a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hiking : Munga Peak, Camarines Norte

Mahabang Buhangin Beach
It was still dark when I opened my eyes. Had it not been for the disruptive snoring coming from the tent beside ours, which was loud enough to drown the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, I wouldn't have gotten up so quickly. :P 

I prepped for a short hike up Munga Peak.  We were told it's about an hour from our camp. Unlike the usual hikes I do, getting ready was refreshingly simple. I was on slippers,  a cap and in my pocket were several pieces of Mentos which is also what I bring as emergency food for long hikes because it's light and easily fits in the bag. I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade which I bought before we traveled to the island and in a few minutes, I was all set. :)
Area near our camp

Mahabang Buhangin beach where we set camp is in Tinaga island, a popular camping ground for travelers visiting Calaguas,  a group of 17 islands and islets in Camarines Norte in the Bicol region.  

After breakfast, me and several other friends - Kate, Ron, Ian, Ice and Tina went to the shore and joined the rest of the people from our tour group. The start of the hike was a little challenging as we were walking on powder-like sand. It was a great leg work-out though. :)
Trail starts at the beach! (Photo from Ice Clemente)
We headed toward the right side (facing the water) of the island and in about 15 minutes, we arrived at the registration area. As I had been seeing mostly water since the previous day, I felt excited when I saw that the trail head has lots of trees. 
Making our way up the hill. Photo from Ice Clemente
It was moderately steep but very manageable. It wasn't slippery and our rubber slippers held on. 
Group shot before we entered the main trail. Behind us is the registration hut.  (Photo from Ice Clemente)
In just a few minutes, we arrived at a view deck. From here, we could see practically the entire shoreline of Mahabang Buhangin. Although I've already seen some photos online, it still felt awesome to see it in front of me.  

We headed at the left side of the trail where grasses were a little too tall for me and Tina as we're both under 5 feet tall :P. 



This area gave us a different vantage, a view of nearby islands.  There wasn't any cover to protect us from the sun but it was very windy. 
Balagbag Island in front of us
This peak has a flat grassy area and it felt nice to just sit down, feel the wind and stare at the view, despite the sun's rays gleefully radiating down on us. 

After taking souvenir shots, we headed down to clean up and prepare for the trip back to Vinzons Port. 

Here's a travel video of our trip made by my friend Ian. :) Happy viewing. It's a bit long though but it sums up what we did the entire weekend. :P 


Hiking Details :
This was a trip with 9 other colleagues. Since we wanted a hassle-free vacation,  we availed the services of Northlink Tour, a Daet-based tour provider which was recommended by my former manager who hails from Daet, Camarines Norte's capital. I paid 2,200 for the package which included 4 meals and boat ride from Vinzons Port and back. (Transportation from Manila not included). Since the hike was not part of the package, we paid additional 40 Pesos each which included the registration fee and payment to guides. 

A DIY trip to Calaguas Group of islands can also be done. Please check out the links below for some very helpful information : 
KirkAnatomy - How to get to Calaguas
Lakwatsero - Calaguas Islands

Note : I am aware of the concerns raised by fellow travelers regarding the island's commercialization but during our  trip (and I can only speak of what I experienced during our trip), camping ground was clean and I did not see any garbages along the shore and although there were plenty of people, the noise was minimal. I do hope people visiting this place continue to respect the island and the people who live there.  

As for Northlink Tour's services, I am very happy with how they handled the trip. They gave us an orientation on what to expect in the island and even gave us a short lecture about Calaguas to help us appreciate the place more. Everyone had enough food, the staff regularly checked on us and they were all very cordial and professional. :) You can get in touch with them on Facebook - Northlink Tour.




Friday, March 6, 2015

Product Test : A Hiker’s Must Have - BSI Medicated Spray


I enjoy long hikes. Some take 5 hours to complete while the longer and more challenging routes take about 12 hours or more. To ensure I have enough endurance for these hikes, I swim at least 1.5K KM, two-three times a week, alternating it with some light runs. As such, muscle pain is something that I have to deal with frequently. I often feel some aches on the shoulders, back and the calves from all the training and hikes – and  oh especially the hikes! :P   While this type of involved soreness eventually heals in a day or two, I’m happy to discover a partner (albeit no romantic inklings:P) that takes away the discomfort instantly so I can easily return to my routine or jump into another adventure.

After a 1.5KM swim last Sunday, my first after a month of rest post sickness, my shoulders and upper back felt pretty sore. What was supposed to be just a normal workout felt like a feat. :P . I didn’t have time to get a massage and so I went to the office the next day with aching muscles. Throughout the day, I stretched several times at my desk hoping to relieve myself of the pain but it didn’t really work.  

Fortunately, a package of BSI medicated spray was waiting for me when I got home. It’s a non-aerosol topical pain reliever approved by the Philippine FDA as a home remedy drug. I excitedly sprayed it on my back and was amused at how easy it got to the hard to reach parts such as the mid upper back. I felt comfort in less than a minute. There was a cool sensation and some little sting on the parts where I sprayed too much (so do take note of that when you use it).The smell is minty and not as strong as other topical pain relievers I’ve used. I actually like the smell. :) 


BSI Medicated spray is exactly what I needed! Handy, lightweight, easy to apply and fits easily in my backpack!  At 388 Pesos for a 64 ML bottle that’ll probably last for months, it’s a good deal. I can hold off the massage for now and redirect the money to my hiking funds, yay!

Aside from being a pain reliever, it also aids in reducing muscle swelling such as sprain and cramps which some hikers experience.  It’s convenient to use even while on the trail because you don’t have to clean your hands before applying it. You just need to spray it on the affected part, no need massage it over!  Another one of its salient attributes is it contains all-natural ingredients so it’s safe to use as often as needed.  It’s truly an excellent addition to my first aid kit but I’m hoping I don’t have to use it for a sprain :P.

BSI Medicated Spray has been in the Philippine market for over 5 years and its target users include athletes, senior citizens, office workers, housewives, OFWs who suffer muscular pain.

Where to Buy : Mercury Drug Store, Rose Pharmacy, and South Star Drug
Price : 388 Pesos (64ml)

This spray was also tested by fellow bloggers who are into running and triathlon. Just click on the link to read about their experience using BSI Medicated Spray :

BSI MEDICATED SPRAY is distributed by New Smart Formulae Trading Corp, a pharmaceutical distributor of high quality products in the Philippines.  

Disclaimer : This is a sponsored post. I accept collaborations for products that I’ve tried, liked and are relevant to travel, adventure and sports. :) 


Naga Series : Waterfalls Trekking at Engkanto Falls

My young, happy and oh so carefree friends stripping down to enjoy the cold water
After rappelling at Nalalata falls the previous day (blog here), we traveled 45 minutes from Naga city to Libmanan in Camarines Sur for the afternoon’s adventure, a trek to Engkanto Falls. 

At the jump-off in Barangay Bical, we met with  Mr. Roderick  Fabor, head of Libmanan Tourism, and other friendly folks from the local tourism.  After exchanging pleasantries, we commenced trekking and soon found ourselves on a scenic but muddy trail.

The landscape was so bucolic - rice fields on our right and coconut trees everywhere. 
We had to cross this wooden bamboo bridge to get to the other side of the trail 
Engkanto Falls is a series of 20 cascades, with a height of 1 meter or less. Its name, a Filipino word that refers to supernatural beings that guard the environment, are believed to dwell in the area - adding excitement to exploring a less known destination in Camarines Sur. 

After about 15 minutes, a section of the falls emerged.  We were told we would be trekking on the falls instead of around it. I knew from experience that the portion of the boulder where water passes is usually safe to walk on because the current makes the surface less slippery but, hearing the roar of the water was still intimidating. I dismissed any thought of slipping and focused on enjoying the trek. It was such a thrilling experience! :)


Muddy trail with branches everywhere 
Some areas were a little challenging because you need to use both hands. It was especially tricky for my other companions who carried SLR's (Travel tip : bring a dry bag or a waterproof bag so you don't have to worry about your gears or better yet, get a waterproof camera and phone :)). 

Our short trek terminated at a picturesque  part of the falls. We were told that there's a cave about an hour  from where we were but it was nearing sunset so we decided to head down. 
One of the wider cascades of Engkanto Falls
It had been an exciting trek capped off with a cool swim and some fitting snacks - freshly picked coconut and 3N’s toasted siopao. This bread which has diced pork fillings is one of Naga’s famous snacks. 

Check out blogger friend, Estan’s post about Engkanto Falls. 

How to fulfill this adventure? Get in touch with Libmanan on Facebook 

Travel Tips :
Recommended footwear - although my companions who wore rubber slippers managed the trek just fine, it would be safer to wear a footwear that dries easily and preferably with straps so you can wear it while swimming as the water is  shallow on most parts and there's plenty of small sharp rocks. 

Bring : snacks, dry bag for wet clothes
*There's a changing area at the jump-off. 


Engkanto Falls 
Barangay Bical,
Libmanan, Camarines Sur, Bicol Region
Philippines

Related Posts : 
Waterfalls Hiking in Pili, Camarines Sur

Note : 
This trek was a collaboration with NagaX, Naga's tourism arm and the local government unit of Libmanan. 

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