Trekking sounds like a very mild thing to do, a slightly hyped-up version of a boring walk, but not in Puerto Galera. Puerto Galera, a scenic and historical town in Oriental Mindoro, is filled with amazing sites of both natural and man-made wonders. Trekking in Puerto Galera is the opposite of boring, thanks to its beautiful beaches, marine life and mountains, as well as its rich history and culture.
Puerto Galera is one of the remaining “savage” provinces in the Philippines’ Luzon group of islands. It has unspoiled forests and lush mountains where an ancient tribal group, the Mangyans, still settles within the thick fauna of Mount Halcon. Luzon is the northern group of islands, where Manila, the capital city, is located. Manila, a bustling modern metropolis, is the first stop to several tourist destinations in the country, such as Boracay, Pagudpod, Baguio, and Puerto Galera.
Puerto Galera is only 130 kilometers away from the capital city, which makes it the closest major tourist destination. It is only a one bus ride and one ferry ride away, for a total travel time of 4 hours. The top attractions here are the white beaches and colorful reefs and marine life in Sabang Beach and White Beach. But after being wet on your first days of vacation, it’s time to go Puerto Galera trekking.
Professional mountain climbers are challenged to trek the summit of Mount Halcon. It is said to be the most difficult mountain in the entire country. Up until today, only three groups of seasoned mountaineers have ever claimed to have scaled it. The path is full of thick foliage, treacherous ravines, and swarms of blood-sucking leeches, but not without cool rivers and amazing waterfalls. This is where the Mangyans thrive and navigating through the thick jungle to the summit is almost impossible without a Mangyan guide leading the way. They trek this “difficult” mountain, their natural habitat, barefooted and at amazing speed. It may be a difficult climb but it is said to have a truly magnificent view from atop. And, of course, actually making it to the summit does give you some license to brag.
If Mount Halcon is not for you, there is always Mount Malasimbo, that towering figure over Puerto Galera. Although jeepneys go all the way up to the Ponderosa Golf and Country Club, you can always decide to walk to have a better Nature experience.
Besides the mountains, you can go trekking through the jungles. There are guided trek packages that cost Php1,400 (approx. USD 28) or Php2,300 (USD 52), if you wish to include kayaking. It’s a one-of-a-kind walk through the jungle, natural landscapes, rich flora and fauna, a pocket of exotic animals and sounds of birds chirping and cascading waters. You could also see a tamaraw, a water buffalo species that lives only in Mindoro. The Mangyan village is also an interesting site to visit.
Often beginning at 10:00 AM, the usual trek follows this route: Sabang Beach, a jeepney ride to the Mindoro coastline, Tamaraw Falls, Hanging Bridge in San Tadeo, the Mangyan Village, a nearby river, rapids, and pockets of natural swimming pools. Although you can always on your own go trekking in Puerto Galera, the local guides add a cultural flavor, allowing you to know the history of the places you see.