Being cooped up the the city because of limited mobility can get really weary. We all need a dose of nature once in a while. I was glad when a community of yogis in our studio decided to organize a day tour at nearby Mount Purro Nature Reserve in Calawis, Antipolo. A nature escape just a couple of hours in the metro with an added those of yoga. Enjoying a day of camaraderie on hikes, river treks and chill.
Mount Purro Nature Reserve
The Mount Purro Nature Reserve (MPNR) is a family-run eco-park. Upon entry, guests are required to watch a short video on the story of MPNR. It’s about Toto Malvar and his wife bringing life to what was once barren portion of Upper Marikina Watershed by planting more than 700,000 trees in the span of more than 30 years. This was inspired after the family experienced the devastating Typhoon Lucille in the 1960s causing massive floods, 234 deaths and leaving thousands homeless in Metro Manila. His mother urged Toto when he was a boy to start planting trees to avoid this kind of calamity.
In order to keep his advocacy sustainable to both his family and community of dumagats helping him, he set up this eco-park to bring awareness to people while enjoying nature. At the same time, giving livelihood to the dumagat people in the area. Started as a single hut to accommodate guests, MPNR is now a full-blown nature resort with several huts and lofts, open cottages, function areas, camping grounds and a pool.
Walk in the park
We were only visiting for a day tour and found ourselves driving before sunrise to Mount Purro Nature Reserve to maximize our time. The way was familiar as I passed through Marilaque before biking to Boso-boso. We turned left to a much narrower road to Calawis. From here, the road was winding and partly rough. It was still dark when we arrived but we were welcomed at the reception nevertheless.
The surrounding was slowly being lit as we made our way up to the Asian Lounge. One of the many function rooms of the eco-park. Everyone was delighted to see the area. We were surrounded by trees, a few cottages, and what seem to be a play/ team building area beside us. Our lounge also have a couple of shower rooms and toilets.
I think the management did a wonderful job in manicuring the garden and creating pleasant pathways and solitude areas where one can sit down quietly and ponder. We were mindful of our time and did a 45-minute gentle flow just get our bodies moving and ready for the climb ahead.
Breakfast and most of the meals are served at Loli’s Kitchen, just across the reception area. It’s a wonderful large and airy hut made with wood, bamboo and thatched room. Leaving footwear and going barefoot inside is encouraged. I actually life the feel of my feet on the wooden floor.
Meals were interestingly, precisely portioned for a person with an average appetite. Meaning, viands, served in small plates were just enough to finish a portion of rice. Of course guests are free to order extra with a charge. Meals are usually included with a packaged tour. I did enjoy most of the food. The kare-kare, tapa and coffee were memorable.
Malvar’s Peak Hike
Warmed-up and energy-loaded, we started our hike from the reception as we secured our guides first. We were led to a lush pathway. It was a well established narrow trail. The park made sure to regulate hikes here especially now that “social distancing” is strictly observed.
The hike was fairly easy to moderate. I enjoyed seeing the humongous plants that lately have been sought-after items in households (like monsteras and photos) naturally fringing along the pathway. I took my time as always to enjoy the trail. Always on alert on bird calls and sightings along the trail. I did spot a few interesting ones like a Philippine pygmy woodpecker, elegant tit and a lifer black-naped monarch among the many Philippine bulbuls.
Malvar’s Peak is the highlight of this nature hike. At 419 meters above sea level, it’s not the highest peak in the area, but definitely one of the most scenic. Named after the Malvar family, who were instrumental in reforesting these hills. We enjoyed the summit experience for roughly an hour and descended as another group was arriving. The guides were making sure the groups kept their distances.
Payagwan River Hike
After our lunch at Loli’s Kitchen, we got into our swim clothes ready as we were heading to Payagwan River for some river trek and swim. From MPNR, we walked through a baranggay to get to the river. It was an interesting river trek. More than a kilometer long. I saw a few birds here too like the common white-throated king fisher.
We reached what seems to be Mt Purro’s picnic grounds. There were plenty of mango trees and Mount Purro’s signage. A dam holds the water in the swimming area here. It wasn’t as clear though since there were a number of locals also enjoying the river waters upstream. We still took a dip and swim though. Enjoying the balsa and also doing yoga poses by the dam.
The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling and winding down at Mount Purro Nature Reserve’s kidney-sized pool. It was a meaningful time well spent enjoying the waters, laughing at some games and more yoga poses. I’m glad I was invited to join them and hang-out with this adventurous bunch of yogis.
Mt Purro Nature Reserve is the place to disconnect (literally as there is no cellular signal) and reconnect with nature in a lush setting. Beautiful garden, lovely native style accommodations and a number of activities to commune with nature and friends.
Mount Purro Nature Reserve
Purok 5, Barangay Calawis,
Antipolo City, Philippines
Information 8542-3005 / 0908-881-2701
Philippine bulbul white-throated kingfisher
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.