MARIVELES, BATAAN, PHILIPPINES — The dormant volcano, of Mt. Mariveles, combined with the nearby Mt. Natib, comprises about 81% of the total land area of Bataan province. Its large caldera complex gave way to five major peaks (Mariveles, Pantingan, Tarak, Vintana & Bataan), most of which have been explored and are known hiking trails. Among these major peaks, Tarak is the most popular hiking destination.
Although rated only at 4/9 difficulty, the hike to Tarak Ridge is considered as a major climb with a trail class of 3. At a height of only 1,006+ meters above sea level, it is not the elevation that is the major cause of the difficulty level but rather the challenging trail.
After a few months of being away from the mountains, my friends decided to organize a hike to Tarak Ridge. Since I was coming from Bulacan, it would be inconvenient for me to travel to Cubao before traveling to Bataan. Thus, I took the route to San Fernando City in Pampanga via Malolos-Apalit early at dawn and waited for the group there. From San Fernando City, there are Mariveles-bound buses that pass by.
Our hike started at the jump-off in Brgy. Alas-asin in the town of Mariveles. Registration is located at the Brgy. Hall (PhP 40/person). The trail is established so getting lost is very minimal. The initial part of the trail is composed of semi-flatlands and afterwhich you would get to the station of Aling Cording. From there, it would take a series of uphills and downhills to reach Papaya River, where we have decided to set up our camp and have our lunch.
Being the sole water source along the trail, Papaya River (which looks more of a stream) became one of the campsites, or its banks rather. Camping here would ensure immediate access to the water source and thus, lesser weight during the assault to the ridge.
Make sure not to use dishwashing soaps in the river, as it is not only a water source for hikers but also for several residents downstream. You wouldn’t want drinking soap water, would you? Remember, detergents contain phosphated materials that could overstimulate the growth of algae present in the river. In the long run, this could cause eutrophication. Just follow simple basic LNT rules and you’re good-to-go.
TARAK RIDGE (1,006+ MASL)
About 1.5 to 2 hours away from the campsite, the ascent from Papaya River campsite to Tarak Ridge is the trickiest part of the climb. You would encounter steep portions of the trail where you’ll mostly need to use your hands for support. Be wary of protruding roots to avoid tripping. Once you reached the grasslands, the last part before reaching the ridge, eroded soil will be your enemy (mostly on the way down… I slipped once!)
The “Tarak Peak”, past Tarak Ridge, would require 30 more minutes of assault. On this peak lies the iconic tree of Tarak Ridge (which looks dead to me). From here, you could see other major peaks of Mt. Mariveles. There are online discussions of whether El Saco Peak is the true Tarak Peak, and the “Tarak Peak” we usually refer is just a part of it. Well, to me, it makes sense since the topographic prominence of El Saco looks greater than that of “Tarak”. Just a bit of food for your thoughts.
TRAVEL GUIDE / TIPS
- HOW TO GET THERE. Ride a bus from Cubao to Mariveles (~P280, 3 hours travel) and get-off at Brgy. Alas-asin.
- REGISTRATION. Log at the barangay hall of Alas-asin and pay P40 for the registration fee. There’s no need to pay at Aling Cording’s area, but you may donate.
- GUIDES. The trail is established, and chances of getting lost is minimal so a guide may not be a necessity. In case you need one, the rate is around P500-700.
- CAMPSITE. There are two options for the campsites: (1) on the banks of Papaya River; and, (2) on Tarak Ridge itself. Both have its pros and cons. Camping at Papaya River will protect you from the scorching sun and will give you the immediate vicinity of the lone water source, but is far from the peak. On the other hand, camping at Tarak Ridge will bring you closer to Tarak Peak but will bring you far from the water source. Strong winds are also your enemy at the ridge therefore, bring extra tent pegs & a jacket/windbreaker.
- A dayhike is possible. But for sunrise and sunset chasers, camping is a great option.
- Never use soap at the river.
- Last trip for buses bound back to Manila is at 7:00pm. Otherwise, try to chase the last trip at 9:00pm in Balanga.
|277||Fare (Cubao to Alas-asin)|
|277||Fare (Alas-asin to Cubao)|