGS TO BRINGOvernight

-Tent
-Lamps
-Flashlights with extra batteries
-Cookset & Food Supply
-Drinking Water
-Earth Pad
-Sleeping Bag
-Rubbish Bag
-Fully charged camera/gadgets with
extra batteries

Day Tour

-Packed Lunch
-Snacks
-Drinking Water
-Sunblock & Sunnies
-Toiletries
-Rubbish Bag
-Fully charged camera/gadgets with
extra batteries
-Insect Repellent

Others
-Snorkel Gear
-Floaters
-Flippers
FEES TO BE PAIDRegistration Fee: P60
Environmental Fee: Overnight - P300 ; Day Trip - P200
Boat - P3000 (20 pax cap)

CONTACT INFOBoat/Tour Operator: Ate Mae - 09069753053

FUN MEMORIES IN PARADISE


There you have it lovelies! Let me know what you think of this island paradise. Leave me your comments and let’s have a chat. Until next time. Ciao

MT. BINACAYAN: Day Hike Guide, Budget, Itinerary & Why It’s More Than Just The Sea Of Clouds


Name: Mt. Binacayan
Elevation: 424+ MASL
Location: Montalban, Rizal
Jump Off Point: Brgy. Wawa Montalban
Difficulty: 2/9
Features: Limestone karst. Scenic of the Sierra Madre Range and Wawa River

Montalban is home to more than seven peaks which is among the most popular and frequently visited mountains within the province of Rizal. These peaks may not be at par with their numerous counterparts in the Sierra Madre range considering their elevation but they sure don’t fall short of challenging trails. One of the all-time favorites in this part of Rizal is Mt. Binacayan which is one of the well-loved trio of Montalban along with Mts. Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoi. Altogether, these three share the impeccable view of Wawa Dam as well as the coveted morning sea of clouds which lucky visitors could witness atop their summits. They may be considered beginner-friendly mountains but their trails consisted mostly of limestone formations will certainly make you sweat and at some point,  will make you fall into your knees.


THE CLIMB


I haven’t summit a mountain for a long while prior to this hike. The last one was during our fun climb under the rain in Mt. Manabu back in January. Realizing it, I hate that I haven’t been true to the promise I made that I would hike more this year. Thinking that this would just be my 2nd mountain for 2017 makes me wonder what have I been doing these past few months! Oh I know. Summer just passed and I remember being at the beach most of the time since January, kicking off the sunny season a little too early in Calaguas Island but still, I should have at least inserted a weekend to hike a mountain. I should probably make up for those lost opportunities come the end of these gloomy monsoon rains. Perhaps I should finish the trio and hike Mt. Hapunang Banoi next.

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For this hike, I got my friend Mira to thank since she was the reason I got into “the hiking mood” again. She learned about my hiking adventures and asked if I could take her to one really soon. Since I have been in hiatus for 7 months, I decided that we go in hiking somewhere near and that’s when I thought about Mt. Binacayan. Not only that it’s favorable to where I live but it was also the perfect choice for I was looking for a beginner-friendly trail my newbie friend could take on.

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We traveled the usual route to Montalban, riding a UV Express in Jollibee Farmers branch in Cubao to the Ministop branch in Eastwood Subdivision and a tricycle to Brgy. Wawa at 6AM. We arrived at the registration site at little past 7AM and started the hike maybe a few minutes before 8AM. Since during my previous hike in Mt. Pamitinan I endured bruises and scrapes on my hands for navigating through limestone formations without gloves, I took the time to buy me a pair this time. It felt weird on my hands and a bit restricting at first but I got used to it as we went along.

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The hike started with us walking along a concrete road. From the registration area, we followed the way going to Wawa Dam but instead of going right in the intersection, we followed the route on the left instead. The concrete road continued for about 2 kilometers more gradually ascending as we passed through local houses. Then it ended and the ascent continued along soft earth through a well defined trail. The first part of the slippery ascent along soft earth and occasional rocks went for about 2KM before taking a left upon reaching a basketball court in front of a store.

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The trail past the store was no different from the first part from where the concrete road ended. We trekked along slopes of soft earth occasionally emblazoned with rocks for about 20-30 minutes stopping for short breathers in between before reaching a resting camp which gave us the glimpse of the surrounding greenery for the first time. We stayed there relieving ourselves of hunger over grilled hotdogs and avocado shake.

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We continued the the ascent along soft earth. After 10 minutes is when we encountered a series of trails filled with limestone rocks before finally approaching the so-called “Rockies”. The “Rockies” consisted of several jagged limestone formations. This part of Mt. Binacayan offers an unobstructed view of the surrounding mountains of Rizal but I still think Mt. Maculot‘s version of the “Rockies” is way more immaculate.

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From the “Rockies”, we continued the trek along soft earth interchanging with rough limestone formations. It took us another 30 minutes to reach the viewing point. The viewing point is a descent from the main trail along steep limestone cliffs. After taking in the view from the viewpoint, we continued the trek to Peak 1. This time the trail consists mostly of limestone formations which are steeper and harder to navigate as we went through the ascent. Thirty minutes more and we found ourselves in Peak 1.

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We took the time to relax while at Peak 1. We were starving and were running out of energy. The first part of this hike may have been really easy but the next series of events coming from the “Rockies” was pure torture. Good thing I bought me a pair of gloves and I was wearing my Salomon X-Ultra shoes otherwise I would have been crying in agony just like what happened to me in Mt. Pamitinan.

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From Peak 1, a little rejuvenated, we continued the hike to Peak 2. The hike was not at all easy as it was along steep and jagged limestone formation. There were parts where we were scrambling along an 80-degree formation to vie our way up. We took breathers in between as we went through the ultimate test of endurance. Just when we thought things aren’t turning for the worse, our water supply ran out a few meters from Peak 2.

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The hike went from fun to agonizing in just a matter of seconds. As we went through the ascent along the unforgiving limestone rocks, I started questioning where I fell short when it comes to the preparations I took before this hike. I thought real hard. Have I ever underestimated Mt. Binacayan? I guess somehow I did since I didn’t brought me enough water! Or maybe I did brought me what I thought would suffice for the hike but the idea of the hike being this grueling never really crossed my mind. (Sighs)

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Several more painstaking ascent along the unforgiving limestone rocks, we stumbled another group of hikers on their way down who graciously offered us their spare water! Yey! What a relief! This is just why I love hiking mountains. It’s more than just the view and being in harmony with nature. It’s the friends we get to make along the way. No longer stricken with too much thirst, we gladly took on the final assault to the summit.

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Going up the summit was quite a task as it was a difficult climb through rough limestone rocks on a 90-degree angle which is about 6-feet high. We had the option to skip the summit and head straight to the viewpoint where the best views await but I thought setting my feet at highest peak of every mountain that I climb is an obligation I should always fulfill. Despite my energy running low by the minute, I tried real hard to scramble along those limestone formations to be able to cherish another glorious moment atop a magnificent peak..

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After getting ourselves enough of the views atop the summit of Mt. Binacayan, we started the descent with whatever vigor we had left. Fatigue was starting to take its toll that I was already dreaming of a warm bath and a massage as soon as we get that day’s hike over and done with. We took a different route going down. Our guide said it was a shorter route but thrice as hard than the trail we took in going up. I didn’t argue. I knew it would be difficult no matter which way we take so that left us with not much of a choice, really.

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The descent consisted mostly of scrambling along near-vertical rock formations. There were no ropes so it was up to me and my fat limbs to find my way down. Like for me it was reaching whatever my feet could land on while my hands tightly held a rock to prevent my fall. The arduous descent took almost an hour that it was quite a relief the moment my feet landed on soft earth and I saw no more rocks on our further way down. From that point, we took the descent in a breeze just stopping for a moment in the resting camp near the “Rockies” to get us some water and moving on until we were finally back at the registration site.

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TIPS  & OTHER TRAVEL INFO


  • Passenger vans going to Montalban Rizal is available 24/7 in Cubao, in front of Jolibee Farmers Plaza branch or in front of Gateway Mall. Fare is P50 per person.
  • Tricycle service to Sitio Wawa is available 24/7 and cost P60 good for 3-4 people.
  • DENR Office in Sitio Wawa as well as the trails doesn’t open to hikers until 4:30 AM.
  • The mountains of Rizal has one of the most scenic views of the early morning sun with the dreamy clouds filling up the horizon. Reservation is not necessary and they allow walk-ins.
  • Bring gloves and/or any hand protection gear. You’ll need it to navigate through sharp limestone rocks when you assault to the summit.
  • Please wear shoes since trekking sandals might not give enough support for your feet during the hike along jagged limestone rocks.
  • There are gloves sold in front of DENR registration for P50/pair.
  • Guide Fee is P500 for 5 people in a group for each mountain. If you are to hike all 3 within the day, some guides would ask you to pay P1500 but there are some who would kindly consider a lower payment.
  • As the common rule, please observe the LNT Principles. Bring trash bags with you and dispose them upon getting back in the city. The locals of Sitio Wawa has no proper waste disposal facility at the moment so it will help greatly if we won’t add to the trash they would need to carefully dispose of.
  • Plenty of toilet and bathrooms are available near the DENR office where you can take your necessities or wash up after the hike for a minimal fee.



SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, ITINERARY AND OTHER ESSENTIALS


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSESRT Fare Van Cubao-Eastwood > P100
RT Fare Tricycle Eastwood-Sitio Wawa @ P60/3 > P40
Registration Fee > P30
Guide Fee @ P600/3 > P200 (We gave our young guide extra)
Snacks > P50
Lunch > P150

TOTAL <<>> P570
SAMPLE ITINERARY0230 Meet Up Jollibee Cubao Farmers Plaza
0300 ETD Eastwood
0400 Ministop Eastwood. Ride Trike to Brgy. Wawa
0415 ETA Brgy. Wawa
0430 Register
0445 Start Hike
0530 The Rockies
0545 Viewpoint
0615 Peak 1. Photo Ops
0645 Peak 2. Photo Ops
0700 Start Descent
0830 Back to Jump Off. Wash Up
0900 Breakfast
1000 Wawa Dam. Chill. Photos Ops.
1200 Lunch
1300 Start Trek Karugo Falls
1400 Karugo Falls. Chill Photo Ops
1600 Pack Up. Trek to Jump Off
1700 Jump Off. Log Out. Head Home
1900 Home
THINGS TO BRING-2L Water
-Trail Snacks
-Packed Lunch
-First Aid Kit with personal medication
-Extra Clothes
-Gloves
-Sunblock
-Toiletries
-Garbage Bag
CONTACT NUMBERSGuide: Joshua - 0948 895 7800

Note: He's quite young so forgive his being restless whenever you stop for breathers. He's also hikes pretty fast but he surely won't mind you asking him to slow down.. 🙂


NO SEA OF CLOUDS? NO PROBLEM



There you have it lovelies. Another peak survived. This may have been classified as newbie-friendly but mind you, the trails were never even in one instance easy. So that’s it for me. If you have questions, suggestions and violent reactions, just leave me your comments below.

Don’t forget to share!

TAAL VOLCANO: Day Hike Guide, Budget, Itinerary & Why It’s Worth It


Taal Volcano is one of nature’s greatest wonders nearest to Manila. An hour drive to Tagaytay will showcase the remarkably gorgeous view of this jewel situated in the middle of Taal Lake. Arguably the country’s 2nd most popular volcano next to Mt. Mayon of Legaspi, this little stunner’s beauty, however, is not about to settle for 2nd best. While many would content themselves merely seeing this stunner from afar, we thought of witnessing it up close delighting ourselves with a little adventure by hiking to Taal Volcano’s crater.

Allow me to show what it’s like up there.


THE CLIMB


Gaining an elevation of 311++ MASL, the hike to Taal Volcano’s crater doesn’t seem too challenging. However it is no longer my habit to underestimate any mountain so I expected everything from the best to the worst. Starting the adventure in Tagaytay, we rode a tricycle going to Talisay, Batangas. From there we hired a boat to take us to Taal Island. The boat ride lasted  around 25 minutes. Arriving at the docks, we immediately walked to the registration area to pay the entrance fees then soon after, we started the hike.

From the registration area, we walked along a grass covered land for about 2 minutes then went on to walk on a concrete path passing by some locals and their horses offering us a ride. We continued to walk on the concreted road for about 5 minutes before turning left to a dirt path. The flat dirt road stretched to about 2KM before finally reaching the junction. There we had our tickets inspected by some staffs from the Tourism Office then went on.

 

The trail past the junction is gradually ascending. It was badly beaten and hikers will need to also share it with horses. We trekked along with other hikers consisted mostly of Koreans and Taiwanese tourists. Horses going down are some obstacles we needed to be careful with but this part of the hike, in general, is pretty easy. After probably 15 minutes, we reached the first resting camp.

 

We continued the hike after taking a 5-minute breather along the gradually ascending trail. This hike should pretty much be easy but the sun was slowing me down. One thing to always keep in mind if you don’t wanna have a hard time in the mountains is to start early. That way you wouldn’t have to battle your way against the scorching heat of the sun. Although the trail from the first resting camp to the next is shaded, we just happen to have hiked during an extremely hot day.

 

The trail from the first resting station to the next stretched to about 3KM but you wouldn’t mind the long hike as you will be entertained with the panoramic view of Mt. Tabaro and Taal Lake the moment you finish it. From the 2nd resting hut, the trek that follows is pretty easy. Probably the easiest part of the trail as it will be along flat, soft earth which would stretch for about another 2KM. You will find another resting hut before finally taking the last stretch of the hike to the viewing deck.

From the final resting hut, the trail that follows is comprised of steep ascents coupled with the hot sulfur steam emitted from the ground. If you happen to be hiking under the midday sun then this would be your greatest challenge. It will take about 15-25 minutes to finish the final stretch before reaching the resting stations just a few meters under the viewing deck. It seems pretty short of a time but if the sun has always been your weakness then just like me, you’ll find the final stretch taking for as long as forever.

We skipped the viewing deck as it was too crowded with tourists and other hikers. Instead, we went straight to the so-called Red Lava which promises an unobstructed view of the crater lake. From the resting camp we walked to the right for about five minutes. We arrived at a gated entrance to the Red Lava. We paid an additional P50 each to be allowed entry. A couple of muddy slopes along overgrown bushes later, we arrived in Red Lava.

As promised, Red Lava offers a breathtaking 360-degree scenery of Taal Lake and the faraway mountains of Maculot and Batulao. The Taal Volcano crater looked so immaculate in a pool of emerald green water. Another factor that made the scene so dramatic was the crimson red color of earth and the hot sulfuric fumes it emitted. Red Lava gave us all the best things Taal Volcano can offer which made the additional P50 totally worth it.




HOW TO GO THERE


 
 

From Buendia Bus Terminal, ride a Nasugbu bound DLTB bus going to Tagaytay (1.5Hrs ; P82.50). Alight the bus in Olivares or in Rotunda just in front of the Police Station. From there hire a tricycle going to Talisay or to your contacted boat station (30Min ; P150/tric/3pax). Pay the fees then ride a boat going to Taal Volcano Island (20Min ; P2000/boat/7pax).

 


USEFUL TIPS BEFORE YOUR TRAVEL


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  • The hike to the crater of Taal Volcano in general is easy although visitors are encouraged to get a guide for their tour.
  • The tourism office is open as early as 4AM to accommodate visitors.
  • Taal Volcano isn’t just for hikers and adventure seekers. Those who wish to witness the beguiling beauty of this little mountain but dreads the arduous task of hiking can simply get a horse and ride their way up for a fee of P500.
  • The trail going up Taal Volcano is mostly bare so start your hike early in the day to avoid the sun on extremely hot days.
  • The last stretch of the hike is the toughest as temperature tend to rise due to sulfuric steams from the ground.
  • Bring enough water and hydration packs as those sold in Taal are really expensive. Bet you wouldn’t wanna pay P100 for a bottle of Gatorade.
  • Going all the way down to the crater is no longer allowed.
  • The tricycle ride back from Talisay to Tagaytay can cost double the price of you going there. Say P150 to take you to Talisay but going back can cost P300-P500.

INTERESTING PLACES TO STAY AT AFTER YOUR HIKE


 

CLUB BALAI ISABEL

Address: Fairways Drive, Talisay, Batangas
Phone: (02) 895 7230

Check Rates & Availability

ESCALA TAGAYTAY

Address: Purok 102, Poblete Street, Barangay Maharlika West,, Tagaytay, 4120 Cavite
Phone: (02) 519 4444

Check Rates & Availability

NURTURE WELLNESS VILLAGE

Address: Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II West Luzon 4120,, Tagaytay, Cavite
Phone: (02) 710 9786

Check Rates & Availability


SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, SAMPLE ITINERARY & OTHER ESSENTIALS


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (Commute/5Pax)Round Trip Bus @ P82.50 - P165
Tric Tagaytay-Talisay @ P150x2/5 - P60
Tric Talisay-Tagaytay @ P300x2/5 - P120
Boat @ P2000/5 - P400
Guide Fee @ P500/5 - P100
Taal Port Landing Fee @ P50/5 - P10
Environmental Fee - P100
Food - P200

Total <<>> P1,155
SAMPLE ITINERARY0330 Assembly Buendia Bus Station
0400 ETD Tagaytay
0500 ETA Tagaytay Rotunda
0530 ETA Talisay Boat Station
0600 ETA Taal Volcano Tourism Office. Register. Breakfast
0700 Start Hike
0900 Taal Volcano Crater. Photo Ops.
1000 Start Descent
1100 Tourism Office
1200 ETA Talisay Boat Station. Lunch.
1300 Tagaytay. Tour People's Park | Skyranch
1600 ETD Manila
1800 Home
THINGS TO BRING2L Water
Trail Snacks
Packed Lunch
Extra Clothes
First Aid Kit
Caps/Umbrella
Toiletries
Camera
LIST OF FEES TO PAYBoat Rental (7pax capacity) - P2000
Environmental Fee - P100 (Adults) : P50 (Child)
Guide Fee (Optional) - P500/7pax
Horse Backriding (Optional) - P500/head
Red Lava Viewpoint Fee - P50
CONTACT INFOJ-Cel Boat Station - 0920 294 1735


This adventure to Taal Volcano simply justified the fascination both locals and foreign tourist has for her extraordinary beauty. She is absolutely stunning that a visit would never be a time wasted. So there you go! For questions, comments, suggestions and/or violent reactions, just leave them below.

Don’t forget to share! Until next time. Ciao!

JOMALIG ISLAND: DIY Budget Travel Guide + Itinerary And Why It Will Easily Charm It’s Way To Your Heart


The thing about the Philippines having more than 7500 islands is that it never runs out of surprises! You see, I’ve already been to numerous coveted destinations in the country. El Nido and Coron for instance. I’ve seen more beautiful beaches with irresistible blue waters like the gorgeous Nacpan Beach. I’ve walked through shores of finer, powdery white sands of Calaguas and Boracay Islands but surprisingly, none has taken my breath away the way Jomalig Island had. Witnessing its beauty unfold with my very eye was so surreal that I was literally holding my breath gasping in so much awe for what seemed like several minutes trying to take it all in. Don’t get me wrong. There are more beautiful places out there but Jomalig Island’s inexplicable charm is like a spell that had instantly swept me off my feet.

Jomalig is one of the islands in the province of Quezon that’s facing the Pacific Ocean. It is situated  just under Polillo Island and is a 4-5 hours of boat ride away from Ungos Port in Real. Throughout the years, this island have stayed isolated and although it has been featured numerous times on well-known local travel websites, it perfectly shows no sign of succumbing to greed and commercialization as of yet. Famous for its long stretch of golden sandy beaches, Jomalig Island still has one too many treasures up its sleeves and the best part is, it has the warmest and friendliest locals!


HOW TO GO THERE FROM MANILA


  • Commute – Ride a Raymond Bus in Legarda to Real Quezon (4Hrs ; P220). Asked to be dropped of at Petron Station after entering Real. From Petron Station, ride a tricycle to Ungos/Real Port (P10). From the port, ride a boat going to Jomalig Island (5Hrs ; P400). Another option aside the regular ferryboat is Mercraft which promises a faster and more comfortable travel to and from Jomalig Island.
  • Private – Drive to Real Port following the Marikina-Infanta Hwy continuing to Ungos-Cawayan Road. Download WAZE app for further instructions.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN JOMALIG ISLAND


  • Go Island Hopping – Rent a boat for P3500 which can fit up to 10 people and explore the inland attractions or the nearby islands.
  • Go On A Motorcycle Tour – No need to go far to see the best of what Jomalig Island can offer. Hire a motorcycle for P600/passenger to tour you around and see all these astounding sites found within the island.
    • Little Boracay
    • Little Batanes
    • Fish Sanctuary
    • Rock formation
    • Canaway Beach
    • Bigwangan Lake
    • Golden Sandbar
    •  Small Cave
    • Kanaway Islet
    • Mangrove Garden
  • Explore Salibungot Beach – You’ve never been to Jomalig Island if you have not explored their most popular beach, Salibungo and had your photo taken next to their ‘I LOVE JOMALIG” marker.

USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS


TRANSPORTATION

  • Boats going to Jomalig Island are already operational as early as 1AM but won’t leave until the minimum number of passengers is reached.
  • Get to the port as early as you can so you can secure a good spot at the top deck of the boat enabling you a comfy sleep during your travel.
  • Sometimes, boats from Real to Jomalig Island would dock and unload passengers in Salibungot Beach where visitors can simply walk to their chosen resorts. However, most of the time the docking activity is done in Landing Port. This would require visitors to hire a motorcycle to take them to their chosen resorts. Fare would range from P60-80/passenger.
  • In cases where boats can’t go ashore to load and unload passengers, a small boat is provided to transfer passengers from the ferry unto the island for a fee of P20/passenger.

FOOD & COOKING

  • Buy your food supplies before going to the island. Although there is a market place in the island where you could buy your supplies, they can be pricey and pretty limited.
  • Cookwares, cutlery and utensils can be borrowed from the resort.
  • Drinking water is sold by the gallon for P60.
  • Most of the resorts offer to cook meals for their visitors during their stay for a service fee of $150/meal/person. Cooking ingredients will have to be provided by the visitors.
  • If you would cook your own meal, a gas powered stove can be rented for P200-P300 depending on the number of people you will be cooking for. Coal is another alternative which you can buy along with your other supplies prior to going to the island.
  • A public market is situated nearby Ungos Port and is open as early as 4AM.

ELECTRICITY & MOBILE SIGNAL

  • Fully charge your phones, camera and other gadgets and bring extra batteries since electricity is not available 24 Hrs.
  • There is reliable mobile signal in the island for both Globe and Smart Networks but can be intermittent in some areas.

DO’s & DONT’s

  • To keep the island clean, camping overnight at the beach is prohibited. Visitors are required to book their stay with accredited resorts in the island.
  • Night swimming is strictly not allowed due to the recent incident of unfortunate death caused by drowning.
  • Avoid storing your food in disposable plastic containers instead use reusable containers to lessen waste.

ACCOMMODATION

  • Visitors can book a room that can accommodate up to 4 people for a price of P500/night in most of the resorts in the island.
  • Entrance fee to the resorts ranges from P150-P180/head and is paid on top of the accommodation.
  • Tent space are also provided for those who wish to camp within the resort for a fee of P200-P250/tent.



WHERE TO STAY


For our 2D1N stay in Jomalig Island, we stayed in Banana’s Beach Resort as it was highly recommended by one of our friends who went to the island ahead of us and I got to hand it over to Tatay Say, his wife and the rest of the staffs of the resort for their kindness and superb service. For inquiries, you may call or text their mobile 0928 750 6148 | 0936 913 2132.

You may also choose from these affordable resorts in the island:

  
Jomaligaya Beach Resort - Situated near Salibungot Beach
Rate: Rooms - P500
Tent Space - P100/tent
Entrance Fee: P180
Contact No: 0947 891 9617
Jojomalig Beach Resort - Near the sandbar
Contact No: 0939 903 4275
Tejada Beach Resort - Also near Salibungot Beach
Rate: Rooms - Starts at P250
Contact No: 0907 537 5234
Apple's Resort
Contact No: 0910 659 7361 | 0915 799 2954

SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, SAMPLE ITINERARY & OTHER ESSENTIALS


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (10Pax via rented van)
Roundtrip van transfer @ P8000 - P800
Roundtrip boat transfer - P800
Environmental Fee - P170
Roundtrip Motorcycle Port-Resort - P120
Entrance Fee - P150
Tent Space @ P60/tent for 3 - P18
Food - P200

Total <<>> P2420

***Note that you can save more if you commute instead of renting a van.
SAMPLE ITINERARY Day 0

2100 Assembly/Meet Up
2200 ETD Ungos Port Real Quezon

Day 1

0200 ETA Real Port, Quezon
0300 Board the boat
0500 ETD Jomalig Island
0900 ETA Jomalig Island
0930 Resort. Set Up Camp. Rest
1000 Inland Tour
1200 Lunch
1300 Continue Tour
1700 End Tour
1800 Dinner
1900 Socials
2200 Lights Out

Day 2

0600 Wake Up
0700 Breakfast
0800 Explore the beach
1000 Pack Up
1100 Early Lunch then head out to the port
1200 ETD Ungos Port
1700 ETA Ungos Port
1800 Dinner
2100 Home
THINGS TO BRINGTent
Flashlights/Headlamps/Camping Lamps
Food And Snacks
First Aid Kit with prescribed meds
Sunblock
Toiletries
Extra Clothes
Sunnies
CONTACT NUMBERSBoats

Jovelle2 (50 capacity) 0998 428 9244
LJ Kate (80 Capacity) 0919 652 0168

More of these at outoftownblog.com

Mercraft - 0928 415 6613 | 0998 597 7170

 


There you have it lovelies. For comments, questions, information update and suggestions, just drop them below. Until next time. See yah!

PS: I made a video of our Jomalig Island escapade. Let me know what you think. Don’t forget to share!

 

MASUNGI GEORESERVE: DIY Travel Guide + Itinerary And Everything Else You Need To Know


Mountaineering is probably the most popular hobby of today’s generation. More and more, people are falling in love with this outdoor sport paving to many more mountains opening its trails to thrill seekers. While some like to keep it nice and easy finding happiness in less difficult trails such as that of Mt. Gulugod Baboy and Manabu Peak, others prefer defying the challenge of known formidable mountains such as the unforgiving Mts. Guiting-Guiting and Halcon. In addition to hiking mountains, today’s yuppies also enjoy obstacle courses and the fun and fulfillment that comes with it. But if there is one place that offers both all the splendor there is atop a mountain peak and that same rush of adrenaline and excitement of an obstacle course, that would definitely be Masungi Georeserve.

DSC_0047

Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area within the rain forest of Rizal. It has been an institution in protecting the vast rustic garden of thousand-old rock formations in the area against mining, illegal logging and quarrying for 15 years now. During the last quarter of 2015, Masungi Georeserve finally opened its doors to the public, spreading awareness to the never-ending battle they face in conserving these precious karst mountains and the various wildlife that calls it home. In an instant, this one of a kind destination has found its way in almost every wanderlust’s bucket list redefining adventure to a whole new level.


THE TRAIL


The trail in Masungi Georeserve offers both adventure and leisure which is designed to entertain you with the most spectacular views of the karst mountains wrapped in colorful flowers in full bloom and the surrounding greenery while challenging you with every obstacle from the start to finish. Here’s what you will encounter in their Discovery Trail.

  • The first rope segment – Ten minutes after starting the trek comes the first obstacle. It is a rope tied in a 90-degree angle that leads to a cave-like entrance to the rest of the trail.
  • Sapot – Following a series of up and downhill trek is the gigantic spider web which offers one of the breathtaking views within the conservation area
  • Air house – In the middle of 2 hanging bridges is the air house which by its name is some place you would love to be in if you need a refreshing spot away from the heat of the sun.
  • Duyan – The biggest hammock in Asia and probably the best spot in Masungi to simply relax and enjoy the views.
  • Yungib ni Ruben – One of the cave systems found within the reserve with beautiful rock formations discovered by no other than Ruben himself. If you are wondering who Ruben is then better book yourselves a visit.
  • Nanay – One of the tallest peaks in Masungi Georeserve which offers the best views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Tatay – A formation of thousand old limestone rock formation which is the tallest spot within the reserve that offers unobstructed view of its surrounding.
  • Bayawak –  The final rope segment which is shaped/designed like a bayawak (monitor lizard) that descends to a scenic chilling spot.



WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR TRAVEL


Bookings & Reservations

  • Trail visits to Masungi Georeserve strictly requires reservation. No walk-ins are allowed. To avoid scams and fraudulent transactions, please book directly through their website.
  • Weekends are normally fully booked through 5-6 months. You may find luck in weekday schedules.
  • Trail visit fee as of January 2017 have increased to P1800/person for weekend visit and P1500/person on weekdays which includes a healthy light snack, helmet and a designated guide/park ranger.
  • Groups should have a minimum of 7 members and a maximum of 13. If you have less than 7 members in your group or if you are going solo, you will still be allowed to visit but you will pay the amount equivalent to 7 members.
  • It may take 24-48 hours before you will receive a response to your trail visit request via email where you would be asked to respond with the names of the members of your group and another 24-48 hours to receive a confirmation whether or not your request is approved.
  • Once your trail visit request is approved, that’s when you will be provided with a link to make your payment (for credit/debit card) or the bank details. You may be asked to send them a copy of your receipt once its paid and in return you will get a confirmation receipt.
  • If you would opt to pay in installment, Masungi Georeserve requires at least half of the total amount with the other half required to be paid at least 5 days prior to the scheduled date of visit.

Trail Visit Day

  • On your trail visit day, visitors are required to be at the the site at least 30 minutes prior to their schedule. This is to avoid overlapping with the other groups and to be able to maximize your time on the trail.
  • Prior to entry, you will be required to present a valid ID and a printed copy of proof of payment or the confirmation receipt from Masungi.
  • For those bringing their cars, there is a spacious parking area just after the entrance to the reserve.
  • From the entrance, guests will still need to go through a 15-20 minute scenic walk along a dirt road to get to the receiving/orientation area of the reserve.
  • Your trail visit will start with an orientation given by the park rangers who will enlighten you with knowledge about Masungi and its purpose.
  • Your group will be assigned 1 park ranger who will facilitate your visit. Although they follow a strict itinerary, feel free to ask them to slow down if they pace quite faster than what you can manage.
  • Every group is given 15 minutes to take photos in every trail highlight e.g. Sapot, Duyan, etc. so it’s best for you to plan ahead your selfies and groupfie shots.
  • Avoid making too much noise while in the confines of Masungi Georeserve to maintain the tranquility of the place and avoid disrupting wildlife.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited within the reserve. Anyone caught smoking will pay a hefty fine.
  • Avoid littering. There will be corresponding penalty for violators.
  • Wear appropriate footwear e.g. rubber and other close shoes. Trekking sandals are also allowed but NO slippers and other open footwear.
  • Bring extra clothes, water and waterproof your belongings. A small bag will be lent to you in the reserve to carry your valuables.

HOW TO GO THERE


If you have a car or have rented a private vehicle, the best route to follow in going to Masungi Georeserve is Marcos Hwy tracing your way to Tanay, Rizal and you will spot Masungi Georeserve’s logo at your right a few meters away after Palo Alto. To commute to the reserve is to ride a jeep in Cogeo Gate 2 market to Sampaloc, Tanay and you will spot the reserve at your right. Getting to Cogeo Gate 2 is through a UV Express parked near Farmers Cubao.


BEST SIDETRIPS


After your one of a kind adventure in Masungi Georeserve, entertain yourself more with the best things these side trips can offer.


SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, ITINERARY & OTHER ESSENTIALS


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (13Pax via Private Van)Entrance Fee - P1400
Rented Van @ P3500 - P270
Lunch - P100
Sidetrip @ Pinto Art - P200

Total <<>> P1970
SAMPLE ITINERARY0430 Assembly @ McDonald's Teleperformance
0500 ETD Masungi Georeserve
0630 ETA Masungi Georeserve
0700 Orientation
0730 Start Of Tour
1130 End Of Tour. Snacks
1200 Freshen Up
1300 Lunch
1400 Pinto Art Museum
1700 Home
THINGS TO BRINGWater
Extra Clothes
Snacks
Camera
Phone
Sunblock
TRAIL VISIT FEEWeedays: P1500
Weekends: P1800
CONTACT INFOWebsite: www.masungigeoreserve.com/


ADVENTURE REDEFINED IN MASUNGI



There you have it lovelies. Don’t hesitate to leave me your comments, questions and suggestions. Until next time! Ciao!

LAKE HOLON: DIY Budget Travel Guide + Itinerary And Why This Gem Is Worth Flying All The Way To Mindanao


Among the three major islands of The Philippines, Mindanao is probably the least popular among travelers. It is notorious however in making headlines in the international media as one place any person with a normal functioning brain should be wary about. Hence the aversion of many to this unsung paradise. Before any traveler could think about going to The Philippines, they’re already hindered by travel bans issued by their respective countries. That’s because of Mindanao and how unsafe a place it is. Even Filipinos from parts of Luzon and Visayas are scared of the southern region of our own country mostly because of the negative things they hear exacerbated by mainstream media which only has poorly researched news flashing on their viewers’ TV screens.

DSC_0944

I was born and raised in Mindanao where I spent the first 5 years of my life running along the beaches of Cateel and exploring the lush greenery of its mountains. Then I moved to a small progressive town of Midsayap in North Cotabato during my school years and for the next 15 years, it was my home. After I graduated college, I flew to Manila to start a life of my own. During the first few months, only one question would I get asked most of the time and that is “If I am a Muslim.” Even up to this day, exactly 9 years from the first time I set my foot in the country’s metropolis, I still get that same freaking question whenever people learn I am from Mindanao that it’s actually starting to get annoying. And I can’t blame them. Our disdain to Muslims is and has been part of a totally misguided system in our society for decades now.

DSC_0961

I am a Roman Catholic but I can’t help but feel bad for our Muslim Filipino brothers and sisters and how they and Islam is pictured as symbols of war and chaos. I feel sad for the indifference some Filipinos have towards them that being a Muslim is starting to seem like an oddity in a society dominated by Christians. I pity those people who will never get to see the beauty of Mindanao and experience the warmth of its people because of their prejudices. Yes, there is war. There is conflict in Mindanao but it isn’t in any way different from other places in our country. Tragedy. Heinous crimes. Conflict with the rebels. It happens everywhere. Some are even worse than what’s happening in Mindanao. So what makes Mindanao any different? If only we could get past the barrier we had put on against Mindanao and the Muslims, certainly we would see this feared island in a brand new light and more and more will it open its doors for us to discover all the wonderful things it can offer.

DSC_0941

You probably have heard about Siargao and seeing pictures of it made you want to fly straight to the island in an instant. Siargao Island, dubbed as the surfurs’ paradise is just one of the many treasures hidden in Mindanao. If you need further motivation then there’s the alluring Tinago Falls in Iligan, adrenaline pumping adventure in Cagayan De Oro and the mysterious Enchanted River of Hinatuan. Even our beloved province of North Cotabato recently made headlines for the discovery of an enchanting curtain waterfall of Asik-Asik in Alamada. Truly, the abundance and richness of this so-called “promise land” is of immense greatness and just when you thought you already got plenty on your bucket list, wait until you hear what I have to say about Lake Holon.

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Pristine waters. Remarkable views. Luscious forests. One of a kind adventure. These are just some of the things Lake Holon has in store for those brave enough to explore her world. Sitting idly in one of the peaks of Mt. Melibingoy (Mt. Parker) in T’boli, South Cotabato, this treasure of a lake sure does live up to its name as “The Crowned Jewel Of The South”. It’s paradise! Both literally and figuratively. Calm mornings. Quiet starry nights. Peaceful azure waters abound by vast greenery.  You’ll never see anything quite like it anywhere else. And the people? The T’bolis are just one of the kindest and friendliest people you will ever get to meet in your entire life. You will love how they worship and strive to protect their mountains and the environment. If there is one thing that sets Lake Holon apart from other beautiful destinations in our country, it’s the T’bolis unwavering will to preserve it.


TIPS AND INFO ON HIKING LAKE HOLON


  • Lake Holon is accessible through two trails, Salacafe and Kule. Salacafe is the easier trail which only takes 3-4 hours to the lake. Kule however is the more difficult trail which takes to about 5-6 hours to Lake Holon.
  • Salacafe’s trail although identified as the easier of the two trails is not to be underestimated. Although it doesn’t require navigational skills unlike Kule, it is still consist of straightforward assault from the start of the hike until the descent to the lake.
  • Salacafe’s trail may be easier but you will be rewarded less as the best views are found in Kule’s trail which offers the 360-degree view of the entirety of Lake Holon.
  • If you would opt to go with Kule, you are required to be at the tourism office before 12NN as you will not be allowed to hike through Kule anytime after lunch.
  • From the tourism office, reaching the registration site for each of the trails is still an hour of motorcycle ride along rough roads.
  • Make sure to waterproof your bags and belongings since weather in Lake Holon is kind of unpredictable and is dominated by rains.
  • A payment of P350 is required to take care of your garbage which is refundable at the registration site when you get back carrying your trash with you.
  • Day hike is possible but staying overnight and camping in Lake Holon is most recommended.
  • There are tents available for rent at the tourism office but some of them are not in good condition and kind of smelly so it’s still best to bring your own.
  • There’s toilet and bath rooms situated near Lake Holon but they’re pretty small and poorly maintained.
  • Observe silence especially in the wee hours. Don’t make too much noise as Lake Holon is said to be inhabited by enchanted creatures that may be disturbed by loud noises.
  • Going back to the registration site is always through Salacafe which would only require 30 minutes to an hour of assault along steep concrete ladder at first followed by a rugged and muddy earthen path.

HOW TO GO THERE


  • From Davao – From the terminal in G-Mall or SM City Davao, ride a van going to Marbel (4hrs ; P300). From Marbel, ride another van going to T’boli and asked to be dropped off at the Tourism Office which is also adjacent to the terminal and the public market (1.5hrs ; P125) or if you miss the trip then you can ride a van going to Surallah (1 hr ;  P75) then another van to T’boli (45 min ; P50). Register then ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) to the registration site, either to Salacafe or Kule. (1hr ; P300/2-3pax).
  • From Gensan – Ride a van straight to T’boli, South Cotabato (2hrs ; P150). Trips are limited so if you miss it then your other option is to ride a Yellow Bus going to Marbel (P85). Follow instructions above.
  • From Lake Sebu – Ride a van going to Surallah (45hr ; P40). From Surallah, ride another van going to T’boli (1hr ; P50).
  • From Midsayap – Ride a van going to Marbel (3-4hrs ; P250). Follow remaining steps above.

SUMMARY OF EXPENSES, SAMPLE ITINERARY & OTHER ESSENTIALS


  
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (5 Pax From Midsayap)Bus Fare Midsayap-Kabacan - P60
Bus Fare Kabacan-Tacurong - P135
Mini Jeep Fare Tacurong-Isulan - P25
Van Isulan-Surallah - P50
Van Surallah-T'boli - P50
Entrance Fee - P100
Environmental Fee - P50
Tent Rental 2 Tents - P40
Guide Fee - P80
Porter Fee - P150
2-Way Motorcyle - P120
Van T'boli-Marbel - P120
Van Marbel-Midsayap - P250
Food - P400

Total <<>> P1630

***Note: The big chunk of expenses is from transportation cost. It may vary depending on where you will be coming from.
SAMPLE ITINERARY (From Midsayap)Day 1

0400 Assembly Midsayap Terminal
0500 ETD Kabacan
0530 ETA Kabacan. Breakfast
0700 ETD Tacurong
0900 Tacurong
0930 Isulan
1000 Surallah
1100 T'boli. Register.
1200 Salacafe registration area. Lunch
1300 Start hike
1600 Lake Holon. Photo Ops
1700 Set up camp
1800 Dinner
1900 Socials
2200 Lights Out

Day 2

0600 Wake up. Freshen Up
0700 Breakfast
0800 Kayak. Swim. Activities
0900 Pack Up
1000 Start Hike back to Salacafe
1200 Salacafe. Lunch.
1300 Tourism Office
1400 Marbel
1700 Midsayap
1800 Home

***Note: We dropped by Kabacan as we were meeting a friend. You can ride a van directly to Marbel instead if you don't have a need of stopping by Kabacan.
THINGS TO BRINGTent
Food
Trail Snacks
2L Water
Extra Clothes
Jacket
Cookset
Umbrella
Toiletries
MANDATORY & OPTIONAL FEESEntrance fee - P100/head/day
Environmental Fee - P50/head/day
Tent Rental - P100/tent

Tour Guide
-Salacafe - P400/10pax
-Kule - P600/10pax
-Mt. Melibingoy - P600/10pax

Porter Fee - P20/kilo/way
Horseback riding fee - P400/pax/way

Activities
-Kayaking - P200/head/hour with driver


CONTACTT'boli Tourism Office:
Landline - 083 237 1205
Mobile - 09072832968

BEWILDERED MOMENTS WITH THE CHARMING LAKE HOLON



There you have it folks. I will be writing a separate narrative of our hike via Salacafe Trail so stay tuned. For questions and suggestions, please drop them on the comments box below. Until next time. Ciao!

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