The Philippines in bancas, motorbikes and jeepneys
The bancas are the traditional wood and bamboo trimarans Philippines usually take in order to go from islands to islands, to go fishing or to the market. They can be of every sizes, of every kinds, adapted to diving, to fishing, to touring and even to luxurious cruise ! And jeepneys are jeeps for groups, which are locally crafted and sumptuously decorated. Each island, each village or town has its workshop and has found its own style in decorating them.
Text and photos by Jean-François Vibert

By travelling across the archipelago, we found that bancas and jeepneys were the best way to move quickly and to keep in touch with nature and populations, as colourful than varied...

Corone : the last frontier

Pandan Island : un petit goût de paradis sur terre...

Palawan, the last frontier of the Philippines ­ a minimum of nine days.
The journey starts with a complete feeling of strangeness in one of the wildest island of the archipelago. The jungle there remained untouched, heavenly beaches and a population which is still curious about tourists
During the day : from Manila to Puerto Princessa, a one-hour flight. Visit of the astonishing fish market. A night in Puerto. N.B : Backpackers can do this trip by bancas, jumping from islands to islands : three to five days of adventure !
From one to two days : day-trips by bancas and jeepneys ­ swimming, snorkelling, trekking, initiation to diving very cheap. Careful, the sun burns hard these days !
From two to four days : cross by jeepney towards the west coast of the island. Make a stop in Sabang ­ for instance at the Bambua Resort. Walks in the incredible St Paul S. Nat Park ­ with its underground river, its giant varanus and its primary forest. Swimming, excursions in jeepneys and walks in the jungle in search of the Batak tribes
From two to four days : crossing in banca or jeepney towards El Nido. A small exotic heaven where one can find one of the most luxurious resort of the Philippines. Since the Asiatic crisis luxury is within anybody's arm reach, just rush there ! N.B : It is possible to come back from there by plane from Manila ­ a little private airport.
From two to five days : from El Nido, go up by banca towards Coron ­ a one-day trip ­ where you will be able to dive on the wrecks of the Japanese fleet, to spend the night in one of the resorts on piles in the middle of the water, to make treks in kayak ­ one or several days ­ and even may be to watch people collect nests on the cliffs
During the day : back to Manila thanks to a small plane which lands on from the jungle. One night in manila ­ very good fish restaurants

Possible Prolongation ­ at least four more days ­
From two to three days : take a banca to go towards the north ­ a one day trip ­ to the heavenly Pandan island ; Dominique, a French man lives there a lone and welcomes travellers. For diving amateurs, one or two days on the mythical spot of Apo Reff and sea tortoises.

From one to three days : one more day in jeepneys or bancas and you arrive in Puerto Galera, capital city of diving, the place of mythical parties.

During the day : two hours in bancas and three hours bus ­ with the air-conditioning ­ and here you are, back to Manila.

From the T'Bolis to the Pacific Coast : at least four days. Thanks to an e-mail ­ there are many cyber cafés in Manila ­ your boss allows you to stay some more days ! Right towards the south in order to meet the T'Bolis ; a more ethnical travel but an all the more authentic one
During the day : from Manila to General Santos ­ a two hours flight. What a surprise ! No other occidental people in the airport : here, tourism is very little developed ; you will then have to remain on marked ways. A cab ­ cheap ­ will directly drive you to the hotel ­ two or three hours later ­ on the Sebu lake. Then, a little walk on the lake at sunset.

From two to three days : get up early in order to see pink lotus flowers. With the guide of the hotel, go for a walk or take a jeepney ­ you can even take a moped ­ to admire the seven cascades ­ more than thirty metres -, and villages in the neighbourhood. Beautiful craftsmanship and a small Museum of T'Boli culture. Nice market on Saturdays. And fascinating traditional dances in the evening. And still no other pale faces around, you can believe you are real explorers !
During the day : bus or cab ­ cheap ­ then back to Manila by plane.

Possible Prolongation ­ at least five more days :
During the day : bus or cab to Davao and a night there. If you enjoy luxurious places, spend a night at the Pearl Farm, a sumptuous resort, built on the water with traditional materials And affordable : the price of a three stars hotel in France ­ thanks to the Asiatic crisis. The boss is French.

During the day : a cab to Sirugao, and one night there.

From two to four days : get up early and start towards the Bats Island, a mysterious and desert island, covered with a deep jungle, an interior lake and underground rivers. You would be able to see hundreds of giant bats, some of them being of one-metre wide ! One night on Lajanosa, the fishermen's island. Oh, and you are on the Pacific Ocean It really is heavenly !

During the day : bancas to Sirugao, then plane to Manila.
But you can also go back to Manila by banca nearly one week via Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, and Marinque !

Trekking in the head cutters' country or motorbike journeys. Being totally enchanted by all these marvels, you take one more week to undertake a trek in the northern mountains or a few days drive by motorbike around Mindoro
It is another face of the Philippines : twice a thousand years old terraces of rice ­ registered by the UNESCO ­ tribes and walks
For the journey by motorbike, go to Manila or Puerto Galera where André, a Swiss who has been living there for more than ten years, will take care of everything

Visa : Passeport valide 6 mois après l'entrée. Visa obligatoire, durée maxi 21 jours. Billet de retour ou de continuation. Visa obtenu sur place pour tout séjour de moins de 21 jours.
Vaccins : Aucun vaccin obligatoire. Informations données à titre indicatif. Se renseigner auprès de l' Institut Pasteur au 01 40 61 38 00
Vaccins conseillés : Tétanos, poliomyélite, typhoïde, hépatite B. Traitement antipaludéen dans certaines îles.

Circuit UCPA Palawan Safari
15 jours tout compris 12900 F - Web site: - Phone: 0 803 820 830

Contact sur place : Asiaventure
Sylvain Gianni :
Room 305, De Villa Bldg. 1153 MH del Pilar St., Ermita 1000 Manila, PHILIPPINES

Tél. 00 63 2 5237007
Tél. 00 63 2 5266929
Fax: 00 63 2 5251811

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© Jean François VIBERT - Journalist and photographer - Paris -
Specialised in travels, extrems sports, leisure activities, adventure trips, outdoor sports, deserts and mountains... Trekking, ski, snowboard, mountain, bike, sailing, scuba diving, hiking, in line skating... Texts and pictures for the press and the web, illustration, digital photography, reportages...
Journaliste photographe - Spécialiste des voyages, des sports de glisse, des loisirs, de l'aventure, de l'outdoor, des déserts, des montagnes. VTT, trekking, ski, snowboard, parapente, voile, plongée sous marine, randonnées, roller in line... Textes et photos pour la presse et internet, illustrations, photographie numérique, reportages...