Masungi Georeserve became a traveler’s #goals almost overnight. Let’s take a peek inside this beauty and get to know not just the Instagrammable spots, but also its advocacy.
After several Facebook photos showing their iconic “rope-over-limestone” attractions, Masungi Georeserve almost overnight topped the list of go-to places for 2016. The photos went viral on December 2015, with many millennials urging their friends to visit Masungi. In no time, their reservation was fully booked two months in advance — a feat remarkable for an eco-residential site silently conserving the land for nearly 20 years.
How I Ended up in Masungi Georeserve
On February, Josh posted in an outdoor community group about the suspension of the Masungi taken from the Tanay Government website. Apparently, it was issued as early as January 26, 2016. Some issues cited behind the suspension are violations of environmental ordinances, building codes and safety regulations. The post received overwhelming response from concerned travelers, and soon, a staff from Masungi Georeserve itself.
Evelyn (not her real name), in a Facebook message, told Josh that there are far more issues that cannot be summarized in a single post. She said this info is yet to be revealed due to complicating legal and political matters. To uncover more about these issues, Josh referred Evelyn to me, and the latter invited me to Masungi Georeserve that same week.
Masungi Georeserve: Beyond Instagrammable
Masungi Georeserve is located on the borders of Tanay and Baras, Rizal. It only takes an hour or two of drive from Quezon City, and can be reached via public transportation. The name Masungi is derived from the term masungki or “spiked”. This describes the jagged limestone rocks that protrude from the ground.
Evelyn met me promptly at 7 AM where I carpooled with other Masungi staff to the site. Stepping inside Masungi for the first time, I can say that there is more to the place than its Instagrammable spots.
Masungi Georeserve is a 300 hectare-wide rock garden. If you have been to the mountains of Tanay such as Mt. Mapalad, Mt. Daraitan, and Mt. Pamitinan, you can only imagine an sprawling land filled with those limestone rock exposures. Just add the blooming flowers on the wayside.
Floral and wildlife species thrive within Masungi Georeserve. Spotted here are wild monkeys, snakes, civet cats, and a variety of birds. We did the interview within one of the bamboo-roofed visitor sheds, where guests are also briefed just before the hike.
Things to Know Before Going to Masungi
Masungi Georeserve may look like a rocky playground, but going around it isn’t a mere walk in the (geo)park. The discovery trail actually takes 3-4 blood pumping hours to complete. It also entails some rope climbing and scrambling. Here are things to consider when planning your trip:
- What to Pack. Wear hiking clothes. Bring towels, change of clothes, and sun protection. Guests are provided a helmet and a knapsack with bottled water and binoculars for sightseeing. You can leave your bags before the hike.
- What is Not Allowed. Loud mouths should be kept shut lest they disturb the wildlife inhabiting the place. Smoking, littering, picking of flowers, and vandalism are prohibited. For now, kids 13 year old and below aren’t allowed in the trail.
- Pricing. Please send me a message on Facebook on updated rates. They are accompanied by a park ranger (guide). Included in the entrance fee is a complimentary snack comprised of a tuna sandwich and lemongrass drink.
- Reservation. Only 4 groups are allowed to enter daily. Walk-ins are not welcome. Reservation, at this time, is months-long in advance. A deposit of 50% is also required to secure your spot. Email email@example.com to book your trip.
Masungi’s Famous Landmarks
Masungi Georeserve’s discovery trail is a circuit around the conservation area. It features not only natural rock formations and thick forestry. It also has man-made trails of ropes and wires. Fear not if you feel you cannot conquer the rope trails. There are alternative trails on the ground. Here are some of their famous landmarks:
- Sapot is a circular web of steel ropes over a collection of limestone rocks. Laguna Lake is on sight.
- Patak is a beehive-looking air house that’s a modern take on the tree house.
- Duyan is a descending rope trail over canopies of trees. It looks like a giant hammock that serves as a bridge from one cliff to another.
- Tatay and Nanay are two of the biggest rock formations in Masungi. Tatay is the tallest limestone peak. Nanay is composed of five limestone peaks. Both have their own viewing decks.
- Yungib Ni Ruben is one of the many mini-caves within Masungi. Cool air circulates around here, and there are dim lights for guests to appreciate the formations within.
- Liwasan looks like an amphitheater with clear, terraced ponds.
- Henry will be the last encounter. He is the huge snake enclosed within a guava-shaped cage.
Promoting Sustainable Geotourism in the Philippines
Prior to this trip, I honestly did not plan on going here because of the steep price and the long wait. But having climbed many badly eroded mountains, I’ve come to appreciate the regulations done here. Masungi Georeserve could have lowered the price and accommodate larger groups. They will surely profit greater!
BOOK NOW: Masungi Georeserve Day Tour
- Duration: 7AM – 5PM
- Places to see: Masungi Discovery Trail
- Notes: Meet-up at Tanlines Philippines along Makati Avenue; Inclusive of breakfast on-site; Children aged 0-13 are not allowed to join; Guests are not allowed to bring outside food or wear slippers.
- Price: PHP 2,700
But with the regulations in place, guests will be accommodated at a slower pace. The georeserve will be preserved for more years. Masungi has quietly conserved the area for two decades. I was relieved they are not about to squander those years of conservation for overnight profit.
Unfortunately, there are non-environmental issues battled by Masungi Georeserve. With the recent suspension issued by the Tanay Government, the newly-opened geotourism spot’s reputation is at risk.
Other things to do near Masungi Georeserve. Visit more Rizal attractions like Treasure Mountain, Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens and Spa, Mt. Mapalad, Pinto Art Museum, and 14Four Cafe. For more trip ideas, choose your Roadtrip Near Manila.
On the next post, we will expound more on the accusations of the LGU. We will also discuss the recent incidents that sparked the #WeAreForMasungi movement.
Kilometer 45, Marcos Highway, Rizal
How to commute to Masungi Georeserve: From Marcos Highway, ride a jeep going to Cogeo. Get down at Cogeo marketplace and ride another jeep to Sampaloc. Masungi Georeserve is on the right side of the road.