Manila’s new nature trail lets you experience this geopark at night

Nov 14, 2017

Take a walk on the wild side with the newly launched Discovery Trail At Night in karst-dotted Masungi Georeserve, a conservation area established two decades ago just outside Metro Manila.

A giant spider sculpture greets us when we arrive at Sapot, a web-like viewing platform of steel cables (main photo) stretched over limestone peaks at Masungi Georeserve, a 1,600ha conservation area in the municipality of Baras in the Province of Rizal, 45km east of Manila. The eco-tourism spot derives its name from the Tagalog word ‘masungki’ (meaning ‘spiked’ in English) – apt, given the limestone pinnacles on the grounds.

masungi-dense-vegetation

Dense vegetation (above) blankets the landscape before us, and the air resounds with the calls of birds and cicadas. But things weren’t always so idyllic. Two decades ago, these foothills along the southern end of the Sierra Madre mountain range were overridden by quarrying and illegal logging. Thanks to better stewardship since, the forest recovered, and in late 2015, the protected area opened to the public, offering appointment-only guided tours.

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“The sound of chainsaws once overwhelmed the song of birds,” our guide Romeo Delasada, who hails from the indigenous Dumagat tribe, tells us as we make our way along the Discovery Trail At Night. Launched by the geopark this August, the trail lets visitors experience the rainforest after dark, when it truly comes alive, echoing with the call of frogs, bats and crickets.