Atimonan, Quezon: Mt Pinagbanderahan and Bantakay Falls

A mountain inside a national forest park - That is how I describe Mt Pinagbanderahan. Located in Atimonan Quezon, this mountain is inside a forest park that was built during the American period. Mt Pinagbanderahan is a historic site so people who wanted to visit the place should avoid destroying stuff and maintain the cleanliness of the area. This is a good climb for first timer since it is considered to be a minor trail in terms of its difficulty. It will take 2-3 hours of trek from the jump off point up to the peak; and back again to the jump off point.

How to get there?
From Cubao, ride a bus going to Lucena Bound. Don't forget to instruct the bus conductor to drop you off at Lucena Grand Terminal. The bus fare is  215 pesos and 3-4 hours will be rendered for the ride. From Lucena Grand Terminal, ride again a bus going to Atimonan Lopez. This time tell your bus conductor to take you at the drop off point going to zigzag road. Additional 1 hour for this trip and 30 pesos as for the fare. As you reach the drop off point, you need to walk until you reach the Atimonan Tourist Information Center. That is the jump off point of Mt Pinagbanderahan as well as the registration area. The reason why you need to walk up to the tourist information center is because there are no public vehicles you can ride at the zigzag road. Tip: If you're in going in large group, I suggest you rent a jeepney to take you from Lucena Grand Terminal going to Atimonan Tourist Information Center to avoid the walk and reach the jump off point the shortest time possible. Actually, this is what we did.

Paul bargaining this trip
Mt Pinagbanderahan has this rain forest environment which makes the trail covered in shade and lessen the heat coming from the sun which is actually great for a hiker like me who hates being burned by Mr Sun. Another characteristic of Mt Pinagbanderahan is, its trail is cemented. Yup, if I'm going to put it in figures, almost 90% of the trail is cemented. It is like you're already in the peak of the mountain and instead of stepping on the grass or ground/soil, you are still stepping on a cemented trail.

cemented trail of Mt Pinagbanderahan
There are also caves you can explore along the way. As we went inside the cave, my excitement to explore the cave slowly changes until I felt disgusted. Disgusted to the people you wrote names and non-sense things on the cave's wall. These kind of people don't know how to respect and appreciate the value of nature. Argh!

Sir Paul exploring the cave
Inside the cave, don't know what they're looking at
Moving on, reaching the peak of Mt. Pinagbanderahan you will see a panoramic view comprises of Mt. Banahaw, the islands of Marinduque and Mindoro, as well as the major towns and cities of Quezon, like Lucena, Pagbilao, and Tayabas. We had a photo op before we went down back to the Information Center.

Alvin as he goes up to the view deck of Mt Pinagbanderahan
view at the summit
We still have a lots of time so we decided to have a side trip tour at Bantakay Falls.

Crossing a river - way to reach Bantakay Falls
How to get there?
From the Information Center, take the road leading to the Atimonan side (Since the old zigzag road is under 2 municipality, Pagbilao and Atimonan). You can ask for a hitch or trek all the way down to the diversion road (Atimonan). When you reach the diversion road, take buses going to Lucena which cost 8 pesos. Tell the driver to drop you off at Brgy. Catalina or simply tell them you're are going to the falls. A banner with a statement "Upland Reservation" denotes that you are already in the jump off point of Bantakay Falls. Going to Bantakay Falls will only take 15-20 mins. Again, if you have followed my tip above you can just simply negotiate to your driver for this side trip.

Before you proceed your trek at Bantakay falls, you need to register first at Mr Bebot Alzula's house. You can also get your guide there. Trekkers are encouraged to get a guide because the trail going to the falls are misleading. Guide fee ranges from 150 - 200 pesos.

Edward, cleaning his slippers
We had the trek to the falls during the night which makes it difficult. Aside from without having a clear vision of the trail, the way going to the falls is wet which makes the soil change into mud. Having a guide is a wise choice because aside from assisting you they are also familiar with the place.

As soon as we reach the falls, we started setting up our tents, cleaning ourselves and preparing our dinner. After some socials we decided to rest and charged up for day 2 of our Atimonan trip.

I celebrated my 21st birthday at Bantakay Falls
We don't have a clear vision of what the falls looks like when we got there since it was late in the night. So when we woke up the next morning, we were amazed how beautiful the falls is. We started to swim, taking photographs for souvenirs and exploring the area.

I had a blast playing with my camera's shutter speed
The environment of the falls is very refreshing. I couldn't stop pushing my camera's shutter button.

Mother Falls of Bantakay
We had our breakfast and lunch there before we went back again at the jump off point.

At the jump off point, you can clean up at Mr Bebot's house. Then you can wait for buses in the highway (with a banner stated "Upland Reservation") going back again in Lucena. Bus fare is 24 pesos.

Note: There is no registration fees for trekking Mt Pinagbanderahan and Bantakay Falls.

Breakdown of Budget:
Bus fare (MNL to Lucena, roundtrip) - 430 pesos
Bus fare (Lucena - Zigzag road) - 30 pesos
Bus fare (Atimonan Information Center - Brgy Catalina) - 8 pesos
Guide fee - 300 pesos (group contribution)
Bus fare (Brgy Catalina - Lucena) - 24 pesos
Food - ***


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