Does Camp Explore ring a bell? You probably heard of the name but can’t put a finger on it.
Well, have you ever felt jealous of Julia Roberts a.k.a. Liz Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love”? Who wouldn’t want a year of exploring India, Bali, and Italy? I was in Ubud years ago but instead of self-discovery, I ended up depressed and broke from visits to artsy shops, yoga stores, and spas.
Little did I know that somewhere east of Manila, there’s a hidden sanctuary where I could actually have a weekend of calm – the Mount Purro Nature Reserve (Camp Explore). Here, you can stretch your 1,000 pesos for 24-hour solitude.
How To Go There
A commute isn’t that bad as it’s a breezy ride leading to the camp. Mount Purro Nature Reserve is situated at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. If you’re driving, it would be easier to pull over for a snapshot of the mountains and rice paddies along the way.
*Rates are not updated
Jeep (Cubao to Cogeo), 60 minutes – Php 24.00
Jeep (Cogeo to Veterans), 30 minutes – Php 22.00
Tricycle (Veterans to Brgy. Kalawis Welcome Point), 15 minutes – Php 75.00
Tricycle (Welcome Point to Camp Explore), 15 minutes – Php 60.00
*Note: A single tricycle ride from the highway up to the campsite isn’t allowed by the local tricycle associations, but from the camp back to the highway, you can take a single ride. If you’re scrimping on expenses, wait for another passenger to share the ride with.
Where To Stay
Every cottage has enough room for the family, group of friends, or team-building workers. A cottage that can accommodate at least 8 persons has two private toilets/baths.
If you’re not too privacy conscious and you’re on a budget, your Php 350.00 can go a long way. A cozy bed, a shared bath, and a toilet in Camp Explore’s Pavilion Dorm await you.
The Pavilion Dorm has 40 beds and a shared toilet and bath.
All topped by thatched roofs, the cottages and cabins are well placed in the 34-hectare forest farm eco-retreat. Surrounded by lush green trees, you will be lulled to a peaceful sleep by crickets chirping at night. Add a lazy and relaxing acoustic guitar sound to the scene, the mood becomes perfect.
The bamboo cabins are perfect for barkada weekend getaways.
In the morning, you’ll wake up to the sound of water flowing from a nearby mountain stream.
What To Eat
At Camp Explore, you can choose between buffet-style and plated meals. Home-cooked dishes await guests.
The mess hall is so cozy that you’ll forget you’re tens of kilometers from home. There are charming dinnerware sets on every open shelf. From ceiling lamps to wall frames, everything spells H-O-M-E. The main part of the mess hall can accommodate 150 guests.
What To Do
Bring a good book. There’s no shortage of secret and not-so-secret spots perfect for reading at Camp Explore.
All seven Martha Stewart Gazebos have plenty of soft pillows. I planned on tracking them all but I only made it to the 5th. One of the 7 Martha Stewart gazebos scattered around the camp.
Take your yoga mat with you if you must. There are plenty of grassy spaces around the camp for much-needed meditation.
The garden tent area is perfect for a bonfire, a hiking trail, a mini-zipline for kids, and an outdoor infinity pool with an amazing view of Mount Purro.
The outdoor infinity pool has a view of Mt. Purro.
A huge diversity of trees and plants surrounded me. Here, anyone can run through her amateurish photography skills.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t as lucky as Liz who met a Spanish machote (Javier Bardem) in the movie. At least, I got a taste of the self-discovery that she had on a year-long journey.