Looking for a memorable hike near Metro Manila? Check out Mt Daraitan, one of the popular hiking destinations in Tanay, Rizal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left me bored and stuck in the metro. Surely, almost all feel that way, especially with limited mobility. Thankfully, more and more areas are slowly reviving the tourism industry.
So when I saw a package for a hiking trip to Mt Daraitan, I immediately expressed interest to the organizer. Since I wanted to travel with a group, I invited four of my friends. Thankfully, they readily agreed.
Take note. Before joining any tour package, do a background check of the organizer and his/her affiliation.
Anyways, here are some key information to know:
- Location of Mt Daraitan: Barangay Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal
- Difficulty: 4/9 (Subjective)
- Elevation: 739 MASL
- Hours to the Summit: 3-4 hours
How to Go to Mt Daraitan
From Manila, here is how we got to Brgy. Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal, the jump-off point to Mt. Daraitan on a package tour mode.
We rendezvoused on a spot near the Shaw Boulevard MRT Station in Mandaluyong City where the van was stationed to pick us up. That was around 2 AM. All in all, there were five of us in the group including a joiner whom we got to know for the first time.
From the said pick-up point, it took us more than two hours to reach Barangay Daraitan. That was past 4 AM then so it was still dark and cold. But how I loved the serene and chilly atmosphere and the constant echoes of the wilderness.
To get to the main village, we had to cross the Tinipak River via a bamboo raft since a strong typhoon destroyed the bridge connecting the road to Barangay Daraitan. Ah, what a memorable way of starting our trek.
After crossing the river, we rode on a tricycle towards the barangay hall which is also the registration area.
Prelimaries and Fees
Here are the fees to pay at the registration booth:
- Barangay Fee: Php 20 per person
- Environmental Fee: Php 100 per person
- Guide Fee: Php 500 for a day hike and Php 1250 for overnight
- Parking Fee: Php 50 for a day and Php 100 for overnight
Trekking to Mt Daraitan
Following the brief orientation and registration at the barangay hall, we began the trek to Mt Daraitan with swelling eagerness and excitement. After so long, I’m finally able to immerse myself in another daring adventure.
Initially, we walked on a paved road, and after some meters away, we reached the main forest trail. This was the part I started to enjoy as I could feel the beating of the forest and all its wildlife cacophonies. That was around 6 am so the rising fogs were still evident, showcasing mystical views.
The stretch of the forest was broken when we reached a cleared part of the trail. It’s part of a farm with some fruit trees such as coconut and coffee shrubs. At the end of it is the very first steep part of the trail which we had to gradually assault.
Having been used to more extreme hiking, the trek was easy for me but we had to walk slowly as one of my friends had difficulty climbing. We also had to rest from time to time. Along the way, there were locals selling coconut juice and other refreshments.
Because the pace was not favorable for me, I had to focus on enjoying the trail and the views of the forests and the mountains. Luckily, I was able to spot blooming orchids and wildflowers. Birds are also a common sight and you’re lucky if you’ll see various kinds.
Ah, there are also the jungle vines climbing their way to the light. Seeing them felt nostalgic as I used to swing with the vines during my childhood years. Although I badly wanted to swing one more time, I decided not to as other hikers might think something’s going on. Whew.
I just had to enjoy every step of the way. Thankfully, the thick shading of trees protected us from the rising heat. Literally, we were soaking in nature’s cooling embrace.
It took more than three hours for us to finally reach the summit of Mt Daraitan. I was earlier hoping to catch a view of the sea of clouds which the mountain is known for. Unfortunately, we arrived too late. Well, that’s all the more reason to come back.
While Atop Mt Daraitan
Mt. Daraitan’s summit offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains of the Sierra Madre including its crisscrossing rivers. Limestone rock formations are all over the place, making them a good spot for taking pictures amidst the backdrop of panoramic mountain views.
Although the views are stunning, I felt a level of sadness seeing the surrounding mountains. I knew that old-growth forests covered them just years ago. Various wildlife species thrived including the Philippine eagle. Unfortunately, both legal and small-scale logging decimated the forests. Thus, we can only see secondary growth.
I also noticed that farms are gradually penetrating the remaining forests. Hopefully, the local authorities with the community members will continue to improve ecotourism in the area. This is not only to protect the forests but also to improve local livelihood.
Trekking to the Tinipak River
After some minutes of relishing the views atop Mt Daraitan, we began trekking to the Tinipak River. It was a winding and downhill trek but thankfully, the surrounding forests provided constant relief. The trail was also quite slippery and rocky so we had to take extra caution. It would have been an extremely challenging descent if it was raining as there would be mud all over.
After some 20 minutes, we reached a spot known as Heart Peak which overlooks the Tinipak River. The mountain views here are also breathtaking including the limestone forests. A heart-shaped structure was also installed where visitors can take memorable photos on the edge of the mountain.
We then continued trekking and it took us another 30 minutes before we finally reached Tinipak River. Ah, what a relief after the exhausting trek to and from the summit of Mt Daraitan.
Unfortunately, the waters of Tinipak were a bit murky due to the recent typhoon. Still, I immediately plunged into the river and felt instant rejuvenation. Oh, how refreshing swimming on Tinipak River while gazing at the dramatic mountain views and the limestone rock formations. There’s just nothing like it here. It is a paradise worth preserving.
There’s a sad story to it, however, due to the proposed Kaliwa Dam downstream. I asked the locals and the overwhelming majority oppose the project but the government doesn’t waiver for whatever reason. Hopefully, the project will not push through since the locals are already thriving economically through ecotourism and sustainable agriculture.
After enjoying the cool waters of the Tinipak River, we then called it a day and proceeded back to the village. Later, we rode our way back to Manila carrying memories we will forever cherish.