Beyond the rough road called cradle, behind the great green vastness of the Mt. Beaufort Geological Mountain Range and secretly tucked between Mt. Herschel and the West Philippine Sea is a beautiful serene home of old looming trees, private long beaches, astonishing waterfalls and beautiful people of diverse culture – Simpocan.
As one of the 66 barangays of Puerto Princesa City, Simpocan is a perfect place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the urban and rekindle the contact with friends, neighbors and kind strangers. This community is what Palawan feels like decades before – sans the sound of roaring engine and free from continuous beeping of cellphones and computers pinging messages and deadlines, fresh soft breeze, children playing tags in the front yard and residents waking up early to till the garden or to fish in the ocean. It’s a quiet paradise, pleasing to the eyes, healing to the soul.
What to do in Simpocan?
Visit the Mother Tree
Mother Tree is a gigantic century old Ipil tree that measures up to 80 feet high and its prop roots, which the local calls “dalig” is so enormous that eight people, arms stretched, are needed to surround it. Located at the foot of Mt. Beaufort and surrounded by different hues of greens, it can be reached via an hour of relaxed hike from Sitio Bualbualan or a vehicle via a newly developed feeder road. A humble signage is placed afoot the tree to let you know that you’ve reached it! It is advisable to get guides from the center of the Sitio particularly from Community Based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) managing the trek. As of writing, the guide fee was not established yet but I think PHP 300 will be enough for a group of 5 hikers.
Go plunge at Tagkuriring Falls
Tagkuriring Falls is another hidden gem of Simpocan and a perfect prospect for water falls chasers and weekend travelers. Secretly tucked behind the lush hill of Sitio Lalawigan, surrounded by towering trees, wild orchids and exotic plants, this waterfall is great for an afternoon dip and quick picnic after a short 40-minutes to 1-hour short hike from the center of the barrio, the Sitio Maligaya. Registration and entrance fee (PHP 20) is needed at the barangay hall where you may also find some kind locale guides willing to take you to a nature walk.
Swim, camp and witness the sunset in baybay
End your day with a soothing touch of the sea and the soft caress of the ocean breeze from the west. Head to baybay, a beach few minutes’ walk from the barrio center, and enjoy the shore and the crashing waves on your own. Take something with you, a camera, a cup of coffee, a book may be and watch how the sky turns into a hundred hues of reds, oranges and vermilions. Who knows, you may witness sea turtles hatching in the sand? You may also pitch a tent and stay there for the night if you want to because what’s better than a night under the stars on the beach? Nothing.
How to get there
Simpocan is a barangay located 50 kilometers west of Puerto Princesa City via Barangay Bacungan. It is accessible via private vehicle either via Bacungan (better view, construction on going) or Napsan (better road, 90% concreted). One (Only one) public transport is available daily from the San Jose Terminal for PHP 100.00 to PHP 120.00. It is advisable for you to go there at 1:00 PM to secure a seat – just ask around where the vehicle to the area is. Estimated travel time is two (van and truck) to four (Palawan and hunter jeeps) hours depending on the weather and number of stops. From Simpocan to the city proper, two scheduled public transfer is available at 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM – make sure to never miss them.
Notes and reminders
Day tour – there are no available accommodations in the area. The best way to visit Simpocan is through a private vehicle so that you can return to the city after dusk. If you want to try it, I suggest that you take this itinerary:
|5:00 to 7:00 AM||Travel from Puerto Princesa City proper via Bacungan. Take the concrete road going to Yamang Bukid and head southwest (google maps please)|
|7:00 to 11:00 AM||Arrive at Sitio Bualbualan, Simpocan. Look for locale guides and visit the mother tree.|
|11:00 to 1:00 PM||Head to Centro/barrio. Pass by Matinlo beach and take a picture with the tree tunnels! Have lunch at Baybay beach!|
|1:00 to 1:30 PM||Prepare for the hike to Tagkuriring Falls. Register at the barangay hall and head to Sitio Lalawigan – where the trail head to the waterfall is.|
|1:30 to 4:00 PM||Hike to Tagkuriring Falls. Dive and swim (if you know how), have a hearty snacks and hike back to the trail head.|
|4:00 to 6:00 PM||Drive back to Puerto Princesa City proper via Napsan. Chase the sunset.|
If you opt to stay, you may pitch some tents in the baybay area – this is allowed as long as you ask permission to the locales and barangay officials. Home stay is a great option too, but so far, they are still strategizing it.
Communication and Electricity – Network signal (both Smart and Globe) is unavailable in the area. Electricity, however, is provided via private generators from 6:00 to 10:00 PM. Charging cellphones and other devises is not advisable because the current is unregulated – so it is advisable for you to bring fully charged power banks.
Meals – I did not notice any cooked-food stalls in the barrio and its nearby sitios. You may bring cooked or canned food with you or you may also prepare your food there, just make sure to bring your own stove and cook sets.
Please leave no trace. May the adventure be with you!