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Hiking / Trekking Maestre De Campo

 

Class 3 Philippine Trekking Destination

Trekking Maestre De Campo (often referred to as Sibale) offers a fairly easy selection of trekking activities - the island is not large (only 19 kilometres around) and most of the treks can be accomplished within an hour or two.

Trekking is a sport in Maestre De Campo that is underdeveloped insomuch as the local philosophy is to provide concrete paths to every location and up to a point where the trekker hardly need to break into a sweat. Nevertheless, the treks are rewarding in terms of historic content or their ability to highlight the wildlife and nature of the island.

Opportunities For Trekking in Maestre De Campo

Trekking around Maestre De Campo is largely focused on two specific areas. However, the municipality is currently defining their tourism master plan and it is likely that additional trekking adventures will be added within the year.

For the moment, Maestre De Campo offers two defined treks:

Forest Trail Trek

The Forest Trail trek takes you around a large headland, to the South of the municipality of Concepcion. The area is classed as lowland forest and the opportunities for observing rare and endemic birds are growing with the replanting of indigenous hardwood trees, such as molave and narra, to replace cash-crop trees, such as Ipil-ipil. The Forest Trail trek takes an hour or more if you are a keen photographer; the path is an easy walk and no special equipment is required. At the farthest extremity of the trail you will find yourself looking down into the spectacularly clear waters that surround Maestre De Campo: you may chance to see a sea turtle (pawikan) making its way to nesting beaches in the next cove to the East; and, you may be able to see most of Northern Tablas Island at the horizon. Look out for the endemic (to the Philippines) Coleto bird here - mating pairs are frequently in the lush foliage near the start of the Forest Trail.


Flag Pole Hiking Trail

The Flag Pole trek potentially contains a history lesson (still awaiting verification from US Government records). Locals say that during the latter stages of World War II a flag pole was erected at the summit, when the last Japanese soldiers were evicted from the island. It is said that names carved in the rock where the flag pole once stood, are the names of the soldiers who excavated the hole in the rock to receive the flag pole . . . many of the carved names are more recent but a couple look authentic. Along the way of the Flag Pole trek you will be observed by many forest bird species that announce your arrival to their neighbors. There is a chance you will come upon monitor lizards and other reptiles if you are quiet along the path. If accomplished from the last possible access road, the Flag Pole trek takes less than an hour; the path is steep in places but does not require any special equipment.


Pawikan / Turtle Beach Hiking Trail

The Pawikan / Turtle Beach Trail can be short, medium or longer depending on your level of endurance and available time. Your objective is the pawikan / turtle beach - the South facing beach at the extremity of the peninsular to the West of Poblacion Bay. An easy hike via any route, that takes you through coconut plantations and along beach fronts or through the national high school (for the longest hiking trail). The most visually exciting hiking trail is the long trail from the high school: along the dramatic, rocky shoreline (at low tide), across two beaches and over the hill through the coconut plantations. Upon arrival at the viewing area (the beach is off-limits to all but the nesting turtles and tabon / scrub fowls) you will witness spectacular seascapes and feel the fresh sea breeze that always seems to find a way to caress this peninsular.


Other treks are currently being defined and trail guides will soon be trained and ready to take you to other parts of the island where the forest cover is most dense and the trails more challenging.

For the most enjoyable treks we recommend that you avoid the rainy season from June to October.

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Trekking Equipment Rental In Maestre De Campo

Renting Trekking gear and equipment is not possible at this time (2014) but for the current selection of treks you will not need any specialized equipment.

On Maestre De Campo island, trekking guides can be found driving almost any motorcycle but we recommend that you ask at the municipal offices for an introduction to the most informed individuals. It is tough to get lost on such a small island but knowing what to look out for will bring the trails into focus and assist with your photography. Trekking guides will typically accept modest payments of US$5 to US$15, depending on how much gasoline they consume on their motorbike to get you there.

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