Eat, Pray and Eat More at Camp Explore

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Have you ever felt jealous of Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) after watching the “Eat, Pray, Love” movie? Who wouldn’t want a year off, exploring exotic destinations like India, Bali, and Italy? I’ve spent a week in Ubud a couple of years ago but instead of self-discovery, I explored artsy shops, yoga stores and spas (C’mon guys, we all have weaknesses! Haha).

Little did I know that somewhere east of Manila, there’s a hidden sanctuary where I could actually have a weekend of calm – the Mount Purro Nature Reserve (MPNR) or simply known as Camp Explore (I actually prefer to call it the latter, MPNR is kind of too formal). Here, you can stretch your Php 1,000.00 for a 24-hour solitude.

Camp Explore's wooden gate cannot be missed with this very visible signage
Camp Explore’s wooden gate cannot be missed with this very visible signage

HOW TO GO THERE

Whether alone or with friends and family, a commute isn’t that bad because along the road leading to the camp, it’s one heck of a breezy ride. Mount Purro Nature Reserve is situated at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.  On the other hand, if you’re driving your own vehicle, it would be easier to pull over for a snapshot of the mountains and rice paddies along the way – a rural scene you rarely see but always crave.  (Click here for COMMUTER’S GUIDE)

Jeep (Cubao to Cogeo), 60 minutes – Php 24.00

Jeep (Cogeo to Veterans), 30 minutes – Php 22.00

Tricycle (Veterans to Brgy. Kalawis Welcome Point), 15 minutes – Php 75.00

Tricycle (Welcome Point to Camp Explore), 15 minutes – Php 60.00

*NOTE: A single tricycle ride from the highway up to the campsite isn’t allowed by the local tricycle associations. But from the camp back to the highway, you can take a single ride. If you’re scrimping on expenses, wait for another passenger to share the ride with.

Wooden pathways make one's stay at the campsite more enjoyable
Wooden pathways make one’s stay at the campsite more enjoyable

WHERE TO STAY

Every cottage has enough space for the whole family, a bunch of friends or a group of office workers out for some team building activities. A cottage that can accommodate at least 8 persons has two private toilets/baths (watch my video, & peek into the spacious interior of MPNR cottages).

If you’re not too privacy conscious and you’re on a budget, your Php 350.00 can go a long way – a cozy bed, a shared bath, and toilet in Camp Explore’s Pavilion Dorm.

The Pavilion Dorm has 40 beds and a shared toilet and bath.
The Pavilion Dorm has 40 beds and a shared toilet and bath.

All topped by thatched roofs, the cottages and cabins are well placed in the 34-hectare forest farm eco-retreat.  Surrounded by lush green trees, you will be lulled to a peaceful sleep by crickets chirping at night. Add a lazy and relaxing acoustic guitar sound to the scene, the mood becomes perfect.

The bamboo cabins are perfect for "barkada" weekend getaways.
The bamboo cabins are perfect for “barkada” weekend getaways.

In the morning, you’ll wake up to the sound of water flowing from a nearby mountain stream. (Confession: The rain poured on my first night, I didn’t want to get out of bed ever!)

WHAT TO EAT

One of the struggles of being a solo traveler is you have to finish everything on your plate especially if it’s sinfully appetizing. At Camp Explore, you can choose between buffet-style and plated meals, all home-cooked.

Camp Explore's vegetable salad
Camp Explore’s vegetable salad
The campsite also offers pasta dishes
The campsite also offers pasta dishes

The mess hall is very laid-back, you’ll forget you’re tens of kilometers from home. Dinnerware sets are charmingly placed on open wooden shelves. From ceiling lamps to wall frames, everything spells H-O-M-E.

The mess hall can accommodate 150 guests.
The main part of the mess hall which can accommodate 150 guests.

WHAT TO DO

Bringing a book should be on top of your list, as there’s no shortage of secret and not-so-secret spots where you can drown yourself into the pages of a good book. Seven “Martha Stewart Gazebos” with draped curtains and soft pillows are spread out. I actually planned on tracking them all but I only made it to the 5th.

One of the 7 Martha Stewart gazebos scattered around the camp.
One of the 7 Martha Stewart gazebos scattered around the camp.

And where there’s a lungful of green grass, you can lay down a yoga mat and discreetly get into a meditative state.

There’s a garden tent area, a designated spot for a bonfire, a hiking trail, a mini-zipline for kids, and an outdoor infinity pool with an amazing view of Mount Purro.

This is the bonfire area.
This is the bonfire area.
The outdoor infinity pool has a view of Mt. Purro
The outdoor infinity pool has a view of Mt. Purro

I particularly liked the idea of being surrounded by a huge diversity of trees and plants because I can run through my amateurish photography skills.

There's a whole lot of wild and rare plants around the campsite
There’s a whole lot of wild and rare plants around the campsite
The campsite has a diversity of great spots for photo walks
The campsite has a diversity of great spots for photo walks

No, I didn’t meet any Brazilian businessman at Camp Explore like Liz did in the movie. But at least, even for a little over 24 hours, I got bits and pieces of the self-discovery that she had on a yearlong journey.

I've also noticed oriental statues around the campsite like this Buddha
I’ve also noticed oriental statues around the campsite like this Buddha

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7 Replies to “Eat, Pray and Eat More at Camp Explore”

    1. Hi Mal!

      Thanks for reading this post. All the rooms in MNPR have no AC. Not necessary actually, since malamig doon bilang malapit na sya sa bundok. Hehe you can check out their website para makita mo yung types of rooms nila. Enjoy!

  1. Good day! I was wondering if it’s okay to stay for an hour (3 to 5 hours)? Me and my boyfriend planning to take our 2nd anniv. to some relaxing place and i want to know about the entrance fee, cottage and all the fees. Thank and God bless!

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