You’ve probably seen your adventure-seeking friends in the city peppering their Facebook and Instagram accounts with photos of the increasingly popular Mt. Magarwak in Puerto Princesa. This gem is a mere thirty- to forty-minute ride from bayan and offers an easy to moderate hiking experience. While Magarwak offers an easy climbing, the view offered at its peak is certainly no lightweight. At the top awaits a one-of-a-kind view of Bacungan River winding down to meet the salt water of Honda Bay, this against the backdrop of a verdant forest. If you’ve been looking for a quick way to jumpstart your weekend and start chasing some sunrise, Bacungan’s Mt. Magarwak is a perfect choice.
How to Get There
Sitio Magarwak is in Bacungan, a barangay that sits around 15 kilometers north of the city proper or bayan. Get there via vans and buses that leave San Jose Terminal from 5:30 a.m. onwards, with fares ranging from P20 to P30. Hop off at the Bantay Gubat Monitoring Station after the 15-km marker and take the feeder road to the right. From there, the trek will last for an hour and a half—depending on how often you take pictures along the way. If you have a private vehicle, navigate the feeder road until the intersection near the old glass house, turn left and park—you’ll know it when you get there, unless you’re the first one to arrive.
If you opted to begin the trek at the Bantay Gubat Monitoring Station, the ascent to the intersection via the feeder road will last for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn left after the uninhabited glass house and take the trail to the left. It’s easy to navigate the trail to the communications tower (the highest peak of this mountain) even without a guide since the path is already paved by trekkers and adventurous cyclists who braved this terrain.
It will take an easy 30 to 45 minutes from the intersection to the tower, where you’ll pass through an ultramafic forest with the trail paved by mostly small loose rocks. As you climb higher, the view down below expands charmingly from a sight of a white healing cross perched between the trees, to a spectacle of vehicles zigzagging their way down the road, and to a breathtaking sight of Honda Bay bathing in the early morning rays of the sun.
Hydrate, relax upon reaching the tower, take more pictures but do not stop. Twenty minutes of another trek will take you to a more rewarding view. Take the left side of the tower and walk along a narrower path to the kubo – you’ll know it when you get there. Continue right until you reach the rocky cliff and slowly, carefully, thread it…until there’s nothing to step into. Enjoy the astonishing scene. Breath in, breath out. Shout if you want to, dream, be one with nature, appreciate the beauty of our island and embrace the silence.
The descent is faster because you can easily jog down the rocky terrain. The sun is piercing hot by 10 a.m. hence it’s advisable to begin this trek by 5: 30 a.m. Bring a liter of water and light snack, but please do not leave the wrappers in the area. Wear shoes and light comfortable clothing. So far, there is no entrance fee and no known guides – but you can look for me on Facebook (Sheena Karen Madarcos) and message me if you want someone to accompany you – this place is worth a return hike, I would gladly go.
About the Author: Karen Madarcos is a weekend warrior from Puerto Princesa. If you can’t find her in her daily walks around Sta. Monica, she’s either chasing a waterfall, floating in a nearby beach, getting lost in an unpaved trek, eating, getting bruises from hiking, blogging about all of these, reading her book of the week or most likely, working in a Research and Development Consortium to save for her upcoming weekends. Follow her instagram account at @shinakaren and see her website at wanderingkaren.com.
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