Mount Makiling Botanical Gardens is a 300-hectare dipterocarp forest located on the slopes of the 1,109 meter Mount Makiling, a dormant volcano, dotted by small waterfalls, and rocky streams where can be found hundreds of animal and plant life. It has several hiking trails, an arboretum, a plant nursery, and a swimming pool with water fed by the natural springs of the mountain, and a picnic area.
To enter this place is like being in a sanctuary, quiet, serene with just the gurgling of the waters and the sound of birds around you, yet this place is only a few minutes ride or a little hike down from the now-noisy and bustling town of Los Baños. The tallest and oldest trees I've ever seen in this country were here (perhaps no longer, as this area, and this forest especially was severely damaged during the 2005 supertyphoon, and plenty of aged trees fell). On the upper left side of the park at the end of the trail is a captive breeding site for eagles, including the majestic Philippine Eagle.
This place is great for nature lovers, and first-time visitors to the country who would like to see a tropical rainforest, but don't have an opportunity to make a climb to the top of Mt. Makiling or bigger mountains still with some forests.
Entrance fee is very minimal. To reach, enter the UP Los Baños campus, and go up to Forestry area. If taking public transport (jeepney), indicate that you want to go to Forestry as not all jeepneys go up. It's only a few minutes' ride.
My husband and I were trying to locate a countryside river quarry for a his photo shoot, but after a seemingly never-ending drive on a stony dirt road, we gave up:-( The roads were becoming narrower and slippery wet and the locals said we are about 3-4 kms. away yet, so we called it quits lest the rough road takes its toll on our Fortuner (not a 4-wheel drive).
We thought we were still in Pagsanjan area, but we learned from locals that we were already in Magdalena. Perhaps our faces showed disappointment, so a woman asked us why we wanted to go to the quarry and what was it really that we were looking for. My husband smiled because he didn't know how to explain why a landscape photographer wanted to see the quarry.
Since both my husband and I were quite familiar with Laguna's topography, we asked where was the nearest river. Luckily, it was only a short walk from where we parked our car. We surveyed the area, and when we saw how beautiful the place was, my husband went back to the car to get his tripod and photography gear.
The place was so beautiful; the wind and river were very refreshing despite the blaring sun; the lush greens on the riverside and the blue sky were so soothing to the eyes. We learned that local movies (bahay Kubo starring Maricel Soriano) and TV (GMA 7's Adik Sa Iyo) have shot some scenes on the site.
Our short encounter with the friendly locals was so meaningful. They even let me rest in a riverside nipa hut while I waited for my husband to finish his shooting.
Not a few people have been inspired by the beauty that is Mount Makiling.
From poets to lyricists to storytellers, a lot has been in awe by this dormant volcano.
Most trekkers climbing Makiling would start and end at Los Banos, Laguna.
One interesting twist to this adventure is to start fom Bgy. San Miguel, Sto. Tomas, Batangas and descend at UP Los Banos in Laguna. How long the trek would take will depend on how strong the climber is. Most climbers though, in preparation for a major climb would "use" Mount Makiling as their "tune-up" climb wherein the entire trek will be for just one day. That's covering two big provinces in Luzon. Can you say "difficult"?
Makiling has three noted peaks each one measuring over 1100 meters above sea level. Also, there are hot springs and of course the infamous mossy forest where the dreaded "limatik" (leech) dwells.