Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bicol Roadtrip

December 27-30, 2012

It is early morning of December 27. I almost had no sleep yet for at least two nights due to the Christmas celebration, the outreach program and the Talamitam climb last 26th. And the excitement which entails the upcoming Bicol roadtrip adds to it. Then dawn of the 27th came. 3:00 A.M., wake up time. By 4:00 AM, It is time to hop on to the accelerator and start the 516-km x 2 of road ahead of us to discover for the first time what Bicol can offer us.

Day 1

By 6:45AM, we have reached Tiaong, Quezon and from there we can see the familiar Malarayat mountain range which we climbed almost 4 weeks ago where we have trekked and created the Manabu-Malipunyo trail. An hour later, I was too tired from driving probably due to not sleeping for 2 nights so I took a nap at a gasoline station along Lucena City.

Reached Quezon after an almost 2 hour drive from Cavite

Malarayat Mountain Range which includes Malipunyo, Manabu and Susung Dalaga

We proceeded back on our trip at around 9:30 AM and reached the Zigzag Road along Atimonan, Quezon at 10:18 AM.

The Zigzag Road is actually a road that pierces through the Sierra Madre Mountain Range that separates Western Quezon province to Eastern Quezon. This mountain range extends from Bondoc Peninsula of Quezon Province all the way up to Cagayan Valley which serves as protection for the whole Luzon Island from incoming typhoons from the Pacific Ocean.

There are actually two ways to pierce through the Sierra Madre Range. One is via this Zigzag road that passes through the Quezon Natural Rain Forest and is very steep yet shorter (5.7km) versus the newly created road that goes around one of the mountains and is not so steep (10km). If you are up to it and your vehicle can handle it, then go ahead with the Zigzag road and enjoy the scenic view and the shorter road.

The Zigzag Road that pierces through the Quezon Natural Rainforest

By 11:12AM, we have reached Gumaca, Quezon which is well known for its vast fishing area and from here you will find Lita's Carinderia which is home to great tasting Filipino fish dish like Sinigang na Bangus (en. Sour soup Milkfish). However, I was tricked to go to another different carinderia along the area which is named as Lita's Eatery. I only discovered this later on but was happy to know that the food at Lita's eatery is tastier and cheaper (P60 vs. P100) than Lita's Carinderia as I tried the latter when I went back to Manila.

Lita's Eatery

Sinigang na Salmon (Soursoup Salmon) for P60. The best I've tasted.
Gumaca, Quezon Marker
At 11:57AM, we continued our trip after that satisfying yet cheap lunch and reached the Bicol region at exactly 1:24PM

Quezon -  Camarines Norte Border
You'll be surprised though that Camarines Norte only occupies a small strip of Maharlika highway and you will soon get back to Eastern Quezon Province. The stretch of the road along Tagkawayan, Quezon at the time when this article was written has a lot of potholes and the government is currently fixing it. So be prepared when passing through this area especially at night. A sidenote as well, what I hate about this area is that from the Zigzag road at Atimonan, Quezon all the way to Tagkawayan are kids and adults of all ages blocking the roads with straw strings, begging for coins. The local government along this area must look into this issue because it does not look good for tourists seeing even kids begging for money and their safety is also at stake when they block the roads.

You can see 2 kids blocking the road with strings and is asking for coins.

As we continue along, we reached Naga City, Camarines Sur by sunset at 5:31PM and went down for a couple of hours and enjoy the city. Naga City is by far, the most urbanized city at Bicol Region.

Naga City
From this city, we indulged our tummies with genuine Bicol cuisine that can't be found anywhere in Manila. This includes the cheese-top Halo-Halo which is for me is more tasting than Pampanga's Halo-Halo or Cavite's Digman Halo-Halo. I was hoping to get the original toasted siopao as well but unfortunately it is already out of stock when we arrived there.

The original Cheese-top Halo-Halo from DJC Halo Halo in Naga City

The Naga Garden Restaurant where we are supposed to check out the toasted Siopao

Toasted siopao is not available so we opt with Pansit Bicol and Spicy Bopis instead which really tastes good.
We also visited local attractions in Naga that includes the historic San Francisco Church and the Quince Martires Plaza. These 2 sites houses the history that freed Camarines from Spanish Colonial rule.

Quince Martires Plaza

The Historic 17th Century San Francisco Church

Quince Martires Monument at Naga City Plaza
 We strolled around Naga City and rested for a while then proceeded on our trip at about 10:30PM.

It was raining hard when we passed by Legazpi City, Albay and it was already late night so we decided to head on to our trip and look for a place to stay to our supposed destination, which is Donsol, Sorsogon, the whaleshark capital of the world.

The road from Maharlika highway to Donsol is narrow and winding. There also also no light posts so it is suggested that you have extreme caution when driving along the Donsol road at night time.

Day 2

By 2:00AM the next day (28th) we were short 9 kilometers away from Donsol as the Poi-C River has overflown due to rains from Albay. Only buses can pass through the flood and so we stayed for a while and had my most awaited sleep. We woke up at 7:00 AM and the flood receded ankle-deep and we can now proceed.

We reached the Donsol Butanding (Whaleshark) Visitor center at 7:33AM and registered for a boat ride for P638/pax for a group of 6, to check out the bus-sized whale sharks along the Donsol Sea.

Donsol Butanding Visitor Center

Donsol Shore
Afterwhich, we continued and looked for a place to stay. We reached Vitton Resort which offered us a P1800/night stay but when they learned that we are backpackers, they instead forwarded us to their newly renovated resort, the Woodland Resort and is offering us a P500/pax overnight stay which is so enticing!

The backpacker promo is comprised of a big room with 3 queen-sized beds and a bathroom. It is one bed per person. However when we stayed there, there was no one else as it is a non-peak season at Donsol so we only paid P1000 total for such a big room!

Pool at Woodlands Resort. The 2nd floor of the house is the backpacker room

The Backpacker room at Woodlands Resort
After getting settled with our room, we then proceeded back to Donsol Whaleshark Visitor center which is only a few meters away from this hotel. The peak season is from March-May and we were here this December. Out of 7 boats, there were only 3 boats that was blessed to see 3 whalesharks. And of those 3 was our boat!

The bus-size Whaleshark that went under while we snorkel!
The whaleshark that passed beneath us is only about 4 meters away from our feet and you can see the magnitude of this creature from our own very eyes!

Captivating Sunset at Donsol Beach by Woodlands Resort

We stayed for a night and left by 6AM back to Daraga and Legazpi City, Albay to check out the perfect cone of Mayon Volcano.

Day 3

We reached Daraga, Albay at Cagsawa Ruins by 7:35 AM of the 29th and enjoyed taking pictures of scenes I only see in text books during my Elementary school days.

Cagsawa Church Ruins

Mayon Volcano view from Cagsawa ruins in Daraga, Albay
The Cagsawa ruins is a proof of the town's devastation during Mayon Volcano's eruption way back 1814 that melted and overrun the church with lava. And now, only the bell tower is standing.

After a few hours of photographs, we then headed to Legazpi City to check out one of its finest restaurant, the First Colonial Grill and have a taste of authentic Bicolano cuisine and the odd yet great tasting Sili Ice Cream (Ice Cream made from Siling labuyo!)

Authentic Bicolano Dishes at Legazpi City

Presenting: The Sili Ice Cream!
After a great lunch, we then headed to Lignon Hill and registered for an ATV adventure ride to the Lava Dome of Mayon Volcano and a 190-meter zipline atop the hill all for two pax all for P2,999.

The ATV adventure ride is along an 11-km 4x4 trail which allows you to run along streams of water, rough and rocky trails, and lava flows towards the foot of Mayon Volcano. The ride is about 2-3 hours long.

ATV ride to Mayon Volcano.

The lava flow from Mayon Volcano
We went back to Lignon Hill after the ride and had the first Zipline experience I ever had.

Day 4

By Sundown, we then headed to Oas, Albay to visit a relative and had this first picture of a clear Mayon Volcano and a sunrise. These scene is the usual sunrise sketch I do when I was young and just now, was able to see it in my own eyes for the first time.

Sunrise by Mayon Volcano at Oas, Albay
At 9:00 AM, we headed back to Manila for another long ride and had to gas up. The cheapest prices of gas in Bicol is along the gas stations from Naga City to Pamplona, Camarines Sur.


Gasoline 3000*
Lunch Gumaca 60
Donsol Hostel 500
Whaleshark Watching 315
Snorkeling Gear 300
Dinner Donsol 250
Mayon ATV and Zipline 3000*
Dinner Naga 250
Lunch Legazpi 250
Snacks Legazpi 60
Total Expenses Php7,985

*can be shared by up to 4 people.

The Bicol road trip is my special road trip for 2012 for which waypoints and new tracks were contributed to the +OpenStreetMap Philippines for future use of travelers and drivers who would like to check out the Bicol region.

For more detailed information regarding the itinerary of this Bicol Road trip, check on the links below:

Openstreetmap Philippines Map (link)
Schadow1 Expeditions Contributions (link)

How to use for your Navigation System (link)

View Bicol Road Trip in a larger map

ATV Ride Legazpi: Gency Derla - 09055536299
Mayon Adventure Land Guide Legazpi:  Geri - 09197070801
Vitton Resort Donsol: Annie - 09279136313


  1. Added Expenses for the Bicol Road Trip.

    1. Hi Sir. Totoo po ba na delikado ang mga kasabay na driver pa Bicol? Balasubas kumbaga.

  2. hi. can i ask if the road to donsol from legaspi is bumpy or whatsoever? tenchuu