Mt. Daraitan: The fifth mountain

Location: Tanay, Rizal

Difficulty: 4/9

Hours to reach the summit: 3 to 4 hours

Visited on: June2016

There is something about conquering mountains that draws the attention of the crowd. Perhaps it is human nature to get a sense of achievement – that which can remind the soul that one can do what others can, if not better.

On the 4th of June, 2016, despite the series of evening rains, my office friends and I pursued our plan to climb Mt. Daraitan, rated 4/9 in terms of hiking difficulty. The aforementioned mountain is one of the ranges that shelter Rizal, located at Tanay and bordering Quezon province. It is easily accessible from Metro Manila, but the drive to the mountain takes about two to four hours, with light to moderate traffic.

My peers and I decided to meet up at Starmall located in Shaw Boulevard at about 4 in the morning. Upon waiting for other people, drivers and their companions offered to take hikers directly to Brgy. Daraitan for 230php per person. We were able to haggle and keep the price to 200php per head instead. It was quarter to 5 when the jeepney driver started to drive to our destination, however, we were asked to add 20php since the vehicle was not filled with passengers.

There were two groups in our ride to Tanay, and there were 6 of us in our group. The drive from Shaw Boulevard to Shopwise Antipolo was really short, we were not able to wait for our companion. Thus, we were asked to add 30php in our fare. From Antipolo, we drove through a very long highway which name I was not able to catch. But one would know that they are already in Tanay near Daraitan when the rocky roads become visible. Then, to signify that nature is abundant beyond, a wooden bridge wide enough to accommodate one jeepney vehicle leads to Daraitan, with a 5php charge per person.

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We arrived at Brgy. Daraitan at about 8 in the morning, and bought lunch (burgers) from the stores while we waited for our companion who followed. My friend registered our names in the Brgy. Hall and we paid 20php per person as registration fee. We sought for a guide for the administration requires of it, especially during the rainy seasons. We had Kuya Jomel assisting us throughout our journey.

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Before we started our hike, we were asked whether we’d like to take the long but easier route, or the short but steep trail. The adventurous souls within us decided to take the shorter route, especially since 5 out of 7 in our group have hiked mountains before.

HIKING

There was a short but steep walk to the mountains and hikers would pass the residential area, until the rocks and soil become visible. Before the real trek, a sign board is visibly informing the hikers that the mountain is about 2300ft. To those who’d choose the shorter trek, a warning sign confirms an assault up ahead. The warning sign was no joke.

The first part of the trek was the most challenging. Our first stop was a cave where a small Mama Mary statue serves as a grotto. We stayed there for a while to catch our breaths.

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With great hardships, we finally reached the first Station where we once again rested. The trail was fairly muddy since the past few days brought light drizzles to heavy rains. With the greatly challenging hike, we needed to do a lot of stopovers aside from the usual stations. We also took time to appreciate the landscape before us every now and then.

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When we reached the summit, there was a vast crowd waiting for their turn to take their victors’ shots. We patiently waited for our turn and enjoyed the huge boulders of white rocks and the green and fresh mountain ranges in the distance that fed our eyes.

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However, the summit is not covered with trees, thus, unlike the trail, the sun’s heat was immense in that part of the mountain. We decided to begin our descent at about 12 noThe trail up to the summit consists mostly of muddy lands and big rocks, and this meant that balance is very essential in descending the mountain.

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We were faster on our way down, and in no time, we reached a house that sells special lomi. At that point, the rains began to pour down. We were lucky we found shelter and we were almost at the foot when the rains fell down.

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After satisfying the tummies with a bowl of hot soup, we proceeded to the next part of our adventure: CAVING.

CAVING

Near the mountain is an unknown cave sometimes referred to as the Tinipak Cave since it stands beside the Tinipak River. We took a 2.5 kilometer walk along the river, paid 20php as environmental fee for the cave and river, 5php for using the wooden bridge to cross, and 35php for the headlight rental fee to give us light within the dark cave. There was a 5-minute hike to reach the cave, and we once again waited for the place could only accomodate two groups at a time.

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Upon entry, muddy and slippery sets of wooden ladder would lead you deeper into the cave. The big rocks within are a little slippery, too, due to the mud. The cave is rich with stalagmites, sharp, but far from reaching the ground.

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There was also a stream inside. On the cave walls were crystals formed and kept naturally. Although eerie, the place is absolutely marvelous. At about the end of the cave was a pool of cold flowing water which the visitors could swim into. We were told that if there are a lot of visitors, a group could only stay for 15 minutes, but we were lucky for no other groups came inside while we were having our gloriously refreshing moment.

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Kuya Jomel told me that they have not reached the end of the tunnel where the rushing water comes from. When we finally decided to leave our new-found comfort, we were sent off by two little bats finding solitude in their home.

RIVER SWIMMING

Below the cave is the crystal clear Tinipak River whose bed is composed of sharp but tiny rocks. We cooled ourselves in the beautiful river, and savored its warm-cold-warm-cold transitioning waters as if it could take away the body pains that were starting to present itself. A fair warning though, some of the bigger rocks are enveloped with moss so they are very slippery. Also, these kinds of rocks allow tiny organisms to grow there, like the small green caterpillar-like insects we found. Moreover, depending on where you are staying, the water might be cold or warm, or an interplay of both, aside from the possibility of being carried away by its mildly strong currents.

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The river’s current is highly dangerous when it rains, and the waters become deeper than usual.

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CAMPING

The place also allows campings, outings, and team buildings. Tents were set up at the campsite, but few others pitched theirs beside the river.

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We only took a day hike and so we have little idea about the camping rules and regulations, and the fees that go with it. We once again took a kilometer walk to get our bags for we left them in the hands of the lomi store owner. We passed by a spring were travelers are allowed to drink the fresh water directly from the source.

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They were also paving a stoneway for future use when we passed by. After retrieving our bags, we were told that we’re going to have to walk 2.5 kilometers to reach the brgy. hall. However, about a kilometer away from the brgy. hall, our guide advised us to ride a tricycle instead for 60php per tricycle. Upon arrival at the brgy. hall, we decided to take quick baths for 20php per person, before proceeding to our way home.

ROADTRIP

To cap off our adventure, we realized that the tricycle ride from Daraitan to Sampaloc, Tanay would be quite exhilarating. The roads are filled with rocks and it was like we were riding the roller coaster on that bumpy road. The trip costs 500php per tricycle, and the price was reasonable for the trip takes about an hour. We were all exhausted but we had fun chasing each others’ rides on our way to Sampaloc, were a UV express could took us back to Manila.

Suggested Itinerary: 

Mt. Daraitan

You may also view the itinerary here.

What to bring:

-Trail Food

-Extra Clothes (especially if you’re going to swim in the river)

-2 Liters of water, Gatorade, and/or Powerade

-Sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, cap)

-Packed lunch

-Medicines/ First Aid Kit

-Toiletries

-Trash Bin

-Camera

-GOOD COMPANY ❤

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Good to Know: 

1. To save some money, you could commute from Shaw Boulevard to Sampaloc, Tanay for 70php, then ride a tricycle to Daraitan for 500php per tricycle, which could accommodate 5 people.

2. There are guides available upon registration, or you could also ask for recommendations

3. You may buy food at the stores and carinderias before hiking. Only refreshments are sold on the way up and down the mountain.

4. Take a bath at the restrooms around the brgy. hall, since you’d get dirt and mud throughout your long walks.

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