When you’re in need of fresh air and a break from your law school books, these places near Manila offer just the right amount of adrenaline rush and adventure perfect even for couch potatoes.
Jump-off point (starting place): Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
Assault (degree of trail inclination): Mostly approx. up to 70 degrees almost 90 degrees in some peaks
Height: Approx. 800 miles above sea level (MASL)
Hours to summit: 2-4 hours
Difficulty: 4/10 (esp. on the knife edge portion)
One can spot the peculiar shapes of the peaks of Batulao as you drive towards the jump off point. Its summits curve out a wavy pattern across the landscape. The hike begins as you go through a little farming village as you are greeted by smiles and hellos by the locals. The terrain is quite easy to spot as you go through a multitude of peaks and the occasional stops to enjoy halo-halo and buko juice served in a couple of stores along the way. Midway, a fork on the trail gives the hiker to choose between the old and new route, both offering different experiences. Along the way to peak 10, the highest point, one can’t help but stop mid peaks to capture photos of the beautiful views of the area. Upon reaching Peak 10, a breath taking 360-view will just leave one at awe. Places to setup camp are plenty and obviously marked along the way. Indeed, Batulao is a popular destination for a day-hike and also ideal for beginners.
Tips: Be ready for almost-90 degree assaults that make walking sticks optional. The knife-edge portion has an alternative route on the side if a hundred-foot fall is just too much to handle. Sunblock is a must during sunny days since there’s not much shade around.
Pico de Loro
Jump-off point: Magnetic Hill, Ternate, Cavite
Assault: Approx. 50 degrees
Approx. 660 MASL
Hours to summit: 2-5 hours (with enough breaks)
Named after the peak that resembles a parrot’s beak (its most prominent feature), Pico de Loro features a wide number of places to see and to experience. A combination of going under the canopy of lush trees and hearing the steady streams in the air is an example of the different sights and sounds on the trail. Midway, especially during the rainy seasons, hikers may choose to visit two of the natural waterfalls near the trail. Upon reaching the summit, hikers get to experience the 360-degree view of Batangas. On one side is the famous parrot’s beak, a large pillar where it can be scaled via ropes and rigs set up in the area. This mountain features one of the best camp sights as it has a flat side near the summit very ideal for campfires and setting up tents. The night’s source of light is the millions of stars above the clear sky and the plentiful fireflies glowing like Christmas lights. Overall, it will be a complete experience hiking experience that is very ideal for beginners.
Tips: Park in the DENR office located at the base. Bring at least 3 liters of water for a day hike and 7 liters for overnight. Mosquito spray is a must.
Biak na Bato
Location: San Miguel Bulacan
Assaults and Terrain: Depends. Can vary from easy to hard (depends on your choice of route)
Biak na Bato, meaning, Split Boulders, aptly sends a resounding memory through history when Emilio Aguinaldo and his established a republican government aptly named “Biak-na-Bato Republic” as a break out or a “split” from Spanish reign. This was also the site where the Malolos Constitution was signed which makes the whole place quite historical. Located about an hour’s drive from Manila, the place holds more riches other than historical events and landmarks. San Miguel, Bulacan boasts of this magnificent natural beauty that many enjoy in Biak-na-Bato National Park. Upon registration and payment of the required fees for conservation and your guide, the National Park offers several routes, caves, and adventures one can choose from. These vary from easy day treks to more challenging and in depth spelunking. The trek will be through lush trees, winding paths (some concrete) by the river, and of course, caves—with bats. Overall, it’s quite a very customizable trip which will let you yearn for more as you grow into the hobby of exploring caves with friends or family, with the varying combinations of adventures to take that will surely fit the preference of the hikers, it is virtually enjoyable in any possible way.
Tips: be extra friendly to the guides, they will be dictating on how fun the adventure will be. Bring mosquito spray and wear rubber shoes. Bring flashlights; the writer prefers head beams or head flashlights. P