Rizal is an adventurer’s playground often frequented by mountain bikers and motorcycle riders. The Sierra Madre mountain range east of Manila offers numerous off-road trails where you can ride through forests, beside river trails, or visit scenic spots with overlooking views. I’ve written a lot about places to visit in Rizal since it’s my favorite weekend destination near the metro. It’s hard to believe that some of these places exist so near Manila.
For weekend warriors who don’t know how to bike or ride but still want to experience the thrill of off-road trails, one option is to ride an ATV or all-terrain vehicle. ATVs or quad bikes are operated like motorcycles, but since they have four wheels, they are more stable going over rough terrain at slower speeds.
ATV Adventures Rizal is a new tour operator offering ATV tours in this area. They’ve just been in operation for about 3 months, and currently offer two types of tours where guests can drive 150cc ATVs/Quad Bikes through forest and river trails. Even if you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle or have no experience driving a motorized vehicle, you can easily learn how to operate an ATV.
Tour 1: FOREST TRAIL ADVENTURE
The forest trail adventure lasts about 2 hours and is ideal for beginners. You will pass through pine trees and forested areas, along muddy off-road trails. This is high-up, in the hills, with fresh air. You will be taken to a look out, from where you can see the whole of Metro-Manila.
Tour 2: MARIKINA RIVER TOUR ADVENTURE
For those up for a challenge, the Marikina River Tour adventure is a good choice. Navigating the route that passes through remote trails and local communities, will take about 3 to 4 hours. It’s a 14 km long trail leading down to a portion of the Marikina River, where you can swim or take a dip (during the dry season). There is a stop off point with some great mountain views. This tour is more challenging than the forest trail since it involves a lot of technical downhill and uphill sections.
Though we bike in this area often, it was interesting to trade two wheels for four. Since we only had half a day, we opted to try the Marikina River Trail. We joined Ramon and Carol, a Pinoy couple based in Singapore who were on vacation for a few days. They told us that they found out about the ATV tour from the movie “The Unmarried Wife” starring Angelica Panganiban and Dingdong Dantes. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but you can watch the trailer here. The ATVs make an appearance at the 1:05 mark. TRIVIA: This area was also one of the biking destinations featured in the film Lakbay2Love starring Dennis Trillo & Solenn Heussaff.
After a mandatory orientation and overview of the rules, we had to gear up with safety equipment, including a helmet, kneepads and elbowpads. There was also a short test drive in a parking area to get used to the controls. I’ve ridden ATVs before but the controls on these ones are slightly different. Instead of twisting the throttle, you control the accelerator by pressing a lever near the right handle with your thumb.
Fair warning, the units are relatively new, so controls are still stiff and can be quite tiring to drive at first if you’re not used to it. Expect to have a lot of rest stops, which are also good for photo ops because it’s very hard to drive and take photos at the same time.
Aside from the challenge of driving through the technical terrain, the highlights of the Marikina River Trail include photo op stops at Ten Commandments in Camp Sinai, passing through rural communities and the scenery. My favorite part was the picnic lunch stop by the river. There’s a hanging bridge nearby and the area is just refreshing. I regret not bringing a hammock because it’s a very nice spot for a nap. Chris and Ed of ATV Adventures, who followed by 4 x 4 vehicle, brought food, drinks, a picnic mat and even a collapsible camping bench 🙂
From the riverside, you can hike to Wawa Dam, waterfalls and other swimming areas upstream. Overall, it was a nice break from the usual city madness. It’s a different kind of activity that can be done for team-building, family trips, adventurous dates, barkada bonding or if you want to try something new and tick ATV riding off your bucketlist. Here are some details for those who want to try it out for themselves.
The shop of ATV Adventures Rizal is located along Sapinit Road in Antipolo, Rizal, just 50 metres from Bikers’ Camp, Antipolo.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Drive along the Marcos Highway and keep going until you reach Antipolo Hospital (newly built), then turn left by a sign for Marikina River Basin. Follow the signs for Philip’s Sanctuary and ATV Adventures Rizal. They are located about 50 metres from Bikers’ Camp, Antipolo. The place is a bit difficult to reach via public transportation. It’s best for those with cars and private vehicles.
WHAT TO WEAR:
- All guests should wear closed toe shoes. No slippers/thongs/flip flops allowed.
- Guests are advised to wear long pants. The engine can get hot.
- Bring a change of clothes and swimming gear if you want to take a dip in the river.
- ATV Adentures will provide the helmet, arm and knee guards and gloves.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Camera (GoPro or action camera is easier to use rather than an SLR)
- Sun block and insect repellent
- Small back-pack
- Drinking water
WHERE TO EAT:
The ATV center is located between two local eateries, which serve local Filipino food/meals, juice, soda, water etc. Packed meals are provided if you’re touring the whole day. The tour operator can also arrange picnic lunches or camping-style meals (ihaw-ihaw) by the river if you request beforehand. You might want to pack snacks, energy bars and chips for the ride and rest stops. Some locals also sell fresh buko juice along the route.
- Forest trail: P2,500 per person
- River trail: P3,500 per person
All tours are inclusive of ATV rental & gas, tour guide(s) and rental of safety equipment and gear.
TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- ATV Adventures Rizal offers two timeslots per day: morning (8am) and afternoon (1pm). They are open DAILY.
- Rservations/pre-booking is required. They allow walk-ins if there are no groups using the ATVs that day.
- The tour operator keeps the tours small for safety reasons and due to the availability of ATV units.
- Guides are mandatory. You can’t rent the ATVs and drive around on your own.
- Minimum tour group size: 2 pax.
- Maximum/number is between 3 to 5 people.
- If you are just 1 person, they can add you to another group tour.
- Only one person is allowed per ATV for safety reasons. No backriding allowed as this can cause the ATV to topple.
- Age requirement: They will consider riders between 16 to 18, if part of a family group, with parental consent. Guests below 16 years old are not allowed.
- The vibration of the handlebars on the ATV can be quite jarring for those not used to it. Unlike ATVs where you twist the throttle, you’ll be pushing the accelerator with your thumb, which can get a little tiring if you’re going to do a whole day tour. For an ideal experience, just opt for 1 tour for the day.
- It’s easier to take photos with a Smartphone or chest mounted GoPro/action camera because you will need to use both hands while driving and it’s a bit hard to bring out an SLR in the middle of the trails.
- The Marikina River Trail is a bit technical and can be very muddy if it rained the previous day. Prepare to get muddy 🙂
Thanks again to ATV Adventures Rizal for the invitation to try out this activity! For inquiries and reservations, please contact them directly 🙂
ADDRESS & CONTACT INFO:
ATV Adventures Rizal. Sapinit Road, Antipolo, Rizal