One of my goals for 2020 is to find new things to do – whether alone, with family, or with friends. I had a short list of requirements. First, it would, preferably be, not anything mall related. The metro is already overpopulated with malls. I wanted something that required a bit more activity than just strolling. Not an easy feat – considering that open spaces in the metro are a rarity. Second, the place has to be near enough so that the kids don’t tire themselves out and refuse to wake up bright and early for school on Monday.
Fortunately, I came across Mount Purro Nature Reserve (MPNR) on the internet. Read blogs and viewed tagged photos on IG and I was excited! Went on Klook, booked the daytrip packages, paid, and we were good to go!
Our trusty Bebe Chic Manhattan goes with us wherever we go
Here's what we loved about Mount Purro Nature Reserve
- As the name says, it’s a nature reserve.
MPNR is a forest sanctuary and eco retreat. It’s as close to nature as you can get near the city.Think of it as Sonia's Garden in Tagaytay with outdoor activities. Upon arrival, guests are lead to the briefing room – where a video shows a quick and moving history of how Mount Purro Nature Reserve came to be.
As MPNR is a forest, go prepared. Do not forget to pack your anti itch balms, mosquito repellant patches, and sunscreens!
- The short travel time!
It took only a short 1.5 hour drive from San Juan to MPNR on a bright Sunday morning. Traffic was very light and the roads were clear. However, please be warned that after Marcos Highway, the roads start to go in a zigzag pattern – definitely NOT for people prone to motion sickness. Avoid nausea by sitting in front or in the middle row. And please bring your motion sickness arsenal. In our case, it was Plant Therapy's Tummy All Better, Eucalyptus, and plastic bags *wink*
- The airy cabanas
MPNR’s slogan is 'connect to disconnect', so expect phones to have weak signal if you're a Smart subscriber, or no signal at all if you're a Globe subscriber. Our group of 16 got this really airy cabana, where we all hung out and played card games. Super happy to say that in all the fun outdoor excitement, the kids forgot their gadgets! Parenting goals achieved!
After the long drive, the kids were hungry! It’s a good thing we brought along some healthy, organic snacks for them. And of course, we brought along our trusty Penny Scallan bags with us – the waterproof material makes it the perfect bag to bring along for outdoor trips like this.
- Interaction with the Dumagats
Part of the activities lined up for the day was the Interaction with the Dumagats. The Dumagats showed us how they cooked rice and sinigang using just bamboo and good old fire. The ingredients for the sinigang were simple – onion, pork meat, salt, and bilukaw leaves – a natural souring agent they get from native trees. I half expected the soup to taste a bit bland. Because yes, I always use sinigang mix in our sinigang broths. When ate asked if we wanted to taste the sinigang, I was first in line :D And the sinigang tasted just as good, if not better, than our usual sinigang fare at home.
The Dumagat interaction is a scheduled activity. Check the hours here.
- Interactive playground
The playground was a hit with all the kids! It had a mini wall climbing ramp, a pole to slide down, and swings suitable for babies and toddlers.
Wearing his Happy NOZ Onion Sticker for some sipon relief
But this mud kitchen was the favorite:
The mud kitchen comes with a real working faucet, so kids enjoyed pretending to wash dishes and cups. As the play area is shaded with dark corners, it is advisable that kids be protected with mosquito repellant spray or stickers.
6. The yummy home cooked food at Loli's Kitchen
We enjoyed the meal and the convos so much that we forgot to take pics :D But that's the purpose of this trip, right? To bond and to be mindfully present in the moment.
7. The river excursion
MNPR offers two prescheduled guided activities – a nature hike and a river excursion. There are schedules available in the morning and in the afternoon. We opted for the afternoon river excursion. The river was a 5 minute trike ride AND 15 minutes hike from the park ground. To our kids, who have never commuted, the trike ride was a treat in itself.
It was an exhausting 15 minute trek
Sitting by Bunsuran Waterfalls. Current was not strong at all!
By 4pm, the tired adults had to make a final announcement – it was time to go home. Despite their protests and cries, we needed to make sure that the kids were not over tired for the next school day.
All in all, Mount Purro was a really memorable day trip for us.
Some tips before you go:
- Let the kids wear leggings – just to be safe. It’s an outdoor park where overexcited kids tend to run a lot. The leggings will protect against mosquito bites and scrapes and cuts.
- Try to go now while the weather is cool. I imagine it won’t be as fun when the weather is hot, humid and sticky.
- Bring lots of snacks for the kids. LOTS. Like a whole bag of snacks and drinks. They will be tired and happy and hungry.
- Also, bring lots of extra clothes.
- Make sure the kids are well rested the night before so you can leave early for Mount Purro.
- Bring both sneakers and slippers. Sneakers for trekking around in the camp grounds, and slippers for wading in the river. The stones that serve as the steps are covered with moss – so they can be slippery at times.
That’s it! Happy bonding!