Mt. Batulao Batangas Trek - Intro to Hiking and Overnight Camping, The Way to the Old and New Trail

The city girl from Manila attempts to climb another mountain after that epic Mt. Pulag trip last 2013 with the barkada! Haha. This time I reached my first summit successfully - Mount Batulao it is. Getting there was easy since it's just in Nasugbu, Batangas - near Tagaytay. I am no mountaineer (more like super beginner LOL) and my exercise is pretty much all that walking from my trips. This trip was definitely a test of endurance and courage. While I was climbing, I laughed at myself for thinking that this was easier than the Pulag Ambangeg trail because the Mt. Batulao Old Trail was shorter and the altitude was so much lower. I researched a bit online before the trip and it was either I didn't look long enough or not many people attempted to document the most dangerous parts of the climb for fear of falling or they turned their attention to the tiring act of hiking already... Therefore, I thought it was really easy peasy. Nuh-uh! Think "long way down without rails" to your left and right then me clinging to the ground and rocks at some parts that I won't even attempt to shoot a picture... I don't regret any of it though. ;) Some moments were so intense that it will force you to love nature and fall in love with what's in front of you! Here's a glimpse of our arrangements from Manila and the long common path for day hikers and overnight campers - from the jump-off point (where we were dropped off and started walking) to the fork where you'll decide to go with the Old Trail or New Trail of Mt. Batulao.

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7:00 a.m. We wanted a private van and guide to take us to Batangas so the 8 of us paid around P2200 each for the trip (I know this is more expensive than the DIY one by two or three times but it did come with some comfort and perks ;)). From Manila, we met at Bluewave in Macapagal. I was craving for some tapa so I had Rufo's for Breakfast #1 (not included in tour package). I knew it's better to have comfort food before jumping into trekking and mountain climbing again. Haha.

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10:00 a.m. We got to sleep in a well-kept and airconditioned Hi Ace. The driver would send us all the way to Batangas (past the Tagaytay route, toll and driver included in the package with 2 guides), wait for us overnight and fetch us at the same location the next day. It took us around 2.5 hours to get to our stretching stop (we were all pretty much KO in the car haha.) We stopped at this carinderia for bathroom (P5-P10) and to eat again - last chance for a light Breakfast/Lunch #2!

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10:10 a.m. From there, it was another 10 minutes to the jump-off point. We had to wait a while to get porters (yeah, a bit spoiled here haha, own stuff not included in package, camp stuff included) and to haggle unsuccessfully. I read online about a P300 charge two-way (going up and when we go down, they go home the day before, maybe I was mistaken and this is only for a local guide...) but they were charging us P400 for 1-way portering (going up, they won't come back for us)... That's around twice the rate of the porters in Mt. Pulag... Not wanting to "negotiate" anymore, we settled on getting only 2 to carry our overnight tents and heavier stuff one-way. It's easy to feel that we were taken advantaged but this notion will change and understanding dawned on me when we got to camp... There's a parking lot here for cars (not sure how much, included in package). We were given the option to leave some things in the car.

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10:30 a.m. The walking begins here. There are tricys from this point if you want to take it fast haha.

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The other option we were considering for all our stuff is via horse (only P500 for 1-way). Better to contact Mang Johnny at (to follow =( , wasn't able to get it the first time) to schedule. He's the one in charge of Camp #1.

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The girls were ahead of me again haha.

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They really have more stamina than I do...

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And they take less stops. I like to take my time looking around and capturing a view. 

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There's like a short "tunnel" part in the early part and I welcomed the shade and breeze.

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Appreciate the concrete road while you can...

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This dirt road is the least of my favorites in the trip. I was super glad it wasn't raining. Otherwise, this kind would be muddy and slippery.

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Even when the ground is dry, the dirt was loose (slippery on inclines and everywhere once the wind blows, sunglasses and headware were definitely useful). 

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It's very windy here in the path to Batulao by the way. I was pretty glad I just had a camera in my hands, a sleeping bag and my hiking stick...

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11:00 a.m. This was my first glance of the picturesque peaks I saw online... We passed by some houses along the way. Imagine having to walk to and fro this far every day... I read that the young kids (aged around 9 to 14) are fit enough to sideline as guides to earn a little extra...

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The first wave of up and downs (inclines) hit me and I was having weak moments (of going home) this early. Hahaha.

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I felt myself slowing down. Gah hahaha.

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Then I see these children energetically walking and psyched myself to go on.

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The terrain changed and I found myself in a single narrow path with tall green vegetation. I felt like I needed to walk faster because I couldn't see the people in front of me anymore. Sigh... Haha.

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Sometimes, I'd stop and breathe in the scenery.

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At other times, I'd brace myself for the winddirt and the road ahead.

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I scratched my head at some moments, craning my neck left and right.

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How the h*ck do I get up there? All the while singing "just keep swimming, just keep swimming" in my head LOL.

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The short pauses for views kept me going. I kept telling myself not to be pressured to keep up and just be myself (and listen to my body). Otherwise, I will just end up all low-spirited and grumpy.

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11:15 a.m. The incline just got intense at this point. I was holding onto rocks, cursing (haha) and focused on my every step for this 4-minute workout.

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I looked up in time to see our first rest stop. I was hearing the first of many "Konti na lang, kaya mo yan." Hahaha.

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This is Mik - our guide and master arranger for this adventure. He took care of the transpo, camping gear with tents and sleeping bags (separate rental fee from tour), campsite dinner day 1 and campsite breakfast day 2). He was with us, together with his buddy Pad, from Manila to the trek to the climb to the camp to the summit to the camp to the trek down to our side trip to Manila.

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Anyway, here's a peek at the ups and downs.

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I was a bit more careful when you can just roll down to your left or right with one mistake (if you don't follow the trail).

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Sometimes, you're going up close to the ground and it's a long way down beside you.

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My legs were shaking and when I work out a bit of courage, I'd stop. I would hold on to the ground with my other hand and take a quick picture of the views around me. I didn't even bring my Lumix GF1 anymore, just my Canon S110, so that I can quickly hide it and it's lighter.

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I'd snap a pic of my buddies in front of me too... Haha.

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11:30 a.m. This was it! The hut with the buko (P25) and food! Hahaha.

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There's halo halo, goto and turon (P5).

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I was kinda worried about drinking buko in the mountain because there's no water here but yeah, well this was my reward. They have a hammock there and all I wanted was to stop there already - where there was no sun, no wind and where I didn't have to walk anymore...

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We spent a good 20 minutes there. They pointed to me the Mt. Batulao summit. I was asking about the "secret campsite" I read about (they said only one tent can be pitched up there and it had a wonderful view) and they said it might be that spot where there's a lone tree (left) ... See it?

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Zooming out... Hahaha. Good luck, Girls!!! We weren't even in the fork to the Old Trail yet!

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11:54 p.m. We started trekking again. This time, we were meeting more groups going the other way and they would all be saying "Ingat". I didn't think much about it until the next day when we were the ones doing it to every one we came across. Hahaha. We all definitely needed their reminders and well wishes all the way.

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By 12 noon, we were already at the crossroads (hut and fork below). Old Trail or New Trail? Mik said that the people choose the New Trail now so not a lot of people use the Old Trail. He also said that we might like more stops in the Old Trail. We chanced upon a friend who was going through a day hike at the Old Trail Camp #1 and they "traversed" the routes. They climbed up using the New Trail then went down using the Old Trail so that's an option ;) So... this is the long but steadier part of our Mt. Batulao trek / hike / overnight camping experience! Stay tuned for scenes from the Old Trail, the list of things I brought (haha) and the Mount Batulao Summit posts!

1 comment:

Hi. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you =)