Six Must-climb Peaks in the Philippines
Reach for the summit of these mountains and see the country’s beauty from a new perspective.
With seven thousand plus islands, the Philippines boasts a wide array of mountain ranges, rock formations, and volcanoes that have gained popularity among experienced mountaineers and first-time explorers alike. Philippine Tatler takes you to new heights and gives a glimpse of the breathtaking sights and natural wonders you might like to climb this summer.
Lioness and Rhino Rock, Norzagaray, Bulacan
Not far from Manila are two distinct rock formations that resemble animal figures and have been favourite spots of both professional and first-time mountain climbers. The Lioness and Rhino rock formations may seem difficult with its sharp and pointy edges but easily accessible by hands, with just basic safety paraphernalia like hand gloves and rubber shoes.
Photo courtesy of John Marx Velasco | Source: www.flickr.com
Mt. Maculot, Cuenca, Batangas
For an ascent that only takes a couple of hours, Mt. Maculot is the first on every climber’s list. Named after the curly-haired Aetas who once lived on this mountain, Mt. Maculot is a popular daytrip destination among local and foreign travellers alike.
Photo courtesy of Caryl Paraggua
Being 930 metres above sea level, the summit of Mt. Maculot features scenic views of the Taal Lake, Mt. Makiling, and the Tagaytay highlands. Although there are two trails available to reach the summit, the Rockies trail is the most popular as it is easier to take and frequented by local vendors who sell refreshments. When going back down, there is a trail that ends at a Grotto, which features the Stations of the Cross for Catholic pilgrims.
Mt. Balingkilat, Subic, Zambales
Mt. Balingkilat is one of the highest peaks in the Zambales province—and also one of the most photographed—because of its picturesque landscape and scenic views of nearby coves like Anawangin and Nagsasa. The mountain’s name means the “Mountain of Thunder” in the native Aeta language, after its unique thunder-like formation.
Photo courtesy of Agnes Navales and Dane Policarpio
At 1,100 metres above sea level, this mountain has some rocky and grassy areas with less trees for cover against the blazing sun. Hence, Mt. Balingkilat is popular for night camping and dimtrekking (hiking in the late afternoon to avoid the heat).
Mt. Madjaas, Culasi, Antique
With mossy forestation and lofty slopes, Mt. Madjaas is one of the relatively unexplored peak in the country. Following Mt. Kanlaon amongst the highest peaks in the Visayas region, this mountain is at 2,113 metres above sea level and the highest in Panay Island. Reaching the summit takes 12 to 14 hours and has trails that are not that easy to take. However, what lies on the mountain has drawn local and foreign mountaineers over the years—the unique flora and fauna, scenic views of the sea and nearby islands, and the waterfalls and river streams around it.
Photo courtesy of Cindy Solon
To some local folks, Mt. Madjaas was a lump of landmass used by the mythical deities to cover an old great sea. Besides the myths and legends of the mountain, it traces the roots of its name to the story of the Ten Bornean Datus, which tells about the arrival of the Malay race in the Philippines.
Mt. Pulag, Bokod, Benguet
Mt. Pulag is the most climbed mountain in Luzon, especially during the holidays and summer season. For travellers who would like to watch the sun rise from a sea of clouds, it is a favourite vantage point. Besides being the highest mountain in Luzon (2,922 metres above sea level), Mt. Pulag is a great adventure for every mountain climber because the climb starts off at an already high altitude, not to mention the tribal villages one may encounter along the way.
Photo courtesy of Justin Jovellanos | Source: www.flickr.com
There are various trails to choose from when going for the summit: the easy Ambangeg, the challenging Akiki, the arduous Vizcaya trail (which leads to Nueva Vizcaya province), and other various traverse trails that are seldom taken. Experience a refreshing climb to the summit with Mt. Pulag’s dwarf bamboo slopes and pine forests, and the sea of clouds that gives a peak of other nearby mountains of the Cordillera region.
Mt. Apo, Kidapawan City and Magpet, North Cotabato
It’s hard to miss Mt. Apo in this list as it is the highest peak in the country and one of the most difficult to climb. Towering over Southern Mindanao at 2,956 metres above sea level, Mt. Apo features lakes and rivers, craggy rockscapes, mossy swamps, and dormant volcanic structures. Indeed it provides a unique experience for mountaineers because of its vast spectrum of environment.
Photo courtesy of Caroline Espejon | Source: www.flickr.com
Reaching for Mt. Apo's summit takes about two days, hence there are campsites near the lakes and springs for mountaineers who wish to take the challenge. The Kidapawan trail is the easiest but midway to the summit, climbers choose between the 87-degree and the 90-degree trails. All of these intersect at Lake Venado, which is three hours away from the summit.
With its height, difficulty level, undisputable summit view, and spectrum of terrain, Mt. Apo lives up to its name as the grandfather of all the mountains in the Philippines.
Photos courtesy of respective individuals. Cover photo by Rommel Bundalian. | Source: www.flickr.com