Tag Archives: mountain

Backpacking Philippines: Zambales’ Nagsasa Cove for the Curious (First Time Camper Edition!)

Earlier this year, I made a checklist of the places I wanted to visit and Anawangin Cove in Zambales was included in it—until it got bumped by Nagsasa Cove.

Nagsasa - Sand Sea Sky and Mountains

Nagsasa Cove is about 30 minutes farther by boat than Anawangin Cove if you are taking the Pundaquit or San Miguel jump off points in the town of San Antonio, Zambales. We availed the tour package offered by Ate Alice and our jump-off point was Brgy. San Miguel. It’s just 10 minutes from the San Antonio Municipal Hall where most passengers and tourists get dropped by the buses from Manila and picked up by their boatmen or tour operators.

Nagsasa - Jump Off point
Campers with Ate Alice (contact 09294323081 or 09159664953, tolitsway@yahoo.com.ph)

From the jump-off point, it took us about an hour to get to Nagsasa Cove. The boat passed through surprisingly very calm waters, so calm that at some points it’s like a glass mirror reflecting the outriggers of the banca without any disturbance! Plus, since it was just a little past 6am when we started our boat journey, we had awesome views of the sunrise, the mountain, and the horizon! On the way to Nagsasa Cove, I was so happy feeling the subtle warmth of the sun’s rays breaking through the mountain peaks and touching my face. I greeted everyone a very good morning indeed!

Nagsasa - Boat Ride at Sunrise

And then, once we arrived at Nagsasa, we can’t help but admire the beauty that was around us. My travel companions, being foreigners who have lived here for a while now and have already traveled to other places, exclaimed that Nagsasa was indeed so beautiful and they can’t believe that they’re still in the Philippines and not somewhere else!

Nagsasa - Docked Boats and Pinewood Forest

Groggy girls that we were, we found our spot at Mang Ador’s campsite and Kuya Ruben, our boatman, set up our tents. We then brought out our supplies and prepared breakfast. You can start your own fire but we opted to go to Mang Ador’s cottage-slash-sari-sari store coz they have better firewood cooking set-up. And after breakfast of fried eggs and bread, with cheeze spread and peanut butter, plus a good serving of Gatorade, we went for a swim and welcomed the clear and soothing waters!

Nagsasa - Jellyfish

Apart from being the best sand my friends have ever been on, they also appreciated the clearness of the waters at Nagsasa Cove. It’s so clear that you don’t really need goggles or snorkel masks to see through the water. There are also some jellyfish species floating around as well as small fish. The campers here also seem friendly and are conscious of keeping the place clean.

Nagsasa - Campsite

After a good swimming and soaking, we decided to take a nap. It was kind of humid at first but the wind picks up every now and then at Nagsasa Cove. I still don’t know why that is so but it’s amazing how you would “hear” the humming of the wind first before you “feel” it!

Nagsasa - Inside the Tent

It felt like we napped for a long time and then we realized that it was just noon!!! For some reason, we found time to be very slow once we’re at Nagsasa. It’s either the cove is doing it’s job of not making us think of time and how it passes OR our brain’s still exhausted and has not recovered from the lack of proper sleep! In any case, we didn’t really complain coz that meant we have more time to enjoy the coves!

Nagsasa - Crossing the River

Once we’re done with lunch and another swim to play with the jellyfish and find other fishies, we decided to move to the other side of the cove—the one I want to call “mainstream campsites”. If facing the beach, from Mang Ador’s campsite, you would need to walk towards the left and reach some kind of a sandbar due to the drying river that flows through to the ocean.

Nagsasa - Mainstream Campsites

The scenery is quite nice but upon reaching the shoreline of the mainstream campsite, I can’t help but feel disappointed and sad. There were a lot of plastic garbage! Me and Elaine did some cleaning-up but it was just too many!!! Sad smile The sand is also coarse and more painful on the feet than the campsite at Mang Ador’s.

Nagsasa - Sunset at Dusk

So, after taking pictures from the top of rocky cliff-like formation and taking a quick dip, Elaine and I decided to return to our campsite, just in time for the sunset. Nagsasa sunset wasn’t the “setting-in-front-of-you” type of sunset coz it was covered by the mountain but it was spectacular nonetheless. A good mix of red, orange and purple. Ganda!!!

Nagsasa - Mallows on fire

And of course, after sunset comes another round of eating! And then, bonfire! I was really excited for the bonfire coz it will be the first time I was to have smores—a very good bite of marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers goodness! I can’t remember how many I had but I still remember how the mallows and Hershey’s melted and the way it felt in my mouth!!! Smile We four girls had some wine (or a lot of it) and just enjoyed feeding the fire with logs…and mallows!

Nagsasa - Breakfast

I woke up really early in the morning (like before 6) and had a good swim (for hangover?) and watched the sun rise again—this time trying to break through the pinewood trees! And once all the girls were awake, we prepared breakfast and decided to stay at Nagsasa a while longer and skip Camara island on the way back.

Nagsasa - Rocks Rock

We spent some time just chilling, swimming, chatting and exploring a bit more of the rocky side of the edge of Mang Ador’s campsite. I think some people from the mainstream campsites also walk over this side to take photos.

Nagsasa - Water Splash

And to cap it off, Elaine “insisted” that I go for the water splash shot! To which I “not so willingly” (as in pakipot kuno) obliged. Hahaha Smile I think it’s a good memory of Nagsasa, di ba?!

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FotoFolio: Sunrise at Mt. Kanchenjunga (3rd highest peak in the world)

In my CouchSurfing profile, I shared that one of the most amazing things I have seen in my entire life is the sunrise at Mt. Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas. Mt. Kangchenjunga is the 3rd highest mountain in the world at 8,586m (28,169ft).

FotoFolio Darjeeling Kanchenjunga Mountain at Sunrise Close-up
Mt. Kanchenjunga. Amazing.

No, I did not climb Mt. Kanchenjunga but I watched the sunrise from the Tiger Hill in Darjeeling, a popular tea estates tourist spot, in West Bengal, northeast India. Darjeeling has an average elevation of 2,050m (6,710ft). Tiger Hill in Ghoom, where you can find the world’s highest railway station, is about 11kms from Darjeeling.

FotoFolio Darjeeling
Welcome to Darjeeling!

In order to see the sunrise at Kanchenjunga, Julie (my VSO co-vol, friend and travel buddy in India) and I had to wake up at bloody 3:30AM at an “I-don’t-know-how-cold-nut-I’m-freezing” temperature! Being in India for a while by then (October, 7 months in!), we didn’t really expect them to be serious about the pre-arranged shared jeepney to Tiger Hill, the viewing point, to go by 4:00AM! But yes, they did and even called us up before 4 to make sure we were on our way.

With the number of shared jeeps, vans, cars and other vehicles heading that way—there’s like about 200 vehicles at the parking lot and that’s a conservative count—the traffic was really bad especially when it was already nearing Tiger Hill.

FotoFolio Darjeeling Kanchenjunga Mountain at Sunrise Vehicles
Vehicle options for the Tiger Hill (aka Three-Point Tour) tour. We got a jeep like the green one for 10 people

Upon alighting, we were told to just go to the ticket booth to pay for the Rs 10 entry fee to the hill’s “viewing deck” area. Since we thought we could rough it out anyway, Juls and I decided not to go for the extra Rs 20- and Rs 30-rupee tickets for the viewing deck that’s inside a taller building.

FotoFolio Darjeeling Kanchenjunga Mountain at Sunrise View Deck
Tiger Hill Viewing Deck and “Viewing Deck” – take your pick!

We joined the multitude of jacket- and sweater-clad (sometimes with bonnets too coz it’s too freaking cold!) of local and foreign tourists first on the right side of the building for an earlier view of the sunrise, you know, ala-Breaking Dawn!

FotoFolio Darjeeling Sunrise at Tiger Hill
Breaking Dawn with strangers. And electronic devices!

I thought that was it! That we were unlucky to see Mt. Kanchenjunga because it’s too cloudy! But I was wrong! Because, the sun’s rays are to hit Kanchenjunga in the opposite side of the viewing deck. Juls was the one who saw it just when we were about to walk down!

FotoFolio Darjeeling Kanchenjunga Mountain at Sunrise 2
Up in the clouds! Cotton Candy, anyone?!

Forgive the photo quality here (click to enlarge; I can give you original resolution ones if you’d request) but I assure you, the white snow-capped mountain peaks of Kanchenjunga turning into varied hues of orange is indeed a sight to behold.

It was an amazing moment for me. Like, really amazing. It’s not everyday that we get the chance to witness a natural beauty, some say a testament of God’s gift to humanity, and be blessed with the feeling of a better day unfolding before our eyes, sharing it with strangers from all walks of life. Sunrise at Mt. Kanchenjunga is amazing, isn’t it?

FotoFolio Darjeeling Kanchenjunga Mountain at Sunrise Panorama
Panoramic view of sunrise at Mt. Kanchenjunga

After the sunrise,I think Juls and I descended from the main viewing deck and found our way to the shared jeepney. Yes, the day has just begun as the Rs 150 tour is good for three points of interest in Darjeeling (Tiger Hill, Ghoom Monastery, and Batasia 360 degree loop), stories of which I will tell in my next posts.

FotoFolio Darjeeling Kanchenjunga Mountain at Sunrise
How can you not be amazed?

For now, I leave you with memories of my time with Mt. Kanchenjunga and experiencing cloud 9, perhaps figuratively and literally! Happy wandering!

FotoFolio Darjeeling Tiger Hill Tibetan Buddhist Banderitas
Banderitas / Flaglets with Buddhist prayers/text line up the road at Tiger Hill