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“Fantastic Five are Wowed”

Uncharted Philippines Adventure Travel and Day Tours
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Taal Cruise Excursion: Taal Volcano, Tagaytay and Taal Heritage Town
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: We are an adventure travel company that specializes in off-the-beaten-path destinations in the Philippines. Our trips focus on nature, culture and adventure. We offer group tours, private tours, day tours and customized tours. We are also a full-service travel agency and are your best resource for putting together an extraordinary Philippine vacation.
Reviewed February 28, 2013

I worked closely with Leo Cuesta, the owner of Unchartered Philippines, to set up a new trip designed to appeal to 5 "old guys" with a sense of adventure for hiking, scuba diving, kayaking and snorkeling that wanted to see places not often visited by other tourists and that would moderately challenge us. (see Roger C's review for more details). Leo really delivered the goods in a highly responsible and professional way.

First of all, he really "gets" what his clients are seeking and strives to design trips based on their described goals. He communicates clearly and quickly and responded often within 24 hours to all of my many emails in planning and modifying our trip. He delivers what he promises. This began from the time we were picked up at the airport until he dropped us off weeks later. The Unchartered staff is awesome for their skills, knowledge and positive attitudes. And we did test them at times by asking for modifications to our trip that they were able to deliver (such as we were all wanting to spend some time in a hotel with beds and hot water instead of camping at one point and they were able to conjure up a nice small hotel in El Nido even during the busy Tet/Chinese New Year season). Lastly, Leo was able to get us out to some fantastically beautiful and remote places (for example we never saw another tourist during our whole time hiking in the mountains of northern Luzon) and when we took the expedition boat and meandered/camped along the remote islands between El Nido and Coron in Palawan....again we slept under beautiful skies that were ours alone to appreciate.

If you want to see some of the special off the beaten path beauty of the Philippines, and have all of your logistics taken care of by an excellent group of folks, and are willing to put in a little sweat equity, then I highly recommend using Unchartered Philippines.

3  Thank PJW10K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"rice terraces"
in 29 reviews
"hanging coffins"
in 10 reviews
"great trip"
in 11 reviews
"overnight bus ride"
in 4 reviews
"private tour"
in 10 reviews
"taal volcano"
in 12 reviews
"stunning scenery"
in 2 reviews
"days hiking"
in 2 reviews
"basic room"
in 2 reviews
"local guide"
in 8 reviews
"day trip"
in 10 reviews
"custom tour"
in 2 reviews
"an excellent guide"
in 5 reviews
"amazing trek"
in 2 reviews
"unforgettable experience"
in 2 reviews
in 20 reviews
in 26 reviews

111 - 115 of 139 reviews

Reviewed February 27, 2013

Five old college buddies decided to undertake another adventure trip (our last was in Laos seven years earlier) and we had Leo Cuesta, founder and President of Uncharted Philippines, develop an amazing 17 day trip. After a day each touring Manila and Corregidor, two of us headed to Planet Dive in Anilao at the Anilao Marine Reserve, which is only a couple of hours south of Manila. There we spent five days diving and enjoying a dive resort with a top notch house reef and lots of great sites accessible by dive boat. Leo had set us up with two dive instructors (Gordos Mateo R. Gojunco and Tony Boy) who oversaw my buddy's open water certification and took us boat and shore diving. We had the resort to ourselves (literally) during the week. But Planet Dive filled up with weekend divers who could not have been friendlier or more welcoming. Meanwhile my other other three college buddies had been doing some very vigorous hiking and camping up north in Kibungan. (I will leave it to them to describe their adventure). They then joined us for a day at Planet Dive before Leo and our group headed to Taal Town and a hike up Taal Volcano, which is an active volcano.
The longest part of our adventure was spent in and around the island of Palawan, billed as "The Last Frontier". Our trip started with a flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan and then overland to Sabang, where during a day and a half we took a few swims at the lovely beach, did a hike, travelled through the subterranean river, took a paddle boat through the mangroves, and rode a zip line back to a beach. Our guides for the Palawan trip were Uncharted Philippines trip leaders Dax Daquilanea and Jun Tolentino, both great and attentive guides. Another overland drive took us further north to El Nido, where we began our kayaking, camping and snorkeling excursion in earnest. After two days in El Nido our expedition vessel, a roomy outrigger Bangka, took us up the coast of Palawan, where we stopped at great snorkeling spots and camped on empty beaches with great sunsets. A windstorm one night remined us that this was adventure travel. Our trip ended in the town of Coron, where we enjoyed fresh water warm showers at SeaDive Resort and some of our group flew back to Manila and then to the states. Meanwhile I added a day of diving on the "monster wrecks" of Coron.
All in all it was a fun and sometimes rugged adventure trip, especially for five guys in their sixties. It's clear that Leo can develop a trip based on your fitness and activity levels, but in all cases it will be adventure travel and not for those looking for the cruise ship life style.

2  Thank Roger C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2013

My husband and I went with another couple on the Ifugao trek, to Sagada, and then to the Batangas for diving and a volcano trek.

The Ifugao trek through steep terraced rice fields was fairly strenuous for me, (I'm no spring chicken) but with the help of our guides Jody and Jun, we had a great time. Paths are narrow and steps are steep. The beauty is breath taking, the satisfaction enormous. There is rice one planting a year. In February the terraces are cleared, flooded and ready for planting. Bright green "nurseries" of rice shoots dot the fields, and as you watch the women planting, each field takes on a beautiful green glow.
We stayed in simple guesthouses in Cambolo and Batad. In Cambolo the guitars and rice wine appeared after the satisfying dinner and, as usual in the Philippines, the music was excellent and lots of fun.
After reaching Batad and dropping off our gear at the guesthouse, there was a hike down to a beautiful waterfall, with refreshing swimming.

Leo, the owner was flexible in planning our itinerary, and after completing the Ifugao we continued with our amazing, funny, knowledgable, curious and friendly guide, Jun, to Sagada for another waterfall, spelunking, hikes to hanging coffins and handicraft shopping.

For the 2 day Batangas portion we left Jun and picked up Leo as a guide. Diving at Aniloa was good, with an excellent house reef, geothermal bubbles, and muck diving. We didn't get to hike the Taal volcano since the weather was too windy for the boat to cross the crater lake to the trail. However, the view from the top is spectacular, and we had a good time hanging out and stopping along the way back for locally grown coffee and treats.

3  Thank NancyLee_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 11, 2013

You can't go wrong booking an adventure trip with Leo from Uncharted Philippines in my opinion. My girlfriend and I were looking for a guide to do some climbing around Manila, and in our search found Uncharted Philippines. Actually, there weren't really any other choices. But that turned out to be a good thing, as Leo was great about quickly responding to our myriad questions via email, and is a great person to see the country with.

We climbed one day, and dived on another.

Climbing: We wanted to climb in Atimonan, but there had been some violence there recently and it's a long drive, so we opted to go to the village of Wawa near Montalban instead. The climbing there is OK -- not great -- but you can see the area has a lot of potential to be very good if someone wanted to spend some time cleaning and developing new routes. The best existing routes were kind of hard for me (5.10 and up) so I had to top rope all my climbs. We hiked up a hill and climbed some overhanging routes in the morning, then had a fried-chicken lunch in the village before hiking to another spot near Wawa Dam in the afternoon. The second sector was a bit easier than the morning sector, but I pulled a muscle battling a tufa and was tired from the morning climbs and opted to top rope on the easier routes as well (5.9 for one, and 5.8 for the other) . The climbing basically kicked my butt, but it was still a great day trip. We took a lot of pictures of the village, the river, the suspension bridge and the dam during this day trip and generally had a great time. On the drive home after climbing, we started talking about diving, and decided we would do a day trip to Anilao to dive with Leo.

Diving: This was really the highlight for me. The 3-hour drive from Manila is pretty scenic, but we had a pretty tight schedule and didn't make any stops to take pictures. Leo works from a dive resort called Planet Dive in San Teodoro, which has pretty nice facilities and happens to have Twin Rocks as it's house reef. The rental gear was old but serviceable. I had a decent Scuba Pro regulator, a terrible old BC (can't even remember the brand) and some really old booties and some tired Cressi fins. The beach is really rocky and my booties were woefully inadequate, but once in the water, I forgot about all that. Twins Rocks is a shore dive from Planet Dive, which goes from rocky beach to sloping hard and soft corals down to around 75 feet. We swam against a pretty strong current to nice coral heads called “Twin Rocks” and then up the slope and back to the beach. It was a very cloudy day, water temp around 78 degrees, visibility around 25 feet. Our second dive was near Tinglow Island, essentially the sunken metal frame of a former restaurant that’s covered with Corals and has some nice fish to see. Our Third dive was to Bubble Point, which is a shallow wall where we saw a pretty big sea turtle resting. At the end, we saw the eponymous sandy-bottom area where bubbles escape from an underwater vent. The fourth dive of the day was another shore dive at Twin Rocks. Across all four dives we saw a pretty good variety of sea life and had a great time.

3  Thank Jay L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 6, 2013

I took the Batangas tour (two days, one night) with one other person. When it rained on the way to Taal, Leo was flexible and changed the order of the itinerary so we could maybe have better weather on the way back. And we did. At the resort, we had really good snorkeling. The other person dived, but, since I don't do that, Leo suggested an introductory dive. This was an amazing experience that was well worth the additional money. Leo was great about explaining the history of the area when we visited Taal town. It was a long two days, but it was well worth the time and money, as we were able to go places that I couldn't have gotten to alone easily, I learned a lot, and I had a great time.

2  Thank J K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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