Philippines Hiking: THE CLIMB TO THE PARROT’S BEAK (PICO DE LORO)

close up pic of the group ;)

I joined this trip when a friend of mine, whom I met on my previous hiking tour in Laguna, called me after I arrived home from the trip. Thanks to him, I was able to meet the group of beautiful people who also love the outdoors and exploring mountains. I always love being with them on a trip and if you really want to visit places but on a budget… they are the best travel buddies, as everyone in the group is budget conscious.

LOCATION

Mt. Palay-Palay is located at the border of the provinces of Cavite and Batangas, Philippines. The jump off/entry point of the mountain is located in Ternate, Cavite and can be traversed to Nasugbu, Batangas. It is actually a protected area and a home for diverse bird species. This mountain is a popular destination in the country, especially for mountaineers from Manila and nearby provinces. It is famous for its Monolith or The Mount Pico de Loro, a towering rock on the summit that resembles a parrot’s beak, hence the name. Mt. Palay-Palay is the highest mountain in the province of Cavite, with its 664 MASL or 2,178.48 ft (used google converter) summit.

 

TRAIL TO THE SUMMIT

Mt. Palay-Palay or Pico de Loro’s Trail is highly recommended for beginners. It was actually just my third mountain to climb since I started in February this year. After paying for the registration fee at the jump off/entry point, our group started the trek. I noticed that the trail began with paved pathways going to the stream and along the stream banks there are some nice gazebos. It has a small concrete bridge/pathway to cross. After that you have to trek a short distance on the stream. It was in May that our group went there (summer season in the Philippines) so stream was almost dry, however still be prepared to get your shoes wet.

There are stores at the campsite, where you can buy refreshments and food. Although it is advisable to bring your own food and water as the prices are almost twice at the campsite, which is understandable because they pay someone to carry their goods up there. Getting closer to the campsite and seeing the sign at one of the stores that sell “halo-halo” got me excited, as I was already craving for some icy cold refreshment. I was just glad that even though the sun was shining brightly that day, the foresty trail saved us from the scorching heat of the summer sun. The group spent almost an hour at the campsite to take photos on a rocky cliff just a few meters away and also to have our lunch

 

ASSAULT TO THE SUMMIT

The Summit was just a few minutes climb from the campsite; however, the assault was a pretty treacherous one. Compare to the trek going to the campsite, the trail up to the summit is bare, with only rocks and small grass to hold on to. It was a slippery climb, not that it rained but the soil was powdery and I had to practically crawl during my climb. I was exhausted when I reached the summit, it felt like my heart was already throbbing on my temple and I was out of breath. But then, when I saw the picturesque view of the sea and surrounding mountains of Batangas and Cavite, all the exhaustion disappear in almost an instant.

THE MONOLITH

Initially, I was already hesitant to climb the Monolith as I could see how steep it was and almost nothing to hold on to going down Mt Palay-Palay’s summit to the top of the 50ft towering rock of Pico de Loro. Few members of our group decided not to climb anymore and just admire the beauty of it from a distance. But then, however dangerous the Monolith seems, something about its beauty seduced me to set my foot on its summit. So I decided to ignore my fears and just went on with the other group. I thought I should not miss the opportunity to experience something as exciting as that.

 

The trail going down to the base of the Monolith was almost a vertical descent and so was the climb on it. There were only protruding rocks and a rope going up that was tied to a small tree at the edge that would help climbers up. One small mistake on your step and it will be a fatal fall. Fortunately, there were guides that helped us on our way up. Once on the top, all the fear I felt was replaced with awe and amazement of how beautiful it is on the top. It was all worth it.

HOW TO GET THERE

The original plan was for me to go to Laguna to meet with the other hikers and join their carpool. However, I had a hard time finding a bus going to Laguna very early in the morning. So I went to the bus terminal at Coastal Mall instead. Took the bus bound for Ternate, Cavite. The travel time was 2 hours from the bus station. From the bus stop at Ternate, I took a tricycle ride to DENR jump off point. Tricycle ride cost P250.00 but I thought that was too expensive so I decided to just wait for other climbers to arrive whom I could split the fare with. There was a small eatery near the tricycle station so I decided to have breakfast first. I noticed a couple that seemed to be going for a hike to Mt Palay Palay, so I approached them and asked if I could share the tricycle ride with them. I arrived a little bit early at the jump off point and waited for the whole team to arrive. We started the hike past 8 am and were back at 5pm.

Tips:

  1. Bring at least 2L of water and packed lunch 2. There are guides available for P1000-1500 fee but it’s optional. You and your group can hike without a guide. 3. The DENR is strict with Leave No Trace policy. We were advised to bring our trash back to the jump off point otherwise will be paying P500.00. (Of course we didn’t want to pay so we brought our trash back) 4. Climb to Summit usually takes 3-4 hours depending on your pace. 5. Registration fee is P25.00 6. The Monolith is already closed for climbers, and DENR Cavite has issued an advisory that they will close the trail indefinitely starting October 1, 2016.

 

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” ~ 1 Corinthians 16:13

 

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