A Hike to Remember: Bucari, Iloilo, Philippines
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Channeling the Inner ‘Adventurer’ in Me
I’ve always believed that we all have that inner ‘adventurer’ within us; that all it takes is just a simple activity or maybe a trip to awaken that feeling and before we know it, we’re already searching and craving for adventures bigger than us.
Just recently, I took a trip to Bucari, Leon, Philippines. It is situated in the mountains of Leon, just two hours away from Iloilo City, Philippines. The place is already creating a buzz because of its cool climate and highland attractions, perfect for those wanting a quick escape from the country’s overall warm and tropical climate; not to mention the other activities offered like, trekking, visiting waterfalls and cold springs, and a viewing deck which offers tourists a view of Bucari’s pine forest with, for the lucky ones, a stunning glimpse of Iloilo City on a clear day. My curiosity was instantly piqued upon hearing these things, and before I knew it, I was already packing my backpack, ready to see and experience what Bucari has to offer.
The Road To Bucari
To get to Bucari, one can ride a jeepney from Jaro Market, Iloilo City to Leon Town plaza (approximately 30 minutes) and from there, flag a tricycle to take you to the stop where you can ride a jeepney specifically bound for Bucari. A friendly reminder, though, since the road going to Bucari is a bit uphill, and bumpy, it will take around 45 minutes to reach the campsite and therefore, the jeepney trips are scheduled. There is one that usually leaves every hour from 7am to 3pm and the last trip is at around 2pm to 3pm. So, if you are just planning on going for a daytrip, it is advised that you leave as early as 7 in the morning so there will be no trouble catching a trip back to Iloilo City. Better yet, conform with the tourism office in Leon as they can help you arrange your trip, which will make everything easier and more convenient.
Where to stay? Not to worry. Bucari may have limited choices when it comes to accommodations but there are definitely some options that you can choose from. The Pineridge Bucari Mountain Resort is located at Brgy. Bacolod, near Tabionan which offers accommodations and organic and fresh dishes from their restaurant. This resort also offers a stunning view of the pine forest (Not bad, eh?). Reservations can be made online and it’s best to book your stay a few days before the trip since the signal or reception there can be bit unstable.
However, if you want to really bring out that ‘backpacker‘ vibe in you, you can choose to stay at the Tabionan Campsite (like I did) and rent a tent for the night. I somehow believe that this is the best way to experience Bucari. The entrance fee is only 10 pesos and 250 pesos for the tent but if you have your own, there is no need to pay – just find a spot you like and set your tent up. I have to warn you though, there is no nearby market there to buy food so it’s best to bring your own. There are, however, small ‘sari-sari’ stores where you can buy certain essentials like instant coffee, noodles, and some toiletries. This is not a problem, really, because the locals there are very kind and even offer to cook your food if you let them know ahead of your visit.
Into the Woods
We arrived at Tabionan campsite at around 8:30 in the morning. The road going to the campsite is not that worse, but it’s not for the faint-hearted either. There were a lot of steep turns and bumpy roads but, nevertheless, it’s definitely worth it. As we got nearer our destination, I immediately felt the temperature drop a few degrees as cool winds began to replace the heat I felt a few hours before. When we got there, my attention was immediately caught by the tall pine trees which strongly reminded me of the movie ‘Twilight’. Right then and there, I knew I was in the right place. We began setting up our tent and after that, we immediately went around and took pictures, not wasting any moment for that matter. Truth be told, it is a beautiful place for photo shoots since the lush Pine trees really do make up for a good backdrop.
We already had lunch during one of our stopovers before taking the ride to Bucari so instead of preparing a meal, we just ate the snacks we brought with us. After that, we noticed the sudden change of the weather and it was about to pour so we decided to hike up the Mansiga viewing deck to see the whole of Iloilo for ourselves before it rains. We were halfway through when the trail started to get more slippery and there was a light drizzle already. So we decided to go back and try again the next day. Just as we got to our tent, the rain poured heavily and it was already half past 3 in the afternoon when it came to a stop. We didn’t have much to do but to stay inside and watched movies on our phones. It got colder and colder as nighttime approached and it was a good thing we came prepared with our jackets and blankets. Another important thing to keep in mind when going to Bucari, it can get very cold in the evening and early morning so it is necessary that you bring enough things to keep you warm. A bonfire can also be made at night but, unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to make one because the ground was wet from the rain earlier.
The next day, we hiked up the viewing deck again. We didn’t have any guide with us, we just followed the trail and there were some hikers going up too so we didn’t feel the need to have a guide. Yet, for those who plan to visit, I still strongly advise to ask for help, tips, and guidance from the locals to make sure you get to the viewing deck safely and not get lost.
A View From the Top
It was about an hour or half an hour, I think, of hiking before reaching the deck. And as expected, the view was indeed incredible. It took a while for me to take in what I was actually seeing. It was my first time reaching the peak of a mountain and it was just so surreal. It was a cloudy morning so I couldn’t get a clear glimpse of the city but nothing could get in the way of the happiness I felt while staring at the picturesque view before me. Sure enough, in that exact moment, I knew it was the beginning of the many adventures I’m going to have.
The trip to Bucari was more than worth it. Everything has its ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ but this one definitely had more ‘pros’ to it than ‘cons’. The best part was? I only spent more or less 500 pesos for the whole trip in exchange for the experience and memories that will last for a lifetime. What I also liked about this place was that, time is something you won’t have to think about – all you need to do is to let nature take its course and carry you to places you have never seen. This is the best place to come without going too far and without spending too much. Truly, a great bargain for a wonderful experience. A night here is more than enough to recharge your batteries and make you appreciate the beauty that you don’t usually see in the city. Most importantly, it won’t hurt to swap mobile phones for stories, a comfortable bed for a tent, and city lights for fireflies once in a while; You might even surprise and thank yourself for it, that doing nothing is actually a good thing – all it takes is a little nudge to go out there and create your own fair share of adventures.
Thank you for reading! Know more about my other adventures and misadventures by visiting my blog, thesoulscribbler.com 🙂