“Escape the Ordinary”

Stunning marble rock formations with rapid water racing through the banks welcome you once you start your trek across the Tinipak River. A 3-hour drive from Manila, Tinipak River is a safe compromise for the city dwellers who have never stepped into nature and want to give it a cautious go. The trail is generally flat, with hardly any inclination and about a 5km walk, which is almost like walking down some of Singapore’s main shopping streets! Jokes aside, Tinipak River is great for beginners! This is another no-brainer when bringing together different kinds of people with different activity levels. Aside from one of the the friendliest trails, the striking landscape is pretty mesmerizing and truly makes one feel like they’ve traveled far.

I normally leave around 6am and enjoy a 2-hour drive from Pasig to Tanay Public Market. Somewhere along the road, you hit a left, which leads you into the inner town of Brgy. Daraitan. The road getting there is pretty bumpy and takes about 40 minutes until you hit a wooden bridge which pulls you up to Daraitan town proper. During the summer time, cars can drive through the bridge to cross the Tinipak River, but during rainy season, you have to park your car before the river, and have 2 options: 1) to either take a small raft across the river, or 2) walk on the foot bridge a few meters away. For the cheap thrill we normally go there with Option 1, then return with Option 2. During the rainy season, we then take a tricycle to Brgy. Daraitan City Hall where the process is pretty straightforward.

Once in the Brgy, we register and pay the necessary fees for the guide, environmental fees, and rented equipment (safety hats and flashlights) before starting our scenic walk. There is an option to walk or to take a tricycle before the starting point of the “hike” which is about 1km away. I enjoy the warm-up, so we have always opted to walk.

I’ve been to Tinapak several times, and the guides are all knowledgeable and friendly. The first guide I met during my first time in Tinipak, was stoic, but clearly took pride in the land he came from. He extended his fatherly values as he would glance over our direction and make sure we were always ok. Since my one friend had brought her then 8-year old son, Lucas, we especially appreciated how our guide would sometimes swing him over his back especially during the narrower and steeper parts of the trail. Always attentive, our guide would also bring him to the tops of some rock formations making him feel on top of the world!

Once we eventually got to the heart of the action, our guide recommended we go inside the Tinipak Caves first before swimming in the river to avoid the long lines. We had to wait about an hour before it was our group’s turn. The cave is small but has pretty high headroom. The nice part is the large pockets of refreshing cold water inside, which we spent a few minutes swimming in before heading to the river.

By the time we hit river, it was close to lunch. A lot of people were picnicking, so we picked a spot, and followed suit. We then spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the refreshing river and getting our tan on. A few of my friends tried to venture deeper in the river, but the currents were pretty strong, even on the shallower parts, so we decided it was just safer to stay close to where everyone was.

Once you’re done swimming and recharging in the water, the hike back is about 40 minutes. There are showers and bathrooms where you can pay to clean up ranging from Php 10-20 pesos per shower. We normally grab real meals as we get closer to the city.

For those wanting to check out this trail, I strongly suggest you go on a weekday if you can. Weekends, especially in the summer time, are grossly packed! It wasn’t so bad in the beginning of the walk, but as we got closer to the river, and the pathway got smaller, we started moving like a pack of confused sardines. One group even carried a rice cooker! Only in the Philippines! Haha!

After my first encounter in Tinipak, I have only returned on a weekday or on a Saturday during the rainy season! These places become even more sacred when you have it to your self, which you won’t get often in the city life!

Ratings

  • Kid-Friendly: 4/5 Very. If your kids can walk long distance or light to carry when they’re tired, you can probably bring kids around 8 years old and up with you.
  • Dog-Friendly: 5/5 Yes! Make sure yours is trained though!
  • Bathroom – Friendly: 2/5 Once you head back to the registration office, there are several homes that rent out showers and bathrooms – but there are no bathrooms during the hike
  • Food-Friendly 2/5: “Turo-Turo” or home cooked local food is only available near the Brgy.
  • Difficulty Scale: 1/5 Great for most people! If you can enjoy walking, then you’ll enjoy Tinipak very much!

Expenses

Average Cost per Person for a group of 6: approx. Php 300

  • During the rainy months, Fee for Private Vehicle Crossing River (Before reaching Brgy. Daraitan) Php 50 (However, this was refunded to me when I showed my receipt at the City Hall. Apparently, there shouldn’t a fee for this.)
  • Registration Fee – Php 20
  • Environmental Fee – Php
  • Guide (for the day) – Php 500
  • Headlight rental (for the Tinipak Cave) – Php 30
  • Fee to cross Bridge to Tinipak Cave Fee – Php 5
  • Parking
  • Shower
  • Bathroom

For rainy months:

  • You’ll have to leave your car and have the option to cross the river through a raft boat for Php 5 or walk on the footbridge for free (the raft boat is only about a minute long, but it certainly creates the mood that an adventure is about to begin!)
  • Tricycle to Brgy. Daraitan: Php

How to get there via Private Vehicle:

  1. From Tiendasitas drive to Tanay Market
  2. From Tanay Market, follow the signs that lead you to Brgy. Daraitan.
  3. Expect an extremely bumpy ride to Brgy. Daraitan which is about 45 minutes long.
  4. Before reaching the Brgy. Daraitan, you’ll need to cross a bridge with a private car (or take a short boat ride, depending on the season.)
  5. Once you cross the river, follow the signs to Brgy. Daraitan City Hall, which is about a 5 minute drive away from the bridge.
  6. On our way back, we took Marcos Highway, which was a lot more road to cover, but not many cars or tricycles to slow us down. It took about the same time to get back to the city.

Our Itinerary

6:00 am: Met at McDonalds by Tiendasitas

6:30: Left McDonalds. Told Waze to take us to “Brgy. Daraitan City Hall”

8:40: Reached Brgy. Daraitan City Hall

8:40 – 9:00: Parked, Settled in, Registered at the City Hall and paid for guide

9:00: Started Hike with our guide

10:30: Reached Tinipak Cave and had to wait for our groups turn to go in.

11:30 – 12:15 pm : Entered the cave and swam.

12:30 – Ate and swam by the river

3:00 – Started our way back to Brgy. Daraitan.

4:20 – Arrived at the Daraitan City Hall and cleaned up

5:00 – Left area

7:45 – Reached Shaw Blvd. and had dinner at The Mandala Park

Additional Tips

  • Skip work and go on a weekend!
  • You can bring kids, but make sure they’re at least 12 and up, and have the endurance to walk for over an hour. Otherwise, get ready to make stops with them, or carry them from time-to-time when they’re tired.
  • Be cautious of the water when you swim. Even when you are in the shallower parts, the currents are strong. Make sure your guide knows where you are.
  • Tip your guide! (We suggest about Php 300-500/guide)

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