Affordable Hiking Experience in Rizal
Saturday, April 13, 2019
by Austin Lee
Working in the city means you’re continuously seeing a backdrop of blinking lights, towering skyscrapers, and crowded terminals. While it could pass as a lovely cyberpunk IG photo, the cityscape is lacking in one thing: the ever dominating presence of green.
The lack of greenery might make you wish for a break from the metallic scenery once in a while. Fortunately, there’s a place for that only a few hours away from Manila. Perfect for hikers, would-be hikers, and nature trekkers: Daraitan, Rizal!
A Bird’s Eye View of Daraitan
Barangay Daraitan is a climbers’ haven in Tanay, Rizal, near the Quezon Province border. The well-preserved hiking destination has been a favorite both for beginners and frequent hikers because of the many adventures the place offers. One of them is conquering Mt. Daraitan.
Any climber who has been to Mt. Daraitan will tell you that the experience at the peak is all worth the fatigue. True enough, as reaching the echelon will treat you to a sea of clouds (seasonal), the lovely Sierra Madre mountain range, and the vast province of Rizal.
Climbing Mt. Daraitan
Here are some important points you need to know before attempting to reach the peak:
- Daraitan is rated 4/10. As applicable to all other mountains in the Philippines, the Mt. Daraitan climb has a difficulty level. A lot of experienced climbers would rank the hike at 4/10. This means it is safe for beginners to climb the said mountain, provided that they are physically fit and ready at least a week before the activity. You’d most likely spend more or less 8 hours traversing up and down the summit (3-4 hours ascent, 4 hours descent).
- Inquire at the Barangay Hall first. Do not ever attempt a DIY climb at Mt. Daraitan especially if you’re a beginner. Opt for the standard operating procedures instead. That means inquiring at the Daraitan Barangay Hall and paying for the required fees (list of fees later in the article). The Barangay will provide you with a tour guide.
- There’s a limit to the number of climbers per day. The barangay limits the hikers to 300 persons per day. Knowing this, you might want to plan your hike during the weekdays when there are fewer people.
Not only is climbing Mt. Daraitan an affordable hiking experience; it’s also a memorable one. But to take the happy memories a notch higher, you’d have to experience trekking towards the Tinipak Cave. Why? Here are some points to entice you:
- Instagrammable sights. The trek towards the cave is downright phenomenal! You’d feast your eyes on gigantic marble rocks, crystal clear waters, and lush vegetation. The blue sky sums up the rural scene quite nicely, too.
- Freshwater. Aside from the visual treat, you can also quench your thirst with water “straight from the mountains”. Don’t worry, tourist guides say it’s safe to drink!
- The cave. Entering involves climbing down a short ladder, then ducking down a little to get inside. Stalagmites and stalactites would welcome you upon entering the quiet cave. The beauty and apparent ancient vibe of these naturally-formed rocks will surely hush the loud outside.
- A satisfying swim. At the end of the cave is a pool of mountain water where you and your friends can dive in for several minutes. Beware, the pool is icy cold. But once you get used to it, you’d enjoy swimming around the small space.
- Arrive early. If you want to make the most out of your hiking in Daraitan, it is best to arrive as early as 4:00 in the morning. Proceed to the barangay hall where you’ll coordinate with the officials for a tour guide, borrow safety equipment, and pay for the fees. You can also ask for tips on where to go next after your tour.
- Choose your adventure. There are usually two options: Climbing Mt. Daraitan and trekking down the Tinipak Cave, or just the trekking part. You can also opt for an overnight climb (camping is done at the campsite that you could reach midway of the hike).
- Go out when the sky is blue. If the weather is clear and you’re on schedule, you might witness the sun rising amid a sea of clouds!
- Go for some strategic scheduling. According to our previous tour guide, the sea of clouds is visible during the “ber’’ months. Thus, trying to climb from November to December is highly recommended. You can also attempt to traverse the mountain during the wet season, to see more vibrant greens and brimming wildlife. Just make sure that there’s no storm approaching.
Process and Fees
As with all climbing expeditions for Philippine mountains, you would have to work around certain processes before your ascent. For Mt. Daraitan, you would need to secure everything with the barangay office. The fees are as follows:
Registration – 20.00 each
Tourism Fee – 500.00 (for a group of 10)
Overnight Tour – 1,250.00
Cottage Rental (for overnight tours) – 200.00
Environmental Fee – 100.00
Parking Fee – 50.00 (100 overnight)
Be sure to stop over their office first to secure not only your equipment but your overall safety. They will provide you a tour guide you could chit-chat with and brief you with basic instructions to prep you up for your tour.
For the beginners, here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Wear lightweight, unobtrusive hiking clothes. And don’t forget your jacket.
- Opt for slip-free hiking sandals.
- Bring plenty of water and energy bars.
- Prepare your physique before the hike. Do some running, stretching, etc. a few days before venturing into the climbing gig.
It is advisable to bring your own car when traveling to Daraitan so as to save on the quite expensive tricycle fare. The directions:
- Drive to Marcos Highway and on to Tanay-Infanta Road.
- Turn left to Barangay Daraitan.
- You will reach a bridge on a river crossing. Pay the corresponding fee (50.00) and move on.
- Drive to the Barangay Hall.
You can park at the front yards of the residents for a minimum fee.
If you’re visiting via public transportation:
- Ride a jeepney with the route to Cogeo (Gate 2) or if you’re from EDSA, a jeepney bound to Tanay.
- Alight at Cogeo then ride a jeepney bound to Sampaloc. If you took the route from EDSA, alight to Tanay then ride a jeepney bound to Sampaloc. In both routes, tell the driver to take you to Brgy. Daraitan.
- Ride a tricycle going to the barangay hall.