I’m not a fan of hiking and trekking. I love nature but in the form of the sea, ocean, and the beach. I’m more fascinated with sea creatures than forest animals so, when this plan came up, for us to go on a trip to Masungi Georeserve, I must admit, I had second thoughts. Whose bright idea was this anyway?!
Masungi Georeserve is a conservation project located in the Southern Sierra Madre range in Baras, Rizal, Philippines. It’s a park that was opened to the public in 2015. The trek lasts for 3 to 4 hours depending on the guests’ activities (i.e. picture taking for the gram, water breaks, snack break, etc.) but usually the ranger reminds the group not to stop for too long, so they can experience everything that the place has to offer at a reasonable pace. I made my research on Masungi a few days before the trip, so I can prepare myself physically and mentally for it. Here are a few tips for you before and during your hike.
Keep an open mind
Like what I mentioned earlier, I’m not into hiking. But after all I’ve been through in life, I need to take more chances and see what wonderful things I could learn from them. In other words, I did a bit of YOLO-ing by joining this trip. I was worried that I might not be in physical shape to walk or climb that long, but I did it. It was a whole body workout so prepare for the muscle pain the next day.
It made me realize that I still got it. I may not have the same strength and agility that I used to have but I was still able to push myself up and down those ropes and steps. No need to worry too much because trekking at Masungi is safe. The path is manmade and your ranger will guide you in every step of the way.
Wear comfortable clothes
When I say comfortable, I’m not suggesting short shorts or flipflops, wear clothes that are light that when you’re drenched in sweat or rain, you won’t feel twice as heavy when you continue with your journey. I decided to wear a very comfortable tank top from Fluid Surf, leggings, sneakers from Saucony, and my Omni Tech jacket from Columbia.
I also carried a water bottle, hand towel, a change of shirt, wipes, medicine kit, phone, power bank, and Canon G7x Mark II and placed them all in my Poler portable backpack. I was happy with what I wore during the trek, I think it made my trip a lot easier.
Listen to your park ranger and follow the rules
We were fortunate enough to have a knowledgeable and friendly ranger. We had ranger James guiding us all throughout our journey from beginning to end. He was also our designated photographer because he knew the best areas to have our group photos taken.
We would sometimes stop in a location and he would tell us facts about the area and he gave enough time for us to take breathers. There would be a few rules that will be given to you before you start your trek, so listen and abide. Masungi Georeserve is such a beautiful place and it’s well-maintained by a few dedicated people and with that, guests should make it a point to be responsible enough to help them out by making sure to follow their guidelines. Their policies are not that difficult, they’re very basic: don’t litter, don’t vandalize, don’t pick flowers and plants, keep quiet, basically, don’t disrupt mother nature. Easy.
Do your toilet break before you enter the forest
Yes, boys and girls, the only comfort room that you’ll see during your trek would be at the Silungan or the briefing area and at the Liwasan, which would be near the end of the trek.
If you’re not in-charge of your bladder, refrain from drinking too much water unless you’re comfortable peeing in the forest, which I don’t recommend.
Go with the right people and be one with nature
I guess one of the things that made going to Masungi fun for me was the company that I was with. I was with the right group of people with the same mindset that I had before going inside the forest, a bit skeptical but with a lot of enthusiasm. We helped each other by boosting each other’s moral whenever we felt like we couldn’t take one more step. We were never in competition with each other on who was the fastest or who should go up or down first.
We were just a group of silly and overworked men and women who took the time-off from our routinary lives to climb a mountain and in the end, enjoyed and succeeded. All of us marveled on how we have something as beautiful as Masungi Georeserve situated in our country, wherein hopefully won’t be taken advantaged and exploited by dodgy, powerful people. Being one with nature always gives me a brighter perspective in life, that a higher entity will continuously look out for my welfare and present me wonderful gifts that I should be grateful for and take advantage of.
Experiencing Masungi Georeserve is highly recommended, go visit their website to reserve a schedule. Thank you so much to my Happy Consultants Manila, The Visual Club, and Butterfly Twists PH family for this experience.
All photos by me, Glaiza de Castro, and Kris Villano