Waterfall Trek in Rizal, Philippines: Mt Maynoba

May 1, 2017

I knew from the get go that it was a crazy idea to do a hike in the Philippines, in the middle of summer no less. I wouldn’t even do it in Hong Kong this time of year, but I was dying to get out of Manila and get my heart rate up. Thankfully there were five other crazy people who didn’t seem to care that it was a bad idea…

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The rabble I managed to assemble, and the view of the Sierra Madre

Highlights

  • Eight (8!!) waterfalls to cool you down at the end of the hike. Number 4 was the best, although they say 7 is good too. But the latter was too crowded and at the bottom of everything, so a bit dirtier.
  • Waterfalls #1 and 2 were pretty good too
  • The river trek passing through those waterfalls included a little bit of scrambling and minor rappelling down some vertical / rocky parts of the trail

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  • We skipped Cayabu Peak, and it was a good decision, because it gave us less time under direct sunlight and more by the river.
  • We were able to avoid the “traffic jam of hikers” 
  • We had the trail all to ourselves (and a handful of happy mountain goats), plus the waterfalls were sparsely populated 😀
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At our favourite: Waterfall #4

Cons

  • We started at around 10.30am. It was SCORCHING HOT and we suffered through many parts without shade at the beginning (this lasted over an hour). It was slow and dreadful going. Thank God more clouds came towards midday and gave us much needed cover.
  • A kilometer or so going through tall itchy grass / talahib. Wish we had a bolo (native knife) to cut through the bush… Or that we had covered our arms and legs (except too hot, so trade off…)
  • No ‘sea of clouds’ because we did it well past sunrise. But that also meant LESS PEOPLE! 

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  • The locals are disorganized: At the jumping off point, different people were telling us different things: that we had to go back to the barangay to register (it’s only a few minutes’ walk away, so don’t listen to the guy offering you a motorcycle ride). In the end we didn’t need to go to the barangay until we had to ‘log out’.

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Would I recommend Mt Maynoba?

Yes. It’s a great way of exploring ‘our own backyard’ the Philippines, while helping local communities earn money and realize the value of preserving their environment.

Unlike the Daraitan Hike nearby or  Mount Talamitam in Batangas, Mt Maynoba was a good mix for hot weather hiking:

  • 40% river trekking
  • 30% uphill/up top with barely any shade
  • 10% grass
  • 5% bamboo forest
  • 5% easy walk with occasional shade
  • 5% downhill

The waterfalls were still clean when we went – people pick up after themselves which I really appreciated!

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My sister and I up top

Getting there

  • From Maralique Highway turn left at Sta Ines Road / Brgy San Andres
  • Click here for the Google Maps link – you better save the location on your phone now because our cell service was down in the area
  • It took us ~2 hours (73.3 km) to get to the starting point from Manila

Our hike was not aimed at being a professional mountaineers’ climb. It was just a way to get out of the concrete jungle – into nature – and enjoy the beauty of the countryside. And that meant not waking up at 1am to get up there at the break of dawn, as amazing as all the sunrise + ‘sea of clouds’ photos looked.

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So we took a gamble and met up at 7am in Temple Drive Starbucks for breakfast, then took our time to arrive at the start point (no traffic, thank God). We passed through Marikina and Marcos Highway towards Tanay, Rizal. Then we turned left at Sta Ines Road / Brgy San Andres.

We got a little bit lost on the way (Waze and Google Maps weren’t much help aside from leading us towards the general direction of Tanay) and had to backtrack. In the end asking the people around was enough to get us to the jumping off point.

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Fees

  • Guide: P500 per group — our guide was Mang Celso, an old man of little words and very deep Tagalog, the kind we would study at Filipino class. He would pick up the little trash he’d see along the way)
  • Registration: P100 per person
  • Porter: P300 (Optional)
  • Overnight: P1,250

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Did You Know

  • Mt Maynoba (pronounced may-noo-ba) stands at 728m above sea level but total ascent is +470m
  • At the top, however, there’s a sign that says ‘Mt Maynuba Summit 662m) – so what is it, really?!

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  • It’s meant to take 2-3 hours to the summit; we did it in 2 hours with a lot of stops (dying of heatstroke), but indulged ourselves by the river with a lot of swim breaks!
  • You’re not supposed to pee in the river / waterfall area because it’s not the sea and it doesn’t flow much when it doesn’t rain. So please don’t!

  • Maynoba is ‘arguably the mountain with the highest success rate of viewing the sea of clouds of all the Rizal mountains’ (Pinoymountaineer) – if you can manage to wake up at 2am for it
  • There are healthy mountain goats in the area – we were even greeted with a welcome party of playful baby goats! They were adorable.. we got completely distracted from the trail by their antics. A stark contrast to Mt Ulap where the locals had wiped them out completely. 😦
  • Mt Maynoba + Waterfalls is a loop hike so you don’t have to backtrack
  • On the way to Mt Maynoba you will pass by Mt. Batulusong and the Masungi Georeserve (among other hike trailheads)

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  • If you’re bringing your own car make sure it can handle offroad because it’s a good ~25 minute long rough ride from the main highway
  • Eat a hearty meal before / after the hike or bring food with you – we only ate a light breakfast and nothing but snacks until dinner at 6pm in Manila so our bodies were giving up on us by then
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Rizal province not too hard on the eyes
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Hiking boots recommended due to the variety of terrain, especially by the river. via The North Face PH
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It hadn’t been raining so the hike wasn’t muddy (yay) but we still had water on the falls! Thanks Mama Nature
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The first waterfall – this would be the cleanest, but we were being picky and wanted to see if there was anything better
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No trash in sight, hallelujah
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We had to ‘rappel’ down a few rock faces – really easy and fun!
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The cutest welcoming committee ever. They offset the grueling ascent
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I’d like to take this moment to credit Tiff who chose Maynabu because of its waterfalls as we were originally going to go with the more challenging Pamitinan. I don’t think we would have enjoyed the 90-degree limestone ascent on our hands and feet with that relentless sun beating down our heads…
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They got separated from their mom because they followed us then started to panic when they realized she was gone. The others were too fixated on suckling (=food) so didn’t get distracted like them curious ones
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One of them breaks under a tree

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Enjoy the trail! And don’t forget to leave nothing but footsteps 😉

Yeni

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2 thoughts on “Waterfall Trek in Rizal, Philippines: Mt Maynoba

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