Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:00 AM November 27, 2016
Reserve your slot early. Because of Masungi Georeserve’s growing popularity, we had to make our reservation three months in advance. The georeserve is open from Tuesday to Sunday, with a limited number of tours per day. Each tour is for a group of seven to 14 people, 13 years old and above. Fee is P1,400 per person. Included in the fee is a light snack (a sandwich, banana, juice and water).
Allot ample amount of time for the trip to the georeserve. Take into account the traffic situation if coming from Katipunan Road in Quezon City. We went on a Friday and our reservation was for 7:30 a.m., yet it took us an hour and a half from Katipunan to reach the park.
Wear the appropriate attire. Choose jogging or athletic pants instead of shorts. This will protect you from insect bites and potential scratches from plants or sharp/rough edges of rocks. Lightweight and comfortable tops are perfect. Wear walking or trekking shoes with nonslip outsoles. This is vital especially if you’re visiting Masungi during the rainy season.
Do necessary preparations. Eat a heavy meal; you’ll need the energy. Put sunscreen to protect your skin. If you’re prone to insect bites, put on insect repellent lotion, too.
Also, don’t forget to pee! There are no toilet breaks once the trek starts.
Listen to your designated park ranger. Follow instructions. If he tells you not to touch the trunk of a certain tree, don’t—unless you want to itch all day. Masungi is not your ordinary forest hike. There are dangerous and challenging sections in the trail, so better pay attention to your guide.
Keep your helmet on. There are moments when you are allowed to remove your helmet—your guide will tell you when. But keep your helmet on when spelunking (cave exploring). Klutzes, like yours truly, should heed this advice since most of the cave entrances and rock passageways are a tight squeeze. (I bumped my head three times!)
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I repeat, it’s a four-hour trek, you can’t afford not to hydrate. If you don’t have a water bottle with you, the park rangers will provide one for you before the start of the hike.
Secure your stuff, especially your gadgets. There are no lockers at Masungi, instead you will be lent drawstring backpacks for your valuables. It’s tiny so don’t bring unnecessary items. Instead, leave them in your car. If you’re going to take photos (and of course, you will), secure your cameras and mobile phones to your person with straps. There will be moments when you’ll need your hands to be free during the hike.
Respect park policies. No littering or smoking. No petting or feeding the animals in the park. Live by this adage: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. —Cake Evangelista