Hiking Tarak Ridge in Mt. Mariveles

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.

 

Tarak Ridge

Photo ops with Nanay Cording | Photo Credit: Arfel Leonardo

 

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.

 

Corregidor & Caballo Islands viewed from trail to Tarak Ridge

The islands of Corregidor & Caballo viewed from trail to Tarak | Photo Credit: Arfel Leonardo

 

PAPAYA RIVER

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.

 

Papaya River

Papaya River on long exposure | Photo Credit: Arfel Leonardo

Papaya River

Boulder-stacking? | Photo Credit: Arvin Morales

Tarak Ridge

A campsite area near Papaya River | Photo Credit: Arfel Leonardo

Tarak Ridge

Anne, our head chef, busy with the group’s dinner | Photo Credit: Arfel Leonardo

 

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!)

 

Tarak Ridge

The Tarak Ridge | Photo Credit: Arfel Leonardo

Tarak Ridge

Tarak Ridge

Tarak Ridge

 

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.

 

El Saco Peak

El Saco Peak | Photo Credit: Marvin dela Cruz of PetrifiedDreams.com

Tarak Ridge

Tarak Ridge

Photo Credit: Rej Siron

Tarak-15

Tarak’s iconic dead tree | Photo Credit: Marvin dela Cruz of PetrifiedDreams.com

 

 


TRAVEL GUIDE / TIPS

  1. HOW TO GET THERE. Ride a bus from Cubao to Mariveles (~P280, 3 hours travel) and get-off at Brgy. Alas-asin.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A dayhike is possible. But for sunrise and sunset chasers, camping is a great option.
  6. Never use soap at the river.
  7. Last trip for buses bound back to Manila is at 7:00pm. Otherwise, try to chase the last trip at 9:00pm in Balanga.

 


SAMPLE ITINERARY

We were supposedly following the itinerary of Chasing Philippines, as written below, but decided to camp at Papaya River instead.
Day 1
03:00AM  ETD to Mariveles, Bataan
06:00AM  ETA in Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
06:05AM  Breakfast at Alas-asin
06:30AM  Registration at Alas-asin Barangay Hall
06:45AM  Start Trek!
07:15AM  Stop-Over at Nanay Cording’s
07:30AM  Start Trek to Papaya River!
10:30AM  ETA Papaya River
11:00AM  Lunch at Papaya River
11:30AM  Rest, Fill all water containers
12:00AM  Start Trek to Tarak Ridge
05:00PM  ETA Tarak Ridge (Set up Camp)
05:30PM  Wait and watch sunset at Tarak Ridge
06:30PM  Dinner/Socials
08:00PM  Lights Off
Day 2
04:00AM  Wake-Up Call
04:30AM  Start Trek to Summit
05:00AM  Wait and watch sunrise
06:00AM  Start descent to Tarak Ridge
06:20AM  ETA Campsite
06:40AM  Start descent to Papaya River
09:30AM  ETA Papaya River
09:45AM  Have fun at Papaya River
10:30AM  Lunch at Papaya River
11:00AM  Have fun at Papaya River
12:00AM  Start trek!
02:30PM  ETA Nanay Cording’s
03:00PM  Back to Jump-Off. Wash.
04:00PM  ETD Mariveles to Manila
07:30PM  ETA Cubao/Manila

 


BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Amount (PhP) Expense
277 Fare (Cubao to Alas-asin)
200 Food
40 Registration fee
277 Fare (Alas-asin to Cubao)
20 Wash-up
PhP 814 TOTAL

 

 


 

Boodle Fight

Boodle Fight! | Photo Credit: Arfel Leonardo

Powell Abogado

On weekdays, I wear a lab gown. On weekends, I hoist a backpack.

One Comment

  1. Guide po aq ng mt tarak mark gubaton fb
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