You’ve seen the photos of people lounging on a giant hammock amidst spectacular scenery on Instagram. You’ve seen the cool spider-web like viewdeck in front of a view of majestic cliff rocks. Where is that? How do I get there?
Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area and karst rock garden hidden in the rainforests of Rizal. It gets its name from the local term “masungki” which translates to “spiked” – referring to the jagged limestone landscape found in the nature park.
Since it opened to the public in December 2015, this geological park seems to be one of the most sought-after hiking destinations because of its unique features. Here are five reasons for its rising popularity.
1. It Has Beginner-Friendly Trails
Hiking has really boomed in the country, with many barkadas spending weekends scaling summits instead of hitting the mall. However, many top hiking destinations involve long travel time or a challenging hike before you reach the most rewarding views.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go very far to enjoy the beautiful view at Masungi! Geographically located in Baras (with the entrance on the border of Tanay) in Rizal, Masungi Georeserve is just roughly an hour and half drive from Manila. First-time hikers will also be happy to know that most of the trail in Masungi is beginner-friendly. The trails are mostly lined with rock and concrete block stairs, making it a minor climb.
The discovery trail lets visitors explore through karst landscapes, limestone formations, sinkholes, caves and natural trails and forests. The trail normally lasts for 3-4 hours, but may be shortened or lengthened depending on the guest’s capacity. According to guides, most visitors dwell on the trail more for the photo op stops rather than trail difficulty.
2. You Get To Enjoy The Beauty Of Mother Nature
In order to provide a better appreciation of the area, all trips to Masungi Georeserve require a park ranger to guide guests. The park employs locals from the indigenous Dumagat communities who live in nearby barangays like Cuyambay, providing them an additional source of income.
Masungi Georeserve brings you up close to nature, with unique flora and fauna everywhere you look. The area is great for birdwatchers and herpetologists. Animals that can be spotted here include monitor lizards, snakes, civet cats, cloud rats, and monkeys, among others.
We were fortunate to see the Jade Vine, normally emerald green, blooming purple in the limestone forest during our visit. Said to be one of the rarest and most beautiful flowers, the jade vine is under threat by deforestation in its natural habitat. The area is also home to fruit-bearing trees and medicinal plants traditionally used by the Dumagat tribe for minor ailments.
3. It Has The Most Photogenic Viewing Decks And Obstacles
With celebrities and top social media influencers posting their photos here, it’s no wonder the place has become so popular among millenials.
Masungi Georeserve has well-designed, eco-friendly and picturesque viewing decks where you can get the best views. Conservation areas take inspiration from nature and many of the trail features were built around the existing terrain. You get to overcome obstacles including rope courses, hanging bridges and climb up to areas with dizzying heights.
Lambat is the first rope course that gives you a taste of what’s to come. This rope net allows groups to get up a rock wall and onto the rest of the conservation.
Duyan, a giant rope hammock that serves as a bridge between two cliffs, is one of Masungi’s most popular and most photographed features. You can just lie back and catch the breeze here.
Another much-photographed feature of the park is Sapot, a metallic platform that resembles a spider web hanging above rock formations. This viewdeck, which offers a great view of the Sierra Madre mountains and Laguna de Bay, is one of the best places to watch the sunset in the park.
While the experience may not offer the most challenging hike for hardcore mountaineers, it has attracted a lot of casual weekend warriors looking to chill out with friends in a unique setting. Every part of the the park seems to be the perfect backdrop for adventure-seeker’s selfies.
4. They Offer Great Customer Service
Masungi Georeserve offers a high level of service that focuses on the comfort of the guests, providing amenities that aren’t normally found in most regular hikes.
All hikers are issued a trail kit – a sling bag that contains bottled water, a whistle and binoculars and a helmet, which is needed when you navigate through narrow cave openings.
For guests’ convenience, there are clean and well-maintained restrooms at the start and end of the jump-off point. At the end of your hike, you’ll also be treated to light refreshments of juice, fruits, sandwiches, and fresh salad greens grown in the park’s farms.
5. It’s still uncrowded
Despite the destination being near Manila, Masungi Georeserve remains quiet, well-maintained and free from crowds which are often the result of unregulated tourism.
The park management limits visitors to only a few groups per day. Masungi Georeserve only allows group bookings by reservation and does not allow walk-ins. Groups are dispatched at different times in the park, so the place never feel too crowded or gets too noisy.
Because of its growing popularity, reservations are a bit hard to secure and there’s a long waiting list. Some groups have had to wait months to get in! But once you do get in, you won’t have to compete with hordes of other hikers, which results in a quality experience.
How to Get to Masungi Georeserve
Masungi Georeserve is located in Garden Cottages, Kilometer 45 Marcos Highway, border of Baras and Tanay, Rizal, Philippines. Though accessible by public transport, the easiest way to get there is by private vehicle. Just look out for the Garden Cottages landmark along the highway. There is a secure parking area inside.
Masungi Georeserve only entertains private group bookings. The conservation fee costs ₱1,400.00/person (April 2016 onwards) for a minimum of 7 people to maximum of 13 people per group. To reserve slots, visit their website. Prices, terms, and conditions are subject to change without prior notice. For inquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read what looloo reviewers are saying about Masungi Georeserve here.