13 Mountains in the Philippines to Add to Your Bucket List
Is becoming more active or doing things beyond your comfort zone one of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016? If you are itching for a change in your usual itinerary, perhaps a trip to one, two or all of the mountains in the Philippines is something you should be preparing yourself for.
We have come up with among the best mountains in the Philippines, ranging from super easy to extremely difficult, that provides among the most spectacular views and breathtaking sights. Whether you are a newbie, an experienced one or a seasoned climber, there is always a mountain in the Philippines that is waiting to conquer you!
1 Mount Napulauan in Ifugao
Towering at 2,642 meters, Mt. Napulauan has earned its reputation as having the most challenging trail in the Cordilleras and, perhaps, in the entire Philippines. Its two difficult trails, Hungduan and Hapao, which are covered in mossy forests and infested with limatik (leeches), are often combined in a traverse day hike.
The mountain’s name may have taken its name from the Tuwale word “pulaw” or white, to describe the clouds and fogs that constantly cover the mountain and make everything white. During summers when the clouds clear up, Mt. Napulauan provides breathtaking views of other mountaintops such as Mt. Pulag, Mt. Tabayoc, Mt. Ugu and Mt. Amuyao.
How to get there: Treks start from Hungduan, which is an 80-minute jeepney ride from Banaue.
2 Kitanglad Mountain Range in Bukidnon
If you are up for the challenge of scaling five large and steep mountains in the Philippines, then a trip to the Kitanglad Mountain Range should be on your list. The series of towering peaks is known for its pineapples via the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation as well as its diverse flora and fauna.
Experienced climbers would often take the Dulang-Dulang–Kitanglad Traverse, an extremely challenging trail with dense jungles that will take you from the majestic, 2,938-meter Mt. Dulang-Dulang to the 2,899-meter Mt. Kitanglad.
How to get there: Dulang-Dulang, like other mountains in the Philippines, is considered sacred to the locals. Several rituals and permits are required before being allowed to go up. Non-Mindanao-based climbers often fly to CDO, ride a bus to Malaybalay in Bukidnon and take a jeepney to Lantapan. It is also recommended to climb with groups that are based in Mindanao.
When going to Mt. Kitanglad, make sure to contact the DENR-Mt Kitanglad Range Natural Park in order to reserve bunkbeds at the summit.
3 Mount Tapulao in Zambales
While hiking in trails covered in pine trees is an experience often associated with the Cordilleras in the Philippines, many will be surprised that Mt. Tapulao has these characteristics. Tapulao means pine tree in the local dialect but don’t be fooled because 85 percent of the trail is covered in rocky roads!
Although this mountain in the Philippines becomes very cold at night, it can get quite hot during the day. Thus, it is recommended to start the trek very early, preferably before dawn so you can get to the cooler area once the sun is high. Also prepare yourself: Mt. Tapulao starts at 100+ MASL and ends at 2,037 MASL, giving it one of the highest altitude gains in the country.
How to get there: Take a ride to Iba, Zambales then ride a tricycle to Brgy. Palauig. Make sure to contact the Mt. Tapulao Regulation Officers Association when planning your hike.
4 Mount Batulao in Batangas
Mt. Batulao, at just 811 meters, is the go-to destination for newbie climbers and those who simply want to escape the city or do a side trip before going to Puerto Galera.
The mountain provides gusts of refreshing winds, rolling slopes and breathtaking views of Batangas, Philippines. Many trekkers love traversing Mt. Batulao from the old to new trail and vice versa. It usually takes only five hours to get up and down the mountain but this still depends on your pace.
How to get there: Conductors and drivers of buses bound for Nasugbu, Batangas are quite familiar with Mt. Batulao and will drop you off at Evercrest.
5 Mount Daraitan in Rizal
At just 600 meters, Mt. Daraitan in Rizal, Philippines provides a taste of the otherwise unexplored Sierra Mountains in the Philippines. Although its elevation does not seem like much, the straightforward ascent can be challenging and may feel steep for those who are not used to hiking.
After getting to the summit, it is recommended to take another trail that will lead straight to the Tinipak River. One can simply take a day hike to explore both places or camp overnight and explore springs, pools and caves nearby.
How to get there: Take a jeep to Tanay then Sampaloc in Rizal. From there, take a tricycle to Daraitan. Cross the Daraitan River with a raft and take a trike to get to the Barangay Hall to register and secure guides.
6 Mount Pico de Loro in Cavite
Despite standing at only 664 meters and not being as steep as the other mountains in the Philippines, a hike to Pico de Loro can still be pretty challenging with its inclines, streams and forests.
Pico de Loro’s most prominent feature is the monolith which looks like a parrot’s beak (thus the name of the mountain). Climbing the monolith is a test of courage for any climber but once you have found yourself at the top, you can get an unmatched 360-degree view of the countryside.
How to get there: Ride a bus to Ternate and drop off at the terminal. Then, take a tricycle to take you to the Pico de Loro’s jump-off point at the DENR outpost.
7 Mount Apo in Davao del Sur
With a height of 2,945 meters, Mt. Apo is the undisputed highest peak in the Philippines. It is actually a dormant volcano that comes with a trio of summits as well as a volcanic crater that contains Lake Venado.
Mt. Apo is a huge challenge even for the experienced mountaineer as it comes with rock boulders, very steep trails and thick mossy forests. There are also sulfur deposits and vents around the area that will remind you that you are walking on what was once an active volcano.
How to get there: Climbing Mt. Apo is no walk in the park even for seasoned mountain climbers in the Philippines. Make sure to contact the Kidapawan City Tourism Office ahead of time to make arrangements. From Davao City, take a 3-hour ride to Kidapawan then ride a motorcycle to Brgy. Ilomavis.
8 Mount Maculot in Batangas
Located right at the heart of Batangas, Philippines is Mt. Maculot, which is a great trekking destination in every mountaineer’s list. It is possible to get up the mountain and back down within a single day and experience steep assaults and picturesque panoramic views.
Reaching Mt. Maculot is possible via three routes: the Grotto, the summit and the Rockies which can all be covered through a traverse day hike. However, most climbers only go through the Rockies — known for its views of the Taal Lake — while very few take the traverse.
How to get there: Take a bus bound for Lemery. Drop off at Cuenca Poblacion then walk or take the trike to the jump-off (Rockies trail) or to Grotto at Brgy. 5 (Grotto trail).
9 Osmeña Peak in Cebu
A hike to Osmeña Peak, the highest peak in Cebu, Philippines, is fairly easy despite having an elevation of 1,013 meters. Casual hikers can easily get to the top within 15 to 20 minutes and does not require a guide from the jump-off point/ registration center.
The peak has become a very popular hiking destination in the province as it provides slightly chilly temperatures when the sun is not high up yet, foggy mornings, beautiful rugged rock formations and a stunning view of Cebu.
How to get there: From Cebu City South Bus Terminal, take a bus to Bato or Oslob and have yourself dropped of at the Dalaguete junction. Then, take a motorcycle to the jump-off point of Osmeña Peak. Hikers who want more of a challenge usually start their treks at the Mantayupan Market.
10 Mount Guiting Guiting in Sibuyan Island
Mt. Guiting-Guiting is deemed as being in the upper limit in the difficulty scale as it involves a lot of rock climbing and scrambling. This challenging mountain in the Philippines is characterized by a steep, jagged ridge called the Knife Edge that has to be crossed in order to get to the summit.
The weather changes rapidly there that there is a strict cut-off time to reach the summit. If local guides would sense a forthcoming dangerous weather, assaults will be aborted as well.
How to get there: Take a ferry to Magdiwang Port and proceed to the Tourism Council to register. It is recommended to stay at the Tansiungco Residence or Sanctuary Lodge the night before the climb. The entire trek will take at least 5 days, including travel and preparations.
11 Mount Hibok Hibok in Camiguin
Camiguin, Philippines may be a tiny island but it actually is home to no less than seven volcanoes and has recorded five eruptions starting 1827 until the 1950s. Like many mountains in the Philippines, Mt. Hibok-Hibok is also a volcano, an active one, but with no signs of activity.
Getting to the top of Mt. Hibok-Hibok is pretty tough and takes around 3-4 hours, depending on your pace. The biggest challenge is the huge altitude gain and the minimal sun cover but hikers are rewarded with breathtaking and spectacular views all around.
How to get there: Take an FX to Mambajao, drop by the DENR office and meet the guide. Then, take a motorcycle going to Ardent Hot Springs.
12 Mount Pulag in Benguet
The famed Mt. Pulag, also called the Playground of the gods, is the highest peak in Luzon towering at 2,922 meters. A hike to the top of the mountain is often rewarded with a sea of clouds, which covers everything else but the highest points of the Cordilleras. The cool weather makes the hike refreshing but make sure to prepare as temperatures could reach zero or even lower.
There are several ways to get to the summit of Mt. Pulag with Akiki being dubbed as the ‘killer trail’ and Ambangeg being considered as easiest. Whichever trail you choose to take, you are sure to experience an adventure going to Pulag.
How to get there: The entire trip from Manila to Baguio City to the jump-off point takes about 10 hours of travel. From Baguio City, you can take a jeepney to get to the Visitor’s Center and Ranger Station of the respective trails.
13 Mount Makiling in Laguna
Mt. Makiling, like many mountains in the Philippines, is a dormant volcano that looks like Maria Makiling, a mythical character in the country. Restored in the 1910s, the mountain boasts of diverse flora and fauna that continue to thrive up to this day. There are several trails available, including the UP Los Baños trail which is the easiest, but they are all established so that no guides are necessary for a climb.
It is not recommended to go during the rainy season, especially for non-experience climbers, as flash floods can occur. Mt. Makiling is a protected area, however, and is very safe for everyone as long as there is proper communication with the authorities.
How to get there: Hop on a bus for Sta. Cruz, Laguna and get off at the Los Baños Crossing then go to El Danda Street. Then, take a jeep to the UP Los Baños College of Forestry, which is the jump-off point.
Being a climber is more than just heading to a summit to take pictures that you can post on your social media accounts. There has been a huge debate about closing down certain mountains in the Philippines to allow some time for it to recuperate and restore itself. Before the rest of the mountains reach that level, always remember to follow the LNT (Leave No Trace) principles and be a responsible mountaineer everytime you go on a climb.