Hiking in the Phillipines

volcano philipines (400x400)Few people realize the Philippines consists of over 7000 islands. While this seems like a staggering number, the majority of them are quite small, and deserted. While these tiny islands are insignificant, the larger islands, in contrast, are home to volcanos, lush mountains, and tropical lowlands. For the outdoors adventurist always in search of new terrain to hike, look no further. These islands are magnificently picturesque and offer something for hikers of all skill levels, from rough terrain to blissful jungle trails. The largest of all islands is Luzon, home to the capital city of Manila.

Central Luzon – Less than a four-hour drive from Manila is a popular destination: Mount Pinatubo. A relatively easy hike will have trailblazers at the summit in about two hours where they will stumble upon gorgeous lake-filled craters. In 1991, after an eruption which sent car-sized boulders flying and hot lava spewing, the elevation of the mountain was reduced by 1000 feet. On the same island, and not too far from Mount Pinatubo, Is Mount Anawangin which has hikers trekking up one side and then down the other to the secluded white sand beaches of Anawangin Cove where adventurers often make camp for the night after the five-hour hike. Hikers are warned to steer clear of carabao, a type of Philippine water buffalo, should they encounter one. Though docile when left alone, they should not be provoked. On another portion of the island, the Bataan Peninsula, are many trials, including one that takes two days to hike, and is famous for the “death march” which took place in WWII.

Cordilleras (Northern Luzon) – The Cordilleras Mountains of Northern Luzon are the largest in all of the Philippines. Here there are plenty of day hikes along with more difficult excursions lasting for multiple days. Hikers will pass through small villages and farms, huge pine forests, and of particular interest is Sagada, a tiny village set high in the mountain ranges, complete with a magnificent waterfall and an expansive underground cave. Locals in this village are very hospitable to visitors.

Visayas – Located to the south of Luzon, this group of islands offers backpackers trails which are less developed and more rugged. Though the mountains are not as high as those on Luzon, their beauty is all but overwhelming. One of these hikes will lead visitors to the most active volcano in the Philippines, Mount Kanla-on. Beware, this hike is not for the inexperienced or for those not in tip-top health, and it is highly recommended to hire the services of an experienced guide since many of the trails are either poorly marked, or not marked at all. For those not wishing to exert quite as much energy, many trails along the lower slopes are rich in vegetation, abundant n wildlife, and can be covered in less than a day.