Image courtesy of: curiouskatrina.blogspot.com
The Philippines is an archipelago with 7,107 islands boasting of rich natural resources and enchanting sights. Among the tourist destinations of this tropical paradise, one of the most visited is Palawan, with a number of towns, including El Nido, that are frequented by local and foreign tourists.
Known as the Philippines’ last frontier, El Nido boasts of a streak of islands scattered off its coast make this destination popular interesting to tourists looking to enjoy island hopping.
However, apart from exploring the islands and enjoying the beautiful white sand beaches in El Nido, tourists, especially backpackers, should not miss the chance of hiking the trails of this tourist haven. While there are outdoor activities to enjoy, such as, diving, snorkeling, shopping, island hopping and other water sports, visitors to this town can be one with nature by hiking to the different places of interest.
Not only can one witness picture-perfect sunsets but also get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and experience what a laid back lifestyle is.
Located just about 400 kilometers south of Manila, this unspoiled tropical paradise is a small coastal town along Bacuit Bay. It is easily accessible by air and by sea and is about five hours away from Puerto Princesa. When you get to Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, you can reach El Nido via different modes of transportation; shuttle van, bus and RORO (Roll In-Roll Out) buses.
El Nido is so breathtaking that it became the inspiration of novelist, Alex Garland, who wrote The Beach. A novel that was adapted in the film of the same title, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.
While there are several island tours during your Philippines Holiday you can sign up for, in this particular discussion, we will concentrate on the places suitable for hiking.
Trail Destinations in El Nido Palawan
1. Taraw Peak
Also referred to as “Taraw Cliff”, Taraw Peak is a limestone karst rising over El Nido. Hiking on top of this wonder of nature gives you a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Bacuit Bay. The whole climb can last between two and two-and-a-half hours, depending on your pace.
It is recommended to hire a local guide in your trek because he knows the trail and at the same time, he can show you where the flora and fauna are. The base of the trail is located near the port, at the western side of the town. Although your guide might provide you with gloves, you can also invest in a pair, especially if you plan to explore the beautiful town and visit other hiking destinations. Moreover, climbing is not that easy because of the steep cliffs and sharp rocks you will encounter along the way.
You will also need strong legs and safe, thick hiking shoes to make it to the top. However, despite a challenging climb, the picturesque view down below is all worth it. Even the view of the deep forest as you make your ascent is remarkable.
2. Maquinit Hot Spring
This interesting spot is a hot pool of water that is located at the northern part of El Nido, about 20 kilometers from the town. What is interesting about this hot spring is that locals come here to boil eggs.
Going to this part of town is only thirty to forty minutes from the town proper and can be reached by hiring a tricycle. From the drop off point, the trek is just a short 15 minutes but it can also be both challenging and enjoyable.
3. Nagkalit-kalit Falls
Take this trip subsequently with your hike to Maquinit Hot Spring. Situated just 14 kilometers from the town proper, this beautiful falls boasts of a catch basin that also becomes a natural pool, where you can enjoy a swim and refresh from your tiring walk.
By taking a 25-minute ride in a tricycle, you will be led to the start of the trek. It includes walking through rice fields and the forest with some river crossings for a more unique experience. It is best to wear sandals or beach shoes because your feet and legs are about to get wet during the hike.
4. The Ille Cave
If you want to learn more about the culture and history of the people of El Nido, this is a destination you should not pass up. Located in Barangay New Ibajay, access to this place is a 45-minute tricycle ride and then anther challenging trek that will take one-and-a-half hours from the barangay center.
Here, you will find a prehistoric settlement and ruins of a stone wall as well as remains of buried ancestors dating back to 12,000 years ago.
5. Bulalacao Falls
Located in Sitio Bulalacao, Barangay Pasadena, the falls with the same name as the jump off point is not as visited as Nagkalit-kalit Falls but offers a more challenging yet exciting hike. After a 45-minute ride in a tricycle, you will reach Barangay Pasadena and should prepare for a hike of almost two hours.
The hike will take you through a forest and rice paddies which makes it imperative to hire a local guide since the trails moderately difficult to trek. Expect to climb steep trails but also be thrilled with the majestic trees and heavy vegetation. Perhaps, you might even see species of plants you do not usually see everyday like mushrooms and beautiful flowers growing on rocks. It is not a good time to hike during the rainy season because of safety reasons.
Not only are the rocks slippery but also, there are leeches on the trail going to the falls. The Big Falls is a majestic 70-feet drop that never runs out of water that give out levels of cascading waters while the Small Falls requires thirty minutes of hiking.
This serene body of water is also fit for swimming and has four accessible levels, with the lower level about three meters deep. It is recommended that you being your own food if you plan to go this part of town since there are no restaurants nearby.
Hiking Essentials to El Nido
1. Do not forget to bring mosquito repellant as well as sun block when going on a trip to El Nido. It is also best to have drinking water with you since there are not so many stores to buy bottled water from.
2. Bring powerbanks if you do not intend to unplug since electricity in the town is not always reliable. There will be hours when there is no electrical power and this device might come in handy.
3. Ensure that you have extra money during your trip for you will never know what expenses you might incur.
Shad Siddiqui works for La Vacanza Travel, New Delhi a leading Tour operator in India’s capital city. Shad has over 16 years of experience in travel and has personally travelled to remotest of the places around the worlds, his aim now is to share his travel experience and inspire fellow travelers.
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