The Philippines is an overlooked treasure of Southeast Asia, but that's due to its remoteness, not for lack of natural gems that range from coral-fringed islands, palm lined white-sand beaches to hot springs and majestic volcanoes. Consisting of more than 7,000 islands between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, it would take you years to visit all that the Philippines has to offer, but for some highlights we take you mountain biking on trails that run up and down the base of volcanoes on the main island of Luzon. We start in Manila, head down to Carmines Sur and then to Bicol where we end by swimming with the whale sharks off Donsol.
Named after Crown Prince Philip II of Spain, the Philippines is considered Asia's largest Catholic country. But even before the Spanish arrived the Filipinos were a mixture of foreign influences and continue to be a fusion of cultures that has led to the uniqueness of the Filipino identity. The Filipinos themselves are exuberant, fun loving and easygoing people and the fact that most speak English makes it easy to communicate.
To avoid the jeepneys, tricycles and the pedicabs that haphazardly ply the roads of the Philippines we'll be staying off road and riding trails that are popular with locals. We'll start with the Santa Rosa trail that will take us to the Tagaytay Highlands. The next day we'll have a fun descent to Taal Lake and a ride around the island. Then it's off to some more technical trails around San Pablo, with the advantage of soaking in hot springs at the end of the ride. Next we head to the historical town of Lucban and for a scenic ride. In Carmines Sur we'll hit two very popular trails that will test your off road skills before heading to the trails along the base of Mt. Mayon.
A highlight of the tour will be the chance to snorkel with the whale sharks. These gentle giants are a slow-moving filter feeding shark and can grow up to 18 m long. Why they gather near the shores of Donsol is still unknown, but it is a rare opportunity to observe these huge blue- grey, silver spotted creatures up close.
We limit the packing/unpacking you need to do by staying two nights at most of our overnights, which range from an eco lodge, to a hot spring resort, to bungalows at a water park resort.
Biking Difficulty: 3 out of 5
Riding Style: Off road jeep track and single track trails that require some technical experience to enjoy.
Cycling Distance: 420 kilometres
Cycling Days: 8 full, 1 half
We ride 420 km, about 90 per cent off road, in 9 cycling days. We have designed the route to give a wide variety of riding.
There are some first class single track trails to gentler dirt roads. Many trails traverse the base of volcanoes and our routes will wind up and down hillsides. We guarantee you will never be bored by the riding. There are some outstanding descents and stunning views across rolling hillsides and valleys.
Although our escort vehicle is always close by, some rides are not supported due to the remoteness of the trails. Your guide’s expert knowledge of the area and terrain means that you always know what is coming up in terms of distance and difficulty.
Biking Conditions: Your Philippines biking experience is primarily off road on varied surfaces including forest trails, mud, volcanic sand, lava cobbles, gravel and broken tarmac roads. There are sections of single-track, some climbs are challenging and some of the off road tracks will have rocky and steep technical sections, but these are normally short and sharp and can be walked by those not confident.
This trip is recommended for riders who enjoy and have some off-road experience, but you don’t have to be an expert to get the best out of this trip. You should be confident of your physical condition and bike handling skills. This tour is mainly on jeep trails and single track and most of the trip is off-road. The support vehicle cannot always follow but will meet the group at certain points along the trail.
For more information on Mountain Biking in The Philippines check out Symbiosis Travel