|Our camping set-up at Harvest Hills Family Farm in Nasugbu, Batangas.|
As a child growing up in the '70s and the '80s, camping in your backyard was a normal thing to do. Imagine? Sleeping outdoors with your friends in a tent, and going around with flashlights, while ghost-hunting? It was an exciting time in our lives, to me, at least. Then there was the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts era, where we were trained to "survive" in the wilderness while appreciating nature and science. Batulao in Batangas was the most popular campsite at that time.
The outdoor enthusiasm did not stop there, for we also learned songs, bonfire dances while building camaraderie, and respect for each other. As I always say, traveling builds character, and it can also be fun.
The '90s to Y2k saw the popularity of mountain climbing clubs, emerging from university outdoor clubs to corporate and private organizations. This is a good thing because thanks to many of these mountain climbing groups, campsites all over the Philippines are being discovered. To this day, a new generation of nature lovers continue to enjoy camping by the beach, or up in the mountains. Our country is one big paradise for adventurers, all-year-round.
Fast-forward to pandemic times, arguably the safest vacation one can do is to be outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, and soaking in the sun for that much-needed Vitamin D.
Here are ten reasons why camping can be considered a new normal in local tourism, in random order.
1. It is not as expensive as paying for a hotel room
Guest fees range between P300 to P500 per person. If you have your own tents and gear, the better. Some property owners rent out tents for a minimum fee.
2. Social distancing is easy to do
You would probably be in the mountains or at the beach. These are wide, open spaces with plenty of room to enjoy.
3. Many campsites are accessible by car
If you plan to camp in the woods or a hill, expect the roads to be rough. If that's the case, a motorcycle, a 4x2, 4x4, or tall vehicle in good condition would be able to handle uncemented roads.
4. Discovering beautiful places like the mountains, waterfalls, rivers, or beach coves
You are surrounded by nature, explore as much as you can.
5. Good way to bond with family and friends
Enjoy the time together. It has been almost a year since the lockdown. Appreciate each other and have fun doing things together in a more relaxed setting.
6. Hiking and swimming activities are usually available near the campsites
Exercising and soaking in the sun are good ways to increase your immune system. Good health is your most precious possession.
7. Source of Vitamin D during early morning or late afternoon walks
Take photos of these endearing moments. Stop to smell the flowers.
8. Re-discover the beauty of your country
Camping season is all year round in the Philippines. Our country is a beautiful playground, with so much to offer.
9. Surrounding yourself in nature clears up the mind, and release stress
Pray and be grateful. Relieve yourself from things that put you down. Renew your positive energy.
10. Helping local tourism thrive
This goes without saying. We should help build our economy, even in our own little way. Buy from the locals, like Felix, who sells fresh buko to weary hikers.
2020 Suzuki Jimny 4x4
Our car for the week was the 2020 Suzuki Jimny 1.5 GLX-AT, a 4x4 nick-named the mountain goat. It truly lived up to its name, for it was nimble and powerful. An eye-candy, and also a toughie. The surroundings of Harvest Hills Family Farm were a perfect playground for the Jimny. It climbed up the hills easily and went through the streams smoothly.
The Jimny is perfect for a couple or a solo adventurer, as the back seats can be folded down to accommodate camping gear, food, and clothes, leaving only two seats in front. The Jimny is compact and solid, not as bouncy as its predecessor. Its fuel efficiency has also improved.
Camping may not be appealing to some, but consider experiencing it at least once in your life. Where to start? There are numerous Facebook groups you can check out under the name of Glamping Philippines, Car Camping Philippines, or Camping Philippines, Outdoor Enthusiasts, etc.
If you like the photos that you see, I would recommend this family-friendly campsite called Harvest Hills Family Farm in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Photos courtesy of Monch Henares, Eric de Belen, and Romel Suela.
Special thanks to our friends Bambet Manipol, Dwaky Manipol, and Deva Oliveros.
Watch video here.