One of the amazing places to go to near Manila is Masungi Georeserve. It is just 45 kilometers away from the city and is located in the border of Baras and Tanay. What separates this piece of Sierra Madre treasure among the mountains of Rizal is its man-made features and impressive rock formations. Its karst topography has blended well with the lush flora and fauna that covers the entire conversation area with its natural splendor.
The paved pathways from the garden called Silungan stretches all the way to a 300-hectare park that offers breathtaking views. You can marvel at the vast unspoiled forests, towering limestone formations, and caves that are completely accessible to visitors. What made this natural beauty more exciting are the seemingly bottomless sinkholes, giant hammocks, and hanging bridges that will make you flash your action cameras while documenting your “buwis buhay” moments. (but don’t worry, trekking Masungi Georeserve is a safe trip.)
The Discovery Trail was opened to the public last December 2015. In spite the threats of land grabbers and illegal loggers in the past, the Maungi Georeserve Foundation was able to stand up against them with the help of the DENR.
What I like about the trip to Masungi Georeserve is the concept of Geotourism. It is one thing to visit the beautiful destinations of our country, and another to add the principles of environmental sustainability to it.
Geotourism emphasizes on ecological conservation, the local culture, environmental awareness, and appreciation of the geographical character of an area. The idea of sustainable tourism got me as I marveled at the surroundings. I made sure to get as many interesting information from our park ranger as we went through the exciting obstacles along the way.
The Discovery Trail
The cemented 10 kilometer pathway started easily. There were some steep ascents but were completely manageable. We were also welcomed by one of the seemingly bottomless sinkholes followed by a huge net where you had to climb in order to move along.
The trail offers a lot of fun and challenging obstacles. The rangers of Maungi Georeserve also make sure to implement safety measures all throughout the adventure. Helmets are required and visitors should climb the nets two at a time. Ponchos were also provided in case of rain.
One of the most popular attractions of Maungi Georeserve is ‘Sapot’. This section which was designed to appear like a spider-web offers a breathtaking view of Laguna Lake and the Sierra Madre mountain range.
It was a bit shaky but not to the point where you will lose your balance. It was made of reinforced steel supported by limestone. The fresh Rizal air and the green horizons also contributed to the exhilarating experience.
The interesting etymology emerged due to Maungi Georeserve’s towering rock formations. Locals used to call the place “Masungki” or spiked because of the jagged limestone everywhere.
Due to its rich biodiversity and natural resources, the place was prone to several human activities. Logging was rampant back then leaving only the tree stumps. Settlers also gathered wood for fire. These damages were left along the trails in order for visitors to be aware of the environmental impact that it left behind.
Ditse, Patak, & Unggoy
The park ranger then lead us to the stunning garden trails of Ditse (Tagalog term for second older sister). It has a paved utopia of cactus gardens and a wide variety of trees. There is also a resting place in the middle of a canyon-like rock formation reminiscent of the movie 127-hours.
The attractions just kept unfolding as we moved along. We headed to a hanging bridge and took a quick rest inside “Patak” a hanging house-like structure in the middle of the wobbly bridge. I suggest taking advantage of this indoor spot since the next sections may wear you out especially during the hot weather.
The elevated areas offered nothing but greens and blues! It was quite an obstacle course which made the climb more exciting. We then took a while to enjoy a one of a kind experience of hanging out in the most gigantic hammock that I’ve been on my whole life.
Yungib ni Ruben
You will be welcomed by a cave entrance at the other end of the giant hammock. The name came from one of the park rangers who discovered the limestone rock shelter. It is lit up by dim lamps and sunlight also permeates from the top of the cave, contributing to the eerily beautiful ambiance.
The highest peak of Masungi Georeserve is named after the Filipino family patriarch. Limestone and karst rocks just shoot up to the skies as it piles up to form a massive geophysical masterpiece.
The second highest peak also offers stunning views of the mountainous region. It is a group of five rocks that are connected with bridges. I think this is the most beautiful among the peaks of Masungi Georeserve. The bridges are photo shoot worthy and there are also shaded areas with hammocks if you want to take a breather and catch some fresh air.
Bayawak and Sawa
The names may be creepily intimidating because of these reptiles’ fierce reputation, but you will realize that these sections are one of the most enjoyable parts of the trek.
The gigantic steep net resembles that of a monitor lizard’s body when seen from afar. It may look daunting but the park ranger will make sure that you go down safe. Just take your time and enjoy the thrilling experience.
Liwasan, food trip, and back to Silungan
Liwasan is such a therapeutic place. The bed of flowers fills the garden with various colors, adding more eye candy to the park. There is also a pond which was made for the birds that would like to take a tiny splash or satisfy their parched beaks.
I was expecting the usual “one sandwich per person” type of snack when we got to our last stop. The management of Masungi Georeserve exceeded our expectations when they served loaves of wheat bread, lettuce, a bunch of bananas, and the best chicken salad that I had. We helped ourselves from the sumptuous snacks as we recuperated from the fun-filled adventure.
I’m not exaggerating. Props to whoever made that chicken spread…
Masungi Georeserve is a one of a kind experience. Our country has a lot of mountains for trekking but this conservation area offers attractions that are tailor fitted for beginners and experienced visitors alike. The way they educate people on environmental conservation is an advocacy that I sincerely support. I just hope that we can apply this principle not just in the great outdoors, but also to the cities where most of us reside.
So which among the features of Masungi Georeserve are you looking forward to? Leave your comments or share your awesome adventure in the comments section below.
- Duration of the trek: 3-4 hours
- Location: Kilometer 47, Marcos Highway, Baras Rizal
- Part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range
- There are some sea shells attached to the rocks in spite the mountainous region. We were informed that the area was underwater around sixty million years ago!
- The trail covers 300 hectares of lush gardens and beautifully designed sections. Masungi Georeserve as a whole spans to about 1,600 hectares of forests and rugged karst rock formations. It is also home to several animal and plant species that are endemic to the Philippines.
- Declared as a strict Nature Reserve and Wildlife sanctuary by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
- Walk-ins are not allowed.
- For the list of available schedules, please check Maungi Georeserve’s website.
- The upcoming dates usually gets filled really fast. We managed to secure a slot that was four months from the date of booking.
- They only accept a minimum of 7 persons per group.
- Cost: 1,800php/pax (Weekends), 1,500php/pax (weekdays)
- Only children 13 years old and above are allowed in the Discovery trail.
Things to bring/What to wear
- A helmet is provided by the staff and is required to be worn all throughout the hike.
- About 1 liter of water is sufficient for the whole trip.
- Trail food (Nuts, granola bars, Jellyace)
- Dri-fit shirts are ideal
- Sleeves and sunblock
- Running or hiking shoes for extra grip
- Poncho in case of rain (But they provide this)
- Wear shorts or dri-fit pants instead of jeans
- Cameras (Mobile or action cams)
How to get there
The winding road of Marcos Highway will lead you to the small gate of Garden Cottages which we thought was the main entrance. Once you see this gate, head farther and you will reach Masungi Georeserve’s parking lot (About 2 kilometers from Garden Cottages).
By Public vehicle
- Take a Jeepney from Gateway Cubao bound to Cogeo Gate 2 in Antipolo.
- You may then ride another jeepney from Cogeo Gate 2 to Sampaloc in Tanay. The assembly area/parking lot is on the right side of Kilometer 47.
The concern comes after the trek because the chances of public vehicles passing by is quite slim. (Interval of 30 minutes or longer.)
By Private vehicle
Renting a van or bringing a car up Kilometer 47 is the ideal way of getting to the destination.
Parking is a breeze since the park only has limited slots per day. Just be careful when parking your car facing the mountain range. This part is a cliff-side without any fence. There is a parking attendant who will assist you anyway so you don’t have to worry.
- Head to C5 road until you reach Ortigas Avenue. Head straight until you reach a roundabout.
- Take the Ortigas Avenue Extension road on the third exit.
- Turn left once you reach Sumulong Memorial Circle.
- Continue straight until you reach Sumulong Highway.
- Turn right to Olalia road and then turn right before reaching Cogeo Market. Follow the road until you reach Marcos Highway.
- It will be a long and winding road along Marcos/Marilaque highway. There will also be some occasional steep sections. Continue straight until you see Garden Cottages on the right side of the road. The parking area is just 2 kilometers away from here.
- Travel time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.