Mountaineers have a variety of reasons why they should climb a certain mountain. For adventure-seekers and professional climbers, the main reason is the level of difficulty of the hike. The more challenging the ascent is, the better. History-lovers climb mountains because of their rich past intertwined with their present state. There are some people who visit mountains that are mysterious and mystical, relative to their belief and religion. Whatever your reason is, I'm sure you'll find the right mountain to climb.
Because of its geography, the Philippines is interspersed with mountain ranges that make it an ideal destination for hikers. Listed below are the top ten must-climb mountains in the Philippines.
Mount Apo, Davao del Sur
The Bagobo tribes of Mindanao have called this mountain “Apo,” meaning grandfather. It is the highest peak in the Philippines, with a height of 2,954 meters, situated in Davao del Sur. It is an already dormant volcano that has three major summits and a wide volcanic crater containing the crystal clear Lake Venado. It provides a difficult scale for climbers because of its thick mossy forests, steep trails, and giant rock boulders. Sulphur vents and deposits can also be seen throughout the area – a silent reminder of Mount Apo’s volcanic past. It is also a home of the Philippine Monkey-eating Eagle, the world’s largest eagle and the country’s national bird.
In June 1991, people witnessed the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. It destroyed the summit of Mount Pinatubo and from 1,745 meters, it now stands at 1,486 meters. It is located at the intersection of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga and has been a major tourist destination since the 1991 eruption. Although it unleashed a huge expanse of terror and destruction, its past outburst made the land around it more fertile. Today, valleys of ash can still be seen on the way to this mountain.
Mount Pico de Loro, Cavite
This mountain has an elevation of 664 meters above sea level at Maragondon, Cavite, 85 kilometers southwest of Manila. When the Spanish colonizers came in the 1500s, they named it Pico de Loro because its rocky summit resembles a parrot’s beak. Today, mountaineers and hikers venture this amazing mountain for its rare plants and animals and its exquisite summit views of forests, volcanoes, and beaches. The southern view is blocked by a huge tower of rock. This is ideal for beginners because the terrains are not too steep or hard to climb, although strong winds are something to beware of.
Mount Pulag, Benguet
The villagers of Cordillera call it the “Playground of the Gods”. The 2,930-meter-high Mount Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines and the highest peak in Luzon. Its land area covers portions of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Viscaya, and it is considered as the center of the Igorot tribal culture. It is a popular tourist destination because of its close proximity to Baguio. It takes at least three hours to climb to the top, but the travel experience is very rewarding. This mountain lets people experience three types of vegetation – a pine forest at the bottom, a mossy forest in the middle, and vast grasslands at the summit which provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Cordillera. With good weather, you’ll see mountaintops over a vast ocean of white swirling clouds. Along the way, a wide variety of flora and fauna can be appreciated. Mount Pulag is the home of dwarf bamboo and Benguet pine.
Mount Daguldol, Batangas
If you can’t decide whether to go swimming or mountaineering, then this is the place for you. Mount Daguldol has a beach at its foot, making it a popular tourist spot. The trail is gentle and lined with rest stops, friendly locals, and cold refreshments. It also has a lot of streams and waterfalls along the way so you can cool off once you get tired of the climb. Its summit provides a view of Batangas Strait and the high mountains of Mindoro Island, plus a campsite which looks like a golf course.
Mount Mariveles, Bataan
The slopes of Mount Mariveles were battlefields during the American and Filipino defense of Bataan against the Japanese forces in 1942. It is located at the lower portion of Bataan Peninsula and has an elevation of 1,288 meters. The hike is long and hot but there’s a river halfway up the mountain where you can rest and cool off. The upper trail leading to the campsite and the summit is rocky and windy. But once you get there, you can take in the sight of the beaches of Bataan and the South China Sea to the west, Corregidor Islands and Mount Pico de Loro to the south, and Manila Bay, with distant lights of Manila, to the east.
Mount Banahaw, Quezon
This mountain is said to be the most magical mountain in the Philippines. It allows an easy climb to the peak, which appeals not only to mountaineers but also to all people who take interest in it. It is believed that fairies, ghosts, and even aliens are taking shelter in the area, making it an interestingly bizarre stage of myths and stories. During Holy Week, it is a favorite spot of religious people because they believe miracles and divine apparitions happen here.
Kitanglad Mountain Range, Bukidnon
This series of high mountains is famous for its biodiversity and juicy pineapples. It is made up of five large mountains, with Mount Dulang-Dulang being the highest at 2,938 meters. It has many species of flora and fauna like unusual mossy plants, orchids, brown deer, lizards, cloud rats, and at least 74 avian species, including the Philippine Monkey-eating Eagle. Kitanglad Range and its surrounding plains are also the ancestral domain of several indigenous people as well as the location of the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation, the largest in the world. Climbing this mountain requires endurance, a lot of waterproofing, and most of all, a camera.
Mount Kanla-on, Negros Occidental
The 2,465-meter-high Mount Kanla-on is one of the most beautiful mountains in the Philippines. It is certainly the highest and most active volcano in Visayas, showcasing its craters, cones, sulphuric vents, hot springs, caves, natural gardens, and mini forests. Most prominent are the enormous caldera on the north and a deep active crater on the south. It truly has an astonishing scenery and magical flora and fauna that will captivate the eyes of mountaineers.
The ultimate Philippine mountaineering experience lies in the 2,057-meter-high Mount Guiting-Guiting. The name means “Saw-toothed Mountain” because of a series of nearly vertical, jagged rocks peaks that shred the clouds. After a long hike to the foothills, mountaineers penetrate one of the most biologically diverse forests in the country then stare death in the eye when trekking the 87-degree slopes and several highly deceiving summits.
There are still a lot of notable mountains in the Philippines, like Mount Makiling and Mount Halcon. May it be a leisurely hike or a thrilling climb, this archipelago surely has the right mountain for you.
You may also check these articles for more tourist spots in the Philippines:
The Ten Most Popular Destinations to Visit in Manila