One of the things that I could not imagine myself doing is camping. Not that I’m a person who’s used to luxury, I’m quite far from that. It’s just that I’m not the type of person you’d expect to engage in ‘roughing-it-up‘ activities.
Well, surprise, I actually went camping in Nagsasa, Zambales! It was one of those adventures that my best friends from college planned so I went along with it. The idea of being one with nature (naks!) and being able to capture its beauty excited me a lot. Also, it would be our last outing with Ino who would be going to the United States to pursue his graduate studies.
Inah looked for a tour company that has packages for Nagsasa and we went for the most affordable one. The package we got costs 1100 per head and it is inclusive of the boat ride to and from Nagsasa with stopovers at Camara and Capones islands as well as Anawangin, tables at a resort in Nagsasa, as well as tents. Each of us pitched in for the food while Ino was the one who brought a car.
We agreed to meet up at 5 AM in McDonald’s PhilCoa. As usual, the agreed upon meet up time wasn’t followed. Leah was on time, I arrived at around 5:20 AM, Inah arrived shortly after I did. Ino was there early as well though he was in Jollibee. Izel and Jamie arrived at around 6:40 AM, award! We asked Inah to inform our bangkero (boatman?) that we’d be there at around 10 AM instead of 9 AM.
Since Ino barely remembers the way to Pundaquit, Zambales (where our bangkero would meet us), he asked me to be his navigator. Thank God for Google Maps on Android (and iPhone). I couldn’t imagine how people before navigated unfamiliar territories without GPS and Google Maps. While we were navigating our way to Zambales, the rest were sleeping (except Leah). Hmph.
On our way there, we saw on Google Maps that there were two ways in which we can reach San Antonio in Zambales. The first one is by passing through the usual route which is along Olongapo-Bugallon Rd. then turning left at San Marcelino. The second one is passing through San Agustin Road which would ends at the end of San Marcelino. The second one was shorter so we went for that one. After 20 minutes of driving, we saw this:
That’s probably the reason why there were no cars passing by the road. We had to go back and take the first route.
We arrived in Pundaquit, Zambales at around 10:40 AM, 40 minutes late of our agreed upon time. Our boatman was already there waiting for us which was a wee bit embarrassing to say the least.
Ino parked his van at the parking lot near the beach. We were then lead by the boat man to the boat that would bring us to Nagsasa. First item in our imaginary list – island hopping!
We hopped on the boat and off we went to Camara and Capones islands. Thank heavens that the weather was on our side when we were island hopping.
Our boat can only accommodate 8 people including the bangkero and an assistant. We sat in pairs and I was seated in front together with Jamie. Sitting in front = splash guard.
Here are some of the photos from our stopovers…
As I mentioned in one of my captions above, we had a little difficulty in catching our bangkero‘s attention we were set to leave for our next stop. I was waving, jumping, and shouting at the same time just for him to notice that we were ready to leave the island. After a few minutes of looking like a deranged person, our bangkero finally noticed and he brought the boat to the island.
It was already around 12:30PM when we set off to Anawangin Cove. We were very hungry by that time and we badly wanted to eat. Our boat ride to Anawangin lasted for around 20 to 25 minutes. The buzzing of the boat’s motor was annoying at first but it was drowned out by random thoughts running through my mind after shifting my attention to the beautiful scenery around us.
We were told that there’s a fee to use the facilities in Anawangin but it was just 50 PhP per head so it was no big deal. Anawangin was peppered with tents and people savoring the outdoors. The place seemed perfect for camping, imagine, you have a decent beach nearby and you are surrounded by numerous trees. I friend of mine told me before that Anawangin‘s great for stargazing.
Our bangkero told us that we can have our food cooked at Anawangin for a fee. Being the thrifty (stingy’s more like it) person that I am, I asked the people there to cook only half of our rice and 12 pieces of cocktail-sized hotdogs. We brought packaged barbecue (10 skewers) so that would supplement our lunch. We took photos while we were waiting for our lunch.
When the person cooking our lunch brought the food to our table, we were pretty underwhelmed. Why? Well, each of us only had two pieces of cocktail-sized hotdogs and 1 and 2/3 skewer of barbecue. At least we had a mountain of nice, fluffy rice.
After having our lunch, we continued our journey to Nagsasa. It was a long boat ride to Nagsasa from Anawangin. Again, the buzzing sound of the motor annoyed me at first but it was eventually drowned out by my thoughts.
It took us around 20 – 30 minutes to reach Nagsasa from Anawangin. I can feel nature embracing us tighter as we approached the shores of Nagsasa. I was a little disappointed though that when we inched closer to Nagsasa, it became clearer that the sand there wasn’t as good as the sand in Anawangin. Oh well, I’m not much of a beach-y person anyway, I just wanted to have pictures on nice-looking sand.
When we arrived there, the caretaker of the ‘resort’ that we’d be staying at welcomed us. He took us to our area which had a table and a roof. A roof! Thank goodness, at least if it rained (and it did), we had shelter. Our bangkero brought the tents to our area and set it up with the help of his assistant.
After settling down, we roamed around the area, took photos, and chit-chatted. The place was absolutely relaxing, perfect for unwinding and clearing your mind of the stresses of daily life. Worth mentioning was the fact that there were decent restrooms in the area, although they didn’t have light bulbs inside. Here are some photos of our day in Nagsasa…
To summarize our first day in Nagsasa in one statement, we bummed around. At around late afternoon, we just lounged around at an elevated area of sand surrounded by water. I was writing random stuff in Thai script on the sand while they were talking about random things. I went back to our table to get my camera and took photos as the sunset approached.
Sadly, it started to rain. Good thing I have already taken photos of the sunset! It’s not obvious in the photos since the ominous rain clouds were behind us. Our spirits were a little down because we wanted to have a bonfire and go stargazing, things which we cannot do while raining.
We were lucky though because the rain clouds moved very fast. At around 7 in the evening, it wasn’t raining anymore. Since we weren’t boy scouts and we weren’t totally prepared, we asked the caretaker if he could cook our dinner for us then we’d just pay him for the service. We handed him the remainder of our hotdogs and rice and waited for him to cook them. We also had Adobo, a viand that doesn’t spoil easily.
After dinner, the sky was pretty clear already. The only sign that it rained was the wet sand. Since we badly wanted to have a bonfire, we approached the caretaker if he could set up a bonfire for us. Moments later, he was already preparing the bonfire. We brought marshmallows and skewers so we had something to snack on while chit-chatting around the bonfire.
We lied on the sand and gazed at the stars above us. Again, thank goodness it stopped raining! We decided to call it a day when we realized that mosquitoes were already feasting on our blood.
As usual, I was the first person in our group to wake up. Being inside a rather small tent with two other people was a challenge. I was able to sleep well though, I simply tucked myself at the side of the tent and used my backpack as a pillow. I went outside our tent to take photos before the sun rose.
When the sun was up, I decided to wake up the rest. We were planning on hiking to the waterfalls so we had to be up early. We had our breakfast and prepared for the hike. Ino asked me to ask the caretaker how much the guided hike would cost. He said it’s a hundred per person so we decided to go for it. We almost didn’t go though because the caretaker was worried that we might not be able to get back in-time since our boat would arrive at around 11:00 and it was already 8:30. In the end, we were able to persuade the caretaker to bring us to the waterfalls.
We finally started hiking at around 9 in the morning. I wouldn’t elaborate on our whole hiking experience but it was very fun and challenging. There were times that I wanted to stop and tell them that I’d just sit on a rock and wait for them to come back but I still went on. We passed through grassy areas, raging (seriously, raging) rivers, rocks, and muddy mountain sides.
We reached the waterfalls around an hour and a half after we started. There is a pond at the foot of the falls which is deep enough for swimming. We didn’t spend much time there, just enough for a quick dive and some photos.
After having our group photo taken, we hurriedly hiked back to our camp. We got there just in time for our boat ride back to Pundaquit. The boat ride back took around 40 minutes. Again, the boat’s motor was buzzing but my body and mind was too tired to care.
And there’s our adventure in Nagsasa. It would be long before we’d be able to do something like this again since Ino’s taking up his masters degree in the States.