Mt. Batulao is actually one of the more famous mountains that are recommended for beginners. Planning a dayhike to Mt. Batulao is very easy considering its proximity to Metro Manila, being located just after Tagaytay City. One just have to go to the bus terminals at the Coastal Mall or in Cubao, Quezon City, and ride the bus going to the towns of Nasugbu and/or Lian in the province of Batangas.
You may opt to walk from the highway to the trail, or hire tricycles for P120.00 that would take you as far as about 2 kilometers into the trail. Hiring tricycles is advised in case you want to save time and energy as this will surely make you save at least 30 minutes of your time.
|Our customary prayer before each climb|
|The Peaks of Batulao|
As for us, while I still consider most of us as newbies, we took the Old Trail as per advise of our friend Allan.
Once you arrive at the cleft where a hut is also located, the trail going down on the left is the Old Trail while the trail forward leads to the new trail. This area is located just below Peak 1, so if you have already reached Peak 1, it only means that you are already traversing the New Trail.
At the Old Trail, the ravine will be on your left side and the trail continues to wind down until you pass by several bamboos and banana trees. You shall thereafter pass by a spot where a mango orchard is located. Just follow the trail until you reach the first house, it is where two boys (they usually man the spot according to their mother) would offer you fresh buko and soda (Mountain Dew). This is a very good spot for you to rest since wooden chairs are also found here.
Look for the boulder near the bamboo bridge as this will show you the right trail. From here, there is a brief assault until you reach Camp 1.
Camp 1 is the camping area at the Old Trail. You shall be required to pay a registration fee of P20.00. There is also a toilet available for a fee and a makeshift souvenir shop offering t-shirts for P250.00.
|The makeshift hut cum souvenir shop|
You will likewise be exposed to the harsh rays of the sun from hereon until you reach the other camp site in Peak 8 considering that after the "solitary tree", there are really no trees that will offer the slightest shade to you even for just a moment (unless of course you choose to pass by the forested area on the western side of the peaks). Also, this is where the trail starts to get so dusty.
In the roped segment of the Old Trail, you may choose to use the rope and rappel or climb ala Spiderman on the rocky portion at the left side of the wall. As for me, I chose to be Spiderman for a moment. It is also possible to do the Spiderman stuff on the right side of the wall but it is more dangerous since the ravine is on that side of the trail.
|One of the last trees in the area before the "solitary tree"|
|Allan is waiting for us at Camp 8|
|Assault from the Solitary Tree (Camp 8)|
|"The Solitary Tree"|
|Maintain that 2-meter distance|
At the summit, you will be greeted by a 360-degree view of the hills and mountains of Batangas and Cavite. Balayan Bay, Mt. Maculot, Mt. Talamitam, Mt. Banoi, Pico de Loro, and Taal Lake, among others are readily visible. There is also a "7-11" at the summit where you can buy halo-halo, fresh buko (from the fruit), and soda (Mountain Dew).
The Summit is likewise known as Camp 10
|Panorama at the summit|
|Tagaytay Ridge...the Skyranch is visible on the upper right portion of the photo|
|Allan's signature jumpshot|
|Close-up view of the peaks|
|Happy to reach Camp 10|
|I was here...immortalized|
We reached the peak after almost 4 hours of trekking, considering that we had to wait for the other mountaineers passing through the roped segment at Camps 8 and 9.
After spending about an hour at the summit, we descended via the New Trail. But of course, we still had to take some pictures and be true to our tag as "The Picture Group".
|Allan doing a jump shot at one of the peaks, leaving us all in awe. (Kids this is dangerous)|
As we make our way down the summit, I was left amazed by this trail runner who virtually glided and drifted on the trail. And upon Allan's prodding, we did the same.
While there is fear that you might slip and sprain an ankle, or worse, fall down the ravine, doing some trail running would really uplift your confidence and even save you some extra energy since you are letting gravity do its job (yes, doing it on the ascent is a different matter).
After 40 minutes, we finally arrived at the Peak 8. It is here where another campsite is located. We were again required to pay P20.00 registration fee and write our respective names in another log book.
We chose to stay at the hut located farthest to the registration area. There were also other mountaineers cooking their lunch. As for us, we bought our lunch at the store along the highway, and of course, there were eggs and adobo that Allan cooked. Mind you, we even had some bottles of Red Horse Beer...waahaa.
|"7-11 cum Souvenir Shop"|
|Camp site at the New Trail with a view of the Peaks of Batulao|
After a very long rest of 2 hours, we decided to descend from Peak 8. The rolling terrain and the intermittent winds made the heat of the sun more bearable.
We only had brief rests on the way down because of the open trail. Finally, we decided to rest and buy halo-halo in one of the huts (7-11), and oh man, I don't know if I was just so tired or it was just the terrible heat, but that halo-halo is one of the best treats I ever had as it felt like rain after a very dry summer.
|Until next time...|
|Cogon all around|
|Halo-Halo...is ubiquitous even at the summit...and that is what separates Mt. Batulao from other mountains|
The trails of Mt. Batulao really offers a very good hike. Aside from that, it also showcases magnificent views. It really felt very satisfying to know that you are looking at the world in a different view. Moreover, seeing a number of potential / novice climbers conquering their fear, and enjoying their moment of triumph just makes you feel braver and stronger.
Thank God I always feel at home in the mountains. For now, I leave below some more pictures of this mountain "Bato sa Ilao".
|The Hut where we whiled away time.|
|A different view of Mt. Batulao|
|L to R: Nathan; Geovanni (Juvi); Lorie; and Jaimel|
|One last glance...we'll be back|
Tramping Diaries 005 (003.001.014)
Jump-off: Evercrest Golfand Country Club
Minor Climb (4/9 as per www.pinoymountaineer.com)
Highlights: Rolling and winding terrain, traverse to/from Old Trail/New Trail, roped segments, rock climbing, open trails
Itinerary (please be reminded that we did not use public transportation so make the necessary adjustments)
Old Trail to New Trail
0400 ETD (McDonalds Broadway)
0600 ETA Evercrest / Breakfast along the Highway
0645 Start trek (we hired a tricycle to take us deep inside the jump-off point)
0815 Arrived at the split / cleft (take the trail on the left side going down)
0830 Arrived at the rest stop (1st House in the Old Trail) (had to wait for the others here)
0915 Arrived at Camp 1 (Register)
1000 Reached Camp 8 (Prepare for final assault to summit from the Solitary Tree)
1100 At the Summit
1145 Descend to Peak 8
1230 Arrived at Peak 8 (register and have lunch)
1430 Descend from Peak 8
1545 Arrival at the 2nd Hut after the split (Halo-Halo time)
1630 Continue descent to jump-off point
1715 Arrived at the residential area (Parking area)
1815 Finished wash-up at the houses along the highway
1830 ETD for Manila
*History. The name Batulao was derived from "Bato sa Ilao" (translated as rock in the light). Actually, there were two conflicting stories that I have heard about this.
One was when I attended this Leadership Seminar made mandatory by our school to every organization. A local that I've talked to said that "Bato sa Ilao" was derived from a yearly phenomenon where the sun would set directly between the two main peaks of the mountain.
The other account is from the local we talked to during our hike who said that in the past, lights were supposedly seen by locals along the mountain every Holy Week. According to him, they do not have an explanation for this phenomenon but allegedly, they now hardly see any of these so called lights.
*Guides. Guides are readily available (most of them are children aged between 11 to 15). It is advisable to hire one for first-timers or if there are a lot of novice climbers in your group.
*Transportation. On your way back, there is a jeepney that would offer to take you to the highway. Then there is a queue of tricycles available to take you to the highway. I don't know how much they charge since we did not avail of their services.
There are parking spaces along the way before the jump-off point. The parking space near the residential houses charge P50.00 for the whole day. I don't know if the rates are the same for the other parking areas.
*Essentials. Should you wish to take a bath, there are houses where you can wash-up. the standard fee is P20.00. You can find them after the jump-off or even along the highway.
After a dayhike, mountaineers usually drop by nearby Tagaytay for coffee and a light snack or a sumptuous dinner of bulalo and crispy tawilis.
*Budget. Since we made use of our own vehicle for this climb, it is only possible for me to provide an estimate of P600.00 to P700.00.