Camp John Hay--Fulfilling the Dream of Horseback Riding in the Philippines
Updated: Apr 16
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Fulfilling your Dream to Ride Horses
Do you own a horse? Or have you ever ridden a horse in the past? You may have dreamed about riding horses ever since you were a child, but you never had the opportunity to do so. Well, you can fulfill your dream by traveling to Baguio City in the Philippines. Baguio City is located about 200 miles north from Manila.
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You can also ride horses near Taal Volcano. I highly recommend this 8 hour tour. You will begin in Manilla and travel the most active volcano in the Philippines; namely-- Taal Volcano. you will then take a boat to the Volcano island and you travel up to the volcano by horseback. This is where you can get some magnificent photos of the volcano.
A New Experience Riding Horses
Having experience riding horses in the United States, I am very familiar with how to ride them, how to climb up on them the proper way and how to disembark from them without getting kicked. For my fiancé, however, riding horses is a new activity for her. She had a great desire to ride horses. Our taxi driver took us to the John Hay Camp in Baguio. The city boasts of some amazing scenery in the Philippines. Baguio is considered the Summer Capital of the Philippines. This name was ascribed to Baguio in June 1903. The 525 acre camp is located on the south eastern side of the city, which is 200 miles north of Manila, Philippines. The camp has two entrances. The first entrance is by Loakan Road and the second is the Baguio Country Club road. The camp is located next to the La Monte Hotel behind the Filing Station.
Assigning Tour Guides
While at the camp, we were assigned two tour guides. My fiancé and I both mounted the horses and we started our horseback riding journey into the forests. One of the guides directed my horse and the other guide directed the horse my fiancé was riding.
This is the start of our adventurous horseback riding journey!
We were met with a cool breeze as we trekked up a steep, rugged, and rocky trail. Holding my professional canon 80d camera gently in my hand with a strap tightly wrapped around my hand, I carefully videoed and photographed the scenic path surrounded with an abundance of towering pine trees. When I looked back, I noticed my fiancé was having a great time. We were captured with this sigh of peaceful ambiance as we seemingly escaped from all the pressures and stressors of life. The trail that we were on was called the Shalan Ni Kabadjo Bridle Path.
My fiancé loves riding her horse named “Lovely.”
Filipinos Earn Income Through Tourism
As we were riding along the rugged path, the guide told me the importance of maintaining the horses by ensuring they are in great health. The fact is the guides at the camp rely upon tourism to feed themselves. Without the horses, the guide informed me, they would not have income. We don’t necessarily think about how tourism has economically and financially boosted Baguio.
The sobering thought of how some Filipinos earn income in the Philippines reminded me of the many things I am thankful for. Nevertheless, as we continued our adventurous journey deep into the dense thick forest, we embraced the beauty of nature.
Photo Taking on the Hill
Upon reaching the top of the hill, we noticed several running trails. There was also a circular path where tourists could maneuver the horses. While sitting on our horses in the circular area, the guide took our cameras and begin to snap awesome photos of us. We remained in the area for about 15 minutes so the horses could rest. While thoroughly enjoying the wonderful lookouts and admiring the absolute beauty of the landscape, I reminisced of the times I rode horses as a child.
Outstanding Tour Guides
Upon entering our destination at the camp, I disembarked from my horse and was thanked by guide. I was able to make some Filipino friends that day-- the taxi driver, the guides, and the manager of Camp John Hay. The tour guides were outstanding and very helpful in ensuring that we had great photos.
This was my fiancé’s tour guide.
This was my tour guide.
The manager of the camp.
History of Camp John Hay
This camp is enriched in history. The history of the U.S. Military and the Philippines is intertwined at this camp. It is the former recreation and rest facility of the U.S American Military forces following the Spanish and American War. The American soldiers claimed victory in the Spanish American War and took possession of the Philippine Islands. Following the war, the American soldiers trekked through the mountains to find rest and recuperation and to pursue Filipino revolutionaries.
It was on this mountain journey when Baguio was fortuitously discovered. In 1899, Captain Robert Rudd, who was attached to the U.S. Army 48 Infantry Unit, discovered Baguio (a fertile pasture land) while actively pursuing Filipino revolutionaries. This pasture land (named Kafagway, which translates in Tagalog “a wide open space”) was founded and officially owned by a native Ibalois named Mateo Cariño. Then on October 25th 1903, Camp John Hay was erected for the sole purpose of the Department of Defense and the US military. This erection transpired following the presidential order signed by President Theodore Roosevelt to make the 535 acres a military reservation for the American soldiers so that they could find recuperation and rest from the extremely humid and blistering tropical heat temperatures. This “Kafagway” was later changed to “Baguio,” which was named after the numerous Bagiw in the area. Bagiw was the local term for moss. Today, the Camp John Hay is considered older than the city of Baguio.
Eventually, the current Camp John Hay was named as well subsequent to John Militon Hay, the U.S. Secretary of State, who negotiated the Panama Canal’s construction. The camp was occupied by the U.S. military until the early 1940’s when the Japanese took over. In May 1941, President Roosevelt ordered the US military to return back to the US due to the possible attack of the Japanese on Philippine soil. In December 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese warplane pilots flew over Camp John Hay and released 72 bombs. The grave bombing caused great devastating to both the city and the camp and many soldiers and civilians were killed. This tragic event started World War II. As a result, the Japanese conquered the area and made Camp John Hay a concentration camp (for the Americans and British soldiers remaining at the Camp) under the order of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Commanding Officer of the Japanese Imperial Forces. The camp was officially a Japanese Army post. One year later, however, a turn of events took place. In 1942, the capitulation of General Yamashita transpired when the US Army reclaimed the camp. Due to the great destruction of the camp and the city, rehabilitation efforts were made. The camp was eventually restored, and in 1955 the camp was redesigned for the U.S. Air-force. Today, Camp John Hay is called the John Hay Camp Air base. Near the end of the 1900s, the cemetery of Negativism, the Bell House, the Bell Amphitheater, Mansion House, Baguio Country Club, and John Manor house were established. Following World War II, the Americans left the camp. On July 1991, the camp was officially turned over to the Philippine Government.
Today, Camp John Hay is undoubtedly a popular tourist spot. There are so many attractions to do at and near this camp that you would need 3-5 days to explore. Here is the official John Camp Hay website. https://campjohnhay.ph. Here are a list of the attractions: Lion’s Head, Baguio Mansion House, Baguio Botanical Garden, Camp John Hay Bell House and Amphitheater, Camp John Hay cemetery of Negativism, John Camp Hay’s Yellow Trail, John Camp Hay’s Horseback riding, Mines View Park, Burnham Park, Baguio street market, Baguo SM open air mall, Dominican Hill Retreat House, Tam-Awan village, Strawberry Farm picking, Valley of Colors (Mural) Asin Hot Springs, and Dinosaur Island Park.
I highly recommend you do not miss the wonderful opportunity to go horseback riding at Camp John Hay. The experience was definitely exhilarating and memorable. I can attest to the fact now that I have ridden horses in the Philippines. That is one bucket list activity that I can certainly check off. You can mark this great horseback riding experience off your bucket list too when you travel to Baguio City. This dream can be fulfilled when you travel to Baguio city.
Not only can you ride horses at Camp John Hay, but at Wright Park as well. This park is very close from the Mines View Park, Mansion House, and Botanical Garden. Check out my three articles if you are interested in exploring Baguio for yourself.
You can ride the horses for 30 minutes for only 250 pesos or $4.78 or 400 pesos or $7.65. These are very reasonable prices. Path and Riding Circle.
Where to Stay
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