Puerto Galera is often compared to Boracay, the most popular beach in the Philippines, but usually only by people who have not been to Puerto Galera. This tourist town in Oriental Mindoro does not only offer a stretch of white sandy beach but also backpacking and trekking; Boracay does not have virgin forests to please mountaineers and backpackers. In Puerto Galera, however, you get the beaches plus the bonus of exotic mountain treks and jungle trails, and one of the more popular places for backpackers and trekkers is Bondong Jungle.
Puerto Galera is located in the island of Mindoro just 130 kilometers south of Manila, capital city of the Philippines. This gives it a clear edge over Boracay and other great beaches in Cebu, Bohol and Mindanao, since one does not need to take a plane to reach it. To visit the many tourist spots in the Philippines, every foreign tourist enters through Manila and then boards a domestic flight to the final destination. Cebu and Davao also have international airports, but Manila is still the most common and practical route. From the international airport in Manila to the white sand beaches of Puerto Galera, Mindoro, is about 2 hours by bus to Batangas, then 2 more hours by ferry.
Puerto Galera is visited primarily for White Beach, a stretch of beach with white, powdery sand that is bustling with people, restaurants, and tons of fun water activities. After one has bummed by the beach for a day, it is also good to see what Puerto Galera has more to offer. It has historic spots (since it is a town dating back to when Spain ruled the islands) waterfalls, mountains, and virgin forests, the most famous of which is the aforementioned Bondong Jungle.
At White Beach it has become apparent that a hike to the jungle is slowly becoming a top draw in Puerto Galera since more and more beach vendors are offering the trek. Local vendors roam around the beach offering all sorts of services such as hair braiding, tattoo, and trips, but you should look out for the ones offering a trip to the jungle: that is definitely a service you want to try.
So what does Bondong Jungle have to offer?
The hike itself is quite an adventure. Even before one reaches the rich lushness of Bondong, one will actually get to encounter the Mangyan tribe. Every Filipino child in school knows about the Mangyans. They are a tribal group that may be found only in Mindoro and they have lived there, in that very same spot, for centuries. Their culture and ways of life have been untouched by modern technology, so it is quite exciting to see how people lived back then, without all the mobiles and television sets.
Deeper into the hike, tourists will slowly realize that they are being devoured by the jungle as sounds of chirping birds, cascading water and flowing streams get louder and louder. There are also fewer people to see. The jungle transports tourists into a whole new world of experiences. They are treated with an array of wildlife that is uniquely Filipino, one of which is the water buffalo. The Tamaraw is a water buffalo that is found only in the Philippines, but specifically only in Oriental Mindoro and mostly inside Bondong Jungle. Even if only for this magnificent creature, tourists are encouraged to take the hike into the wild.