|A bamboo air house is situated in the middle of a long bridge at Masungi Georeserve in the Philippines. Courtesy of Philippine Department of Tourism Korea|
By Jun Ji-hye
Tourists have been turning their attention to visiting lesser-known spots around the world amid the protracted COVID-19 pandemic and also due to a growing interest in environmental conservation efforts.
Built in a rainforest in the Philippines, Masungi Georeserve is one such place that offers visitors an opportunity to experience pristine nature, according to the Philippine Department of Tourism Korea (PDOT Korea).
Masungi Georeserve is located in the Sierra Madre Mountains in the southern part of Rizal in the Philippines. It is 47 kilometers from Manila and not far from the city center ― only a 90-minute drive away.
The Southeast Asian country has restored the site, which had been destroyed by excessive logging and quarry operations 20 years ago, to protect rare flora and fauna.
The ecological reserve was featured recently in National Geographic magazine's July issue.
|The endangered Philippine hawk-eagle lives in Masungi Georeserve. Courtesy of Philippine Department of Tourism Korea|
This natural setting is home to numerous wildlife, including rare animals such as hornbills and long-tailed monkeys as well as native species such as the Philippine hawk-eagle, many of which are endangered due to habitat loss. People can also see various kinds of flowers and plants that are indigenous to the region.
Hundreds of species of flora and fauna can also be found along the winding trails that stretch through the reserve's exposed limestone karst terrain. Karst topography is formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.
In the Philippines, karst topography covers about 10 percent of the total land area and includes popular tourist spots such as the Chocolate Hills of Bohol and the Subterranean River of the Puerto Princesses of Palawan.
Masungi Georeserve is home to five interconnected karst formations estimated to be around 60 million years old.
|Tourists take a rest on the Discovery Trail at Masungi Georeserve. Courtesy of Philippine Department of Tourism Korea|
It is also famous as a geological tourist attraction where people can enjoy dynamic trekking.
The trekking courses have been developed over the last six years, with two of them being operated under the name of Discovery Trail and Legacy Trail while protecting nature.
Discovery Trail is operated by a professional mountain guide and gives hikers an intimate look at the limestone karst terrain, while Legacy Trail is for those who are more interested in reforestation. The course takes visitors around the terrain and includes participation in tree-planting.
"The Philippines has abundant natural beauty from the sea to the top of the mountain," said Maria Apo, the tourism director of PDOT Korea. "Especially, Masungi Georeserve Ecological Reserve, where people can encounter a variety of flora and fauna, is still not well-known, but it is a very meaningful travel destination in that it can deeply inspire conscious travelers who are interested in responsible tourism and sustainability."