Baler-based Campsite Offers an Urban Escape and Eco-friendly Exploration

On their first visit to Baler, Carsy Araneta and Paolo Villacorta had surfboards, not business, on the brain. A friend had invited them to camp on her property, where a vacation home once stood, until it was washed away by Typhoon Milenyo. Overlooking the beach and next to the mouth of a river, it had all the makings of a perfect scenic getaway. "We fell in love with the place, so we were thinking of how we could share and preserve it," she recalls. "We thought, why not just put something temporary so that you can pack up when you're not using it?"

Easy Adventure Offers Urban Escape and Eco-friendly Exploration

Together, they’ve lent the three-hectare plot of land a second life as a campsite where out-of-towners can relax and commune with nature. "What we're trying to do is really have a minimal impact on the environment," said Araneta. "Guests leave the grounds as it is and let the grass grow until the next ones arrive. We want them to leave the place with awareness and responsible exploration."

Easy Adventure Offers Urban Escape and Eco-friendly Exploration

Easy Adventure takes pride in its sustainability: Everything on the grounds is powered by on-site wind turbines, including water pumps for the bathrooms and charging areas for radios and other gadgets. Plans are also underway to put up a small farm on the grounds, so guests can enjoy farm-to-plate dishes. Even their transport—from repurposed buggies to high-tech hovercrafts—were chosen for their minimal environmental footprint. "We try to point out that more than a resort—we're a sustainable campsite and we're very eco-friendly," she says.

Easy Adventure Offers Urban Escape and Eco-friendly Exploration

"It's very efficient, the way we run things in the camp," Villacorta adds. "We really try to make it easy, so anyone can come, and we'll take care of the rest." The campsite is designed in such a way that lets guests travel light: Meals and bed sets are provided in their packages, with a 24-hour staff on standby.

Easy Adventure Offers Urban Escape and Eco-friendly Exploration

They’ve been conceptualizing Easy Adventure since 2014, and began dry runs last year. As the operations manager, Villacorta spends the most time traveling to the campsite, hauling equipment back and forth three to four times a month. "I'm doing 250 kilometers a week going up and down Baler," he says.

Easy Adventure Offers Urban Escape and Eco-friendly Exploration

They've recently opened Easy HQ in Kapitolyo, which serves as a showroom that features many of the novel equipment used at the campsite. Here, customers can also buy camping accessories and book their Baler trips, but most still prefer to do the latter over the Internet. "Without technology, we wouldn't be working as fast, and we wouldn't have as many customers," says Villacorta.

It may be off the beaten track, but a reliable data connection is one of the familiar creature comforts available at the Easy Adventure campsite. "In Baler, we have to do things remotely. There are lots of times when we've had to work in the campsite," says Villacorta. "We're lucky that [even] it's off-grid, it can still pick up 3G. We used to eat popcorn and stream movies there all the time."

Working wirelessly is made convenient with Globe's 3G coverage, with which Villacorta aligns Easy Adventure’s Manila- and Baler-based teams; similarly, Araneta relies on her Globe Tattoo stick for WiFi on-the-go. "3G is a big thing for us, because we operate mostly online. We're loyal Globe subscribers," he explains. "All of our staff is on Globe, because have 14 staffers in Baler, and we need to text them when guests are coming so they can prepare. If someone is missing on the guest list, we'll also have to call and ask what the status is."

Once they've mastered operations at Baler, they plan on replicating those best practices across the country. "We want to find more undiscovered places in the Philippines, not just Baler," says Araneta. "We really want to bring people to those unheard-of sights and provinces that are hard to access, and work closely with people in those local communities to conserve nature with responsible exploration."