Nature tripping in Tanay

By Camille Anne M. Arcilla

THERE is a place close to Metro Manila where one can enjoy nature at its finest.

The Haranah Eco Park, a privately owned 16.2-hectare property in Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal, is just two hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It officially opens its doors to the public this month.

Haranah Tours Corp. President Jaime Tan said the eco park was purposely built as a haven for his family, but when clients from his travel agency learned about it, they asked if they could visit. He then thought that it was a good idea to rent it out to big groups instead. The eco park had its soft opening in 2014 and initially accepted groups of not less than 200 people for team buildings and seminars.

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Though it has been operating for about two years now, it took a while before they finally opened it fully to the public. Now, Haranah Eco Park accepts even a reservation for just one person.

“I wanted to promote Haranah as a venue for activities, family bonding, retreat, relaxation, and Tanay as a peaceful and secure place to visit,” he told BusinessWorld during a media familiarization tour organized by the Tourism Promotions Board on March 17 and 18.

Haranah Eco Park is a convenient place to stay at over a weekend since it is very near Manila.

“If you are going to compare the eco parks in Manila and Haranah, there is a huge difference. It’s mostly [about] nature here and you can even go for a trek without seeing a lot of buildings inside the vicinity,” he said.

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There are four stations to visit in Haranah — the Garden, the Grove, the Meadows, and the Forest — a walk that takes one a total of 5,500 steps on a cement paved path lined with the foliage of Philippine endemic plants, and natural ponds. (One may also catch a glimpse of animals roaming around.)

After a good hike, guests can rest at the view deck or dine at the solar-powered multi-purpose hall. Meals at Haranah Eco Park do not feature the usual Tanay fare. An in-house chef prepares specialties using fresh herbs and spices straight from the resort’s garden, and the entrée are mostly seafood.

Guests have a view of both the Sierra Madre mountains and Laguna de Bay, with a breathtaking sunset as a perfect end of the day.

There are designated camping spots at the park and guests are provided with tents large enough for three to four people, and foam mattresses. There are also rest rooms and shower rooms in every station.

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Before turning in, a suggested night cap for guests would be roasting s’mores over the bonfire while stargazing.

There is poor cellular reception in the area, but that is okay as there are various ways to busy one’s self throughout the day. Recommended activities include tree and herb planting, rock balancing, bird watching, and team building (supervised by accredited facilitators).

“If you really want to disconnect and take your mind off, this is the place you have to be,” said Mr. Tan.

Day tours are held every Saturday. Priced at P1,000 per person, this includes a set lunch with fresh coconut juice. Team building and group package rates are given upon inquiry. Guests, especially those with food restrictions, are encouraged to book their reservations at least a day before so the necessary changes in the menu can be made.

“They will surely love this place — it is very clean and nature-oriented because we care about sustainability. City people will definitely love it because it’s very accessible,” Mr. Tan said.

Haranah Eco Park is located at Sitio Mayagay 2, Barangay Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal. It is near the old PAGASA Radar Station, about 300 meters away from Marcos Highway and around two kilometers from Sierra Madre Hotel. For inquiries and reservations, call (02) 376-6645, (02) 411-6567, or e-mail postmaster@haranahecopark.com.ph. For updates, visit www.haranahecopark.com.ph or www.facebook.com/HaranahEcoPark.

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