3D2N in Caramoan with McTrail Travel & Tours

Before the year ends, let me write about my last trip of the year which happened in November. I’ve been lazy to write and the end of the year is giving me enough motivation. LOL. The trip happened during the ASEAN Summit holidays and because there was only a month’s notice, I didn’t have enough time to plan for the trip to Caramoan. I have always been curious about the place where the Survivor show filmed, but the long land travel always overwhelmed. That’s why I just chose to avail a package tour from a reputable travel agency for the convenience πŸ™‚

My Companions:

This was another trip with my boyfriend, but we were also accompanied by my good friends at this time. I missed going to the beach with Karla and Rhan. And this was a good opportunity for the friends and the boyfriend to meet and bond. LOL.

L-R: Francis, Ruby, Rhan, Karla, Morrys

McTrail Travel and Tours:

For our trip to Caramoan, we availed the package tour offered by McTrail Travel and Tours. I wanted this to be another DIY trip at first, but I realized that availing a package tour would be much cheaper. I chose Mctrail out of all the travel agencies offering the same package because of the great reviews on their Facebook page. It wasn’t all positive, but the way they responded to the negative feedback gave the impression that they really listen to their guests. They are also not the cheapest BUT the inclusions and the way they took care of us during the trip made the price reasonable.

Booking a trip with them was so easy. I sent a query through their Facebook page and they responded in a timely manner. It’s best to send a message during office hours on a weekday to get immediate replies.

For their tour packages, they base the rates on the number of people sharing the room. As of November 2017, these were their rates and the package inclusions:

3D2N Caramoan Package Rates:

  • 3999/head – group of 4 pax (Quad Room)
  • 4299/head – group of 3 pax (Triple Room)
  • 4499/head – group of 2 pax (Twin Room)

Inclusions:

  • Roundtrip van transfers (Manila-Caramoan-Manila)
  • 2 nights accommodation at Caramoan Town Proper
  • Six meals (2 breakfasts, 2 lunch & 2 Dinner)
  • 2 Days Long & Short Island hopping w/ roundtrip boat transfer
  • Environmental fee & cottage at Cutivas Island
  • Sidetrip to Saint Michael Archangel, Mother of Peace Grotto, Deer Farm, CWC & Penafrancia Basilica Minore
  • Not included:
    • Floating Cottage at Manlawi Sandbar (P200/cottage)
    • Entrance Fee at Mother of Peace Grotto (P30/head – optional)
    • Snorkeling Gear (P150-200/head)

Overall, I’m happy that I went with McTrail Travel & Tours to Caramoan. Booking with them is soΒ sulitΒ and hassle-free. I just had an issue with the driving but I sent my feedback and they assured me that they will address my concern. I will not hesitate to book with them again πŸ™‚

Manila to Caramoan:

Our transport to Caramoan was a spacious Toyota Grandia for 13 guests, the tour coordinator and the driver. There were 2 pick up points: Eton Centris and SM MOA. The pick up time at Eton Centris was supposed to be at 8 PM, but due to the ASEAN Summit traffic, the van arrived at 9 PM. This was no big deal for us since it gave us time to eat dinner before the long drive. Although we were the first group to arrive in Eton Centris, we had to give up the seats behind the driver because the other guests had children with them. As the youngest group, we were assigned to the last row where it’s guaranteed that we would feel every bump during the drive. Oh well 😦

After the 2nd pick up in SM MOA, the van was still spacious and comfortable for us all. It was a bumpy 12 hour drive from Manila to Caramoan. It was a miracle that I was able to sleep for half of it. My companions were all envious of my ability to sleep through the rollercoaster-like ride. LOL.

There were 3 stopovers throughout the trip and 1 emergency stop because one of the guests puked. I was only awake for the first stop and only vaguely aware of the rest because I was sleeping.

Our Accommodation:

Caramoan Rockwood Inn

We were pleasantly surprised and satisfied with our accommodations as Caramoan Rockwood Inn. The rooms were simple yet equipped with the basic necessities like the comfy beds, AC, TV and spacious enough bathroom. The only things missing were cabinets or shelves were we could store our things and a hot shower. We just dumped our stuff on the floor and took showers quickly to deal with these 2 things. LOL.

Room for 2 @ Caramoan Rockwood Inn

The best feature of Rockwood Inn has got to be the food they fed us all throughout our stay. Everything was delicious with generous servings! Their meals consisted of a vegetable dish, a meat dish and seafood. Their chili buttered crabs are so unforgettable. I devoured 4 of them during this trip alone ❀

Usual meal spread @ Caramoan Rockwood Inn ❀

The hosts were also very pleasant and took great care of us. One of my companions was allergic to all kinds of seafood and couldn’t eat anything during our last dinner there. We told one of the staff and they bought barbecued chicken just for him.

A dartboard and billiard table to entertain the guests

I would highly recommend this place if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Caramoan. Continue reading

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A Day at Minalungao National Park

The sudden announcement of a 4-day weekend due to to ASEAN summit was such a pleasant surprise for me. I immediately thought of where I can spend it but I had limited budget at the time. After much thought, I decided to go somewhere near Manila for a day tour and spend the rest of the long weekend relaxing at home.

My Companion:

Good thing the boyfriend was game when I suggested that we go check out Minalungao National Park for a day. We have never been there before, so naturally we were both excited to see the place.

Boyfriend didn’t want to be in this photo because of the flowers in the background πŸ˜€

How to get there:

We arrived at Five Star’s bus terminal at 4 AM. We underestimated the long weekend rush so we had to wait for a bus to Gapan for over an hour. We also checked the other bus terminal along EDSA, but the lines to Gapan were longer there. It was pure luck when an empty Cisco bus to Gapan arrived and we were the first one to get on it.

The fare Php 150 each. After paying the conductor, we slept for the whole 3 hours of the journey to Gapan.

Our Tour Guide:

Visitors to Minalungao National Park don’t really need a guide, but we opted for guides because we wanted a hassle-free trip and we wanted to do all the activities in the park. While searching for information about Minalungao, I stumbled upon the Facebook page of Sir Darine. He comes highly recommended by travel bloggers and visitors of Minalungao.

I sent a message on Facebook inquiring about the tour packages and I chose to avail the complete package for Php 999 per person. This included:

  • Transportation – Gapan-Minalungao National Park-Gapan
  • Entrance fee
  • Registration fee
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Life vest
  • Complete tour of Minalungao
  • Services of a tour guide
  • Toilet & shower fees
  • Rental of a floating cottage – if there are 3 or more people availing the package

When we came, Sir Darine had to take care of another group of visitors so he assigned Sir Kim to us. I loved the practice of Sir Darine and his group prior to our arrival. They were in constant communication with us since the night before our visit to confirm our departure from Manila, where we were, where to alight in Gapan and other useful tips for us πŸ™‚

From Gapan, it was another hour to Minalungao National Park via tricycle. It was long but good thing we stopped halfway to eat some breakfast.

Things to do in Minalungao National Park:

  1. Cross the hanging bridge. The bridge offers a view of Minalungao National Park in all its beauty so this is a must do. Crossing the bridge is really unavoidable since this leads to the hotel, the 1000 Steps to the shrine and the zipline.

    View of Minalungao National Park from the hanging bridge

  2. Go up 1000 steps to see the shrine. This was such a big challenge for my knees. LOL. Sir Kim reminded us to buy water for our trek to the top. I was appreciative of this because the sun was already shining brightly. There wasn’t even a cool breeze in the summit. The shrine at the very end of the 1000 steps was a good place to meditate, pray and take in the view. But the other visitors were so loud and rowdy while taking their selfies.

    I wish there were numbers to tell me how many more steps I have to take before I reach the end.

    The giant cross at the end of the 1000 steps

  3. Explore the caves. It took us less than 10 minutes to explore the entirety of the caves in Minalungao. I wished that I could have stayed inside longer because it was so cool but there was a long line of visitors waiting for their turn in the caves.

    Spelunking for 10 minutes πŸ™‚

  4. Rent a kayak. Visitors can rent a kayak for Php 200 per hour. Renters should leave their IDs at the shop and they can claim it at the end of the hour. Our relationship almost ended because of this. LOL. Boyfriend and I spent almost half the time arguing over how to properly row and navigate the kayak. In the end, I just let him steer for the 2 of us. πŸ˜€

    I let the boyfriend do all the work so we wouldn’t fight anymore. LOL.

  5. Rent a floating cottage. For those wanting to rent a floating cottage a take a cruise along Penaranda River, it’s best to arrive early in the morning so you can have the best location for swimming. I wanted to go on a floating cottage even if it was just the 2 of us, but Sir Kim discouraged us. Aside from the long lines of people wanting to rent a cottage, the river was already crowded that maneuvering it along the river would be next to impossible. Hence, we rented a kayak instead.

    Countless floating cottages along Penaranda River

  6. Swim! We looked for the shallower part of the river for swimming. The water was clean and clear, but not really refreshing. I was expecting the water to be cool but it was in fact, warm 😦

    There is a lifeguard constantly on watch to reprimand guests not wearing a life vest while swimming.

    Clear waters. But I wish it was colder.

  7. Go on a food trip. I was surprised to discover that there were a lot of restaurants and stall in the park offering different food and snacks. Boyfriend and I chose to try the different snacks when we got tired of swimming. Also the lunch prepared for us was very delicious ❀

    Both the barbecue and sinigang ng hipon were so yummy! ❀

  8. Ride the zipline. We opted not to do this since we convinced ourselves that the view is just the same from the hanging bridge. There were many people who rode this throughout the day though. The rate for a 2-way zipline ride is Php 200.

Continue reading