Part 1 of 2: How to Warm Up for a Daraitan Adventure
The cold fresh air slapped the hobbit’s face, bringing to mind the familiar roads to Baguio. His ears popped. His eyes twinkled at the view of the mountains, the valley, and from far away, the crowded megacity.
Part 2 of 2
Indeed, the adventure was just about to start—neither in the beach nor in the bustling city, but in a river deep in the mountains of Rizal.
The hobbit humped a little to put his backpack in place and loaded his tent in the narrow boat. He needed to steady, but sitting on the wooden bar was not an easy feat. There was little legroom. A lot of balancing was needed or a hobbit could tip the boat and send everything swimming in the water.
The boatman rowed quietly in the shallow river. The hobbit looked down the flowing water as if trying to read a mind. Rivers always keep secrets, he knew. He was ready to find out.
INTO THE MOUNTAINS
A short tricycle ride from the river banks ended at the barangay hall. He was greeted by curious locals, each wanting to ask a question. And then a man in black jacket stepped forward to shake hands. Kuya Pido, he said. He would be the tour guide.
Before starting the trek, the two sat down for lunch in the nearby karinderya. They bought food for the night and, right after they burped, started the trek into the mountains.
The view of the trees and the sound of the raging river were refreshing. As they walked deep into the mountains, they passed by houses with well-kept gardens, and met five goats and two men who chopped firewood in the forest.
Because it just rained, the way to the river was slippery. While the old guide battled the trail effortlessly, the young hobbit was lost behind, slowly losing his poise as he hopped on stones and puddles and horse poo. He signaled a few stops to take photos (a good time to catch his breath) of the enchanting view of the mountains.
The scene almost didn’t change throughout the trek. Everything was gigantic. The feeling was surreal like it was a journey through Middle Earth. The raging river roared louder as the water splashed on boulders of white marbles.
After 45 minutes, the long walk ended close to the wall of the tall mountain.
They declared rest.
THE BEAUTY OF TINIPAK
At one part of the long winding river is an area called Tinipak where colossal white rocks, shining and shimmering under the soft sunlight, beautifully adorn the foot of the mountain. Here, the river comes to full splendor and puts its visitors to a spellbinding amazement.
Crossing the river to see the beauty of the other side was not a piece of cake. It needed climbing big boulders of white marble rocks and holding on to the roots of trees. One wrong step and the angry river would swallow a hobbit.
WORD OF MOUTH
CHILLY, BPO Trainer
Why visit Daraitan?
✔ Clean and well-maintained
✔ People are hospitable; they greet and wish you a luck in your hike.
✔ The water is inviting in Tinipak River.
✔ Budget friendly. I came from Cainta and I spent less than P1000.
✔ 24-hour tour guides and transportation
✔ Exciting rock formation, especially inside the cave.
✔ Adrenaline rush. Despite the rough road, the habal-habal is a must-try.
✔ Good for dayhike or overnight camping.
Daraitan is one of the best places I’ve been to. Honestly, the trail is not for first-time hikers like me. The climb to the mountain’s summit was a real challenge, but the sweat and pain are worth it, and that makes me proud of myself. At the summit, where we stayed for more than one hour to take photos and enjoy the scenery, it’s not just the view of the mountains but also the rock formations that will leave you breathless. Then, descending to Tinipak and the cave was another challenge, but you see the river and its bluish water and you get relieved. The exciting part was getting inside the cave. There’s a mini pool where you can swim and have fun.
KARL, Travel Blogger
I enjoyed moments crossing shallow streams that flowed from the Tinipak Spring. Upon reaching the limestone rock formation at the end of the trail, I instantly fell in love with the destination. The whole trek was exhausting but I wanted it. My body deserved a jolt of such kind which served me a restful sleep back at my booked casita at the luxurious Momarco Resort. The next day I was to explore the town proper. The experience was worth being unplugged in Tanay for 3 days. http://www.turistatrails.com/
WORD OF MOUTH
ANDRES, Business Analyst
Daraitan is proof that the Philippines isn’t all about islands and beaches, but climbing to the top of a mountain is also a perfect option to see the beauty of the country. The river impressed us with its clear and roaring water, the landscape and the goats we saw along the way. After spending the night in our tents, we started climbing the steep mountain. Suddenly, it rained until the end of our trek, and that took us two hours to reach the top. Definitely the climbing was hard and tiring, but seeing the clouds caressing the mountains was rewarding.
DENISE, Frequent Traveler
When we saw photos of Daraitan, we knew we had to go there. River, mountains, caves–we thought this place is way too good to be real. And it’s just a few hours away from Manila! So, we went and we were impressed beyond words. Tinipak River, with its clear waters rushing between white boulders, was a sight truly soothing to the soul. We camped near the river, the sound of the water lulled us to sleep.
ADVENTURE IN THE CAVES
The foot of the mountain has several caves, so spelunking is another activity to look forward to. The challenge, however, is twofold: to cross the river through the big rocks while holding on to a rope (with some rappelling), and then do the same on the way back. Make it threefold, because you have to find your way down through the small opening of the cave while grabbing smelly bat waste. Once in the cave, the reward is a cold dip in its natural freshwater pool.
WORD OF MOUTH
LESTER, Clinical Scientist
I visited Daraitan on two occasions and really fell in love with the place. From its verdant mountains whose peak offers 360-degree view of Rizal, to the picturesque rock formations emerging from the clean and cold waters of Tinipak River, Daraitan is a piece of heaven on earth for adventure junkies, nature aficionados and photography buffs.
THE OVERNIGHT CAMP
The sky slowly turned pink and the mosquitoes started buzzing. When it was time to hit the sack, the hobbit, excited to put up a tent for the first time, got the biggest shock of his life. He left the poles of his tent in the taxi.
He had to sleep in the old hut. And the moment his back touched the wooden floor, he fell into a deep slumber and missed the night’s fun. (The experienced campers he met on the way to the cave managed to bathe in the cold spring in the middle of the night—after some booze.)
In the wee hours, the campers were awakened by heavy rain. The tents were soaked and everyone had to evacuate to the old hut, find their own corners and curl up anywhere that didn’t leak.
When morning broke and there was light, thick fog graced the scenery. The hobbit ran quickly to the cold spring and dipped himself in ice cold water. It was heaven.
With a new company, the hobbit trekked back to the barrio as if rewinding the same event that happened the day before. He met the same rocks, the same goats, the same trees, and followed the same winding river that gave music to the long walk.
When the group reached the barrio, they filled their stomachs with lomi and packed up.
Truly, that was a different kind of adventure. From that day, the hobbit kept the best memories of Tanay, a beautiful place in the town of Rizal. Not far from the town, hidden in the mountains in the border of Rizal and Quezon, is a village called Daraitan. There, life is laid-back, people are friendly and hardworking, and nature is enchanting.
HOW TO GET TO DARAITAN:
- At EDSA Central Crossing, take a van or a jeepney going to Tanay. Travel time: bout 1.5 to 2 hours.
First trip: 4AM, Last trip: 8PM (van), 10PM (jeepney)
Fare: about P70
- Get off at Tanay Public Market. At the back of the market is a line of jeepneys that travel to different parts of Tanay. The trip to Daraitan is scheduled at 1PM and 3PM. Going back, the jeepneys leave Daraitan at 9AM and after lunch.
- If you want to get to Daraitan early, take a jeepney from Tanay market to Sampaloc (fare: about P30). Look for the gasoline station and ask which tricycles go to Daraitan (fare: about P50). You can also take a tricycle going back.
- Upon reaching Brgy. Daraitan, you have to cross the river by taking a banca. It’s a two minute ride, the fare is P5. Then take a tricycle to the Barangay Hall where you have to register and pay for the guide. The tricycle fare is P20, and the tour guide fee is P500 pesos (plus 50% for overnight stay).
- Jeff Pino (Tanay Tourism Office) — 404.2296, 0921.591.1187
- Willy Manlapaz (head tour guide) — 0906.953.3470
* This story first appeared in Choose Philippines in 2014. Updated November 2015 with traveler Word of Mouth.
** All photos taken with Cherry Mobile Flare