In the mid-’90s, this area in Rizal, Philippines, was practically wiped out, thanks to illegal loggers who chopped down trees, displacing most of the wildlife. By 1996, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) decided to do something about it. They teamed up with conservationists to not just restore its natural flora and fauna, but also design a hiking landscape that’s both tourist-friendly and environmental.
After 20 years, a flourishing Masungi Georeserve opened its doors to the public, albeit with strict ecological rules, like the limited number of visitors allowed per day. You’ve probably seen breathtaking videos of Masungi Georeseve all over travel websites and Facebook pages. That’s exactly how I found out about it and booked a trip with my group this month. For those interested in visiting Masungi, here are the 10 main spots you’ll see during your hike.
1. Silungan. The receiving and briefing areas for guests, the silungan is where you’ll meet your guide, hear the history of Masungi, learn about the park rules, and pick a helmet (required for all guests). Free water refills are available in this area. Even the toilets have artistic landscapes.
2. Hanging bridges. I counted about four hanging bridges of different lengths and sizes.
3. Sapot. Also known as the metal spiderweb, this is the main feature of masungi. After climbing sharp rock formations, going through caves, and crossing hanging bridges, you’re rewarded with this giant spiderweb overlooking Masungi. Fear of heights? Brace yourself! You’ll also see a lot of other mini webs (woven ropes) around the park.
4. Ditsey. It’s where you’ll see the cactus garden and other sprawling landscapes.
5. Patak. It’s the air house located in the middle of one of the hanging bridges.
6. Duyan. It’s the Tagalog word for swing, hammock, or cradle. Many international travel publications have featured this giant hammock in their videos.
7. Yungib ni Ruben. This cave was named after the Ruben, the guy who discovered it.
8. Tatay. The Filipino word for father, Tatay is the first peak of Masungi.
9. Nanay. The Filipino word for mother, Nanay is peak #2. It features five limestone rock peaks interconnected by bridges.
10. Liwasan. It means “park” in English. Here you’ll find a garden, reflection pond, and as we discovered during last week’s visit, web-like structures that look like they’re set to be an adult playground. Too bad it won’t be ready until 2017.