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CamSur’s Bike Attractions at Mt. Isarog

Biking at Mt. Isarog

There are probably lots of trails still waiting to be explored at Mt. Isarog

Everyone knows Camsur. If you’re from the Philippines and you didn’t crash your unhelmeted head more than a decade ago which sent you into a coma, then you’ve mostly likely heard of this province down southern Luzon called Camarines Sur.

Mention Camsur and images of wakeboarders sailing through the air quickly come to mind. Or if you’re a fan of “Suvivor” Camsur will evoke scenes of white sand beaches, fantastic corals and towering limestone cliffs. But this Bicol tourist mecca also has some pretty interesting sites which will put a smile on the faces of bikers.

In the foothills of Mt. Isarog lie the Panicuason Hot Springs. A bit further up, there’s the the Malabsay Falls. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have visited these sites on a bike, thanks to a blogger tour organized by Biggs Diner.

CWC Wakepark and Caramoan Islands

The Camsur Watersports Complex and the Caramoan Islands are the top attractions in the province. Photo courtesy of Travel Up

My ex-girlfriend (wife) hails from Naga, and once a year we visit her hometown during the summer or Christmas breaks. This means that I am already fairly familiar with the Camsur Watersports Complex, and Mt. Isarog. I’ve tried wakeboarding there several times before, and while I was able to complete several rounds on the cable park on kneeboards, I was never really able to stand up on a water ski or a wakeboard. This only reinforced my fearful opinion that water just isn’t my element, despite my Aquarian origins.

Philippine cockatoo

Philippine cockatoo Photo from BirdLife Internatonal

But mountains are a different story. I always feel at home in mountains, and Camsur has Mt. Isarog–one of the most interesting mountains in the Philippines. Mt. Isarog is a dormant volcano which last erupted in 1641. It is one of the most imposing mountains in the land of fire that is the Bicol peninsula.

A thick healthy rainforest has grown around Mt. Isarog since its last eruption nearly four centuries ago, and the mountain is actually a Natural Park where various species of plants and animals thrive.

I used to work in the Haribon Foundation, and this was one of our priority sites for conservation. This is one of the few areas where the critically endangered Philippine cockatoo can be found.

Biking in Mt. Isarog

I insisted on riding a mountain bike even though ATVs were available
Photo courtesy of Travel Up

Last year, tour operator NagaX (Naga Excursions) offered two ways to explore some of its attractions: by ATV or by MTB. I chose the latter of course.

The route going to the gate of Panicuason is mostly paved, with a very gentle grade that’s friendly to those who are just starting to develop their mountain legs. A Nagueno who is into longboarding told me that this route is actually perfect for their sport.

Panicuason Hot Springs

The Panicuason Hot Springs are getting a major makeover as tourism booms in Camsur
Photo courtesy of Travel Up

The route going down to Panicuason hots springs itself however, is a different matter. While it’s just around a kilometer long, it is quite steep and will require some descending and climbing ability.

Panicuason Zipline

Panicuason now also offers a zipline and tyrolean traverse

Panicuason used to be just a sleepy spot Naguenos went to for the weekend to relax in warm pools fed by hot springs. But the Camsur tourism boom has since transformed it into an adventure camp where people can rent rooms and stay overnight. There’s even a zipline now.

Biking to Panicuason

Dipping in the pools fed by hot springs is great for detoxifying yourself after partying at the CWC

Malabsay Falls
Getting to Malabsay is a bit more challenging, and will actually have you biking through trails. But it’s also not that far from Panicuason either. You will need to leave your bike at the gates of the area, as the waterfalls itself is still a ten minute hike away.

The bike and hike to Malabsay is worth it. This is not some pathetic faucet someone left leaking on the side of a cliff, but a waterfall in the very essence of the word. You could hear its rush a hundred meters away. Its waters are also clear as crystal and cold as freshly melted ice—just what you need after about an hour and half of biking from Naga City’s center.

Malabsay Falls

Malabsay Falls on Mt. Isarog

Malabsay Falls

Perfect for a dive

Mt. Isarog, Camarines Sur, PhilippinesOther trails
As usual, time constraints prevented me from exploring other trails on Mt. Isarog. Locals say there’s also a very good downhill track on Isarog. There were plans for a lift-assisted downhill track on Isarog a few years ago, but I don’t know what happened to that idea since. Bikers who want to explore more of Isarog’s trails can get in touch with the Naga Basilica Bikers Club on pinoymtbiker.org, the Calabanga-Isarog Bikers Club on Facebook.

I am not aware of any shops in Naga that rent out bikes. But it is possible to bring your own bike on the bus if you know how to stash it properly. Hopefully, PNR will also resume train service to Bicol soon, and they will allow bikes on board.

Biking at Mt. Isarog

Some will go via a 4×4 Safari jeep, but biking is still my preferred means of getting around a mountain

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  • Wow! I want to do this one! I have friends from Cam Sur and they tell me that Panicuason and Malabsay falls are great destinations for biking! 🙂

  • Sir, i am a follower of your blog. I am from bicol. There are a lot of trails available to be explored in Calabanga Camarines Sur. I hope when you get back to bicol you get to try them as well as feature them here. This group, https://facebook.com/Mt.IsarogTrailRidersInc , is currently active in shredding the trails there. They are mostly from Calabanga. Looking forward for you to try…

    • outsideslacker

      April 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      hi errol, thanks for the invitation. my ex-girlfriend (wife) is from naga so we regularly go there for a vacation every year. next time we go there, i’ll bring my bike and contact your group so you can tell me where to go 🙂

  • hi im from naga city but living in abroad. going home 3x year since i bring home road bike with me, i was interested in joining group tour, exploring the beautiful places in cam sur. my question is how can i join them?
    and where can i find them? thanks looking forward for the reply thanks…. manoy oteph