Masungi Georeserve is an amazing nature reserve within the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Baras, Rizal. It’s a great day trip from Manila especially if you’re a hiker or a nature enthusiast. Here you’ll appreciate the beauty of a natural rainforest and also go through exciting features such as caves, rope courses, and hanging bridges.
Here’s our day trip guide to Masungi Georeserve!
About Masungi Georeserve
Established in 1996, Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area aimed at rehabilitating and protecting about 1500 hectares of forested landscape in Baras, Rizal. It officially opened its doors to visitors in December 2015, so tourists can also appreciate its beauty.
It located within the Sierra Madre mountain range. Its name is derived from the word “masungki,” which means spikes, referring to its distinct karst landscape featuring 66-million-years-old limestone rock formations, as well as lush forests and breathtaking mountain views.
It is also home to over 400 species of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to the Philippines. Notably, it’s home to salinggogon (a flowering tree referred to as the Philippine’s cherry blossom, which blooms at the same time as the sakura trees in Japan) as well as other rare flowers such as pungapong and pitogo (a unique species of flora that came from a lineage of plants that appeared 350 million years ago).
Our visit to Masungi Georeserve
We scheduled a day tour for the Discovery Trail in Masungi Georeserve on a weekend. I was with my boyfriend and family.
We were schedule for 7AM but arrived at the site very early, so it was a good thing there was a nearby eatery where we ordered tapsilog and lomi for breakfast before heading back.
Once at Masungi Georeserve, we attended a short orientation about do’s and don’ts in the park. We were also asked to take bathroom breaks then because there aren’t any more toilets along the trail. Then we proceeded with the trek.
The trek was casually paced, and every now and then our guide would stop to tell us about the history of Masungi Georeserve and interesting species along the way, including the JC’s vine – which is found in only four locations in the Philippines.
The trail includes stone steps, forest trails, and small caves.
There are also areas where guests would stop and take pictures. These main attractions are:
Sapot. A giant web-like platform offering a 360-view of the surrounding forests, including Laguna de Bay on one side and the Sierra Madre mountain range on the other. This is one of the first stops and is actually my favorite one! It is a bit scary to walk to the middle at first, but our guide calmly assisted us and took pictures.
Tatay and Nanay. Tatay is the highest peak at Masungi Georeserve, offering breathtaking mountain forest views. From here you can also see the other park attractions including Sapot and the rope courses. Nanay is the second highest peak, composed of five rock formations interconnected with bridges.
Ditse. Ditse is an enclosed area with a monkey mural on the floor. It is said that monkeys come here to keep cool on hot days.
Patak. This is an “air house” (a house suspended on air) which you can reach by a hanging bridge. The air house is very picturesque, and your guide can help you get an obligatory group photo.
Duyan. In Filipino, “duyan” means hammock. This giant hammock is one one of the most iconic spots in Masungi Georeserve. Take your time and get great group photos here!
Yungib ni Ruben. A cave discovered by a local helper named Ruben. This is the biggest cave in this location, with a quiet, eerie ambiance.
Bayawak. A steep rope course found near the end of the trail. It is named after the largest lizard found within the forest because you have to crawl like a lizard to climb down.
Liwasan. A resting area found at the end of the trail, with benches and hammocks and a birdbath for birds.
Sawa. A easy hanging bridge enclosed in ropes, which makes it look like a huge sawa (or python).
It took us 4 hours to complete the trail. It was tiring but really enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the rope courses, especially picture taking. Our guide is already familiar with the trail and was very helpful with the phone camera. She also knows the best angles, so if in doubt, hand your camera to your guide.
None of us have a fear of heights, but in case you have one, there are alternative routes that you can take instead of the ropes and hanging bridges.
At the end of the trail, we stopped by the visitors’ shed where earlier groups were already resting and chatting. We were given cold towels to cool down, which was a nice touch. We were also served chicken inato sandwich, saba with honey cinnamon dip, and cucumber juice which were really good.
Overall, Masungi Georeserve is one of my most favorite day trips. It may seem a little pricy, but the fee goes toward the guides and conservation efforts of the park. It’s also beginner-friendly and a perfect activity for the family.
Book a day tour at Masungi Georeserve
You can book your day tour at Masungi Georeserve’s official website. Walk-ins are not accommodated.
Currently, Masungi Georeserve offers 2 trails: the Discovery Trail (3-4 hours) and the Legacy Trail (5-6 hours). Most tourists go for the Discovery Trail, as it covers the exciting obstacle and rope courses you see online. The Legacy Trail includes not just hiking but also tree planting and a short stay in one of the tree houses on-site.
If it’s your first time in Masungi Georeserve, it’s best to choose the Discovery Trail.
There used to be a night tour as well. But as of our visit, it isn’t opened yet following the pandemic.
Here are the current rates (Updated as of June 2023):
- Discovery Trail: P1500 per person on weekdays/P1800 on weekends
- Legacy Trail: P1500 per person on both weekdays and weekends
There is a required minimum of 7 guests (and maximum of 14).
You will need to pay the full amount before your schedule. If you do not meet the required minimum of participants, you still need to pay the full fee. Another option is to look for joiner tours in Facebook.
How to get to Masungi Georeserve
Masungi Georeserve is about 1.5-2 hours from Manila, depending on traffic.
Here are the commute directions:
- From Cubao, ride a jeep or FX to Cogeo Gate 2/Padilla.
- From Gate 2, ride a jeep to Sampaloc, Tanay. Get off at the Garden Cottages and walk to the park entrance.
As per Masungi’s advisory: Jeeps and vehicles in general, are difficult to find once you get to Garden Cottages. You can spend up to an hour waiting for a jeepney. Added to this, jeeps are often filled to the roof when they pass by the area.
Things to know before you go
Here are important things to know before you go.
When is the best time to visit
Masungi Georeserve can be visited all-year-round. It’s a rain or shine activity. In case of severe weather conditions, Masungi will issue cancellation ahead of time.
Who can visit Masungi Georeserve
The nature reserve is open to all guests, 13 years old and above.
What to wear
Wear comfortable active wear like drifit shirt or loose shirt, long pants or leggings, and non-slip or closed shoes. Slippers are not allowed since they are not suitable for use especially in the rope courses.
During the wet season, it’s recommended that you bring extra clothes, dry bag, and raincoat. (They used to provide poncho but have since stopped the practice to minimize waste.)
What to bring
Bring a day hike backpack, 1-2 liters of water, and trail food. Full meals are not allowed.
You should also bring sunblock for skin protection since there are plenty of areas with little to no minimal shade.
It’s allowed to use drones within Masungi Georeserve, so bring one for some nice aerial shots.
Where to eat
Complimentary snacks are included in your booking and will be served at the visitors’ shed near the end of the trail.
Masungi also has an in-house restaurant called Silayan, which serves sustainable, organic meals. It is open to non-trail and trail guests. Advanced reservation is required.
- Be at the site 30 minutes before your schedule. Do not be late, since each group is assigned every 30 minutes and being late may cause bottleneck traffic in the trail, particularly in popular areas such as Sapot and Duyan.
- Bringing of pets is not allowed.
- Here are important park policies to note:
- No littering, smoking, and picking/collection of animals, plants, and rocks.
- Personal tipping to your guide is not allowed, but you can donate in the communal donation bucket located in Silungan and Liwasan areas.
Masungi Georeserve is close to numerous tourist spots in Tanay. Most tour operators stop by Regina Rica and a choice of your coffee shop with a mountain view.
After our morning tour at Masungi Geoserve, we visited Pinto Art Museum in the afternoon. Though this museum holds a special place in my heart, I do not think it was a good choice because it involved a lot of walking and we were already tired. I would recommend going somewhere relaxing instead afterwards.
Here are our personal travel tips:
- Choose a morning schedule because it can really be hot in the afternoon.
- It’s best to have a warm-up before you schedule. Most of us weren’t physically active and though the trail was doable, we ended up with muscle cramps the next day.
- To be honest, most if not all the information that you need will be provided by Masungi Georeserve once you confirm your payment. You can also ask them questions for clarifications.
Have you been to Masungi Georeserve in Rizal? What was your experience? Let us know in the comment section below!
Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).