Maysawa Circuit: Mounts Sapari and Binutasan

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A new hiking destination has recently been opened in Cuyambay in Tanay, Rizal. Dubbed as the Maysawa Circuit, this twin hike includes Mount Sapari and Mount Binutasan.

In an initiative of the Dumagat locals, who consider most of the surrounding peaks as part of their ancestral domain, the duo of mountains is being developed as an ecotourism site, similar to what's been done at nearby Mount Paliparan

The grassroots efforts of the Dumagat of Cuyambay are admirable and should be emulated, intending to stop – or at least minimize – the destructive and unsustainable ways the locals have been practicing for decades. 

Related Adventure: Mount Paliparan DIY Guide

Mount Sapari and Mount Binutasan are within Sitio Maysawa – the largest in Cuyambay, and, if I'm not mistaken, in the entire province of Tanay. Maysawa's residents rely on farming and a mostly self-sufficient micro economy which involves livestock and poultry rearing. Some of them, though, are still involved in pag-uuling. Hopefully, the opening of the mountains in their sitio will make them abandon their unsustainable ways and instead become protectors of the environment through ecotourism. 
maysawa circuit itinerary
Mount Binutasan in the background
Mount Sapari stands at 591 MASL. Its name was derived from the concatenation of the words sa pari, meaning "of the priest". Named so because, according to the elders, the first inhabitant of the mountain was a priest who spent all his life there. On the other hand, Mount Binutasan dips a little at 562 MASL and got its name from binutas – to make a hole – owing to the fact that a path was made through its slopes to get to another baranggay: Sto. Niño.

The trail starts at the highway. The first part, mostly dirt roads and a length of pavement, serves as Maysawa's main thoroughfare. Tricycles and habal-habal can often be seen taking this route. In fact, you can take one right up to the trailhead. This option will take just about 1 and a half hour to reach Mount Sapari. 
mount sapari diy guide
The dirt road that makes up the first part of the trail 
mount binutasan trail
The path goes through a thick forest
mount binutasan
Bamboo is abundant in the early parts of the trail
mount sapari

rizal mountains
Occasional small farms flank the path

The trail then connects to a narrow path that wends through a relatively thick forest with occasional houses and farms on the flanks. It then gently ascends to undulating cogon-grasslands similar to Mount Tagapo. Several hills and view decks are passed by on the way from Mount Sapari to Mount Binutasan. Cogon is tall, thick, and almost always wet with dew so prepare accordingly.
mountains in rizal
Grasslands dominate the entirety of the circuit
mt sapari itinerary

dumagat in tanay
Cuyambay's Kagawad Rose - one of the spearheads of the place's ecotourism program
The peaks, nestled in the middle of the Tanay's mountain clusters, offer a breathtaking 360-degree view that includes Mount Daraitan, Mount Maynuba, Mount Cayabu, Mount Batolusong, and the Masungi Limestone Spine. The circuit's best feature, however, is the wispy sea of clouds that makes its way around – a scene straight out of a fantasy novel!
mount sapari sea of clouds

mt sapari sea of clouds

mount binutasan itinerary

mt sapari itinerary

maysawa circuit

mt sapari

mt sapari

On the way down, you'll pass by Ka Larry's farm. Be careful of Mambo the dog, though. He's still adjusting to the presence of other people. Some fish ponds and a piggery is on the way too — the former being considered to become a "fish-and-pay" site. You may also order a 40-kilo native lechon at the piggery at Php100/kilo if you so ever have a hankering for pork. 
mt binutasan
Banaba trees can be found on the way down Mt. Binutasan
dumagat in tanay
Ka Larry and Mambo
wild pig
Native pigs will greet you on your way back to the trailhead
maysawa circuit
The last part of the trail before heading back to the jumpoff
violet forest flower
The trail has lush vegetation and interesting forest flowers
The trek, including the descent and the sidetrips, takes about 8 hours, but could take longer depending on pacing, photo ops, and rest stops. A campsite is being developed in the trail, so overnight stay is possible.

Overall, the trail is relatively easier than that of Mount Paliparan but the cogon grass provides another challenge altogether, causing slips, scratches, and impeding your sight as you move along the trail. The lack of trees may also prove an obstacle, but generally, the surrounding mountains make for a temperate weather.

Related Adventure: Mount Tagapo DIY Guide

The circuit, like Paliparan's Tuoy and Tungtong, also affords several sidetrips. 

On your traverse, you will pass by several enclaves and pockets of water where schools of what seem like doctor fish (although I'm not sure) thrive. 
doctor fish philippines
Fish spa in the natural setting
Farther, you may take a pitstop at the refreshing brook simply known as "batis" where the water is deemed by Maysawa residents clean enough for washing clothes and bathing. Batis is a perfect spot to catch your breath as it's under a rock overhang decorated with lush canopies. The sound of trickling water and the cool air will make you forget your ails.
maysawa falls

maysawa falls

maysawa falls

You may also bathe in the basin. The deepest part is only around five feet and the water is just the right kind of cold.

There is also the Maysawa Falls but its cascades are inconsistent due to some disturbance in its natural watercourse. The locals have been discussing ways to restore it. 
white horse
You may also ride Tisay the mestiza horse
Related Adventure: The Mystique of Tungtong Falls

Dayhike (from Hi-way)
01:00 to 01:45 - Angono to Tanay Town Proper
01:45 to 02:15 - To Sampaloc Junction
02:15 to 03:00 - To Cuyambay Baranggay Hall
03:00 to 03:15 - Register, pay fees, get guide, briefing
03:15 to 03:25 - Tricycle to Maysawa
03:15 to 05:30 - To Mt. Sapari
05:30 to 06:30 - Photo Op/Breakfast
06:30 to 07:45 - To Mt. Binutasan
07:45 to 08:15 - Photo Op
08:15 to 08:45 - To Ka Larry's 
08:45 to 09:15 - To Batis
09:15 to 10:00 - Rest, bathe, photo op
10:00 to 10:15 - to Fish pond / piggery
10:15 to 11:30 - Back to jump-off
11:30 to 12:00 - Eat Delicious Lomi with homemade noodles

Celine's Note: You may shorten the trek by 1.5 to 3 hours by taking a tricyle or habal-habal from and to the jump-off. These vehicles can take you straight to the trailhead, and back to the Lomi store. 

(Per pax unless otherwise stated)
Santolan vv Cogeo (Php20 x 2) - Php40
Cogeo vv Cuyambay (Php48 x 2) - Php96
Habal-habal fare from Sampaloc Hiway to Baranggay Hall (good for 2 pax) - Php25
Habal-habal fare from Baranggay Hall to Sampaloc Hiway (good for 2 pax) - Php30
Angono vv Tanay Town Proper (Php35 x 2) = Php70
Tanay Town Proper vv Sampaloc Junction (Php27 x 2) = Php56
Habal-habal from Sampaloc Junction to Cuyambay Baranggay Hall (good for 2) = Php150 to Php200 
Registration + Environmental Fee - Php100
Seedling (mandatory; to be collected to fund the community's tree-planting event) - Php10
Tour guide (mandatory) - Php500 for a maximum of 6 pax for dayhikes; Php1250 for a maximum of 6 pax for overnights 

via Private Transport
    Route 1 via Marcos Highway
Course through Marcos Highway. You will pass through Masinag, Cogeo, Boso-boso Resort, Foremost Farms, Palo Alto, and Garden Cottages. The welcome arc to Brgy. Cuyambay will be on your right.
    Route 2 via Sampaloc in Tanay
Take Sampaloc Road. You will pass by the street to Daranak Falls. Go straight until you arrive at a junction. Turn left. Follow this scenic road. It'll be a 45 minutes to an hour ride. You will pass by Sierra Madre resort on your right, Ten Cents to Heaven on your left. The welcome arc to Cuyambay will be on your left when taking this route.

via Public Transportation
    Route 1 via Cogeo
Ride a van or jeepney going to Padilla/Cogeo Gate 2. Get off at Gate 2 and from here take a jeep bound to Sampaloc in Tanay. It'll be the same route as Route 1 in private transportation.
    Route 2 via Tanay
Take a jeepney to Tanay town proper. In the Tanay Public Market, there are jeepneys that go directly to Cuyambay. If there are no jeeps available, you can take a Jeep to Sampaloc, get off at the junction and take another jeep bound for Cogeo. Or you can hire a tricycle to take you to Cuyambay. Fare is 500 one way but can be haggled down to 350. Alternatively, you can hire a tricycle up to the Sampaloc junction. There are jeepneys going to Cogeo that'll pass by Cuyambay.

Celine's Note: In the Tanay Public Market, trips to Cuyambay are available as early as 5AM and as late as 5PM. Jeeps to Sampaloc are available for much later at 10PM. Jeeps, vehicles in general, are rare once you get to Cuyambay. You could spend up to an hour waiting for a jeepney. Plus, jeeps are often filled to the roof when they pass by here. So take this into account.

Related Adventure: DIY Guide to Mount Sembrano 

- Practice the LNT Principles at all times (Read: 8 Basic Etiquette Rules Every Modern Traveler Should Know)
- Wear appropriate clothing to avoid injury and wounds, put on some sunscreen too
- Understand that this new adventure spot is managed by the Dumagat community who are used to practicing unsustainable activities such as paguuling to live. This shift to tourism is being done to introduce a more sustainable way of living. Please, 'wag mambarat. (Read: Why It's Important You Take the Cuyambay Route When Climbing Mount Paliparan)
- Seedlings are bought directly from Dumagat residents who cultivate these from seeds gotten from Paliparan
- You may wash up at the baranggay hall for Php10/pax
- Mobile Reception: Smart, Sun, TNT are stable; Globe and TM are intermittent
- You may park your vehicles around the baranggay hall
- There are plenty of sari-sari stores in the barrio. There is also a Lomihan in the Maysawa jump-off. 

All inquiries may be directed to Mount Paliparan's Facebook page which is managed by Renson Joco - one of the Dumagat who spearheaded the ecotourism initiative of Cuyambay.

Into mountaineering? Check out Mount Tagapo in Binangonan, Mount Sembrano in Pililla, Mount Pamitinan in Rodriguez, and these other DIY Hiking spots!

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