The more than 1,500 hectare area of Masungi Georerve, Baras, Rizal is a home to numerous rare plants and animals. Many of these can only be found in the Philippines. Meanwhile, within its 10 kilometer area, and its highest peak area, lies a unique limestone formations. It is believed to have existed for around 60 million years now. And, this type is usually found underwater. Also, this is believed to be the only limestone formations of this type in the Philippines.
The abundant natural resources of Masungi not only become hot in the eyes of the tourists but to the mining and quarrying industry as well. To save the endemic plants and animals as well as the lush green rainforest and limestone sculpted through time, Masungi has been designated as a conservation area in the year 2000.
Good thing, designating Masungi as a conservation area does not restrict tourists to experience the natural gems it boasts. Masungi Georeserve developed an easy trail and challenging rope courses. Their design has taken into account the safety of both the guests and staff. They also made sure that the natural habitat and those living in it will remain undisturbed.
I’ve been wanting to visit Masungi since it opened in December 2015. But, It was too busy amd I couldn’t get a slot. Then, I left the country for a while so I didn’t get the chance. The irony is, this year, Ivisited it twice in a span of a month.
The first time I went was on my mom’s birthday and then she wanted to do something adventurous. Her last birthday we went to Siquijor where she jumped a 30m cliff board. The following year, she wanted to try trekking and rope courses in Masungi so off we went.
The first time I went I did a day-to-night trail. It was lovely! I saw it during day time and then sunset and then I saw the trail lighting up during the night. It was lovely!
I also liked the sawa which was the ending of the trail and was fully lighted at night. The details of the head of the python are more visible. I believe this is the one that’s a lot better at night.
What I loved most about the night trail was that the sound of the insects felt like they were singing in the orchestra — music to our ears! However, there are some parts that you don’t see clearly at night. But, as I mentioned earlier, sawa was better at night.
The second time I went there was when I was invited for a day tour by a friend Chel of Hey its Chel , to fill in a seat because she couldn’t make it. Since I already did the night trail earlier, I decided to give it a go. It was a different experience all together and I loved it just the same.
How to Get to Masungi
If you’re coming from Metro Manila, you can just drive straight through the Marcos Highway going to the border of Baras and Tanay, Rizal. You’ll pass by Palo Alto and Foremost Farmers. Then, right after Garden Cottages, you should find the Masungi Georeserve logo on the right side of the road.
When taking a public transportation going to Masungi, you can go to Araneta Cubao where you ride a jeep or van heading to Cogeo Gate 2, Antipolo City. From there, you’ll take another jeepney going to Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal via Marcos Highway. You can ask the driver to drop you off at the entrance of Masungi. But, the problem is that it’ll be harder to take public transportation going home. Jeepneys going back to Cogeo Gate 2 are often full as they pass by the Masungi entrance.
Masungi Georeserve does not offer shuttle services yet. But, when making reservations through their accredited partner, shuttle service are often included.
How to Book
In order to maintain cleanliness and manage foot traffic better, walk-ins are accommodated. Booking a visit in Masungi Georeserve can only be made by filling up a request form in their website. You can then receive an email confirmation on the next day or on the next two days.
You can also book a visit to Masungi through their accredited partners like KilometerZeroPh. On my second time going there, I, with a group of balikbayans, booked a reservation through KilometerZeroPh.
KilometerZeroPh handled our transportation going to and fro Masungi, our online reservations, lunch at the in-house restaurant and such. Through them, it is much easier to book especially for joiners, or those who does not meet the required minimum guest count. Masungi requires a minimum of 7 persons per group. More details can be found below.
What to bring in Masungi Georeserve
Don’t forget to bring your camera, a liter of water, cap, sunblock, and insect repellant. In case you missed to bring sunblock and insect repellent, you can use theirs which you can find in their cute bathrooms.
You might also need to bring light snacks like biscuits as I ended up hungry during the first time and second time I went there. But, you can only eat them at the second to the last stop where snacks are also served.
The first time I went in Masungi, it was so hot. But, the second time I went there was really windy. You might need to bring a jacket. If it rains, they can provide you raincoats.
Aside from raincoats, the staff will hand to you helmet, travel kit, whistle, and binoculars which you can use throughout the trail.
Limit of people, Time slots, etc
Guests must also be 13 years old and above. If you have group members who are handicapped and elderly, they can take an alternative route to rope courses. The Masungi Georeserve rate is Php 1,500 per person on weekdays and Php 1,800 on weekends. This goes to the conservation of the area.
A day tour in Masungi starts early as 5:30 in the morning. The last entry of day tour guests is often around 1:30 in the afternoon. A day-to-night tour will then start at around 2:30 in the afternoon and the last entry will be at around 3:30 in the afternoon. The next slot will then be available for night tour which can start at around 4:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon.
Night tours and day-to-night tour can only be scheduled for either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. But, the day tour can be scheduled on any day of the week except every Monday.
Direct booking with Masungi Georeserve accommodates a group with at least 7 members up to 14 members only. A group who will exceed 14 members will need to be broken down into smaller groups and will be scheduled in different time slots.
The group who does not meet the minimum guest count may still be accommodated but will be required to pay for 7 passes. No walk-ins are allowed. One of the accredited partners of Masungi Georeserve tour packages is a travel agency called Kilometer Zero Ph. They handle shared tours in Masungi for those groups with less than 7 members. The group with less than four will need to watch out for the available time slots which KilometerZeroPh publishes on their website.
Booking through KilometerZeroPh to visit Masungi Georeserve already includes round-trip transportation services, online reservation for day trail and dining at Silayan Restaurant, as well as a side trip a popular pilgrimage site, Regina Rica, and windmill farm, Pililia Windmills, both nearby Masungi Georeserve.
What to Expect
Masungi is designed for beginner hikers but can still be enjoyed by already regular hikers. You can spend more or less 3 to 4 hours trekking time. You can expect long walks, descending to a cave, ascending to the top of numerous limestone towers through rope wall, crossing hanging bridges from one towering limestone formation to another. You can also expect a lot of Instagram-worthy spots so make sure your camera is easy to carry and use.
Here are some of the main features and stopovers:
Climb up a rock wall through the ropes sewn into like a lambat or fishnet.
Strike a pose in the middle of this hanging bridge that looks like a giant hammock (or duyan). It means it has no railings but has hanging handle which you can grab to maintain your balance as you cross.
A metal platform that forms like a giant spider web is sitting over strong limestone formations. Beneath it, you can find more limestone formations. But, look around and you’ll see a better view with the healthy green rainforest, Laguna de Bay and mountains.
Tatay and Nanay
The highest piled up limestone in Masungi is what they call Tatay (father in English translation). Meanwhile, they call the second highest piled up limestone in the area as Nanay (Mother). It will challenge you to cross the hanging bridges that connect its group of towering limestone.
Ditse and Patak
Ditse is a cactus garden which then leads to Patak. Patak is like a treetop small lounge, but placed in the middle of the hanging bridges. So, they prefer calling it an airhouse. It also has a shape of a water drop.
Yungib ni Ruben
They call this Yungib ni Ruben since it was discovered by Ruben, someone who is also helping around the site. By the way, Yungib means cave. The entrance to the cave is a bit narrow. But, once you’ll get inside, you’ll find its flooring has few pavements. The sunlights peek through some holes of its ceiling.
Barangay Dahon is like a playground where you can find different hammocks and swings.
Bayawak is another rope course leaning on the wall where you’ll be crawling up like a monitor lizard. That is because it has a sharper slope than the other rope obstacles.
The Liwasan, park in English, is another lounging place along the trail that also has benches, hammocks and swings. Its pond even serves as a birdbath.
Sawa is a quick exit from the trail. It got its name from the Filipino word Sawa which is Python in English translation. This is an easy-to-walk bridge which looks like a snake belly. It even has lights at night that you can see the real details of the snake’s head and open mouth.
For night trail guests, the Tagusan is resting area where the campfire is set up and where the light night snacks are often served.
Dining at Silayan Restaurant
Booking through Kilometer Zero Ph includes lunch at Silayan Restaurant. Silayan Restaurant is the only in-house restaurant of Masungi Georeserve. It is exclusively for scheduled guests hikers only. An additional fee of around P600 will be required though.
The sustainable restaurant is open from 8 in the morning. But, those who will have their day tour after 12 noon may only make a reservation before their tour since the restaurant will be closed by 5 in the afternoon.
Silayan Restaurant proudly serves seasonal and local dishes using locally produced fresh ingredients. This is the way of the Masungi Georeserve to help their suppliers of raw ingredients who are living in the neighboring areas .
During our visit, they served us with edible flowers. To be honest, I was scared to try a flower looking salad but turned out to be good. I loved the salted egg dressing of the salad. The rice was blue — Yes! The vegetable soup was lovely and the chicken was good. The pics were just appealing. The presentation was full of colors and the food was full of flavors.