Bike Adventure: Caliraya bike camping

After the Sagada Loop, I wanted a shorter tour that’ll end 2016 on a high note. During the trip, ive been curious about many biker friends camping to Caliraya, Laguna. Situated approximately 100km away from Manila, I was told that there are several resorts in the area because of the beautiful man made lake that spans several municipalities such as Lumban, Cavinti and Kalayaan Laguna. More interestingly, many have bought houses there decades ago and left them behind and since then, these have been made into vacation homes for people wanting to go camping or a quick getaway from the metro. In this entry, I detail our two day bike camp to Caliraya.

Day 1

We all met at the Petron Station, National Highway exiting Alabang and pedaled our way through Muntinlupa, San Pedro, Binan, Sta Rosa, Cabuyao and regrouped in Calamba…

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from left to right: Jiggs Veloso, Nerica Joy, Marvin and Jen Martinez, Ninfa Bito and JT Tanangonan

Though we encountered traffic in Los Banos, the bridge in Bay, Laguna was undergoing renovation resulting in MORE TRAFFIC (one jeepney driver said they have been stuck there for an hour already!) and four of us (Jiggs, JT, Ninfa and I) took a detour to Calauan and ended up in Victoria…Marvin, Jen and Nerica took a different route and ended up ahead of us several kilometers.

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Traffic in Los Banos-Bay

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Ninfa and her Surly ECR
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JT, Jiggs, Ninfa and I had lunch here…the meals are great as well as prices

We regrouped in Pagsanjan and started our climb up to Caliraya…the 8km climb isn’t steep but the first 5 kilometers is a non-stop stretch of curves. Good thing it wasn’t hot and there are small stretches of recovery…What made the climb a bit difficult is rain pouring…it started with a drizzle and eventually it poured heavily prompting some of us to take cover.

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Jiggs chillin like a boss at Pagsanjan, Laguna

Jiggs and I arrived last to Soleviento resort and we were transported to the resort via a short barge ride pulled by one of the staff…scary at first because of strong wind but the barge was very secure. Upon arrival we were greeted by the wonderful Bingo! The dog who is a popular feature would always join guests as they arrive/leave the place.

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lakeside view

Soloviento (https://soloviento.ph/) is one of those “luxury” resorts around Caliraya -that is if you prefer cooked meals, several services offered such as kite sailing, boat riding and finishing this is one option to consider. The place isn’t big but there are spots where you can pitch a tent, build a campfire and stay in their campers. Also, the place is situated in a bird sanctuary and provides a good vantage to take photos (too bad it was raining and getting dark!)

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the Soloviento Hall

 

It was 6pm already and everyone in the group settled on a table and ordered food…we shared stories about different things over coffee. We all went to bed a little past 11pm.

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Arriving at Caliraya after the climb
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waiting for the barge
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bingo making the rounds
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the menu front
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the other side
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house specialty! good for sharing
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more food

 

Day 2

It was raining all night and we all met at the resort hall around 8am, had breakfast as we watched the view as it was still raining… there were other guests in the place that were doing other stuff such as kite sailing and swimming around the lake…on the other hand we decided to chill around until the rain weakened a bit and left around 11am.

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waking up at the camper (courtesy of Jiggs Veloso)
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waiting for breakfast
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Bingo again waiting for other guests to arrive
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the view with clearer skies
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the barge ride back home

The trip going down was quite easy and good thing we only encountered strong wind and the road wasnt as slippery compared to the other day.

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view of Laguna

We had lunch at Pagsanjan and rode back home. Though we all thought the trip home was a breeze, traffic was just terrible. Perhaps in the past tours that we’ve done this holds the distinction where traffic was such a problem!

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a must try in Pagsanjan (pancit here is highly recommended!)

Overall, I felt that the trip was nice but it could have been better if it was well timed and well scouted. Soleviento and the lake could have been more enjoyable if it wasn’t raining for the past days but im glad to see new faces join this and the experience going to lake Caliraya is something worth repeating in the future.

Ride Notes:

 

  1. I remember Kuya Edan (aka Sagada Loopers) telling me that there are cheaper accommodations in Caliraya. That is, there are big houses that have caretakers that will allow you to stay but there’s no cooked food or electricity so camping outside is the go to option. For riders on a tight budget and little bit adventurous, you might want to consider these.

 

  1. After the ride, I realize, the route is a good opportunity for those starting out on touring. The close to 200km trip has a mix of flat roads and climbs (though very short) and varying weather conditions (and even a dog chase!). This may be a good trip for you to test your rig/setup and gear as well as determine group dynamics with fellow riders and of course skills and endurance as you prepare for a much longer tour. Though some may claim that the route can be done in one day, I feel that you really can’t appreciate the place if you don’t stay awhile and go around (not to mention eat good food and interact with locals).

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The climb to Caliraya (courtesy of Nerica Joy/Marvin Martinez)

 

  1. One of the staff of Soloviento suggested that prior to visiting it would be wise to give them a call to find out the weather conditions. During heavy rain, Jiggs and I took shelter in one of the houses and one of the locals claim that weather has been fair and rain was experienced for the past month!
  2. Personally, I think Soloviento is a well maintained facility. Even if some of the facilities are shared (dining area, bathroom), they are clean and free from flies or crawling insects which can spoil your eating.

 

  1. In Soloviento, the campers are a must try for those who have difficulty sleeping in tents. It has electric outlets, a fan and the beds are quite roomy (at most 4 per camper). Tents are available for rent as well and the staff can even help you out pitch them.
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one of the campers
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tent area
  1. The road going up to Caliraya is surprisingly well paved! The view of Laguna is definitely a must see if you’re climbing or  descending back to the Metro. Also, consider leaving late morning or early afternoon at most as you wouldn’t want to be stuck in the dark as most municipalities do not have lightposts on the street.
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a relaxing view of Caliraya

featured pic courtesy of Ninfa Bito

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