MT. APO

Measures 2,956 meters above sea level, Mt. Apo is dubbed as the "bubong ng Pilipinas" because it is the highest and the father of all the mountains in the Philippines. Its circumference stretches to two provinces in the southern Mindanao region, the provinces of North Cotabato and Davao del Sur. Though this mountain is considered as an active volcano, trekking on its terrain is safe and can provide a package of remarkable experience and photos to be shared. CLICK TO WATCH MY VLOG

DAY 1 HIKING ITINERARY | 9:00 AM: Our journey started at the water reservoir, the jump-off. It was an uphill trek passing by the community and their vegetable plantation. Two hours from the jump-off, on a continued ascent, we reached the trail which is the start of the actual ascent to Tinikaran, the first camp. On this part, the uphill trail continues enclosed in a healthy forest, with mosses and ferns hanging on trees, with the visibility of lichens on the boulders and trees, and with the birds singing their lullabies - it was really a trek through a jungle trail.

Walking on the "pilapil" in the middle of the carrots plantation.


The start of the actual trail to Tinikaran Campsite


Camp 1: The water source near Tinikaran Campsite.

WE REACHED TINIKARAN CAMPSITE AT 2:30 PM. It is also know as the Camp 1 and part of Sibulan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur - 5.45 kilometers away from the summit The campsite isn't wide but can accommodate a few tents. The area is surrounded with a countless flora. Plants help preserving the so called tranquility in the area. The Tinikaran Campsite is prominent for having a wealthy bio-diversity that only exists on rain forest areas. Monkeys and birds are proof that this campsite is considered as a virgin forest. Our first day ended with the darkness and rain showers mixed on a very cold wind. On the other hand, the sound of  the "kuliglig" and the lullabies of the birds made us fall sleep.

DAY 2 HIKING ITINERARY | 4:30 AM - our second day started. As we turned on the lights and prepared for our breakfast, the monkeys nearby started their new day by stealing our stuff but all attempts were unsuccessful. Waited for the golden sunrise to contrast the cold breeze. Had our breakfast and break camp. We started our ascent at around 9 AM. From Tinikaran Campsite, the healthy ecosystem and great wildlife on the terrains are noticeable. On this part, the trail isn't just about an uphill ascend, it also includes hopping on and off the boulders and bending your body back and forth because of the trees blocking the trail.


THE SULFUR VENTS | We reached this area at around 11:30 AM. Not so sure if this is an active volcano, but vents or opening on the ground with steam and sulfur coming out gives another challenge, though, it's a unique experience. The steam coming out from the vents smells like mud - a powerful smell of mud! Despite of its smell, the area can still be a perfect backdrop for photo ops because of the yellowish color covering the surface of the rocks and boulders, well, that is if you can disregard the smell.

It was a long expedition of trekking and hopping on and off the rocks and boulders after the  sulfur vents area. Though the boulders trail is a bit interesting because of the gigantic walls made of artistic rocks and pile of boulders, I can personally compare it to the limestone walls in Greece (photo above). Also, the cute and colorful wild berries by the trails are another interesting discovery. Then, the next part was an assault to cogon grassland, which served as our campsite.

  The wild berries on the trails.

  Photo ops by the crater.

THE COGON GRASSLAND - THE CAMPSITE | We reached the cogon grassland at around 4:30 PM. The weather wasn't friendly, the wind was very cold and strong with rain showers. Not exaggerating but when it strikes my skin, it feels like blades slashing. Anyways, we set up our camp and prepared our dinner while there's sunlight. Had our dinner and socials inside the tent while the wind was still strong. And we call it a day!

DAY 3 HIKING ITINERARY | We were unable to take a complete eight-hour sleep because of the cold weather and the noise created by the strong wind. It was still early but everyone was up, so we started a conversation while the campsite was surrounded by darkness. Waited for the sunrise. Prepared and had our breakfast. And ascent to the summit.

Our group photo on the summit, with fog on the background.

From cogon grassland, the trails are uphill and the terrain is rich with the dwarf trees, wild berries, lichens on the rocks and some other plants - proof that Mt. Apo still has a virgin and wealthy ecosystem. Also, this mountain has several peaks, therefore, the trails are a combination of uphill and downhill. We got a glimpse of the golden sunrise but wasn't enough to see the beauty that surrounds this giant. Descent to cogon grassland and explored the wide area.

FROM COGON GRASSLAND TO LAKE VENADO TO AMALCIGA CENTURY TREE AND BACK TO THE JUMP OFF | It was around 9 AM when we left cogon grassland to descend. If our Day 1 and Day 2 were all uphill, Day 3 is purely downhill. On this part, the terrain is abundant with flora such as the wild orchids, mosses and ferns hanging on the branches while the birds were tirelessly singing while we were passing by. Another hard part was the downhill trail to Lake Venado, though, panoramic sceneries are spectacular. Had our lunch by the lake at around twelve noon. Started trekking and reached Amalciga Century Tree at around 2:30 PM. Continued trekking to Sibulan Jump Off. Unable to track the time because my gadgets were an empty bat. Hopped on the motorcycle and headed back to Sibulan Brgy. Hall. Tidy Up. Ate a lot and headed back to Davao City for our side trip to Isla Reta, Talicud Island, Samal.


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