Let it be known that I, an asthmatic lampa with barely any athletic abilities and also a notorious couch potato who would rather pretend I’m not hungry than have to walk to the neighborhood sari-sari store at 12 noon to buy lunch, decided one day to leave the house and hike the garden trails of Masungi Georeserve. Hard to believe but it’s true. And the most surprising fact is that I really really enjoyed it.
Masungi Georeserve is a former logging hotbed turned conservation area situated within the grounds of Mt. Masungi in Baras, Rizal. Its name is derived from the Tagalog word “Masungki” meaning “jagged” which is used to describe its iconic karst formations that date back to over a million years old (it used to be submerged in water). What makes it unique from other mountain trails are the fun and exciting rope courses and carefully curated rock gardens that are scattered throughout the area. Its developers have painstakingly nurtured the place for almost 20 years and developed it into an environmentally sustainable tourism project that benefits both the mountain, as well as its ecosystem, and the townspeople of Baras, its major stakeholder.
On my part, I’ve always wanted to go to Masungi after seeing pictures of it for the first time almost 2 years ago. However, getting a slot wasn’t very easy. First, you have to go to their website and register. They only accept a minimum of 7 guests at a given time and the fee must be paid in full. If there are only 3 or 4 individuals in your group and you want to avail their tour, you’ll still have to shell out for 7 people. This is already disadvantageous to me as I prefer traveling solo or in small groups. Second is the availability of slots. Their weekends fill up fast because, of course, most people are free only during these times.
Thankfully, they have opened shared trails to address the first concern. Groups below 7 people can finally book a tour of the place without paying any additional fees. The only caveat is that these shared trails are available during weekdays only, as a way to decongest weekends and to allow more people to experience Masungi.
Luckily, I’ve mentioned in my previous post that the president declared a holiday on November 13-15 (Monday to Wednesday) and when it became official with the memo and TV announcements, I immediately took this as a chance to finally visit the place and stretch my muscles after sitting for hours on end in the office and in the condo. My friends and I booked a shared trail which they opened specifically for this holiday.
It was an adventure, indeed. We didn’t have any car so we had to commute and we winged it using the guide given by the Masungi Georeserve team over email and Google maps. Even though they claim that their trail is very easy with the paved pathways and rails and rope bridges, the trek was still challenging for me, owing to the fact that I’m not really that physically fit and also because we were out walking under the noonday sun. In fact, I was already short of breath and my knees were shaking even before we reached the middle of the trail. There were many times when I was tempted to shout “what the fuck did I get myself into,” especially when walking uphill, but I forgot about it when I saw the view from the top. Thankfully, I was grouped with very enthusiastic and friendly fellow travelers which made the climb more bearable. Our guide, Kuya Mac, was also very helpful and made sure we can catch our breath by making frequent stops.
The hike lasted around 4 hours and we crossed around 5 or 6 rope courses. At the end of the trail, we were served tuna sandwiches, cold kalamansi juice, and bananas. The best part would have to be the ice cold towels. Cold towels after a hot and sweaty afternoon = best feeling ever! It was definitely an afternoon well spent.
Enough of the blabber, though. Photo spam starts here. 🙂
- Registration fee is P1500 for weekdays and P1800 for weekends. Visit their website to request a visit.
- It’s better if you have a car because public transportation is quite unreliable in that area. But if you’re going to commute here’s what you’re going to do: In Cubao, ride an FX going to Cogeo. Asked to be dropped off at Gate 2. Go to Cogeo Public Market and get on the jeep going to Tanay, Rizal. You’ll have to wait around an hour (or maybe even more) here as the jeep won’t leave until all seats are filled. From Cogeo, it takes around 30-40 minutes to reach Masungi. Going home is a bit trickier. You’ll have to wait for a passing Cogeo jeep to pick you up. Because trips are few and far between, the jeeps that you will come across are often filled to the brim. What happened to me and my friends was that we took the first jeep that arrived even though all seats were taken (some were even on the roof). We ended up sitting right in the middle and we were there for like 3/4 of the entire ride. It was hard and super uncomfortable but we have no choice because we don’t know when the next jeep will come. Anyway, the FX fare from Cubao to Cogeo is around P35 and the jeep from Tanay to KM 47 / Masungi is P40 as of the time of writing.
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Bring arm covers because it’s really hot especially when you’re on top of the cliffs. Water and biscuits are a must have, too. The park ranger will provide you with a helmet.
- There’s a locker where you can keep your bags. Fee is P20, I think.
- When you sign up for a trail visit, you’re also sponsoring one tree in their reforestation project. They said that they will invite us again after 10 years to see the progress of our tree. I’m already 38 by that time so… I don’t know if I will still have the strength to trek at that age. But it’s an exciting prospect to return again and I look forward to it. The future holds so much promise.