The Trails of Daraitan (Part 1)

If trail run destinations could be awarded a star for their breath of beauty, this would earn a dozen. The stunning river and mountain landscapes make it perfect for a weekend of running or trekking. As i prepared my hydration belt and waist pouch for our trip to DARAITAN, Tanay, Rizal, June had asked me to bring sandals as we may have to cross some rivers to explore Daraitan.

My mental picture of the place featured copious wildlife, zigzagging streams and rivers, rock formations, including creeping iguanas and river snakes of all varieties which may sting you. Oh, and some of them, I know, could kill you. Since I didn’t have any sandals, I opted instead to just protect my feet with trail shoes and use these in both land and river crossings.

Our journey started at the Pranjetto Hills Resort where we had set up base. Running buddies June, Darryl, their mutual friend Noel, an experienced hiker and biker from Cebu and I ordered for breakfast tapas, rice, eggs and coffee. While waiting breakfast to be cooked, we toured Noel inside the resort, a picturesque retreat with a difference. We were like in a middle of a jungle with all amenities like cabins, swimming pool, patios, cottages, barbecue pits, the works. But that’s another story.

After breakfast, we scurried off to Daraitan, which is about 5 kilometers south of Prenjetto Resort. The entrance is at the left side of the national highway. After another 7 kilometers of bumpy ride on mostly dirt roads leading to the village itself, we were glad to get out in the open and start to explore the river and mountainscapes.

We were greeted by Mang Tinio, one of the regular staff of the village’s barangay as we registered and paid P10.00 each to tour the place. This paradise has been awarded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as the “cleanest body of water” in Region IV. Indeed, we were tempted to drink in one of the small streams as the water was crystal clear.

Here, in pictures are our adventure run:

Entrance to Daraitan, a hidden paradise inside the sanctum of Tanay, Rizal

Approaching the thatched huts at the entrance

Now, you know what "ELP" and "ONIR" means?

Start of run across the wooden bridge

Finding firm footing on the rocky trail

Going out of civilization

Crystal clear streams

More of this along the way

Trying to tip-toe above the rocks!

Zillions of decorative stones to take home

Getting my shoes wet

June and Noel just ahead

Now threading on the sand path

Emerging from the stream

A view from above

A view of the zigzagging river

June continues to run upwards the mountain trails

Brisk walking while Noel takes a shot

June stops at a house near a cliff, asking for directions

Reaching the other side of the mountain

Chasing the endless river

A much needed walk break

Entering Daraitan's 'Shangrila'

Glorious view!

White rocks and the little blue lagoon

Taking a break

Serene backdrop

Atop a giant white rock!

White rocks trail

The run continues

Views on my right

More of the scenery

Feels like you can run forever in this scenery

The great walls of Daraitan

More of the white rocks overhead

Hopping on each rock to get near the other side

Atop the marble rocks

Like a giant clam

Noel--nice jump into the middle

By the end of our trip, we had failed to cross any part of the river (thank God!) just content of walking or running along its banks. We learnt enough about Daraitan to know we would be back—and next time would confront the rivers. Daraitan is a fascinating place that offers many things for adventurous runners or whatever type of adventure seeker you are. And on reflection, these outback trail runs are far more rewarding than races in the cities— distance and time notwithstanding.

More pictures in Part 2…