Trip report – Pamulaklakin trail – Subic bay
For those interested in nature and a good trail, here is one trek that you should not miss. I made an unplanned trip to SBMA Subic and had a morning to spare. Tried the Pamulaklakin forest trek which I had heard so much from my students of - highly recommended for nature lovers.
I have posted all the relevant details in this post. If you wish to see more details and photos, please visit my blog http://expattraveller.blogspot.com
The trail / nature trek –
Lasts 3 hours. You can also do a overnight stay in the forest – In both of these , there is a personal Aeta guide who stays with you throughout. Aetas are the original tribal inhabitants of Philippines, and I was impressed by the knowledge of these guides.
Pamulaklakin has 4 tours -
• Sightseeing = 50 pesos - self guided, where you go just upto the river
• A mini jungle tour - also 50 pesos - in which a native guide takes you around for 30 minutes
• 3 hour detailed Ecology tour - 250 pesos - which is what we took - where an Aeta guide takes you into the forest, and shows you lots of interesting things.
• An overnight jungle tour (500 pesos) wherein a local Aeta guide takes you deep into the forest, and you camp overnight!
What does the trek consist of –
Walking through dense rain forest. Initially there is a proper mud path. Then, it gets narrow. In some parts, the guide cuts off bamboo / branches on your way and makes a path!
Important - Dress code -
Remember to dress in cottons, and cover your body fully – shorts and t-shirts are a bad idea. Wear walking shoes and preferably long socks. Bring a hat / cap and sun glasses. And you will enjoy this trek.
It is not very difficult to do this trek for a normally healthy person. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being a walk on the beach and 5 being difficult, I would rank this as 2.5. The guide can go slowly if you ask him to. (I did!)
What you will see and hear –
Lots of birds, monkeys, butterflies, trees with medicinal and survival value. The Pamulaklakin river flows by and you can take a dip in it’s chilly waters / drink from it’s crystal clear stream. Photos of the river here - http://tinyurl.com/bz6k4t5
We also met the local tribal chief – dressed in traditional clothes.
Interesting activities –
The guide showed us how branches and twigs could be used as sources of water (photo of us “drinking” from a branch of okpoy here - http://tinyurl.com/bz6k4t5), how to find food in the jungle (pugahan shoots), local medicinal plants like the Dereta tree which is used by the tribals for treating malaria, another whose bark is used as shampoo (yep – he showed us later!), rubber tree (we smelt it’s aromatic sap), balete tree, useful plants like Kupang, kamagoong, etc. He also showed us how they make fire out of bamboo! There was loads more – I have posted their details on my blog here - http://expattraveller.blogspot.com
Birds and sounds -
Here is a list of the birds we heard.... I am sure there are lots more,but I don't know much about birds, though I like them.
(Note : These are local names that Aetas use, as told to us by our guide. Do tell me if you know the official names of these birds)
• Kingfisher (we saw this too)
• Batu batu bird
• Jungle pigeon
• Carpenter bird
• Sabokot - this big black bird was patiently perched on a branch, and preened itself for a long time while we watched it from a distance
• Not really a bird, but we heard the "Toku Toku" often! For those wondering what toku toku is,it is a lizard, called so because of the sound it makes... tokku tokku...!
I am NOT an avid birder, so if you feel I must be corrected, please go ahead and let me know.
I used this birding 2 asia website to update my own information - it is also a good place to listen to bird calls of Subic forests.
How to reach Pamulaklakin trail?
Pamulaklakin is located in Subic bay, marked here on google maps - http://goo.gl/maps/rffUy
Take a Victory liner or Saulog transit bus to Olongapo. (3-4 hours, 250 pesos air con) If coming via SCTEX you can disembark at "Ayala Harbor point mall" in SBMA - and take a taxi to Pamulaklakin from there
Once at Olongapo/ SBMA, take a taxi to "Pamulaklakin trail - Binictican" - It takes just 10-15 minutes, and the drive is enjoyable - through lush green forests with predominantly acacia trees (you will see some monkeys en route). Cost = 300 pesos (Yes - your 3 hour bus trip from Manila to Olongapo is cheaper than this 15 minute taxi drive!)
Winstar taxi -
• 047 - 252-7490 / 047 - 252 - 7409
Mega Taxi -
• 0919 384 5156 / 0922 894 2764
Alternatively, you can take a winstar shuttle bus from Park and Shop (10 pesos). Park n Shop is a popular point in SBMA where shuttle and other buses leave.
From Baguio –
Take a Victory liner air conditioned bus from Baguio Victory liner bus terminus (450 pesos, 8 hours). There is a bus every hour. Last bus leaves at 4:45 pm, hence it is a better idea to leave Baguio in the morning, reach Subic bay in the evening, stay overnight, and go for the trek next morning.
From Angeles / Dau –
Take a Saulog Transit or Victory liner bus. One hour if going through SC Tex, 2-3 hours if not going through SC Tex. (SCTEX is the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway – the buses do not have any halts en route)
How to return –
• Returning from Pamulaklakin is also easy. You can either take a shuttle bus (van - but read the cautionary note) or taxi.
1) Wait for a Winstar shuttle bus (but be wary - they have a poor frequency of between 30 minutes to one hour)
2) Call for a taxi, to take you to your destination. (The trail authorities will call the taxi for you. Else here are the telephone numbers for taxi companies in SBMA - Subic bay metropolitan authority (the name given to the former Subic navy base, and commonly called Subic bay many people – though actually, Subic is a non touristy village 30 minutes away)
Final opinion -
After 3 hours, I came out with a new respect for the Aetas, and found them far more advanced than so called modern civilised people. They have found fantastic use of the forest for their day to day needs, as well as to cure illnesses. I think we could learn a lesson or two from them
Further reading on Pamulaklakin Forest -
I have also posted links to other blogs and websites that I found useful for treks in Philippines