…and why I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Where is it? Between Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon
It took us around 2 h 30 min to drive to Daraitan (we Wazed it) from Makati. We left too late – at around 8am. There were already too many people on the road at this time. On the other hand, there were at least THREE HUNDRED people who climbed the mountain before us. So maybe it was also a good thing we didn’t make the ascent simultaneously…
Elevation: 719 meters above sea level
Duration: 2.5-4 hours to to the top. If there had been no PEOPLE TRAFFIC and intense mud maybe even less.
Supplies: Pack your lunch (we made wheat bread sandwiches with smoked salmon and cream cheese, parma ham and emmental, and opened a gourmet sandwicherie at Station 3… hahaha); you can stockpile on water right before the hike at the barangay.
Let’s begin. I hiked towards the end of January 2016, my first hike of the year. I haven’t done a mountain in the Philippines save for Mt. Pinatubo, which I did a couple of times back. Almost all the hiking I’ve ever done has been in Hong Kong (YES! There are many mountains and trails there! And coastal walks and an amazing hiking culture, which got me into it in the first place. But that’s another story for another time.)
Anyway, we arrived there and registered at the barangay, where they gave us a local guide, Jonathan. In Hong Kong, you don’t need a guide to walk in the mountains. But then again the paths are well-maintained and clearly signposted, labeled on Google Maps if you’re in doubt.
Plus, you will surely get saved and airlifted by a helicopter in record time should you fall off some trail. And there’s no danger of NPA / communist rebels / whatever else of the sort in HK as there is in the Philippines. As well, much of the country can still be considered more or less unchartered territory…
Apologies in advance, but there will be many comparisons since I consider Daraitan my first hike in the Philippines (categorising Pinatubo as a sightseeing activity).
Okay, enough of the intro. Let’s get straight to the point – what they don’t tell you about climbing to Daraitan:
The mud is a mood-killer
Might as well double that 4/10 rating when you’re slipping and sliding down the mountain, holding onto trees and overhanging vines for dear life. M’s upper body hurt after the hike – not his legs – because he literally had to pull himself up the mountain through handrails and branches thanks to zero grip from his shoes, whose soles ripped off during the climb. Had to throw them away in the end. Needless to say, don’t wear your favourite runners on this one.
**It had rained the night and two days before when we climbed.
The sun is enough to give you a migraine
It’s all uphill, steaming hot and humid, losing water like a m****f*****, did not bring GATORADE, NEED ELECTROLYTES, no matter how much water I drink, it’s just pouring out of my body in the form of sweat. And to think this was in JANUARY. At 22-25 degrees Celsius.
Traffic on the mountain
The reason why I love hiking so much is because I get to escape from the chaos of the city. But it was chaos on Daraitan, there was literally traffic going up the mountain because a) THERE WERE TOO MANY PEOPLE (this is the Philippines for you) and b) they were SLOW.
I don’t know about you but isn’t the point of all this to clear your head, feed your soul in nature, and enjoy your surroundings? Well, hard to do it when some stranger’s ass is on your face.
Annoying Hikers and their speakers
So it was traffic, right, and there’s no escape from the hordes of people on the mountain. Of course one cheerful group brought these deafening speakers blasting music straight out of last night’s party at Valkyrie.
PEOPLE! WE ARE NOT IN VALKYRIE. WE ARE IN THE MOUNTAINS. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR AVICII OR WHATEVER EDM SH** YOU HAVE ON YOUR PLAYLIST!!
God’s sake! Why do people feel the need to take the club to the mountain, why don’t they just go clubbing, I don’t get it.
(On the other hand, I think it would be super cool to have a jungle disco – not Siargao style – but Madagascar style where you go into the jungle and there’s a cool party with tribal beats and a bonfire…)
And all that struggle was for what?
Don’t get me wrong, your photos will be amazing, but up top it’s not as great as it looks. First of all, you can hardly sit anywhere because you’ll just have even more mud on your ass than there already was before.
Secondly, the QUEUES FOR THE PHOTO OPS. It’s not just crowded, you have to fall in line to take your photos and while you’re waiting, watch everyone else pose for their pictures. Nowhere to picnic, take a rest, find some peace and quiet to soak in the view, nothing. Just awkward maneuvering.
By the time we got down (I think the descent was just as difficult as the ascent, it felt endless…) we were exhausted and ready to go home. I was so sad that we didn’t get to enjoy the river, which was actually the most beautiful part of Daraitan, because we were in a hurry to make it back to Manila for dinner.
I would probably recommend doing just the river trek and skipping the summit altogether. That riverside was beautiful, the rock formations absolutely breath-taking, the water clear.
- The hikers didn’t leave trash on the mountain. The guides made sure of it as well.
- It was a great bonding experience. Forged by hardship!
- The tricycle that took us back to the barangay from the river. They make you squeeze six people into one tricycle (P15 per person), but I refused point blank and we got ripped off but I didn’t care.
(1) Logbook at the barangay hall of Daraitan. P20 registration fee.
Available; assigned at the barangay hall (P500 pesos for the dayhike; P1,250 for overnight)
+639069533470 – Willy (Head Guide)
Source: Pinoy Mountaineer
And that’s it. THE HONEST TRUTH whether you agree or not. If you’ve had a different experience, feel free to leave a comment! And any better hike suggestions are more than welcome!!! Preferrably in cooler climes.
Until the next adventure,