30 January 2006

Camping out at Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal

Things here were turning rather routinary. Go to work and back, then if I feel up to it, I would haul the things hidden in closets and boxes and sort out those headed for the trash and keep the deserving ones. Still got lots to clean up, but when I get back from the office at 8 or 9PM, I already feel tired most of the time so I end up watching TV. I needed a break.

So when some friends invited me to go camping with them in Tanay, Province of Rizal, I only gave it a few minutes of thought before deciding to go with them. It reminded me of the times my friends in college (which includes Tina, now my wife) would go to the Mountain Provinces to visit the home of one of our peers and spend the night in the mountains. We did not have camping gear though. We would build a bonfire and chat under the stars, then head off to the house to rest.

Plus, my wife's Christmas gift of a year's subscription to National Geographic was also an inspiration to see the great outdoors again. It's been quite a while.


We were destined for Daraitan, the name of the sparsely-populated town at the foot of the mountains. Our trip would lead us to a camping site alongside the river.

There were six of us in the team. We converged in the corner of Buendia and EDSA, where a number of groups geared for camping with huge bags in tow were also milling about. The bus and jeepney rides took most of the morning. We arrived in the Tanay market at past 10, and everybody was in good spirits that we would be able to have lunch on time. What we did not anticipate was, Daraitan was so far flung a place that there wasn't exactly a lot of people going to and fro (we learned from the locals that on an average day there are only two rides: one in the morning and one in the afternoon). And so we waited. And munched on snacks. And waited. And munched on snacks. And waited. Until it was already half past lunchtime. At which point, the driver promptly warmed up the engine and off we went, a half hour earlier than the scheduled departure.

Another mountaineering group arrived at 11 and they disappeared for a while. They must have known that such is the transportation case in that area. At any rate, this group rode in the same jeep and we were comforted by the fact that we will have company along the way. Some rode on top of the jeepney as an added thrill to the trip.

The cemented pavement eventually gave way to rough roads as the buildings and houses were gradually replaced by trees and bush. I occasionally struck conversation with the local sitting next to me and he mentioned that the jeep is supposed to cross a river but since it has been raining for the past few days, the river has swollen to an unmanageable size so we will need to take a banca ride to cross. When we arrived at the riverbank, it was indeed still not permitting jeepneys to pass through. So take a boat we did, and hiked the rest of the way to town.

We dropped by the local municipal hall to register (with a fee of 5 pesos each). At this time the other mountaineering group of over 10 people were aware of our presence and they were glad to have additional company. They were, in fact, very friendly and eventually helped us along the way where there are boulders to climb and streams to cross.

And so we started on our journey, with majority of the mountaineers keeping a comfortable lead and a couple of their members lagging behind, serving as the tail (in case somebody lags behind, needs help, or drop something, they can call out to the others). There was a clearly-defined pathway, so we wouldn't exactly get lost even when left to our own devices. But it's always good to have company when in unfamiliar territory. It soon dawned to us that the path is frequently used as we occasionally crossed paths with some of the locals, some even with horses carrying people or various necessities.

We had our first 5-minute break near the town proper, with a breath-taking view of the winding river below (see topmost photo). The second 5-minute break was an even more pleasant one. As we rounded a bend in the narrow path with trees to our left and the river to our right, we were greeted by an open valley with a breathtaking view of a riverbank with the mountains beyond. Huge stone formations abound, a couple of which were quite flat on top that you can climb onto it and enjoy the scenery from there.

The other campers were already taking their rest while the others walked about, picking up a few roundish stones and throwing a couple into the river that skidded off the turbulent water surface a couple of times before finally sinking.

At this time we were quite tired and hungry (we only had potato chips, bananas and an odd assortment of tidbits to munch on for lunch because the driver kept saying we were leaving soon and so we stayed put in the jeepney) and were clearly enjoying this extended break that we were thinking of staying there and set-up camp already. The other group started hauling their backpacks and motioned us that the trek will be resuming.

Sensing that we would rather stay put, they said that the campsite was already quite near.
What's the terrain like?
Roughly the same that we have already passed through. We will, however, be crossing streams so it is advisable to switch to slippers.
How deep is it?
Knee high.
Come on! It will be fun!

Shall we continue the trek, or stay put and pitch camp? To be continued...


  1. nice photos watson.. didnt know there was such a place not too far from the city..

  2. this is a great respite from work watson. you deserve it. i'm sure you had a grand time with friends trekking and climbing.

  3. Nothing like getting out in the wilderness to refresh one's soul. I am envious. Hiking in the Philippines is something I would like to do in my future.

  4. Hi Dessagirl. Well, it still took us much of the morning to travel but if you deduct the waiting time at the Tanay terminal, we would have arrived in time for lunch :-)

    Hi Abaniko! It was indeed quite an experience.

    Hi Mr. Abbey! I remember your travel posts, and I wondered when I can do that as well, what with my officemates who were my companions before in such trips but are now quite busy as well. This was an opportunity I did not want to miss.

  5. knee high for regular people or for hobbits? :)

    anyway, isn't this like the journey to hobbiton? or was it mordor?

  6. Cherry, incidentally it did feel like a walk into Middle Earth :-). Ako yung Hobbit! Pero di ako nalunod sa ilog, pramis.

  7. Anonymous5:24 pm

    Hello watson,
    I was so proud to see my hometown in your page. I was born in Tanay, Rizal and spent many years in Daraitan during my youth. I am now residing here in San Leandro, California USA. I loved my town so much that I built a website to showcase her beauty around the world. Please visit www.tanaygeographic.com check out my photo gallery "images of tanay" section. I have lots of photographs of Daraitan river and Tinipak in that section. I also released a set of Postcards to promote my town. Next time you visit Tanay, please visit "images of tanay photo gallery" located at the first floor of PRCB Complex Plaza Rizal. Thanks for sharing your experience in my hometown.

    Allan Mendez

  8. Allan, you have a very beautiful hometown. Still unspoilt by rural development. When we were waiting in the jeepney going to Daraitan, the locals were waiting for each other with boxes of goods labeled with first names of people who owns them. Wow, people know each other here! And there's trust. Boxes of groceries are sure to be delivered to the right person.

    I will surely visit your site. If you can recommend other camping areas in Tanay, do recommend! Mail me at watson.online@gmail.com. Visit also my blog about my hometown of Baguio and my wife's province of Quezon when you have time. Thanks for this nice comment!

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  11. Anonymous1:50 am

    Were been there last April 13-14, 2006, the scene was very cool. You'll forget the pollution in Metro Manila~ escape from the city.... Come on visit this site too...

    you'll never forget the clean and refreshing scenery of running water~river and those massive stones.... and also the stunning trees and mountains.

  12. Anonymous5:35 pm

    Nice pics, its good to know that its not just us 4x4 adventurers who apprecieate the place. I have a house up river in daraitan it was in the area called jungle base before. I have 4x4 driving swchool there. Visit us 1 time.

    Beeboy Bargas
    Associate off road editor/Top Gear Magazine

  13. Anonymous10:49 pm

    ...maganda ng lugar .martami bang sundalong nakabantay jan...rodel

  14. Anonymous10:51 pm

    siguro ari mag ED jan sa daratian ....ala ba masyado militar.

  15. Anonymous1:54 pm

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  16. Anonymous2:33 pm

    I camped out in the Tinipak area with two high school friends two days ago. Since we are now in our mid-fifties, what could have been a 30-minute trek took us two hours!! But to be out in God's creation with boyhood friends, laughing, yakking,and cracking quips, jokes and comments, (some of which will make even St. Agustine blush)--whatta nicwe time we had.
    I must do this more often. I will convince my wife to go. We will do it under the stars, by the banks of the Daraitan River.

  17. Anonymous7:44 am

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  18. Anonymous8:23 pm

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  19. Anonymous2:46 am

    may bayad po ba pg ng overnight jan sa daraitan or my entrance fee po ba jan katulad sa daranak falls. please send me an email please



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