The stunning limestone karst formations at the Masungi Georeserve
The stunning limestone karst formations at the Masungi Georeserve

5:25 AM. Our car was parked in front of the Masungi Georeserve gate waiting for them to open. The wind howled and sent chills down to our bones making us seek warmth inside the car. I have long been interested on visiting the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal but booking a tour was a challenge as slots are often filled. DIY or walk-ins are also not allowed as booking should be done in groups of 6–10. Fortunately, our friend Lea, whom I met in Batanes Asus event called for joiners to complete a group of her friends with her father. We chose the earliest schedule to somehow catch a good light on the trail.

Reaching the sapot, the spiderweb trail with views of the Sierra Madres and Laguna de bay
Reaching the sapot, the spiderweb trail with views of the Sierra Madres and Laguna de bay

Masungi Georeserve

Having a car going to the Masungi Georeserve, courtesy of Lea and her father, was quite convenient. Commuting here is non-existent in the wee hours of the morning. By exactly 5:30am, finally a sign of life from the other side of the fence. The guard showed up to open the gate. Since we were the first group of visitors that day, we had the pleasure of riding a golf cart to the Silungan, driven by the field manager. We met our park ranger guide, James, who gave us the mandatory briefing.


Vegetation has grown tremendously since conservation started in 1993
Vegetation has grown tremendously since conservation started in 1993

The language spoken is the vernacular as their standard. James, a Baras, Rizal native speaks confidently and enthusiastic to share what he knows of the geo-park. Masungi Georeserve, also knows as the Masungi Karst Conservation Area is a 1,623.84 hectare area filled with limestone karst similar to those found in Palawan. The name also came from the words masungit or sungki-sungki which describes the rugged and rocky landscape. Since 1993, from a what looks like a barren land, the conservation efforts transformed the place into a lush landscape which became home to some eagles, cloud rats and 8 species of venomous snakes to mention a few.

Well-thought out and developed trails
Well-thought out and developed trails

Nature Trails

I can’t stress enough how the helmets are essential when doing the 3–4 hours nature trek at the Masungi Georeserve. There were a lot of ducking, going through tight crevices and also vertigo inducing hanging bridges and hammocks. The people have secured the pathways well and the guides know when to stop and give some relevant trivia about the place to appreciate it more. Our group did not rush through and make sure to enjoy the trail. I even commend Lea’s father, the eldest in the group who leads us during what seemed to be daunting a task.

The patak airhouse
The patak airhouse

Masungi Key Sites

Currently there are already some key sites in the georeserve. To make things exciting and an incentive to go back, they are working on new trails. Throughout the hike around the rock garden, what really went through my mind was how they were able to establish the trail, install all those bridges and even those giant hammocks. I can imagine the work that has gone through. Then we met Kukhan, the guy they call Tarzan as he was one of those responsible for climbing the sharp limestone rocks and even played a major in installing the hammocks and bridges. Nothing but respect from this Mindanao-born Kukhan along with his comrades. The major sites are

  • Sapot – the giant spiderweb with views of the Sierra mountain range and Laguna de bay
  • Ditse, Patak at Duyan – in english, “ditch, drop and cradle” describes this string of attraction coming from a natural cactus garden up to a hanging bridge where a drop-shaped air house is situated. Then there’s the unnerving ditch where the giant hammock is found
  • Yungib ni Ruben – a cool cave with live stalactites and stalagmites beautifully lit with lamps along the pathways.
  • Tatay and Nanay – namely Father and Mother are the two scenic limestone peaks at the geo-park. Tatay being the tallest and Nanay with picture-perfect connecting bridges.
  • Bayawak – or a lizard is the newest obstacle course towards the end of the trail.
Kukhan, the Masungi Tarzan (left) and the giant Duyan he helped install (right)
Kukhan, the Masungi Tarzan (left) and the giant Duyan he helped install (right)

Essential Info

For me who enjoys spending time in nature through hikes an climbing peaks, Masungi Georerve is an enjoyable day escape just an hour away from the metro. The Php 1,800 on weekends or Php 1,500 on weekdays may seem steep for a half-day tour. But personally, going through the geo-park, seeing how nature rebounds when properly taken care of, how well-maintained the park is and how keen the organization is on protecting the the natural resources, it was money and time well-spent. I’m excited to go back when the new sections of the park is open.

In the meantime if you are planning to go there here are my tips:

  • Book on a weekday if possible. Bigger chance of open slots and there are lesser people
  • Bring just enough trail snacks and water in case you get hungry. The nearest restaurants are at least 15 minutes ride away. Snacks will also be served at the end trail at the Liwasan.
  • Wear footwear with good traction. Sandals or flip-flops are not recommended
  • Wear cool and comfortable clothes that’s easy to move around with. Bring extra clothes for change.
  • There are no restrooms during the trail so make sure to pee or do your other business at the Silungan (briefing area) before starting the hike

Masungi Georeserve
Kilometer 47, Marcos Highway, Baras, Rizal, Philippines, 1970
email: [email protected]
web: www.masungigeoreserve.com
Facebook: /masungigeoreserve/
Instagram: @masungigeoreserve

 

Lea's father leading the way to the Duyan
Lea’s father leading the way to the Duyan
The cool Yungib ni Ruben
The cool Yungib ni Ruben
The oldest and tallest tree in the reserve
The oldest and tallest tree in the reserve
Lots of hammocks in the park, Lea hayahay momemnts at Nanay (left) Monna through the cave pathway (right)
Lots of hammocks in the park, Lea hayahay momemnts at Nanay (left) Monna through the cave pathway (right)
Going down the Duyan
Going down the Duyan
Kassy standing mermaid at the Ditse hanging bridge
Kassy standing mermaid at the Ditse hanging bridge
Aaron descending the Duyan
Aaron descending the Duyan
Down the Bayawak trail
Down the Bayawak trail
The liwasan at the end of the trail
The liwasan at the end of the trail
Snack at the Liwasan
Snack at the Liwasan
Cosmos flower field in full bloom
Cosmos flower field in full bloom
Path to the lady's rest room
Path to the lady’s rest room
The group caught in the spider web
The group caught in the spider web
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Ferdz

Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.


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