Aside from the Atimonan Zigzag Road also known as “Bitukang Manok” which is a common stop over of private vehicles heading to the Bicol Region, Atimonan is mostly overlooked when in terms of tourism. This town of Atimonan that lies roughly 6 hours away from Manila could be a good venue if you would like to enjoy a place less crowded. For this adventure, we visited Mt. Pinagbanderahan also known as “Mt. Mirador” and Bantakay Falls over the weekend. These two attractions require trekking so better be prepared for a day full of cardio workouts.
How to get there?
From Manila (PITX Terminal) ride a Calauag/Guinayangan bound bus (A&B Liner). Tell the driver to drop you off in Brgy. Malinao Ilaya in Atimonan Quezon. Here’s the current schedule of Calauag/Guinayangan A&B Liner Bus:
To Mt. Pinagbanderahan
After dropping off at Brgy. Malinao Ilaya, you can either walk or rent a tricycle that will take you directly to the jump off area (Atimonan Zigzag Park). Take note that you will be passing through the famous zigzag road of Atimonan so please carefully watch out for vehicles especially on the curve areas. We opted to walk so we started our trek from Malinao Ilaya junction and I must say that it’s quite challenging as the zigzag road is too slippery and very steep.
To Bantakay Falls
From Mt. Pinagbanderahan jump off, you can either walk again down to Malinao Ilaya Junction or look for an availale tricycle on the area. From Malinao Ilaya Junction, charter a tricycle that will take you to the registration of Bantakay Falls in Brgy. Sta. Catalina.
Mt. Pinagbanderahan which means “where the flag was hoisted” is part of the Quezon Protected Landscape and holds an important part of our country’s history. This is where American and Japanese flags were raised during their occupancies and eventually a Philippine flag when we regained our independence from the foreign oppressors. Trail difficulty is 1/9 which is perfect for beginners and to those looking for a laidback hike.
We started our trek from the Zigzag Road junction at around 7:00 AM. We opted to walk very careful as the road is really slippery and steep. We reached the registration booth at the Atimonan Zigzag Park and logged our visit. A tour guide is being required so you have to secure one before heading to the summit. Since the trail is part of a protected landscape and recognized as a National Park, it is mostly covered by trees and lushes. You’ll be walking through a rainforest milieu so no exposure on direct heat of the sun on most part of the trek. Trail path is also well maintained and mostly cemented but still be vigilant as there are few fallen trees along the trail.
It took us around 1.5 hours before reaching the summit. We were rewarded by a scenic view of Sierra Madre ranges, Mt. Banahaw and coastline of the nearby town of Pagbilao from the summit. I actually compared the rainforest limestones I saw from the summit to the scenes of Coron and the known Halong Bay of Vietnam and it was breathtaking just like other summits I visited.
It took us another hour trekking back to the jump off and upon reaching it, we decided to take our lunch before heading to Bantakay Falls. The Zigzag Park which serves also as the registration point, housed few food stalls and “kubos” where you can take a rest and eat meals. There are few stalls too that sells Quezon’s delicacies and travel souvenirs.
After taking our lunch, we were lucky that there was an available tricycle along the Zigzag Road that we can ride back to the Zigzag junction in Malinao Ilaya. From there, we chartered another tricycle that took us directly to the Bantakay Falls jump off/registration point. Like in Mt. Pinagbanderahan, a tour guide is also required before heading to the falls (guide fee is 300 Php). They were able to established a new trail now leading to Bantakay that trekking would only take 15-20 minutes.
When we arrived at the Bantakay Falls, water current was a bit strong which is as per our guide was due to the rain on the area the other day. But regardless the water current, the falls is still majestic. Path is quite challenging due to the current but with the proper guidance and putting extra caution on each step, you could finish the trail up near the falls itself.
There are a lot of picture-perfect spots and you could enjoy swimming on its cold waters. A perfect place to bring your family and friends.
Have you been to Mt. Pinagbanderahan and Bantakay Falls before? Share your experience below!