Riding the Altimonan road, or the old Bicol ZigZag route. Was amazing, I did not know what was coming, I just wanted to get off the highway with the huge trucks passing by non-stop. And the road rage of the busses, heading for the south.
NIA Region 5 or The Bicol Region
The Bicol Region is the south part of Luzon Island In the Philippines.
Provinces in the Bicol Region are
Sorsogon (Which is also a city)
Masbate (Which is also a city)
Cities in that area that you might know are
Sorsogon City (Mount Bulusan)
Legazpi (mount Mayon)
When you come from Metro Manilla, imagine the Bicol area to be 8-14 hours drive away, depending on traffic.
The Maharlika highway as the Bicol part is called, is part of the Pan-Philippine Highway, route AH26. And there is an escape away from that route that will amaze you!
The day I decided to leave the busy Highway which leads to the ferry that connects Luzon with Mindanao, I discovered one of the highlights of Bicol, Altimonan Park. And the famous Zigzag route.
Quezon National park
The route and road come with many names. And therefore it might be confusing to find information about it.
Some names it goes by are
Altimonan Zigzag Park
Altimonan Forest park
Bicol Zigag route
Quezon Zigzag route
Butikang Manok Road
And I am sure locals can come up with more names for this famous road that should be on any motorcycle road trip bucket list.
The Zigzag route
When you take the turn of the highway and enter the forest, you have no idea what lies ahead of you. Even the best photos on the internet cannot prepare you for the scenery.
People waving at you for money with signs and flags, you can give them some coins, or not. Although it is said now you HAVE to pay to cross the road (since 2019) And then the road rises above you, literally. You can see it twist and turn up and up, the stone walls to show you where your path goes.
And it is steep.
The twist and turns take all the skills you need when you are a beginning motor rider like me, and with all the luggage in the back, I felt gravity pulling me down.
There is no time to “take your time” for the road is busy and dangerous and takes all your concentration. You need good brakes and horn. Although overtaking is not allowed in most parts of the road, many drivers ignore that and create dangerous situations that take a lot of your insight into traffic behaviour and speed from surrounding traffic.
But the road is terrific. The cool air under the trees and the lush green around you almost makes you miss the Buenavista spot from where you can see the road winding down.
The landscape you travel through is protected and breathtaking in its wildness and pureness.