A Nearby Adventure at Masungi Georeserve
The Instagram photos definitely inspire FOMO: hikers wearing colorful helmets while standing on a large spiderweb, a barkada lying down on a hanging bridge made of rope, big boulders made of karst, an inviting forest surrounding it all. They are of Masungi Georeserve, and anyone who has a thirst for adventure can do a day trip here from Metro Manila.
WHAT IS IT?
The Masungi Georeserve is a privately owned conservation area and a karst rock garden located in the rainforests in the Sierra Madre mountains of Baras, Rizal, Philippines that hikers, adventure seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and groups of friends or family will enjoy.
Who says you need to take a flight or wake up at the crack of dawn to go on an adventure? An hour’s drive from the Ortigas area, Masungi Georeserve boasts of karst formations and caves I have only previously seen in El Nido, Palawan.
These karst formations have inspired the name for the park: Masungi is derived from the word “masungki” which means spiked. I had family visiting from abroad so it made it an ideal time to finally visit as a big group—but aside from the photos of the spiderweb and other rope formations, I had no idea what to expect.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Hikers who want to visit have to make a reservation online at the Masungi Georeserve site here as they can only accommodate those who have a reservation. It costs Php1500 during weekdays and Php1800 during weekends. Weekends—especially Sunday—are ideal because of less traffic on the road. Each group can accommodate a minimum of 7 guests and a maximum of 14 guests, aged 13 and older. It’s best to get here by private car—Waze it and look out for the marker Kilometer 47. There’s a parking lot in front where you can safely leave your car.
The entire trail takes around 3-4 hours of walking, climbing, resting, and photo taking, of course! Each group has only one local park ranger guide to help you along the trail. Water and bathrooms are not available once you are on the trail proper, so ensure you go beforehand. Also, eat a hearty meal before you arrive to ensure you have enough energy for the trail. The group has to be complete before embarking on the trail, so try and be early as suggested in the website: 40 minutes before your schedule.
The entire course will have you walking along forest trails, up rope walls, down rope tunnels, along hanging bridges, and up and down stairways made of rock or cement.
WHAT TO WEAR/BRING
Comfortable clothing and shoes. Since you will be doing a lot of walking, make sure to wear comfortable, sweat wicking outfits, shoes with a rubber sole, and perhaps a cap that you can wear under your helmet.
Bring your own water flask. There are plastic bottles available for sale at 75 pesos each that you can fill at Masungi’s local tap. Bring snacks easy to eat during rest stops to provide energy but always remember you cannot leave any litter here.
A small backpack. Keep your items such as sunglasses, cameras, mobile phones, wallets, towels, food, and other items safe from falling out along the trail. Masungi Georeserve will not responsible for your lost items.
Those who are afraid of heights should be aware there are several small climbs, up and down, using braided rope walls that are very secure. There are no rope handles to hold onto when climbing onto the spiderweb, so you can expect a bit of swaying while walking towards the center. You can see the karst formations down below through the rope. The hanging bridges also sway when people are walking along it, but you can hold onto the sides of the bridge. Though the trail is for beginner hikers, it would be ideal for guests to do at least 30 minutes of cardio a day before their scheduled date at Masungi to condition themselves beforehand. Those with back or knee issues should be aware there is a lot of uphill and downhill walking and some climbing. I also would recommend getting a good night’s sleep the night before your scheduled hike, because you will definitely need the energy for climbing and balancing during the 4 hour trek.
THE FUN PART
Masungi Georeserve is gorgeous—with rock formations and caves made of karst, meditative walking trails, precious flower gardens, and more. You will definitely get a rush from the fresh mountain air and exercise. The view is spectacular from this vantage point, as you are at an elevation of 640 meters above sea level.
They offer you light refreshments of tuna sandwich and calamansi juice after your hike and an oh-so-welcome cold towel to wipe your face with. Though I was tired and hungry after 4 hours of walking, I had a great time bonding with my family along the trail—chatting and taking photos in duyans or hammocks and on the rocks and bridges. I’m so glad I brought along a driver because I immediately fell asleep almost as soon as I got back to our car. Though I enjoyed my adventure, I think the next time I visit will be in another year or so!