When visiting the Philippines last Christmas I ended up on the famous Island resort of Boracay. If you do not already know Boracay it is one of the most visited islands in the Philippines because of its tropical beauty;white beaches, turquoise waters and rainforest covered mountains. What more could you ask for?
Unfortunately due to tourism the island has in my eyes been ruined and overrun by huge resorts, overly priced restaurants and modern bars and clubs. It’s a hedonistic paradise. This was once an island with small wooden shacks run by locals and hippies playing guitar during the sunset. I needed to see the ‘real’ Philippines, see local markets selling fresh produce, hike through extensive rainforests and rice paddies, jump into beautiful waterfalls, saunter through local villages and meet local people.
To add a little spice to this and make this more exciting why not do all of this while hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and mountain biking? So I booked an overnight excursion to another Island called Panay (this is where you fly into when arriving for Boracay) and had what I can probably describe as one of the most amazing experiences of my travels so far.
I had had enough of the usual touristy annoyances that Borocay had to offer and wanted to see the culture and beauty of the Philippines for what it should be and by doing this tour this is exactly what you will get! Tribal Adventures was by far the highlight of the week in the Philippines and dare I say the highlight of our two month travels around the area! I was a bit dubious about the price we paid to begin with however I decided to go with the two day trek with an overnight stay. The money was worth every penny.
The first day was an early start at the meeting point along White Beach. Here I was served tea/coffee and breakfast and then got a boat to Palam where a van was waiting. On the way to the rainforest I stopped at a traditional market to buy food for the next 2 days. This in itself was a fabulous experience as the locals were not used to seeing too many tourists and were more than welcoming to foreigners at their market. The accommodation was bamboo huts in the middle of the jungle, right next to a large river. Here I had to decide whether to go on a trek to the waterfalls first or kayak down the rapids on the river. I choose the trek first…and got to climb waterfalls and jump into the waterfall pools. When climbing the waterfalls all health and safety is thrown out; no ropes, no helmets, just you and your limbs! However the climb was perfectly safe as there are guides with you telling you exactly what to do the whole time. An exhilarating experience especially when heights are not your thing. After the trek it was back up for lunch. It was then time to go down the rapids. Again this was really safe with at least 6-8 guides telling where to go and helping you if you fell into the water…which will happen! The rapids were strong and there were tons of rocks to avoid on the way. This lasted a good 2 hours and is shattering. After a quick beer the action continued with half hour mountain biking over a suspension bridge and to a nearby village. This was to prepare us for the huge mountain bike the next day.
The evening was upon us and those that were there helped prepare local and fusion dishes for dinner and then got to relax in the hot tubs which are old iron baths heated by a real wood fire. Dinner was delicious and a copious amount of beer was drunk in the new bar which has just been built. All of this under the canopy of the trees, under the stars and right next to a river. Paradise!
The next day was an early start, commenced with a good sized breakfast and then a huge mountain bike through the surrounding mountains. I will let your imaginations run on this part of the adventure. We saw rice fields, tiny villages, schools, rivers to jump in, local children swimming in the rapids and following us, views that you will never forget and guides losing control of their bikes. This was an exhausting but amazing 30km experience.
This was only meant to be a short description of the time spent in such a wonderful part of the world but I just wanted to let you all know how amazing our time was. I would recommend going to Boracay to see the beauty it has to offer although only stay for a few days and make sure you do this excursion with Tribal Adventures for 2 days; it is definitely an experience that I will never forget and I’m sure the thrill seekers out there won’t either.