Connecting with nature is pure soul food. Our health, well-being, and happiness can significantly improve when we are surrounded by nature. Even five minutes in a natural outdoor setting can improve one’s overall mood.
Hiking is a great way to reap the numerous benefits of nature. Fresh air energizes the body, the sounds of nature serenade the mind, and the deep blue sky inspires the spirit. Hiking allows one to immerse completely into the natural world and cultivates a feeling of responsibility to protect and preserve its sacredness.
The Philippines has no lack of majestic and diverse outdoor settings to explore or take solitude in: grandiose mountains, scenic coastlines, and lush tropical forests. Here are some outstanding hiking places around the country – explore and exhale!
FOREST-BATHING TRAIL, BAGUIO
In the heart of Baguio’s Camp John Hay is an exceptional hiking trail offering a way to recharge your health. Forest-bathing is a concept developed in Japan as a means to reduce stress and improve one’s mood by immersing in nature. The well-marked 4-kilometer forest-bathing trail at Camp John Hay will take you through a relatively flat loop surrounded by beautiful pine trees. Various installations by local artists have been placed along the trail offering another way to connect with the forest.
Known in Japan as “shinrin (forest) – yoku (bath)” , it is absorbing the organic compounds released by trees and plants called phytoncides which boosts the immune system. This trail in Camp John Hay is about four kilometers long that winds through thousands of pines trees and offers eight rest stops where one can listem to bamboo chimes in the mountain air.
The rice terraces of Ifugao are impressive “living cultural landscapes” in the heart of the Cordillera Mountains. These terraces exemplify the rich and complex Ifugao people who created sustainable communities and elaborate irrigation systems throughout the centuries. The Banaue rice terraces are one of the five clusters in Ifugao recognized by UNESCO as world heritage sites and make for a great starting point to explore the region. Treks around Banaue will reveal small terraced villages, waterfalls, and epic views.
TABI TABI PO!
This Filipino utterance means “pardon, please step aside”. Filipino say this as a way of asking permission from fairies, dwarves, and other supernatural beings to enter a forest..
Nestled high in the Cordillera Mountains, Sagada offers a refreshing climate surrounded by pine forests, rice terraces, serene mountains, and a network of caves. Aside from popular trails, one can also enjoy the less traveled mountain paths that are plentiful in the area. Find a guide to show you around or escape into nature by hiking along the quiet mountain roads. Either way, you are certain to be refreshed after your visit. For hikers, Sagada is simply a must-visit destination.
There is something about Sagada. Because it is a small, rustic town, it is easy to make new friends among kindred spirits.
Always consult locals before hiking
To reduce plastic waste, use a refillable water container
For every hour of hiking, bring 2 cups or ½ liter of waste.
The sparsely populated northernmost province of the Philippines offers hikers unique terrain that cannot be found anywhere else in the country. The rolling hills of Batan and cliffs of Itbayat are certain to inspire with their grand views and majestic sunrises and sunsets. Most visitors will find short hikes appropriate to connect with the beauty and nature of Batanes, although trekking Mt. Iraya offers a challenging adventure for the intrepid.
Far from the crowds and surrounded with so much natural beauty, Batanes is a place where you will find solitude. Here, being alone becomes a gift, or even a much needed respite. Locals here are probably one of the most hospitable on the planet and are very respectful of visitors. They know you have come here for a reason and will give you space..
DID YOU KNOW? TRIVIA
Creative thinking increases by 60% when walking outdoors according to Stanford University research
Hiking improves blood circulations and reduces sugar levels
Hiking gives a feeling of euphoria even after hours a hike due to the release of endorphins (happy hormones)
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental offers, perhaps, the most surreal hiking experiences in the country. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, Mount Hamiguitan’s pygmy or “bonsai” forest is a unique, biodiverse ecosystem where the local vegetation has been stunted because of unfavorable soil conditions. Although hiking to the pygmy forest is restricted, one can explore the trails and uncommon vegetation near the visitors’ center. Spending time here, learning about its history, and seeing first hand the diversity of life will energize and remind you how important local conservation initiatives are in protecting places like Mount Hamiguitan.