About weeks ago, I had a good chance to packed my gears up to visit the Province of Rizal (well it's my xth time there to mind you), but this time we challenge ourselves and take the long road to Mt. Daraitan with Team Road Trip and of course, my Fujifilm XT1 body / 10-24mm lens. This is actually a late post and the reason behind... you will find out later.
Our adventure starts from my place in Manila, we leave at around 5:00am going to StarMall in Shaw Boulevard (meet up place) where the UV Express Van terminal is located. We just had a quick chit chat while having a breakfast or a sip of hot choco (i mean) before we jump in the van going to Tanay, Rizal.
The province of Rizal is just a stone throw away from the Metropolis and yet it seems to be always overlooked by tourists. Many don't know even local tourists, that the province boasts of numerous attractions that will surely delight outdoor persons, most specially nature lovers and adventurous ones.
For a place that is only few hours away from Metro Manila, particularly from Mandaluyong, Pasig, Quezon City or Marikina, Tanay offers a new and different dimension away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Situated at the southern tip of Sierra Madre Mountain Range, the town is dotted with numerous waterfalls, caves, river system and mountains, making it a favorite day trip go-to place of those residing in the Metro.
You can also take a jeepney or bus ride aside van from Shaw Boulevard going to Tanay Public Market, travel time takes at least one-and-a-half hour (without traffic) and fare is around P70 for van and P50 for jeepney.
At around 8:30am, we arrived at our destination in Tanay Public Market, right there and then just like any other market places in the Philippines you'll find numerous tricycles around that you can hire for the right price. We arrived too early as expected, good thing so we have more time to consume to visit other places. I talked to one of the tricycle driver and negotiate the price, he charged me a 1,000 peso (divided into 4 person isn't bad at all) to travel around Tanay and is good for the whole day trip, so instead of going straight to Brgy. Daraitan to register our name, we explore Calinawan Cave first and then to Daranak Falls... again, it's not my first time here but bringing along friends and someone to these fascinating places is something you'll never say no.
From Tanay Town Proper to Calinawan Cave will take you about 30-40mins trike drive including some rough roads nearby. We're lucky there's only few tourists around when we get there, but before you sink inside the cave you have to register your name first, they charge P100 for the guide fee including the use of individual flashlight another P20.00 entrance fee plus P10.00 for helmet (this is quite new but very reasonable for your own safety).
The historical cave was discovered in 1896 and it was used by the Filipino resistance fighters as a hideout against Spanish, American and Japanese invaders. It was also used by the Japanese as a hospital during World War II. Kalinawan or Calinawan cave is where opposing parties during the wars settle disputes, thus the name Calinawan or Kalinawan from the Filipino word “linaw” or to make “clear.
After 45mins caving adventure we then hit the road going to Daranak Falls.
Daranak Falls is one of the flagship destinations of Tanay and is a popular summer getaway for locals and tourists from in and out of the country. A favorite location shooting area of most local and international movies and advertising outfits in the country, Daranak Falls nestles calmly at the foot of the Tanay mountains, preserved with the natural vegetation, complemented with enchanting waterfalls, ponds, and rivers cascading through elaborate tropical trees and plants. This 14-meter high falls is truly a refreshing location.
FYI. Daranak Falls is open from Monday to Sunday 8:00am to 5:00pm, they charge P50.00 / head entrance fee and for the groups who have foods for lunch they offer picnic shed for only P300.00 or picnic table for P200.00 only.
Then, we headed to our main target destination to Mt. Daraitan but before that we went back to town proper to grab something to eat for lunch, of course Bulalo soup is a must-try when you're in the place like this.
After our heavy meal at Rambulls Bakahan, we then start our rough journey to Daraitan with our trike ride. To mind you, it wasn't a pleasant ride as the road to Brgy. Daraitan wasn't fully paved yet, about an hour and a half roller coaster and bumpy ride, but honestly, after a while we just enjoyed our ride and entertained by our very good trike driver who can stir the wheel while balancing outside like he's surfing on a bumpy road. Yes, it's a nerve-wracking and butt-numbing ride plus the heat, we just glad that we survived and still alive. =)
After our trike adventure, we then transfer to balsa boat (bamboo raft) to cross the river, this time it's just a 3-4 minute ride to get to the other side so you won't wait for so long to get your turn. By the way, not to mention, if you bring your own vehicle, parking is available before the river crossing. The boat ride will charge you a minimum of 5peso per passenger, quite cheap indeed. Upon reaching the other side, we then transfer to another tricycle to bring us to the Barangay Hall, from there, you have to register your name again and secure a local guide who'll provide you some briefings and will take you to the jump off up to the peak. From there, you can rent a good flashlight and a tent if you don't have one and if you go for overnight and plan to hike early morning the following day, just like what we did.
Mt. Daraitan, standing 739+ MASL is a gem at the heart of the great Sierra Madre mountain range, close enough to Manila to do a dayhike, which sits near the border of Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon. A former logging area, the village that bears the mountain’s name is now an ecotourism site that offers outdoor attractions such as caves, springs, natural pools, and limestone formations. A model for ecotourism, the barangay has an organised system for handling visitors, including trained local guides.The hike up is a (mostly) straightforward 600-meter ascent that might feel steep to those not used to hiking. There are, however, plenty of holds and the trail is well-maintained.
At the summit, one can see the Sierra Madre mountains (E, NE), the meandering Daraitan River, and a glimpse of Laguna de Bay with its outlying mountains (i.e. Makiling and Sembrano) and the mountain within it: Mt. Tagapo. From the summit, instead of returning all the way to the barangay, a recommended route to take is the trail to Tinipak River. Though the trail itself is very similar to the ascending trail, Tinipak River, with its beautiful limestone boulders, is a great highlight and must not be missed! This is also a popular camping ground which gives the option of exploring the springs, natural pools, and caves in the area.
Mt. Daraitan is a great sampler for hiking up the relatively unexplored Sierra Madre mountains, and along with the other attractions in Daraitan, particularly the scenic, lunaresque Tinipak River, is a highly recommended dayhike or overnight destination from Manila.
About half an hour trek, we finally reached the jump off point at around 4pm, we were greeted with a beautiful and relaxing view of Tinipak River surrounded by lush green mountains. We quickly secure our place where we install our tent then plunged into the river to freshen up. Then, we prepare our food for dinner so we can sleep early after our long day trip.
So, here's what happen while snoring, all of the sudden it starts to rain... heavy rain. Our tent easily get soaked but actually that's the least of my concern, as it rains the trail becomes muddy and slippery. And so, we woke up early around 3am as planned, trying to accomplish what my main objective is, to capture the beautiful bed of clouds during sunrise at the peak of Mt. Daraitan (just a wishful thinking, anyway). So, we prepare our things out, had a quick sip of a coffee then we went out around 4:30am. Obviously, the trail was so muddy because of the rain so we started to hesitate if we still continue to ascend, along the way going up, we saw the other group coming back and we asked their guide and told us that it's quite impossible to push through because its so slippery yet still too dark, meaning to say its too dangerous so don't pursue. Fair enough, so we crawl back to our tent. Hahaha!
Wondering what the area looks like in the morning, we didn't aim to go back to sleep. I took my camera instead and start shooting at the Tinipak River. Some shots covered my short dismay, until our guide Ryan bring us to Tinipak Cave. On our way to this majestic cave while crossing the river and through this temporary sloppy wood bridge, we witnessed a fascinating view to Mt. Daraitan during sunrise. About half an hour trek from our campsite, with some bone breaking trail, slippery and pointed rocks, we finally reach the cave entrance... a fresh cool water inside the cave is our main consideration for not able to climb up the mountain, so we took our time to swim and relax for an hour, we were too early so there's no other people around except us... the losers.
After that, we went back to our camp, packed our things up, slowly follow our trail back to Barangay Hall then straight back to Manila. Yes, its unfinished business indeed but no regrets. Just another reason for us to come back again and visit Mt. Daraitan. Who knows... maybe soon!