Top 5 mountain climbs near Manila

Miko Santos of the top-rated PH Mountains app picks 5 weekend climbs, whatever your ability

by Amanda Lago

While it might not be obvious from the city, Metro Manila is surrounded by mountains waiting to be conquered, most of them only a few hours’ drive away.

Miko Santos, a member of the University of the Philippines Mountaineers  and creator of the PH Mountains app, reveals his top choices.

Mt. Pico de Loro, Cavite & Batangas

Pico de Loro's famous monolith (Raymond Ramon)

“Popular for its ‘Parrot’s Beak’ and monolith at the summit, Pico de Loro or Mount Palay-Palay, a dormant volcano, is recommended for people who want to get their first taste of climbing Philippine mountains.”
Elevation: 664 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Approximate travel time from Manila: 3 hours
Entrance fee at starting point of climb: P50

How to get there
Hire a chauffeured car or van, for about P6,000 (about US$ 133) for 10 hours, exclusive of gas, parking, and toll fees. Try Avis Car Rental

Or go by bus. To get to the Ternate Terminal in Cavite, take the Saulog bus from the Southwest Integrated Provincial Transport Terminal at Coastal Mall along Manila Bay, a 30 minute drive from Makati. From Ternate, ride a tricycle or jeepney to the starting point at the DENR outpost.

Adventure travel agencies offer day hike packages to Mt. Pico de Loro, including registration fees, an adventure guide, and roundtrip van transfers from Manila. Rates are from P1,750 per person. Try Travel Factor or Trail Adventours.

Mt. Maculot, Cuenca, Batangas

The view from Mt. Maculot (Raymond Ramon)

“Known for its rock formations called ‘Rockies,’ Mount Maculot is a popular spot for day-hikers. It’s close to Manila and offers scenic views of Taal Lake and the volcano island.” 
Elevation: 947 meters
Difficulty: Beginner
Approximate travel time from Manila: 3 hours
Registration fee at starting point of climb: P20

How to get there 
Go by chauffered hire car. Try Avis Car Rental. Or take a bus (DLTB, Jam) bound for Lemery, Batangas from the corner of Gil Puyat and Taft avenue in Pasay, a 20-minute drive from the main business district in Makati. Get off at Cuenca, Batangas. From there, ride a tricycle to the Mt. Maculot jump off point.

Trail Adventours offers day hike packages to Mt. Maculot, including roundtrip private vehicle transfers, registration fees, and guide for P1,600 for one person.

Tarak Ridge, Mariveles, Bataan

“Although technically part of Mount Mariveles, Tarak Ridge made a name for itself in Philippine mountaineering. Even though it is not the summit of Mariveles, it attracts a lot of visitors due to its scenic views. It boasts of rocky and steep trails, and a panoramic view of Bataan, including Corregidor island.”
Elevation: 1,288 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Approximate travel time from Manila: 4.5 hours
Registration fee at starting point of climb: P40

How to get there
By chauffeured vehicles at about P6,000 for a day trip. Try Avis Car Rental

Or take a bus (Genesis) to Mariveles, Bataan from the Pasay Rotonda along EDSA about 30 minutes from Makati and Manila, or from Cubao in Quezon City (Bataan Transit) near EDSA. From the Mariveles Bus Station, ride a mini-bus to Brgy. Alas-asin.

Mt. Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal & General Nakar, Quezon

Mt. Daraitan (Raymond Ramon)

“Close to Manila and part of the Sierra Madre mountain range, Mount Daraitan will reward its visitors with its limestone viewpoints and tropical forest. Other outdoor attractions are caves, springs, and natural pools.”
Elevation: 719 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Approximate travel time from Manila: 4 hours
Registration fee at starting point of climb: P20

How to get there
Chauffeured vehicles can be rented at around P6,000 for a day trip. Try Avis Car Rental

Ride an FX or Van to Tanay Market from Starmall in Shaw Boulevard along EDSA in Mandaluyong city. From there, ride a jeep or tricycle to Barangay Daraitan.

Trail Adventours offers day trip packages for P1,900, inclusive of private vehicle transfers, boat and tricycle fares, registration fees, and local guide.

Mt. Makiling, Sto. Tomas, Batangas

It may only take a couple of hours to get there, but trav-ersing Makiling is a whole different story. Going from Sto. Tomas to Los Baños  in Laguna, the trek, known as Maktrav, takes about 7 hours, with leeches and steep trails to conquer along the way, making it one of the more challenging day hikes near the metro.
Elevation: 1,090 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Approximate travel time from Manila: 2 hours

How to get there
Chauffeured vehicles can be rented at around P6,000 for a day trip. Try Avis Car Rental

Ride a Lucena-bound bus (JAC Liner) from Cubao along EDSA or Buendia cor. Taft, and get down at Brgy. San Felix in Sto. Tomas. From there, take a tricycle to the jump-off point at the Sto. Tomas Eco Park in Sitio Jordan.

Day hike packages, including roundtrip private vehicle transfers, registration fees, and local guide are available through Trail Adventours for P1,800.

Published July 2015