It was one of those out-of-the-blue conversations that later turned into a ruggedly outrageous adventure where we suddenly conquered a destination that we were not physically prepared for. What made us go through the whole thing was our sheer love for travel and that cool company of IG friend that push you to the limits and yet you come out smiling from the trip. It was one hell of a trek but, in the end, it was all worth it.
On The Road
It was already 6.30am and, with me at the driver's seat, I knew that it was going to be a long and exciting day for us. I remember the conversation that I had the day before when we suddenly decided to head off to Tanay, Rizal and conquer the off-beat destination of Tinipak River. There were no plans to head off anywhere that weekend and all we had was the travel bug hitting us all at the same time. So on the very last minute, we all decided to just head off to a destination that piqued our interest for the longest time.
Touchdown: Rustic Daraitan
Peaceful and beautiful, I was totally captivated by the beauty of Daraitan - the jump-off point to Tinipak River. The three hour drive was a leisure drive through verdant greens and rolling hills of Rizal, not to mention the rough road that would later bring us to these peaceful community.
Imagine being greeted by a rustic scene of a community enjoying a lazy Sunday by the river. Families having a small picnic in small huts while the kids play around the shallow waters of Daraitan River. On one side, you can see a family of ducks paddling together, not mindful of the visitors arriving and chatting excitedly. It was surreal.
Daraitan is comfortably tucked along the mountains that border Rizal and Quezon. It is a sleepy town that marvels itself with one of the cleanest rivers in the country and an amazing landscape that will keep you in awe, every step of the way.
It is the first stop if you are heading up to Mount Daraitan or if you are trekking to Tinipak River. One will be amazed with the makeshift wooden bridge that you need to cross to get to town where you need to register. After the registration, a guide will be assigned to you. The town was buzzing with activity and the locals seems to be used to having visitors around especially during weekends.
Before we started the trek, we prepared everything that we needed to bring. As I have already mentioned, we were not prepared so we had to go through everything on the last minute. We bought water, light snacks, and lunch. It would also be nice to have a flashlight with you because if you intend to enter the cave, you would need the flashlight.
On the Trail
Half way through the trek, I was getting excited with amazing views that was unfolding right before our eyes. The rugged beauty of Daraitan and Tinipak will never cease to amaze you from the start of the trek down to the end. Rock formations of varying sizes will challenge your creativity. The bigger rock formations and grand mountain ranges will make you realize how small you are compared to the vast landscape of the Sierra Madre Range.
There are a couple of camping sites found along the riverbed for those who intend to spend a night or two in the area. One of the camping sites that we stopped over was close to a spring where fresh, clean, and potable water flows from a mountain source. Our guide mentioned that the stream was the locals and campers main source of drinking water so I did not waste my time, emptying my water bottle to fill up with water. I guess our guide was right about it being potable as my tummy did not have any violent reaction when I started drinking it.
As we neared Tinipak River, our group had to navigate a narrow path that sits along the ridge of the mountains. Locals have set-up steep wooden stairs along the mountains walls with rails for easier navigation of visitors. Our guide was quick to remind us to take extra precaution because one wrong step and we will fall off the ravine.
Tinipak River and Cave
The river flows through a bed that is bounded by huge white rocks on both sides. Small coves can be found along the river where one can pitch a tent or take a rest to enjoy the beauty of nature. Every now and then, you would hear a scream of delight followed by a splash of water. Our guide told us that there is a part of the river where one can test their guts by jumping off a cliff onto the river. Too bad though that I was not able to try it out.
I was amazed by the white rock formations surrounded by the lush green forests of Tinipak River. It was quite a treat for me who like to enjoy being close to nature. We found ourselves a place under a huge rock that would serve as our “shelter” during our brief stay in the area. Yeah, talk about going back-to-the-basics kind of trip. The clear waters of the river looked so inviting that I decided to take a dip. The ice-cold water of the river was a refreshing treat after the hike and I really enjoyed just feeling the water run over my body and listening to its gushing. A small pool was created as a basin where people can enjoy its waters.
A five-minute uphill trek will also lead you to a small opening. Our guide told us that the opening leads to a cave where a pool is also located where one can also take a dip. Our adventurous side took over us so our group decided to take on the challenge to explore the cave.
Traversing the cave can be quite a challenge as it requires a great deal of balance and one needs to be cautious of the jagged rock formations inside the cave. It would also be a huge help if you have a dependable flashlight that you can use a sit will help you navigate through the cave easily. As the cave is small, it can only accommodate a certain number of visitors at one time so local guides have to queue their visitors prior to getting in. It is also a good way to preserve the cave’s interiors.
The cave has a single opening for its entry and exit. Getting in and out can be quite a challenge so be extra cautious. The sound of rushing water greets you as you enter the main cavity of the cave where a small catch basin allows visitors to take a relaxing dip. The water flows from deep within the unexplored area of the cave and rushes out to join Tinipak River downstream.
As we prepared to head back to Daraitan, I remember getting excited for the hour trek back because I would be enjoying the river and mountain views from a different perspective. This kind of nature trips always excited me.
It was nice to see Daraitan and Tinipak River just as it is about to take traction on the tourism front. It is a great weekend getaway for those wanting to escape the city life even for just a couple of hours. The untouched beauty of Daraitan and Tinipak River is something that we could all enjoy and I hope that the local government can establish a sustainable livelihood plan for the community that will not only showcase the beauty of their place but also preserve it.
Getting there: One can take an FX van to the town of Tanay from Shaw Boulevard. From the Tanay Public Market, one can hire a tricycle to Daraitan. Heading back, one can take a trike from Daraitan to Tanay and take an FX back to Manila.
If you are taking a car with you, you can head off to Antipolo via Ortigas Avenue. Turn right once you see the Ynares Center and go all the way down J. Sumulong Road until you reach the Manila East Road. Turn left and head towards Laguna area. Once you are in Tanay area, you turn left along Sampaloc Road and drive along the highway until you reach Marcos Highway. You turn right along Marcos Highway and then left along the Makaira-Daraitan Road. There are signs along the way so you will not get lost.
Travel Time: 2-3 hours to Daraitan.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.