|Rapids action on Tibiao River|
For this post, I am publishing a feature story I wrote that appeared in the October-November 2012 issue of InFlight Magazine which is available via subscription and onboard Seair Tiger Airway local flights. Special thanks to my friend, Ferdz Decena of www.ironwulf.net, for allowing me to use his images which were also used for the physical magazine.
ABOUT OUR GUIDE. Greg Hutchinson first came to the Philippines in 1986, the year of People Power, as an international Reuter correspondent. He later took early retirement from Reuters to freelance and set up a beach resort in Boracy in 1989, and an adventure company, Tribal Adventure Tours (www.tribaladventures.com). The company pioneered white water kayaking, rafting, seakayaking and photjournalism expeditions in the Philippines. Hutchinson is averse to the tourism label, preferring to say that he's all about taking guests through a genuine "experience" that honors the country's rich tribal heritage. Over a decade since setting up shop, he is still as excited as the early days about embarking on the next great adventure. Hutchinson reveals his top adrenaline-boosting tours and activities.
WHITE WATER RAFTING IN PANAY
Tribal adventures takes guests through the rapids of Tibiao River in Antique in a three-day adventure that balances the rugged with the comfy, the fun with the bizarre.
REQUIREMENTS: Swimming skills are not necessary though you must feel comfortable in the water. It helps to be in shape. While Tibiao has class 2 and 3 rapids, a one-minder guide is assigned to every paddler. You also don life jackets and get to ride on a sit-on dedicated white water kayak that's more stable and easier to get in and out of.
HIGHLIGHTS: A mix of stimuli for all the senses. You get to hike the environs of the Tibiao River -- Mt. Maja-as with its open slopes, mossy forest, waterfalls, passing through the rainforest and rice terraces. You get to swing into the rock pools of Bugtong Bato waterfalls. And after a day of paddling, you get to luxuriate in the unique hot "kawa" tub in the outdoors, have a ticklish fish spa, and a traditional Filipino massage therapy or "hilot".
ACCOMMODATION: You have a choice of native cottages at Kayak Inn with private bath, bedroom and balcony, a room at Angelos Seaside Bungalows, or pitching a tent/hammock under the stars.
WHERE TO BOOK: Email email@example.com or visit www.tribaladventures.com. Panay 3 Day/2-Night Adventure costs P15,000/person (about US$349/person) for a group of four; P16,500 person for a group of three.
GETTING THERE: The trip starts in Boracay where guests ride the ferry to Panay Island, then travel by 4x4 vehicle to the jump-off point. SEAIR flies daily to Boracay from Manila and Clark via Kalibo. To book your flight, visit www.flyseair.com.
KAYAK AROUND THE CALAMIANES
Tap into your inner Robinson Crusoe and embark on some serious island-hopping by sea kayak. While it's impossible to explore all 202 islands of the Calamianes group even if you have a year to spare (and who does?) Tribal Adventures' Calamian Kayak Expedition gives you a generous taste of the island explorer life in the country's final frontier.
REQUIREMENTS: Previous kayaking experience will come in handy as paddling out to sea is serious business. An expert guide accompanies each paddler.
HIGHLIGHTS: Meeting the indigenous Tagbanuas, Palawan's ethnic tribe. And lots more, including exploring the tropical rainforest, snorkeling in clear waters, and the chance to enjoy some of the country's unspoilt, secluded, secret beaches. Visit Coron Island, the spiritual hub of the Tagbanuas; Culion, the old-Spanish fort and former leper colony; and Calauit, the wildlife sanctuary.
ACCOMMODATION: Choice of local resorts like Discovery Divers Resort (www.discoverydiversresort.com), Darayonan Resort (www.facebook.com/pages/Darayonan/342700212579), or Busuanga Seadive Resort (www.seadiveresort.com). Book Palawan SandCastles The Beach House (email firstname.lastname@example.org or book via www.agoda.com) in Cheey, Busuanga if you're a family or a small group wanting a hideaway all to yourselves.
WHERE TO BOOK: Email email@example.com or visit www.tribaladventures.com. The expedition runs from 4-11 days. Costs are on a tier basis depending on individual requirements and preferences. For those with only three to four days to spare, Tribal Adventures offers several variations of its Kayaking Adventures around Coron, starting at US$300.
GETTING THERE: Expedition starts from Coron port. SEAIR flies daily to Puerto Princesa. To book your flight, visit www.flyseair.com. From Puerto Princesa, you can get to El Nido by air-conditioned shuttle vans (about P600, six to eight hours); buses (about P300, eight hours); or boat from Sabang (about P1,500, eight hours); then ride an outrigger boat to Coron (about eight hours). Alternatively, you can fly direct to Busuanga from Manila.
A mix of the brutal and the beautiful, Tribal Adventures' Hard Core Mountain Bike Day Trip is sure to give advanced riders an adrenaline rush peddling across the island.
REQUIREMENTS: For hard-core mountain bikers only. A moderate mountain bike day trip is also available.
HIGHLIGHTS: Riding mid-range double and single-shock mountain bikes, blaze a carabao trail form Busuanga Airport through the largest ranch in all of Southeast Asia. The trail takes you through the rainforest and several streams en route to the coast. The track to Cheey, a barangay in Busuanga, is downright hard-core, with the first two-thirds on undulating terrains with only periodic tree cover.
ACCOMMODATION: Stay in Camp Calauit pavilion for the night or arrange a late evening transfer back to Coron town. Or book Palawan SandCastles The Beach House (email firstname.lastname@example.org or book via www.agoda.com), especially if you're with a family or a small group.
INFLIGHT RECOMMENDS: For a bit of luxury in Coron, book at El Rio Y Mar Resort (www.elrioymar.com) in San Jose which has an infinity pool and spa ($230 up plus $30 peak season surcharge) or Coron Gateway (www.corongatewayresort.com), the first boutique resort in town (from P4,400).
WHERE TO BOOK: Email tribal email@example.com or visit www.tribal adventures.com. The Hard Core Mountain Bike Day Trip with 4x4 support costs P3,500/person for a group of four; P4,500/person for a group of three; P5,500/person for a group of two; P9,000 for individual participants.
GETTING THERE: Assembly is at the Camp Calauit in Busuanga or Tribal Cafe in Coron. SEAIR flies daily to Puerto Princesa. Too book your flight, visit www.flyseair.com. From Puerto Princesa, one can travel overland to El Nido by air-conditioned shuttle vans (about P600, six to eight hours); buses (about P300, eight hours) or boat from Sabang (about P1,500, eight hours),then ride an outrigger boat to Coron (about eight hours). Alternatively, you can fly direct to Busuanga from Manila.
HIKE AND SOAK IN THE BEAUTY
Walk all the way to the top of Mt. Dalara, a height of about 1,968 feet. In six to eight hyours, hike through the forest and be rewarded with an unparalleled view of the expanse of the Calamianes group of islands.
REQUIREMENTS: For serious hikers only.
HIGHLIGHTS: A breathtaking panorama of the 202 islands of Calamian. Picnic with Coron's limestone cliffs as backdrop, take a plunge in a rock pool in the middle of the forest, and stop by Maquinit Hot Springs for a warm, relaxing dip.
ACCOMMODATION: Stay at the Dalara Mountain and Sea View Inn or at Palawan SandCastles The Beach House. Both resorts may be booked via firstname.lastname@example.org or www.agoda.com. On Pass Island in the Calamianes, a private island tented camp, for $192 (VAT exclusive) per night, minimum of two persons.
WHERE TO BOOK: Email email@example.com or visit www.tribaladventures.com. Costs P1,500/person for group of four; P1,950/person for group of three; P2,500/person for group of two; P4,000 for individual participants.
GETTING THERE: Assembly is at the Tribal Cafe in Coron. SEAIR flies daily to Puerto Princesa. To book your flight, visit www.flyseair.com. From Puerto Princesa, once can travel overland to El Nido by air-conditioned shuttle vans (about P600, six to eight hours); buses (about P300, eight hours) or boat from Sabang (about P1,500, eight hours),then ride an outrigger boat to Coron (about eight hours). Alternatively, you can fly direct to Busuanga from Manila.