Anawangin Cove Via Mt. Pundaquit

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I had been longing for this trip ever since my friend Mayo announced the itinerary for the Anawangin trek in her Multiply. I have heard about this place so much from my friends and have seen spectacular photographs in the posts of numerous bloggers.  My excitement was further heightened by the fact that my previous trek to Mt. Pinatubo was such a big surprise that I thought this was going to be another fantastic trip.

 

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To get ready for the trip, I went shopping  for some basic gear needed for trekking and some trail food. It was only my second hiking trip but that didn’t stop me from getting the chance to set food on the pine-covered beach of Anawangin, even if it meant trekking for 6 hours. I wanted to avoid the weekend traffic so as soon as I had packed my things, I went to the jeepney terminal near Alabang  Star Mall to meet everyone at Victory Liner in Pasay. On board a jeepney en route to the bus terminal to join another group of wanderers, mostly strangers to me, I hoped to have another memorable trip and gain new friends.

 

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I arrived at Victory Liner terminal in Pasay an hour earlier than our meet-up time. Good thing JT, was already there so we chatted for a while and had a bit a bit of a chat with the other passengers. We were supposed to leave at 11:00 but it was almost 12:00 when the bus left for Zambales. It took us around 3 hours to reach the Municipal Hall of  San Antonio where Sir Paul picked us up with his Fortuner in 3 batches – there were 21 of us and his truck was not available that time. Sir Paul is a retired military officer who owns part of the island in Talisayin cove, several boats and a truck so it had been convenient for us to have everything arranged by him.

 

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We had our packed breakfast on the beach of Barangay Pundaquit. After preparing our daypack bags, we unloaded the rest of our stuff into the pump boat. Some of us would go straight to Anawangin on a boat to bring our tents, water and food supplies. It was convenient and had considerably made the trek easier.  Before dawn, we were already on our way to a six hour trek over the mountain of Pundaquit.

 

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It was still dark when we started the trek. It was very still and despite the obscurity of the surroundings at that time, I could already see the beauty in the silhouette of the landscapes around us. I followed the glimmer of light from my friends’ headlights as we threaded through the sandy path of Mt. Pundaquit. Except for the smell of dust at the start of the trail, the chatter and excitement had mellowed down as we went deeper into the mountains.

 

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My excitement was further heightened when I got a clearer glimpse of the scenery. I saw a dry river bed beyond the thick bushes,the trees and surrounding vegetation, and the contour of the mountain finally unfolded before us.

We had our first stop near a small water fall where we spent a bit of time resting and snapping pictures. We waited for quite awhile till the sun was up. It’s a good thing Neo lent me his tripod or I  wouldn’t have been able to get any clear shots of the place, since all my pics were blurry due to the low light (I’m still a newbie in photography).

 

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We passed through trails surrounded by shrubs, grasses and some interesting ornamental plants as well as rolling hills and mountains. We had a few stops as the trail started to steepen. Most of us were newbies in mountaineering so we were walking in a slow phase. Along the trail, I saw this huge purplish dung, which according to our guide was from a wild tamaraw. The sight of it had triggered gory stories like the climber who was violently attacked by these wild animals. Fortunately for us, we didn’t see any at that time although that would have been a lot of fun since our guide knows how to deal with these animals anyway.

 

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After some more huffing and puffing, we finally reached the peak where the 2-3 hours of descent to the beach would start.  I was still catching my breath from the steepest part of our climb so far, but I didn’t pass up on the opportunity to climb some more to a higher elevation to get a better view of the cove. As much as I wanted to capture the spectacular view, the limitation of my lens got in the way, so after the endless picture taking we descended into a steep and rocky slope.

 

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We passed by a long stretch of dry river beds and occasional patches of dried shrubs and bushes. The foliage gradually became greener as we approached the beach cove. We could already hear the melodious sound of the pine trees swaying in the wind, an indication that we are indeed very near the end of our trek.

 

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I briskly picked up my pace and rushed along the path surrounded by pine trees. The beach was everything that I expected it to be.  A mixture of volcanic ash and white sand, pine trees just behind the banks of the cove and the mountains of rock blended perfectly.

 

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I quickly removed my shoes and tried to massage my feet with the sand. After a few minutes of rest, we started to pitch our tents and got ready for lunch. We arrived on the beach around 11am, just as we had expected for our six-hour trek of Mt. Pundaquit. The trail on the mountain was fairly steep. The hardest part for me though was during our descent to the slightly steep but rocky slope. There were no shrubs or trees to hang on to while walking down the trail which gave me two options, to run downhill or to slow down.

 

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After pitching our tents, we hurriedly devoured our unusually delicious packed-lunch and finally got to rest and enjoy the beach. It was very tempting to just lie down in the hammock and enjoy this serene splendor, but Jherwin invited us to join him and Sir Paul to visit another cove nearby where his beach hut was located.  So off we went to a short visit to Talisayin Cove which was as spectacular as Anawangin Cove as well.

 

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The night ended with socialization with the whole group which some of us missed including me. But when I woke up past midnight, I still found some of them lying on the sand with post-valentine hang over. After joining them for quite a while we all went back to our own tent anticipating our adventure for the next day – a visit to Capones Island.

Total Expenses : 1100
Breakdown of Expenses

300 – food (includes packed-breakfast and lunch, snacks, dinner and breakfast the next day

1100 – bus fare from Manila to San Antonio, guide fee, boat rentals, Anawangin fee, guide fee,transport from San Antonio proper to Pundaquit and Pundaquit to Olongapo bus terminal, water and improvised freezer, plus id and key chain

How to get there:

a. Take the bus of Victory liner from Caloocan or Pasay City bus terminal which is around 270 pesos. Then get off at San Antonio proper and take a chartered tricycle to Pundaquit which around 150 pesos for 3 pax. There are many boats for rent in the jump-off site in Pundaquit ranging from 1000-1400 depending on your itinerary. You may opt to trek the mountain of Pundaquit or ride a boat to reach the cove.

b. Our package – you may call Jherwin at 09065032211 to arrange any package you want whether you will trek or take the boat to Anawangin

What to bring:

Overnight campers

tent and other camping gears
cooking gears
hammock
change of clothes
insect repellant
water and food supplies
snorkling gears
camera
trail food and water (for trekkers)

Note: you may buy your food and water supplies in Pundaquit and ask your rented boat to bring them to Anawangin directly especially if you are going to trek. You may ask one of your travelmates to join the boatman and look after your things.

Bits and Info

Anawangin Cove

It is a crescent shaped cove with a pristine white sand beach. What makes the place unique is the unusual riddle of tall pine trees flourishing round its vicinity. There are no roads leading to Anawangin. It is only accessible by a 30 minute boat ride from Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales or by a six-hour trek through hot, open trails thru the Pundaquit range. The cove’s relative isolation has kept it free from development – as of this writing, there are no resorts on this sparkling piece of natural beauty, save for a few huts and deep wells. Just behind the beach is the pine forest and a marsh, where one can find natural springs feeding to the sea. The area is home to a number of bird species. (wikipedia)
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