Traveling Philippines: Masungi Georeserve

East of the major Metro Manila area, past Antipolo in the rainforests of Rizal is the award-winning Masungi Georeserve, a private conservation area which serves as a sanctuary for various wildlife as well as a limestone landscape and unique geo-landforms that inspired its name. This nature reserve is a result of painstaking efforts and proud dedication of the people in the conservation organization, a true story of environmental heroes standing up in the face of greed threatening to destroy a national treasure and potential World Heritage site.

When visiting Manila, this is definitely worth the 2hr drive out for the 4hr guided conservation tour hike on a path that traverses not just rock formations but also includes rope climbs up sheer cliffs to hanging rope bridges and tree houses. It feels a lot like a jungle gym for adults, emphasis on the “jungle”.

The entrance to the facility has the look and feel of a tropical resort that is designed to seamlessly blend with and enhance the natural environment.

As our guide prepared us for the upcoming hike, we got ready our water bottles while also bracing for the long hike during which there were no bathroom breaks–I visited Masungi in 2018, so some details of the experience may have changed, but I imagine the lack of bathroom breaks is for conservation purposes.

Probably the most iconic photo op is the massive hand woven spider and its web upon which you can stand and take drone shots from while surrounded by a breathtaking vista of the entire region.

The rope and net climbs are quite high, probably not suited for those who get weak in the knees when faced with heights (or just have weak knees). It is great fun, but definitely is not physically easy literally climbing up and down sheer cliffs, though there are parts where you can decide to take easier routes or skip parts that are not feasible, either due to real physical limitations or perhaps just very understandable real fear of the jagged rock spikes you could fall onto.

This experience is definitely for the responsible yet adventurous travelers, not for those who are looking for a vacation sipping tropical drinks under an umbrella on the beach (which the Philippines has plenty of, if you want to avail of the 7,000 paradise island experience). I personally recommend visiting a climbing gym to get the climbing jitters out of your system and be comfortable with pulling yourself up and down mountains. Compared to a mountain climb assisted with belay ropes and carabiners and hooks, the Masungi hike is definitely less difficult and with more supports, so if you have any basic climbing training and are comfortable with even the beginner wall of a climbing gym, you will have absolutely no problem at this georeserve.

Near the end of the hike there is a cave area with a beautiful fountain naturally sunlit and filled by the rainwater, a nice little elegant touch at the end of the long trek. They also provide some sandwiches, fruits, and drinks at the end of the trail where you can shop at an eco-friendly gift shop.

Absolutely recommended is a delicious meal at the onsite restaurant Silayan. The restaurant has 180+ degree floor to ceiling windows all around with earthy wood designs inside and incredibly fresh and delicious dishes.

Honestly, having eaten at some fairly fancy restaurants around Asia with gorgeous views, such as at the top of Taiwan’s Taipei 101 and Tokyo’s SkyTree, the view from Silayan was seriously the most beautiful restaurant view I have ever experienced. Be sure to get your cameras ready to capture those nature resort vistas.

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